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A canal lined with palm trees and stone buildings, with the Burj al Arab skyscraper in the distance filling the sky

Dubai, with the Burj al Arab in the distance.

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The 24 Essential Dubai Restaurants

Where to find za’atar-spiced barbecue, sustainably sourced chai, jaffa cake milkshakes, and vibrant knafeh in Dubai

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Dubai, with the Burj al Arab in the distance.

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Getty Images/Maremagnum

Sitting on the coast of the Persian Gulf, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates is known for promising luxury, adventure, and unparalleled nightlife to the world’s elite travelers. Some visitors choose to dine far above the city streets — on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world) or in a restaurant suspended by a construction crane. From those heights, you can see what oil money and cheap labor can build on top of a small fishing village. But far beneath the glittering lights of the towering skyscrapers, there are apartments, residential neighborhoods, and alleys where casual restaurants cater to the working-class people who built the metropolis. This is where the city really eats.

The UAE went through a rapid period of development in the early 1990s that brought an influx of workers to the country from across South Asia, especially India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Today, 89 percent of the country’s residents are foreign workers from all around the globe. Many of these transplants are scattered across the Emirates, but Dubai — as the most recently developed of the seven states — remains an immigrant hub. As a result, the city’s street-level dining is cobbled together from the cuisines of its immigrant residents, and it’s impossible to classify the restaurant scene under one ethnic umbrella.

Middle Eastern, South Asian, and East Asian cuisines blend on top of local Arabian food in workaday restaurants that more than make up for their lack of ambiance. At the same time, homegrown entrepreneurs have developed their own takes on third-wave coffee, plant-based dining, gluten-free desserts, and even Texas barbecue. While COVID did force many small cafes and restaurants to close, quick actions from the government restored normalcy in UAE way before any other country in the region, helping many food businesses recover and persevere.

Even if you’re not staying in a penthouse during your visit, eating in Dubai is a rich experience, with tastes from Arabia and beyond all on one plate.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

Prices per person, excluding alcohol:

$ = Less than 20 AED (less than $5 USD)
$$ = 20 - 40 AED ($5 - $10 USD)
$$$ = More than 40 AED ($10 USD and up)

Rahma Khan is a travel writer and an independent journalist from Pakistan based in Canada. She uses her travel blog, The Sane Adventurer, to share the stories of her travel adventures and experiences of traveling as a woman of color. Her work is published in The Independent, Condé Nast Traveler and Passion Passport, among others.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Dream City Cafe

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The word “cafeteria” in Dubai usually refers to a hole in the wall, and Dream City Cafeteria lives up to its name. Located in the heart of Sheikh Zayed Road (a highway that connects the UAE’s coastal cities), the restaurant serves an array of Dubai’s best street food, including shawarma, paratha, and desi burgers — American-style hamburgers with such South Asian toppings as homemade green chile tamarind sauce. A lot of the food is pretty spicy and best paired with fresh fruit juices, which are key for cooling down on hot summer days. Many of the cooks come from India and Bangladesh, as do many of their customers, who crowd in from nearby offices on weekdays during lunch and just after work. [$]

2. The Mattar Farm Kitchen

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Founded by the self-proclaimed first Arab pitmaster Hattem Mattar, the Mattar Farm smokes the best meat in Dubai. After growing up in the city, Mattar took a job in oil and gas in Texas, where he encountered brisket and eventually apprenticed with pitmasters there. He’s since developed fan-favorite recipes for smoked brisket, beef ribs, turkey, chicken, lamb legs, duck, and sausages in flavors like lamb and za’atar — all using ingredients sourced locally, if not grown on Mattar’s own farm. The meats are available at pop-ups, the Local Fire stand in Time Out Market, and restaurants like BB Social Dining, as well as for delivery by the kilogram. [$$$]

A pitmaster raises the lid on a grill unleashing a plume of smoke over large hunks of meat cooking
Hattem Mattar at work.
The Mattar Farm/Facebook

3. Allo Beirut

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A funky, colorful roadside restaurant, Allo Beirut serves energetic Levantine cuisine, including juicy, perfectly grilled shawarma that’s hard to match elsewhere in Dubai. Customers also come for the crackly manakish — topped with basil and rosemary, akkawi or kashkaval cheese, honey, labneh, soujok, or some combination — as well as other baked items like stuffed saj, kaak, pizza, and sandwiches on bread spiced with sumac and za’atar. Hungrier diners should dig into the stuffed lamb, steak, and rotisserie chicken served with toum and cheese sauce. [$]

A kaak topped with za’atar on branded wax paper over a colorful patterned tablecloth
Za’atar and picon cheese kaak.
Allo Beirut

4. Project Chaiwala

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Project Chaiwala puts a modern twist on the everyday streetside cup of chai. The cafe started as an entrepreneurial venture by two chai lovers and now has expanded all across the UAE. The chai is sustainably sourced from tea estates in India; brewed with Indian spices, milk, and saffron; and served in mud cups, which the owners claim adds a soothing aroma and unique earthy taste to the tea. [$]

A hand holds up a plastic coffee cup branded with the words Arab World Wide
Proud branding at Project Chaiwala.
Project Chaiwala

5. Umami

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Part of a restaurant group established in the 1980s to bring Asian cuisines to Dubai (including Chinese Palace Restaurant, Mongolian Barbecue Restaurant, and Koryo Korean Restaurant), Umami serves Japanese cuisine that’s a far cry from the overdone omakases at nearby resorts. The menu covers simple yet flavorful renditions of ramen, sushi, donburi, curry, and omurice. [$$ - $$$]

6. Wild and the Moon

Copy Link
Alserkal Avenue
street 8, H-77 - القوز - دبي - United Arab Emirates

Like many cities, Dubai has seen a shift toward plant-based eating, which is clear at Wild and the Moon, one of the first local vegan restaurants. All the ingredients are local, organic, seasonal, and ethically sourced. The menu is designed around healthy eating options and includes a wide selection of salads, soups, bowls, cold-pressed juices, nut milks, and smoothies. Desserts and snacks without refined sugar, processed enzymes, gluten, or dairy are also available. [$$$]

A white restaurant exterior, with illustrations outlined on the windows, and a bike parked outside
Outside Wild and the Moon.
Wild and the Moon

7. Nightjar Coffee Roasters

Copy Link

Tucked away on Dubai’s artsy Alserkal Avenue, Nightjar Coffee Roasters is a homegrown restaurant and cafe offering single-origin coffee sourced from “micro and nano-lots.” Leon Surynt started the award-winning cafe in 2017 to remedy Dubai’s lack of locally produced coffee, and the eatery has since become a go-to for geeky libations (shakeratos, jaffa shakes) and creative bites (gochujang popcorn cauliflower, pulled chicken frankies, ox cheek benedicts). The restaurant has thrived with delivery during the pandemic, and the coffee is as good as ever. [$$]

A cafe interior with diners at long shared wooden tables
Inside Nightjar.
Nightjar Coffee Roasters

8. Raju Omlet

Copy Link
Real Estate International Building
Exit 43, Sheikh Zayed Road - Near Noor Islamic Bank Metro Footbridge - Station - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Just as the name suggests, Raju Omlet is about all things egg with a Bollywood twist. The restaurant is decorated with a mix of vintage photographs, cheeky egg-themed pieces, and Bollywood fan art, while the extensive menu focuses on different Indian street snacks all with one obvious must-have ingredient. There are parathas rolled with various omelets, eggs Kejriwal, fried eggs on egg noodles, and a variety of other dishes where eggs make surprise appearances. [$$]

From above, a large fried egg atop a pile of noodles dotted with herbs
Chatpata egg noodles.
Rahila Shafiq Shaikh/Instagram

9. Istanbul Street Food

Copy Link

Turkish homemaker Munira Hijazi runs one of the finest food delivery services in Dubai. The pandemic-era home business started in 2021 with a limited menu of popular Turkish snacks and desserts including simit, baklava, and knafeh, but the operation has expanded to include a wide variety of sweet and savory Turkish dishes that rotate throughout the day. You can order hearty su borek (sheets of dough stuffed with cheese and parsley) for breakfast, gozleme (flatbreads) stuffed with lamb and beef for lunch, and late-night islak (wet) burgers slathered in tomato sauce just like they eat in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. [$$]

Thick-stuffed su borek, topped with parsley leaves, on a patterned background
Su borek.
Munira Hijazi

10. Nour in the Kitchen

Copy Link

Nour Ashraf is a self-taught baker who delivers fresh delights to homes across Dubai. Her experimental venture, Nour in the Kitchen, rocketed to success after her Nutella lava cupcakes went viral on a local food blog. Ashraf’s menu ranges from healthy breakfast oatmeal cookies to vegan cakes and gluten-free desserts for all occasions. The sweet yet healthy keto-baked doughnuts are especially popular. [$$ - $$$]

Chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate candies
Ferrero Rocher Nutella lava cupcakes.
Nour in the Kitchen

11. Vietnamese Foodies

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Vietnamese Foodies brings the tastes of Ho Chi Minh City to Dubai’s gastronomy scene. Its pho, simmered for 14 hours, is the star dish of the menu, but other favorites include the bun bo hue (beef and lemongrass soup), hoanh thanh chien gion (crispy prawn dumplings), and goi cuon (spring rolls), including a vegan variation with sweet potato, eggplant, and zucchini. The rest of the stellar menu is packed with aromatic Thai basil, scallion, annatto, and other flavors of Southeast Asia. [$$$]

From above, a wood table filled with dishes including sandwiches, buns, and lettuce wraps
A range of dishes at Vietnamese Foodies.
Vietnamese Foodies

12. Al-Baik

Copy Link

In 2021, locals excitedly awaited the arrival of arguably the most popular fast-food chain in the Arabian Gulf: Al-Baik. After five decades of operations, the Saudi Arabian chain marked its first foreign expansion with two new locations in Dubai, including one in the Dubai Mall. The place is known for its roasted and fried chicken, marinated in secret spices only known to the founders (a la KFC). You won’t find too much else on the menu — or need much else. [$$]

13. Ravi Restaurant

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Ravi has been serving Dhaba-style Pakistani food at low prices since the 1970s, but the place got a boost when Anthony Bourdain visited to film an episode of No Reservations in 2010. (It remains a point of pride that the restaurant was the only street food spot in the episode.) Dining here can sometimes feel chaotic, but the food is worth any hassle. The naan emerges hot and crispy from the clay oven, served with Peshawari mutton curry and lamb chops that are the best you’ll get in Dubai. Hang around for dessert; its kheer is the perfect way to end a meal at Ravi. [$]

14. 2nd December Street Food Market

Copy Link

2nd December Street (previously Al Diyafah Street) wasn’t originally designed as a food market, but as soon as the sun sets each day, the street fills with outdoor tables and a night market springs to life. The old block of the Al Satwa neighborhood is home to a community of immigrants who arrived from various nations in the 1990s. Over time, local food shops catering to these residents began to open. Most of the restaurants on the street are Indian, Irani, and Turkish, but the food that spills into the street each evening is a variety of Arabic, East Asian, and Mediterranean cuisines. [$]

15. Saravana Bhavan

Copy Link
Shop no. 4 & 5
Burj Al Gubaiba Building Souq Al Kabeer, Near Mashreq Bank Post Box No. 52515 - Al Fahidi - دبي - United Arab Emirates

With more than 50 branches all around the globe, Saravana Bhavan claims to be the best vegetarian Indian food restaurant in the world. Specializing in South Indian cuisine, the place serves dosas, idli, medu vada, and desserts like payasam, all masterfully prepared by chefs hired from Kerala and Madras, India. Dubai currently has four branches, with more planned to open soon. For vegetarians in Dubai, there’s no better budget-friendly place to eat. [$ - $$]

From above, a variety of dishes centered around a large dosa, set on a large leaf on a wood table
A full spread of South Indian eats.
Saravana Bhavan/Facebook

16. Al Ustad Special Kebab

Copy Link

Run by the Persian al-Ansari family who immigrated to Dubai 43 years ago, Al Ustad proudly makes classic Irani cuisine in the old area of Bur Dubai. The menu includes kebabs of mutton, chicken, and tenderloin, including some marinated in yogurt before being barbecued and others slow-cooked in mild spices and herbs like dill, mint, basil, chives, fenugreek, and tarragon. Dishes come with khubz (flatbread) or saffron rice studded with roasted dry fruits. Vegetarians should stop by at lunch for options like okra and eggplant. [$]

17. Billo

Copy Link

Billo — a tiny ice cream shop tucked away in the corner of a congested street in Bur Dubai — is a popular go-to for local South Asian residents. The self-proclaimed home of the best falooda in the world, Billo adheres to traditional Pakistani methods to make the frozen dessert. It uses clay utensils to freeze milk and yeast, then mixes in different fruit flavors before combining everything into a sweet, syrupy concoction of milk, vermicelli, and nuts. It also serves some savory Pakistani street food items. [$]

Three soda fountain style glasses filled with colorful falooda with lots of toppings
Rose, kulfi, and pistachio falooda.
Billo/Facebook

18. Eskinita Street Food Restaurant

Copy Link

Eskinita satisfies any craving for Filipino food, including the national dish, adobong manok (chicken adobo), which is slow-cooked and then pan-fried with soy sauce. The restaurant started as a small street food joint but eventually expanded into a spacious restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. The menu includes a vast variety of seafood and meat dishes from the Philippines, including various preparations of bangus (milkfish), lumpia, tokneneng, and kwek kwek (tempura-fried eggs). [$]

19. Indoors

Copy Link

Inside one of Dubai’s busiest malls, Indoors is a buzzy food court decorated with vibrant graffiti. There are 15 food stalls to choose from, plus a huge seating area with communal tables, an arcade, and a live music stage where listeners can lounge on bean bag chairs. Among the bites, head to Smart Brat for hot dogs, Taiwanese Chicken and Pancake for a meaty meal, and Saj 2 Go bakery for huge, 18-inch Lebanese flatbreads. [$$]

20. Pars Iranian Restaurant

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Pars Iranian Restaurant is the oldest and most popular Irani restaurant in the city, combining traditional Persian dishes with Arabic flavors. All the food is centered on three basic ingredients — bread, rice, and meat — exclusively cooked by Irani chefs who deploy deft hands in blending mild herbs like thyme, parsley, and dried mint with hot Arabic spices, pepper, and red chile paste. While most of the menu caters to omnivores with meaty stews and skewers of seafood, there are some delicious vegetarian options like ash reshteh (herb-packed noodle soup) and kashk bademjan (eggplant and whey dip), as well as falafel, hummus, and other Arabic snacks. Pars is a perfect representation of the Dubai melting pot at work. [$$$]

A long table laden with dishes, including a large platter of kebabs over saffron rice, leg of lamb, salad, and flatbread with dips
A full spread at Pars.
Pars Iranian Restaurant

21. Real Karak Cafe

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Karak chai was commonly sold from tea carts in precolonial India, but the style of masala chai is popular in the Middle East, too. The version at Real Karak Cafe is made with locally produced tea leaves, slow-cooked with cardamom and saffron (staple ingredients in Arabic desserts), and sweetened with condensed milk. The cafe takes pride in serving the most teacups per day of any cafe in the city; for proof of its claim, just look at the long car queues outside at all times of day. [$]

An aged copper kettle pours chai tea into a branded glass
Chai at Real Karak.
Real Karak Cafe/Facebook

22. Daily Restaurant

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Damascus Road
Qusais, Near Dubai Grand Hotel - Al Qusais Industrial Area - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

South Asian residents of Dubai rely on the Daily for home-style comfort food. With four branches in prime residential areas across the city, the restaurant specializes in Indian and Pakistani brunch, lunch, and dinner buffets, with popular options like biryani, kebabs, nihari, and dal. [$$]

23. Firas Sweets

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Opened in 1993, Firas is one of the oldest dessert shops in Dubai, satisfying customers with sweet treats from across the Middle East. Its knafeh, which it promotes as the “queen of Arabian desserts,” is loaded with cheese and covered in a crisp layer of sugar and vermicelli; not surprisingly, it’s a best-seller across the bakery’s various branches. Other staples include the baklava and mamul, made with walnuts and baked in thick sugar syrup. [$$]

Rolls of knafeh stacked on a white surface, with piles of ingredients in the background
Knafeh.
Firas Sweets

24. Last Exit

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Last Exit is a local mini-chain of food truck parks vaguely themed around Route 66 (one location also looks like a Mad Max post-apocalyptic scene), ideal for travelers heading in and out of town. The one in Al Khawaneej is inspired by American rancher culture, with a dozen funky food trucks offering drive-thru service. There’s a farm-themed outdoor seating area, too, where guests can enjoy live music and games. The diverse selection of food includes cinnamon buns at Doh, sushi on the go from Sushi Station, and hearty steaks by Steakanji. [$$]

A person in kitchen gloves carries a takeout box of fried chicken items and a beverage in a to-go cup
A box of fried chicken from Chicken Man.
Last Exit/Facebook

1. Dream City Cafe

Opposite Ibn Batuta Metro Station, Near Bus Stop - قرية جبل علي - دبي - United Arab Emirates

The word “cafeteria” in Dubai usually refers to a hole in the wall, and Dream City Cafeteria lives up to its name. Located in the heart of Sheikh Zayed Road (a highway that connects the UAE’s coastal cities), the restaurant serves an array of Dubai’s best street food, including shawarma, paratha, and desi burgers — American-style hamburgers with such South Asian toppings as homemade green chile tamarind sauce. A lot of the food is pretty spicy and best paired with fresh fruit juices, which are key for cooling down on hot summer days. Many of the cooks come from India and Bangladesh, as do many of their customers, who crowd in from nearby offices on weekdays during lunch and just after work. [$]

2. The Mattar Farm Kitchen

Dubai - Jebel Ali Industrial Area - Jebel Ali Industrial - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
A pitmaster raises the lid on a grill unleashing a plume of smoke over large hunks of meat cooking
Hattem Mattar at work.
The Mattar Farm/Facebook

Founded by the self-proclaimed first Arab pitmaster Hattem Mattar, the Mattar Farm smokes the best meat in Dubai. After growing up in the city, Mattar took a job in oil and gas in Texas, where he encountered brisket and eventually apprenticed with pitmasters there. He’s since developed fan-favorite recipes for smoked brisket, beef ribs, turkey, chicken, lamb legs, duck, and sausages in flavors like lamb and za’atar — all using ingredients sourced locally, if not grown on Mattar’s own farm. The meats are available at pop-ups, the Local Fire stand in Time Out Market, and restaurants like BB Social Dining, as well as for delivery by the kilogram. [$$$]

3. Allo Beirut

Hessa St - Al Barsha - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
A kaak topped with za’atar on branded wax paper over a colorful patterned tablecloth
Za’atar and picon cheese kaak.
Allo Beirut

A funky, colorful roadside restaurant, Allo Beirut serves energetic Levantine cuisine, including juicy, perfectly grilled shawarma that’s hard to match elsewhere in Dubai. Customers also come for the crackly manakish — topped with basil and rosemary, akkawi or kashkaval cheese, honey, labneh, soujok, or some combination — as well as other baked items like stuffed saj, kaak, pizza, and sandwiches on bread spiced with sumac and za’atar. Hungrier diners should dig into the stuffed lamb, steak, and rotisserie chicken served with toum and cheese sauce. [$]

4. Project Chaiwala

Alserkal Avenue, Warehouse 68 - القوز - دبي - United Arab Emirates
A hand holds up a plastic coffee cup branded with the words Arab World Wide
Proud branding at Project Chaiwala.
Project Chaiwala

Project Chaiwala puts a modern twist on the everyday streetside cup of chai. The cafe started as an entrepreneurial venture by two chai lovers and now has expanded all across the UAE. The chai is sustainably sourced from tea estates in India; brewed with Indian spices, milk, and saffron; and served in mud cups, which the owners claim adds a soothing aroma and unique earthy taste to the tea. [$]

5. Umami

11 28 A St - Umm Suqeim - Umm Suqeim 1 - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Part of a restaurant group established in the 1980s to bring Asian cuisines to Dubai (including Chinese Palace Restaurant, Mongolian Barbecue Restaurant, and Koryo Korean Restaurant), Umami serves Japanese cuisine that’s a far cry from the overdone omakases at nearby resorts. The menu covers simple yet flavorful renditions of ramen, sushi, donburi, curry, and omurice. [$$ - $$$]

6. Wild and the Moon

Alserkal Avenue, street 8, H-77 - القوز - دبي - United Arab Emirates
A white restaurant exterior, with illustrations outlined on the windows, and a bike parked outside
Outside Wild and the Moon.
Wild and the Moon

Like many cities, Dubai has seen a shift toward plant-based eating, which is clear at Wild and the Moon, one of the first local vegan restaurants. All the ingredients are local, organic, seasonal, and ethically sourced. The menu is designed around healthy eating options and includes a wide selection of salads, soups, bowls, cold-pressed juices, nut milks, and smoothies. Desserts and snacks without refined sugar, processed enzymes, gluten, or dairy are also available. [$$$]

Alserkal Avenue
street 8, H-77 - القوز - دبي - United Arab Emirates

7. Nightjar Coffee Roasters

Unit G62 Alserkal Avenue - القوز - دبي - United Arab Emirates
A cafe interior with diners at long shared wooden tables
Inside Nightjar.
Nightjar Coffee Roasters

Tucked away on Dubai’s artsy Alserkal Avenue, Nightjar Coffee Roasters is a homegrown restaurant and cafe offering single-origin coffee sourced from “micro and nano-lots.” Leon Surynt started the award-winning cafe in 2017 to remedy Dubai’s lack of locally produced coffee, and the eatery has since become a go-to for geeky libations (shakeratos, jaffa shakes) and creative bites (gochujang popcorn cauliflower, pulled chicken frankies, ox cheek benedicts). The restaurant has thrived with delivery during the pandemic, and the coffee is as good as ever. [$$]

8. Raju Omlet

Real Estate International Building, Exit 43, Sheikh Zayed Road - Near Noor Islamic Bank Metro Footbridge - Station - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
From above, a large fried egg atop a pile of noodles dotted with herbs
Chatpata egg noodles.
Rahila Shafiq Shaikh/Instagram

Just as the name suggests, Raju Omlet is about all things egg with a Bollywood twist. The restaurant is decorated with a mix of vintage photographs, cheeky egg-themed pieces, and Bollywood fan art, while the extensive menu focuses on different Indian street snacks all with one obvious must-have ingredient. There are parathas rolled with various omelets, eggs Kejriwal, fried eggs on egg noodles, and a variety of other dishes where eggs make surprise appearances. [$$]

Real Estate International Building
Exit 43, Sheikh Zayed Road - Near Noor Islamic Bank Metro Footbridge - Station - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

9. Istanbul Street Food

Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Thick-stuffed su borek, topped with parsley leaves, on a patterned background
Su borek.
Munira Hijazi

Turkish homemaker Munira Hijazi runs one of the finest food delivery services in Dubai. The pandemic-era home business started in 2021 with a limited menu of popular Turkish snacks and desserts including simit, baklava, and knafeh, but the operation has expanded to include a wide variety of sweet and savory Turkish dishes that rotate throughout the day. You can order hearty su borek (sheets of dough stuffed with cheese and parsley) for breakfast, gozleme (flatbreads) stuffed with lamb and beef for lunch, and late-night islak (wet) burgers slathered in tomato sauce just like they eat in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. [$$]

10. Nour in the Kitchen

Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate candies
Ferrero Rocher Nutella lava cupcakes.
Nour in the Kitchen

Nour Ashraf is a self-taught baker who delivers fresh delights to homes across Dubai. Her experimental venture, Nour in the Kitchen, rocketed to success after her Nutella lava cupcakes went viral on a local food blog. Ashraf’s menu ranges from healthy breakfast oatmeal cookies to vegan cakes and gluten-free desserts for all occasions. The sweet yet healthy keto-baked doughnuts are especially popular. [$$ - $$$]

11. Vietnamese Foodies

Downtown Dubai - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
From above, a wood table filled with dishes including sandwiches, buns, and lettuce wraps
A range of dishes at Vietnamese Foodies.
Vietnamese Foodies

Vietnamese Foodies brings the tastes of Ho Chi Minh City to Dubai’s gastronomy scene. Its pho, simmered for 14 hours, is the star dish of the menu, but other favorites include the bun bo hue (beef and lemongrass soup), hoanh thanh chien gion (crispy prawn dumplings), and goi cuon (spring rolls), including a vegan variation with sweet potato, eggplant, and zucchini. The rest of the stellar menu is packed with aromatic Thai basil, scallion, annatto, and other flavors of Southeast Asia. [$$$]

12. Al-Baik

Dubai Mall - Downtown Dubai - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

In 2021, locals excitedly awaited the arrival of arguably the most popular fast-food chain in the Arabian Gulf: Al-Baik. After five decades of operations, the Saudi Arabian chain marked its first foreign expansion with two new locations in Dubai, including one in the Dubai Mall. The place is known for its roasted and fried chicken, marinated in secret spices only known to the founders (a la KFC). You won’t find too much else on the menu — or need much else. [$$]

13. Ravi Restaurant

7HQQ67MH+CJ - Al Satwa - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Ravi has been serving Dhaba-style Pakistani food at low prices since the 1970s, but the place got a boost when Anthony Bourdain visited to film an episode of No Reservations in 2010. (It remains a point of pride that the restaurant was the only street food spot in the episode.) Dining here can sometimes feel chaotic, but the food is worth any hassle. The naan emerges hot and crispy from the clay oven, served with Peshawari mutton curry and lamb chops that are the best you’ll get in Dubai. Hang around for dessert; its kheer is the perfect way to end a meal at Ravi. [$]

14. 2nd December Street Food Market

2nd December St - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

2nd December Street (previously Al Diyafah Street) wasn’t originally designed as a food market, but as soon as the sun sets each day, the street fills with outdoor tables and a night market springs to life. The old block of the Al Satwa neighborhood is home to a community of immigrants who arrived from various nations in the 1990s. Over time, local food shops catering to these residents began to open. Most of the restaurants on the street are Indian, Irani, and Turkish, but the food that spills into the street each evening is a variety of Arabic, East Asian, and Mediterranean cuisines. [$]

15. Saravana Bhavan

Shop no. 4 & 5, Burj Al Gubaiba Building Souq Al Kabeer, Near Mashreq Bank Post Box No. 52515 - Al Fahidi - دبي - United Arab Emirates
From above, a variety of dishes centered around a large dosa, set on a large leaf on a wood table
A full spread of South Indian eats.
Saravana Bhavan/Facebook

With more than 50 branches all around the globe, Saravana Bhavan claims to be the best vegetarian Indian food restaurant in the world. Specializing in South Indian cuisine, the place serves dosas, idli, medu vada, and desserts like payasam, all masterfully prepared by chefs hired from Kerala and Madras, India. Dubai currently has four branches, with more planned to open soon. For vegetarians in Dubai, there’s no better budget-friendly place to eat. [$ - $$]

Shop no. 4 & 5
Burj Al Gubaiba Building Souq Al Kabeer, Near Mashreq Bank Post Box No. 52515 - Al Fahidi - دبي - United Arab Emirates

Related Maps

16. Al Ustad Special Kebab

Near Al Fahidi Metro Station - Al Mussallah Rd - Al Hamriya - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Run by the Persian al-Ansari family who immigrated to Dubai 43 years ago, Al Ustad proudly makes classic Irani cuisine in the old area of Bur Dubai. The menu includes kebabs of mutton, chicken, and tenderloin, including some marinated in yogurt before being barbecued and others slow-cooked in mild spices and herbs like dill, mint, basil, chives, fenugreek, and tarragon. Dishes come with khubz (flatbread) or saffron rice studded with roasted dry fruits. Vegetarians should stop by at lunch for options like okra and eggplant. [$]

17. Billo

Near Lamcy Plaza - 4th St - Oud Metha - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Three soda fountain style glasses filled with colorful falooda with lots of toppings
Rose, kulfi, and pistachio falooda.
Billo/Facebook

Billo — a tiny ice cream shop tucked away in the corner of a congested street in Bur Dubai — is a popular go-to for local South Asian residents. The self-proclaimed home of the best falooda in the world, Billo adheres to traditional Pakistani methods to make the frozen dessert. It uses clay utensils to freeze milk and yeast, then mixes in different fruit flavors before combining everything into a sweet, syrupy concoction of milk, vermicelli, and nuts. It also serves some savory Pakistani street food items. [$]

18. Eskinita Street Food Restaurant

144 Abu Baker Al Siddique Rd - Deira - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Eskinita satisfies any craving for Filipino food, including the national dish, adobong manok (chicken adobo), which is slow-cooked and then pan-fried with soy sauce. The restaurant started as a small street food joint but eventually expanded into a spacious restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. The menu includes a vast variety of seafood and meat dishes from the Philippines, including various preparations of bangus (milkfish), lumpia, tokneneng, and kwek kwek (tempura-fried eggs). [$]

19. Indoors

City Centre - Hor Al Anz - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Inside one of Dubai’s busiest malls, Indoors is a buzzy food court decorated with vibrant graffiti. There are 15 food stalls to choose from, plus a huge seating area with communal tables, an arcade, and a live music stage where listeners can lounge on bean bag chairs. Among the bites, head to Smart Brat for hot dogs, Taiwanese Chicken and Pancake for a meaty meal, and Saj 2 Go bakery for huge, 18-inch Lebanese flatbreads. [$$]

20. Pars Iranian Restaurant

Dubai - Hor Al Anz East - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
A long table laden with dishes, including a large platter of kebabs over saffron rice, leg of lamb, salad, and flatbread with dips
A full spread at Pars.
Pars Iranian Restaurant

Pars Iranian Restaurant is the oldest and most popular Irani restaurant in the city, combining traditional Persian dishes with Arabic flavors. All the food is centered on three basic ingredients — bread, rice, and meat — exclusively cooked by Irani chefs who deploy deft hands in blending mild herbs like thyme, parsley, and dried mint with hot Arabic spices, pepper, and red chile paste. While most of the menu caters to omnivores with meaty stews and skewers of seafood, there are some delicious vegetarian options like ash reshteh (herb-packed noodle soup) and kashk bademjan (eggplant and whey dip), as well as falafel, hummus, and other Arabic snacks. Pars is a perfect representation of the Dubai melting pot at work. [$$$]

21. Real Karak Cafe

59QM+H3F - Nadd Al Hamar - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
An aged copper kettle pours chai tea into a branded glass
Chai at Real Karak.
Real Karak Cafe/Facebook

Karak chai was commonly sold from tea carts in precolonial India, but the style of masala chai is popular in the Middle East, too. The version at Real Karak Cafe is made with locally produced tea leaves, slow-cooked with cardamom and saffron (staple ingredients in Arabic desserts), and sweetened with condensed milk. The cafe takes pride in serving the most teacups per day of any cafe in the city; for proof of its claim, just look at the long car queues outside at all times of day. [$]

22. Daily Restaurant

Damascus Road, Qusais, Near Dubai Grand Hotel - Al Qusais Industrial Area - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

South Asian residents of Dubai rely on the Daily for home-style comfort food. With four branches in prime residential areas across the city, the restaurant specializes in Indian and Pakistani brunch, lunch, and dinner buffets, with popular options like biryani, kebabs, nihari, and dal. [$$]

Damascus Road
Qusais, Near Dubai Grand Hotel - Al Qusais Industrial Area - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

23. Firas Sweets

5CV4+P3Q - Al Warqa - Al Warqa 1 - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Rolls of knafeh stacked on a white surface, with piles of ingredients in the background
Knafeh.
Firas Sweets

Opened in 1993, Firas is one of the oldest dessert shops in Dubai, satisfying customers with sweet treats from across the Middle East. Its knafeh, which it promotes as the “queen of Arabian desserts,” is loaded with cheese and covered in a crisp layer of sugar and vermicelli; not surprisingly, it’s a best-seller across the bakery’s various branches. Other staples include the baklava and mamul, made with walnuts and baked in thick sugar syrup. [$$]

24. Last Exit

Al Khawaneej - Al Khawaneej 1 - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
A person in kitchen gloves carries a takeout box of fried chicken items and a beverage in a to-go cup
A box of fried chicken from Chicken Man.
Last Exit/Facebook

Last Exit is a local mini-chain of food truck parks vaguely themed around Route 66 (one location also looks like a Mad Max post-apocalyptic scene), ideal for travelers heading in and out of town. The one in Al Khawaneej is inspired by American rancher culture, with a dozen funky food trucks offering drive-thru service. There’s a farm-themed outdoor seating area, too, where guests can enjoy live music and games. The diverse selection of food includes cinnamon buns at Doh, sushi on the go from Sushi Station, and hearty steaks by Steakanji. [$$]

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