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Food & Drink

Taste Dubai's best Emirati food

Sun, December 26, 2021

Eat like a local at restaurants serving traditional recipes and inspired fare.

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Eat like a local at restaurants serving traditional recipes and inspired fare.




This fine dining venue set in the heart of Old Dubai offers a contemporary twist on traditional flavours. Think sand-inspired colours and a jute-draped ghaf tree centrepiece, infused with subtle aesthetics. 

Savour classics such as samak (fish in gravy with spiced rice), and a delightful menu offering a selection of imaginative dishes, combining indigenous ingredients with European cooking and presentation techniques. The space also boasts a separate lounge area. 

Order: Poached Arabian lobster with herbed pilaf, pureed peas and fennel salad.




Located at Dubai’s funkiest outdoor mall, Boxpark, this casual café serves up authentic Arab Khaleeji cuisine. Tuck in with breakfast specialties such as chebab (Emirati pancakes), and khameer (flatbreads served with date syrup and cheese), or heartier dishes such as Emirati-style chicken and rice.

Those looking for lighter options will find salads and signature sandwiches, but don't leave without trying the ever-popular saffron milk cake for dessert.

Order: Balaleet – Logma’s version features sweet vermicelli with a saffron-spiced omelette.



Ramadan SMCCU Gastronomy

Located in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) is a great place to sample the full variety of authentic Emirati cuisine, while learning about the local culture at the same time.

Through its regular programme of tours and lectures, visitors can tuck into breakfast, lunch or dinner feasts. Relax on the cushioned floor in the courtyard of the once merchant house as dishes – prepared using age-old recipes – are laid out to share, thus preserving the traditions and customs of the Bedouin meal.

Order: Traditional Arabic coffee, served in small finjaan cups from the traditional dallah pot.


Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe

Al Fanaar, Emirati Food

With several outlets dotted across the UAE, this popular restaurant offers a faithful recreation of old-world Arabia with rustic style decor, complete with traditional wind tower designs, vintage lanterns and life-size Bedouin statues.

With a varied menu to match, featuring Emirati classics such as maleh nashef (salted fish in tomato sauce) and jesheed (baby shark with Arabic spices), Al Fanar offers a quintessential Arabic dining experience.

Order: Al Fanar’s shorbat adas, a delicious and delicately-spiced lentil soup.



Siraj Dubai

Imposing arches, Arabic calligraphy and equestrian-themed sculptures all come together to evoke an Arabian Nights-style ambience at this Downtown venue.

Food at Siraj in Souk Al Bahar, is a modern reimagining of Emirati-Levantine flavours – think warm date and kale salad, lobster kibbeh (stuffed dough balls), chicken biryani served in a flatbread parcel, or mouhalabiya (Lebanese milk pudding) served with indulgent 24-karat gold honey.

Order: Perfectly grilled saffron prawns, marinated with just the right amount of spice.



Emirati Food in Dubai

The name gives you a clue as Saba'a translates to seven, showing this spot is open seven days a week. Tastefully decked out in local materials, you'll feel transported to a traditional setting amid this atmospheric location's wind towers while being served stalwarts like foul medames, mezze and strong Arabic coffee for breakfast. At night the emphasis is on meshawi or grills - as huge platters of seafood and meat are in the spotlight. During the cooler winter season, a creekside al fresco table provides a magical ambience.

Order: Meshawi –  you'll be spoilt for choice as platters of mixed meat or seafood are brought for you to feast on.


Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant

al khayma heritage restaurant

From the courtyard setting and lanterns adorning the walls to thatched-palm placemats, it's clear that Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant is more than just a cosy spot for a meal – it's a place to get a feel of Dubai's yesteryears. 

A newer addition to Dubai's growing list of Emirati restaurants, Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant is all about handpicked farm-fresh ingredients. The menu is wide-ranging, covering everything from local favourites like chebab (Emirati pancakes) to hearty meat-laden dishes and sizzling seafood platters.

Order: Breakfast, a highlight here with extensive options for a hearty start to the day, including beid wa tomat (local-style scrambled eggs), dango (spiced chickpeas) and balaleet (sweetened vermicelli with egg).



Among the glistening buildings and creative buzz of Dubai Design District (d3) is the much-loved Emirati restaurant, SMAT. The restaurant’s name translates to ‘dining table’ in Khaleeji Arabic, setting expectations for homely meals aplenty – and it doesn’t disappoint. Most visitors return time and time again for SMAT's authentic Emirati breakfast dishes, such as the regag – a thin, crispy bread with generous fillings of cheese, egg, honey or mahyawa, a salty, spicy fish sauce that's packed with flavour. Or try the Emirati version of pancakes called chebab that’s served with sides of cheese and dips.
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