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Food & Drink

Taste Dubai's best Emirati food

Thu, April 29, 2021

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

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

1

Aseelah

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.

2

Logma

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.

3

Saba'a

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.

4

Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe

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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.

5

Siraj

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.

6

SMCCU

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.

7

Arabian Tea House Restaurant & Cafe

Emirati dishes are in the spotlight here. There are even specially curated breakfast trays with balaleet, khameer, chebab and regag that are ideal for grazers, making this all-day dining stalwart a staple on every foodie's hit list. A relaxed, family-friendly haunt in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, it happily serves up something for everyone. You'll be able to order all the local favourites like harees and lamb, chicken or fish , plus perfectly-marinated barbeque and Arabic plates.

Order: The breakfast platters give you the opportunity to try a variety of delicious small plates.


8

Karak House

Emirati Food in Dubai

Famous for its signature shakshuka and foul medames at breakfast, ideally teamed with a glass of its perfectly balanced karak, this contemporary Downtown Dubai restaurant that retains its strong ties to the city's culture, also has an enticing menu for lunch and dinner. Tuck into hearty portions of chicken mandi, biryani, harees and machboos while sitting on the Boulevard with the majestic Burj Khalifa just in front. If you're not sure what to order, ask the expert waitstaff for their recommendations of the day.

Order: Nothing pairs better with a cup of karak chai than their golden paratha rolls.

9

Local House

If you're looking to sample a camel burger in the city, then this is where you need to head to as Local House is widely regarded as the place it was first created. A casual, well-priced eatery that draws inspiration from traditional Emirati dishes, this atmospheric spot serves up hearty stews and Arabic favourites in an authentic setting that draws visitors and residents alike. Housed in the historic Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, its creekside location adds to the charm.

Order: A camel burger, which comes topped with caramelised onions and a fried egg.

10

Sikka

Sikka Café embodies a rich legacy of the United Arab Emirates, connecting its pearl diving history to its modern cosmopolitanism via taste. Its expansive menu boasts a mélange of local, Indian and Persian cuisines, celebrating flavours loved by Emiratis for over 100 years. The eclectic menu, buzzing atmosphere and trendy location make this a sure-win destination for explorative foodies.

Order: Sikka's royal tandoori platter, which is piled high with succulent grilled meat kebabs.

11

SMAT Restaurant & Cafe

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.
12

Tent Jumeirah Restaurant

With an enviable location by the shimmering shores of Jumeirah, Tent Jumeirah Restaurant is one of the city’s dining gems. The rustic design is an ode to Old Dubai – think barasti-style thatched roofs, tables designed to resemble dhow boats, and traditional majlis-style seating on the sand. Coupled with warm service, seaside views and a menu brimming with delights, and you’ll wish you visited sooner. It's located right beside the fishing harbour, so the seafood is always fresh. Order the grilled shrimp that comes with a delightful housemade sauce, the fish saloona stew, and the perfectly-spiced seafood biryani.

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