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Eat like a Local in Dubai

mixed grill

Dubai has become one of the world’s most exciting culinary playgrounds. It caters to so many diverse cultures and cuisines that it often leaves you spoilt for choice. When it comes to food there’s a clear distinction i.e. Old Dubai vs New Dubai. I love the extravagant and superlative restaurants that represents New Dubai. But after being raised in #MyDubai for over 2 decades, my heart always leans towards Old Dubai which serves up some of the best Middle Eastern dishes known.

Planning your next trip to Dubai? Great! If like us, you spend your time heavily researching on places to eat in the city, look no further. We have listed some of our favorite Middle Eastern restaurants (some absolute hidden gems) along with their must try dishes!

 

Dubai logma fries

Logma (Emirati)

Logma means ‘small bites’ in Arabic. They offer a contemporary take on traditional Emirati cuisine. It’s a casual dining spot, found within the shipping container setting of Boxpark, where diners are treated to an interesting menu ranging from breakfast options to salads, rice dishes and desserts.

Must try

For Vegetarians: Chebab (Emirati pancakes) or Khameer (traditional baked bread) served with cream cheese and date syrup, Samboosa cheese (similar to samosas stuffed with cream cheese and spice chips Oman), Logma fries and Luqaimat (traditional fried dumplings with date syrup or nutella & nuts).

For Non–Vegetarians: Balaleet (sweet vermicelli topped with saffron omelette) and Samboosa beef (similar to samosas stuffed with spiced beef and pomegranate molasses).

 

Dubai Aroos Damascus

Aroos Damascus (Syrian)

A charming old spot located on Al Muraqqabat Street taking up nearly half a block. Dining here in the evenings during winter can be fun. The vibe and energy of the crowd is palpable. The service is quick and the waiters here ensure you are served with piping hot Khubz (Syrian bread that’s similar to pita bread) to go with your dishes.

Must try

For Vegetarians: Hommos Beiruti, Tabbouleh or Fattoush (traditional salads), Falafel (the crunchiest and the best), Potato and spinach Kibbeh (paties) & Avocado milkshake with honey.

For Non–Vegetarians: Arayees (meat stuffed pita bread) & Grilled Wings.

Al Safadi (Lebanese)

A bustling restaurant located on Sheikh Zayed road, known for its reliable Lebanese fare and patio serving shisha. The waiters here ensure that you are fed well and so they keep asking if you’d like to order more. Refrain from saying yes as you might just end up over ordering, in the excitement of trying everything.

Must try

For Vegetarians: Grilled Halloumi, Fatayer spinach (folded spinach pie), Baba Ghanouj (Grilled eggplant with vegetables) and Vine Leaves (Rice stuffed grape leaves in oil).

For Non–Vegetarians: Hummus with meat & pine, Lahem or Kaftah Beajine (similar to a pizza with minced meat, onion, parsley and spices) and Fried chicken liver.

 Dubai - hadoota masreya

Hadoota Masreya (Egyptian)

With an authentic atmosphere, bustling clientele and traditional decor, this restaurant offers a taste of traditional Egyptian dining. Often playing music from Om Kalthoum and stirring up an old school vibe, this is a restaurant that’ll transport you to the streets of Cairo.

Must try

For Vegetarians: Koshari (rice and brown lentils topped with pasta, onions, chilli and tomato sauce), Mahashi Hadoota (mixed stuffed vegetables) and Besara ( seasoned fava beans and green leaves puree)

For Non–Vegetarians: Roqaq with meat (layers of delicate pastry dough and minced meat), Hawawshi (meat-filled bread traditionally spiced) and Egyptian Feteer (layered pastry topped with meat, pastrami or sausages)

 

Dubai - beyti kebab

Bosporus (Turkish)

Decorated in a way that showcases the best of home-style Turkish design, this traditional eatery promises to serve diners a true taste of Anatolia with every tantalizing bite. Bosporus – named after the famed waterway that runs through Istanbul, boasts a festive family atmosphere that’s made it a magnet for late-night meal sessions.

Must try

For Vegetarians: Plain Humus, Cheese Pide (turkish flatbread with various toppings), Nutella Kunefe & Baklava with Ice cream

For Non–Vegetarians: Icli Kofte (similar to meat Kibbeh), Antep Lahmacun (turkish pizza topped with minced meat), Chicken Iskender or Doner Kabab & Mixed grill & Beyti Kebab.

 

Dubai - Al Ustad Special Kabab

Al Ustad Special Kabab (Iranian)

The minute you enter the doors of this hidden gem, you’re considered family. That’s why it comes as no surprise that it is one of Dubai’s most-loved Iranian restaurants. You will notice vintage embellishments that date back to the restaurant’s opening in 1978. Walls papered with photographs of celebrities who’ve dined here. The vibe is lively thanks to its owners who are ‘pranksters’ in their own right, running the show and keeping the guests entertained. The restaurant is simple and homely, offering perfected family recipes and very generous portion sizes. They definitely score brownie points for serving freebies post dinner, such as the mint tea and dates with sesame syrup.

Must try

For Non-Vegetarians: Kebabs, Kebabs and just Kebabs! Especially Cholo (minced mutton or chicken barbecued and served with rice), Joujeh (Boneless chicken cubes marinated in saffron and barbecued) & Sultani (minced mutton tenderloin)

 

Dubai - Al Mallah

Al Mallah & Al Reef Bakery

Partied all through the night and looking to grab a quick bite at 3 am? Been around for decades, Al Mallah & Al Reef Bakery are your ideal pit stops, open for late night cravings.

Must try

For Vegetarians: Special Deluxe Juice at Al Mallah & Zaatar & Cheese Manakesh at Al Reef

For Non Vegetarians: Chicken Shawarma with cheese at Al Mallah, Meat Manakeesh with Cheese and Labneh at Al Reef. Our friend Azaan has created his own ultimate combination at Al Reef, which we call ‘The Azaan Special’. It’s a mash of Cheese Manakeesh + Chicken Shawarma. It’s definitely a must try!

 

Dubai - al damyati lamb chops

Al Damyati & Iskandaron

A place with no frills and fancies has been serving the best lamp chops (according to us) for the past 3 decades. Unfortunately, we caught a whiff of it only 2 years ago. Located in the alleys of Karama, the meat here is grilled to perfection with ghee. You can also taste bits of the black smoky-charcoaly crust that adds to the mind blowing flavour. It’s utterly butterly delicious and finger licking good! 🙂

Must try

For Non–Vegetarians: Lamb Chops with Hummus & Khubz

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