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Food & Drink

10 best budget restaurants in Dubai

Thu, May 25, 2023

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 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).


Al Ustad Special Kebab


This little gem is one of Dubai's oldest establishments serving authentic Iranian fare. Located near Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, it's 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.


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.


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.


Café Isan


If you have a craving for genuine, home-cooked Thai food while you're in Dubai, head to Café Isan. This Jumeirah Lakes Towers spot not only provides delicious dishes, but is 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.


Aappa Kadai


Having been around for decades, Aappa Kadai has cemented its reputation in the city as a bargain eatery for surefire hits. 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. There are several branches of this no-frills chain dotted around the city, but visitors often head to its Dubai Marina location to combine a flavour-packed meal with sightseeing.


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. 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.


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 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.

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.

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