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Food & Drink

The 10 best affordable restaurants in Dubai

Mon, May 20, 2024

You'll be pleased to know that the best unpretentious dining in Dubai can be found on a shoestring budget.

You'll be pleased to know that the best unpretentious dining in Dubai can be found on a shoestring budget.




If you're craving wholesome Arabic flavours, you'll want to seek out Palestinian eatery Zaroob. The budget restaurant offers delicious street fare so you can choose a piping hot falafel, savour a manakish and devour a fatayer among other Arabic classics. At the restaurant's location on Sheikh Zayed Road, take a seat in the funky outdoor garden area, or order a wrap to go as you check out the contemporary art galleries at the nearby Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Other branches can be found in Dubai Marina and Motor City. 

Essential info:

Opening hours: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Contact: +971 4 385 3592
Type of cuisine: Classic regional dishes including shakshouka, falafel, shawarma, mixed grill, fateer, karak tea and konafah 
Price range: From AED14 for a za'atar and labneh manakeesh to AED89 for a villager's breakfast tray, with scrambled eggs, feta cheese, foul and more
How to get there: For the Sheikh Zayed Road outlet, take the Red line of Dubai Metro to Financial Centre station, which is a 10-minute walk away


Al Ustad Special Kabab


This little gem is one of Dubai's oldest establishments serving authentic Iranian fare. Located near Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, the inexpensive restaurant is the perfect spot to visit while exploring the city's old town. The decor is quirky with a dash of old-world charm and the service is always efficient. If you're not sure what to order, the kebabs are melt-in-your-mouth perfect, while the saffron-spiced rice mixed with yoghurt-marinated meat is a treat worth sharing.

Essential info:

Opening hours: 11am to 1am (Saturday to Thursday), 5pm to 1am (Friday)
Contact: +971 4 397 1933
Type of cuisine: Persian kebabs plus dishes such as fried fish with rice and barbecued chicken
Price range: From AED7 for a bowl of hummus to AED42 for barbecued mutton tenderloin kebab with rice
How to get there: Take the Red line of Dubai Metro to Sharaf DG station, and Al Ustad Special Kabab is a two-minute walk away


Bu Qtair


This popular cafe serves up deliciously fresh seafood with an ultra-casual vibe right on the atmospheric Umm Suqeim Fishing Harbour. If you're not sure what to order at the unassuming counter, some of the signatures include fried fish of the day, BBQ shrimp and a fiery fish curry. Place your order and the staff will serve up steaming hot fare to your table. Afterwards, walk over to Sunset Beach to snap a shot of the majestic Burj Al Arab.

Essential info:

Opening hours: 11am to 11:30pm (Saturday to Thursday), 1:30pm to 11:30pm (Friday)
Contact: +971 55 705 2130
Type of cuisine: Fresh seafood
Price range: The menu changes according to the day's catch; expect to pay around AED70 per kilogram of seafood
How to get there: Bu Qtair is easiest to reach by taxi, or take the Red line of Dubai Metro to Onpassive station, which is a 12-minute cab journey away


Calicut Paragon


With rave reviews for its flavoursome curries and budget-friendly prices, this Indian restaurant draws a hungry crowd every evening at locations across the city. Delicious fried pakodas (fritters) and cheese-stuffed mushrooms are standard side orders, but it’s the seafood that tends to steal the show. Try the hot crab masala, tangy mango fish curry or whole pomfret in a secret spice rub. A cup of fragrant zafrani (saffron) tea will be the perfect end to your meal.

Essential info:

Opening hours: 7am to 12am daily
Contact: +971 4 335 8700
Type of cuisine: South Indian dishes such as grilled paneer tawa, kanthari chicken curry, mutton varattiyathu and elaneer payasam
Price range: From AED2 for a wheat dosa to AED72 for lamb shoulder spicy masala
How to get there: For the Karama outlet, take the Red line of Dubai Metro to ADCB station, then walk for 15 minutes


Café Isan


If you're craving genuine, home-cooked Thai food at a budget restaurant in Dubai, head to Café Isan. This Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) spot not only provides delicious dishes, it's also one of the most affordable eateries in the city. From tangy curries and hearty soups to a medley of superb stir-fries, you're unlikely to walk away hungry from this much-loved restaurant. You can find two more outlets in Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) and Time Out Market Dubai

Essential info:

Opening hours: 12pm to 12am (Sunday to Thursday), 12pm to 2am (Friday and Saturday)
Contact: +971 58 529 1003
Type of cuisine: Thai dishes such as grilled chicken satay, coconut shrimp, bamboo salad, yellow curry, and mango and sticky rice
Price range: From AED27 for garlic cabbage to AED69 for grilled squid with jasmine rice
How to get there: For the JLT outlet, take the Red line of Dubai Metro to DMCC station then walk for 15 minutes

Café Isan
Food & Drink
  • Level 1, Armada Avenue Hotel, Cluster P, JLT

Aappa Kadai


Having been around for decades, Aappa Kadai in Deira has cemented its reputation in the city for cheap food that never misses the mark. The restaurant serves a wide range of Indian cuisines, including ever-popular Chettinad and Hyderabadi dishes, with plenty of options for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Essential info:

Opening hours: 5am to 12am daily
Contact: +971 4 354 8080
Type of cuisine: Aappa Kadai's extensive menu lists diverse cuisines including Chettinad, Malabar, Tandoori, Chinese, North Indian and Hyderabadi
Price range: Try a range of aappams for around AED5, with other dishes such as the mango fish curry and mutton coconut fry priced at around AED30
How to get there: Take the Green line of Dubai Metro to Gold Souq station, which is a 10-minute walk away


Din Tai Fung


Hailing from Taiwan, Din Tai Fung's location at Mall of the Emirates has delighted dumpling lovers for years. Perfect for fuelling up before you head to Ski Dubai, their hearty versions of noodles, mouthwatering xiao long bao and tasty vegetable dishes have earned them high praise among locals – and you can fill up for less than AED50, making it one of the more affordable restaurants in Dubai. Be warned: the queues are often long and you may have to put your name down on a waitlist before being seated, but it's oh so worth it. There are two other Din Tai Fung outlets in the city, at Dubai Mall and Nakheel Mall. 

Essential info:

Opening hours: 11am to 11pm (Monday to Thursday), 11am to 11:30pm (Friday to Sunday)
Contact: +971 4 265 1288
Type of cuisine: Taiwanese delicacies including maijan noodles in sesame peanut sauce, truffle chicken xiao long bao and bean curd puffs
Price range: From AED12 for a red bean bun to AED78 for the shrimp lettuce wrap
How to get there: Mall of the Emirates has its own dedicated station on the Red line of Dubai Metro


Ravi Restaurant


An institution in its own right, this Pakistani eatery in the cultural melting pot neighbourhood of Satwa is popular with travellers from all walks of life. Everything on the menu at Ravi Restaurant is worth a try, but we suggest ordering the spicy mutton chops and the chicken mughlai – a creamy curry topped with shaved egg. Mop it all up with stuffed paratha bread for an authentic street food experience at an unbeatable price. The restaurant's huge success has led to further outlets across Dubai, in Karama and Al Nahda. 

Essential info:

Opening hours: 5am to 2am daily
Contact: +971 4 331 5353
Type of cuisine: Pakistani classics such as chicken kadai, mutton biryani, vegetable fry, aloo palak and kheer
Price range: From AED6.50 for a serving of dal to AED32 for kabab masala 
How to get there: For the Satwa outlet, take the Red line of Dubai Metro to World Trade Centre station then walk for 20 minutes or take a 10-minute taxi journey


The Meating Room

Situated in Motor City's Neighbourhood Foodhall, The Meating Room is an award-winning BBQ restaurant that features Indian flavours. This no-frills spot is your one-stop shop for delectable finds that won't make a dent in your pocket. The psychedelic lamb chops served with a tzatziki dip melt in your mouth, while the spicy atomic prawns sizzle thanks to their roasted peppers and sambal marination. The Bihari chicken tikka is a must-try, as is the lamb adana kebab roll.

Essential info:

Opening hours: 12pm to 11pm (Monday to Friday), 12pm to 12am (Saturday and Sunday)
Contact: +971 56 106 6105
Type of cuisine: Indian charcoal grill dishes such as BBQ bone marrow, paneer pepper tikka and lamb boti, plus snacks, curries and more
Price range: From AED14 for masala fries to AED72 for the psychedelic lamb chops
How to get there: The Meating Room is easiest to reach by taxi, with no Dubai Metro station nearby

The Meating Room
Food & Drink
  • Neighbourhood Foodhall, Retail G 06, Motor City


Even though the manakish at Mama'esh is modestly priced, its quality is top-notch. The team ensure all their flatbreads are made only from organic flour and using a wood-fired stone oven. An authentic Palestinian za'atar manakish is less than 10 dirhams, but packs in that wholesome flavour you are looking for. With branches spread across the city, it's not hard to get hold of one of their delicious plates within a few minutes, no matter where you are.

Essential info:

Opening hours: 7am to 1am daily
Contact: +971 600 548 287
Type of cuisine: Palestinian street food including eggplant rummaniyeh, maqdous with walnuts, kofta in tahini and pistachio harissa
Price range: From AED9 for za'atar manaesh to AED39 for a lamb sajjeyeh tray
How to get there: For the Business Bay outlet, take the Red line of Dubai Metro to Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall station, which is an eight-minute taxi journey away

Food & Drink
  • Bayswater Tower, Waterfront, Marasi Dr, Business Bay
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