Dubai dishes infused with culture
Like the city itself, Dubai's menus have borrowed heavily from a melting pot of cultures. Taking the best bits from Levantine (flatbreads and mezze) and Moroccan cooking (tagines and meat stews), with Emirati twists added in such as camel milk and saffron threads. In fact, Indian biryani is the inspiration for many Emirati rice dishes, while the use of limes, lemons and rosewater is influenced by Persian cuisine.
Qwaider Al Nabulsi: Breakfast DXB style (Palestinian influences)
Start your morning the way hundreds of local commuters do with a visit to Qwaider Al Nabulsi diner for a kunafa, the Arabian version of a cheese danish. Topped with crispy shredded pastry, melted cheese oozes out from a sweetened egg-glazed roll for a finger-licking favourite. Pair with the ubiquitous iced lemon-mint drink, perfect for cutting through the sugary breakfast roll while quenching that early-morning thirst.
Near Emirates NBD, Al Muraqqabat, Dubai
+971 4 227 7760
Logma: Contemporary Khaleeji eats (Emirati influence)
Take quality ingredients; add a dash of style and a sprinkling of atmosphere … et voila! You have Khaleeji treats from Logma! The food is as attractive as the venue. Logma is the place to be at on weekends, fulfilling those lazy-day cravings.
Start the day off with a ‘Traditional Breakfast Platter’ packed with baith tamat, balaleet, khameer, chebab, regag, with a side of date syrup, and cream cheese. Tickle your tastebuds with lugaimat and gahwa in the afternoon. Then if you have enough space, welcome the evening with chebab katayef – a traditional favourite with a contemporary twist featuring a crisp chebab pancake, date, mascarpone, saffron cardamom syrup and finished off with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
BOXPARK, Al Wasl Road, Al Safa, Dubai
Zaroob: Break bread in Dubai’s hip art district (Lebanese influence)
An afternoon craving could see you breaking bread with the achingly hip and arty crowd at Zaroob. Specialising in man'oushe (the collective term for flatbread bakes and wraps) and open 24 hours, the Emirati-owned eatery aims to recapture the Levant era with their huge menu of fresh mezze and grills. Inside is brightened up by street-inspired artwork, while the long outdoor terrace is popular with locals looking to catch some sunlight. Be warned – servings are super-sized, although it's a welcome common practice for leftovers to be automatically wrapped up to take away.
Shop # 1, Ground Floor, Jumeirah Tower Building, along Sheikh Zayed Road
+971 800 927662
Al Tawasol: Family-style feasts (Yemeni Influence)
Dining with a large group? Pull up a cushion and share your meal family-style minus Western cutlery in one of Deira's traditional tent rooms. Al Tawasol is a consistent favourite among residents and neighbouring visitors craving a smorgasbord of tummy-filling dishes like shorbat adas (lentil soup), chicken machboos (chicken cooked with rice in a blend of roasted spices or besar) and laban (thickened drinking yoghurt). There's even a half-sheep dish for the extra-peckish. End your meal with a cup of cardamom-scented coffee, made from green beans, served strong and sweetened with a few drops of sugar syrup. The qahwa blend from Bateel rings true to the nomadic tribe's version, and is even better when paired with the cafe's succulent stuffed khidri dates.
Near the clock tower, Abu Baker Al Siddique Street, Al Rigga
+971 4 295 9797
Al Samadi Sweets: Desserts in Deira (Lebanese Influence)
Those wanting something a little sweeter will find it worth venturing back to Al Muraqqabat Street and filling a box of cookies and pastries to go at Al Samadi Sweets. Here, customers can pick from stacked pyramids and shelves of sweet treats, with residents often dropping by to order in bulk to keep at hand for unexpected guests. Try the ma’amoul (spiced date cookie) and bukaj (the cashew nut-stuffed baklava pouch), both favourites to cap off celebratory feasts.
Al Muraqqabat Street
+971 4 269 7717
For more tasty treats, don't miss the annual Dubai Food Festival that takes place every year from February to March.