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Food & Drink

Discover the top 10 street food spots in Dubai

Arva Ahmed

Arva Ahmed

Food explorer

Tue, February 20, 2024

Taste your way around the city, as food explorer Arva Ahmed reveals the best ethnic eateries, old-school favourites and hole-in-the-wall culinary secrets.

Arva Ahmed

Arva Ahmed

Food explorer

Taste your way around the city, as food explorer Arva Ahmed reveals the best ethnic eateries, old-school favourites and hole-in-the-wall culinary secrets.

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Sultan Dubai Falafel for Palestinian-style treats

Tucked away on Al Muraqqabat Road in Deira is some of the best street food in Dubai, Palestinian falafel and hummus. No ordinary dry brown-bellied falafels here, the fryers at Sultan Falafel churn out moist, vibrant green falafels loaded with parsley, coriander and dill. The fresh-baked puffy pita (khubz) from its sister restaurant next door is the perfect excuse to play sandwich artist. Order some accompaniments: slow-cooked fava beans (foul), chilli sauce (shatta), pickles, deep-fried eggplant and cauliflower. Finally, add some velvety hummus splashed with a zesty green pepper and lemon sauce (tatbeela). The pros know to use their fork to smash and smear the falafels inside the pita pocket before adding all the other ingredients. 

Essential information

Opening hours: 7am-1am daily
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Must-try flavours: Falafel
Contact: +971 4 227 5559


Falafel Alzaeem for smoked eggs and freshly-baked ka’ak

Funnily enough, this popular haunt in Deira's claim to fame is actually not the falafel. It's their fresh-rolled Jerusalem-style ka’ak bread dusted with heaps of crunchy sesame seeds. Try a fresh loaf smeared with cheese, lots of tart chilli shatta, herby za’atar and boiled eggs that have been smoked in a bed of woodchips for six hours. You'll find Falafel Alzaeem's authentic food on Al Doha Road in the Hor Al Anz area or on Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 3.

Essential information

Opening hours: 8am-1am daily
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Must-try flavours: Ka'ak bread
Contact: +971 4 330 0735


Sind Punjab for the best chicken tikka since 1977

Deep in the lanes of Meena Bazaar is a Punjabi chicken tikka spot that has been a firm favourite of the local Indian community since the '70s, and regarded as some of the best Indian street food in Dubai. Sind Punjab threads the juiciest skewers of marinated chicken and cooks them over charcoal until smoky and delicious. Hardly anyone ever leaves Sind Punjab without a round of some of its other signature favourites – creamy butter chicken and spicy chana (chickpea) masala mopped up with a stack of flaky laccha parathas. Grab a lassi (yoghurt-based drink) or try the fresh-pressed sugarcane juice with a squeeze of lime to soothe the spice.

Essential information

Opening hours: 8am-1.30am daily

Cuisine: Indian
Must-try flavours: Butter chicken
Contact: +971 4 352 5058


Rangoli for delicious Indian street food

This old-school Indian vegetarian restaurant in Karama may be a little light on ambience, but Indian families who know their chaat (street food) will swear by the pani puri here. These one-bite globes (puri) of crunchy dough are filled with mung beans, spicy chili water (pani), and sweet date and tamarind chutney. The entire liquid-filled puri has to be popped into your mouth all at once, and regulars can polish off multiple plates of this sweet-spicy-tart snack within record time. Other favourites include the spicy puffed rice with raw mangoes and chutney (bhel), a tangy potato and peanut bun (dabeli) and sweetened webbed tubes of fried dough (jalebi).

Essential information

Opening hours: 9am-11:30pm daily

Cuisine: Indian
Must-try flavours: Pani puri
Contact: +971 4 323 6075


Hajar Al Madina Bakery for cream cheese and za'atar bread

The tiny Afghani/Pakistani bakeries dotted across old Dubai churn out piping hot breads that are a worthy companion to a spicy lentil stew. They can even be enjoyed solo, out on the street by the blazing ovens. This closet-sized bakery in Deira's Hor Al Anz has two kinds of ovens – a pizza-style one to make tender, flat and pliable rotis and a cylindrical tanoor oven to make more crunchy, chewy, bubbly breads. But we recommend the stuffed bread, shaped like a stocking and slapped against the hot walls of the oven until it gets puffy and golden. Try the savoury one with cream cheese and za'atar, or the sweet kind with sticky honey and cheese (be careful, the honey gets scalding hot!).

Essential information

Opening hours: 7am-midnight daily

Cuisine: Indian/Middle Eastern
Must-try flavours: Traditional breads
Contact: +971 4 220 9195


Al Habasha Ethiopian Restaurant for comfort food from Africa

You’ll find this place bustling with Ethiopian diners – an excellent sign for a restaurant that serves authentic Ethiopian fare in Deira's Abu Hail area. Al Habasha is owned by the effervescent Sara, who sources choice ingredients like butter and traditional fermented bread (injera) from her home country. Try the fiery red chicken stew (doro wat). It’s the Ethiopian national dish and is ladled directly over the fermented spongy injera. Served without cutlery, the traditional way is to eat with your right hand, using the bread to scoop up juicy bits of food without staining your fingers (a rare feat). There are plentiful options for vegetarians as Ethiopians have many 'fasting days' – and the misir (lentils) and shiro (stew of chickpea powder) are particularly delicious. The food tends to be quite spicy, but you can order in some cooling aib (homemade cottage cheese) to dull the fire, or ask for the alitcha (mild or, more literally, 'coward') version of stews. While dessert has no place in traditional Ethiopian cuisine, enjoy a post-meal coffee ceremony complete with incense, charming mini-cups, a perky black brew and the Ethiopian coffee snack of choice – popcorn!

Essential information

Opening hours: 24/7

Cuisine: Ethiopian
Must-try flavours: Red chicken stew
Contact: +971 50 281 3581


Foul Abu Al Abbas for fava favourites

No one – not even the servers – is quite sure when this Sudanese shop opened in Karama. Some say 20 years ago, others 30, and many can't remember a time when the shop wasn't there. With an incredibly focused menu that can be read all in one breath, the main specialty of this cafeteria is its foul – slow-cooked fava beans. While the dish is found all over the Middle East, the Sudanese often dot theirs with chunks of white cheese similar to feta and serve it alongside hot-dog-style buns (samoon) rather than pita bread. Don't leave without trying a plate of the Sudanese sausages – it comes with a menacingly spicy peanut dakwa sauce whose heat is best extinguished with a swig of hibiscus juice (karkade). You might discover your new favourite place for street food in Dubai.

Essential information

Opening hours: 7am-midnight (closed 11:30am-1pm on Fridays)

Cuisine: Sudanese
Must-try flavours: Fava beans
Contact: +971 4 396 0665


Spice Souk cafeteria for eggy rolls with Chips Oman


No one wraps an egg roll quite like the chaiwallas in this little cafeteria just behind the Spice Souk in Deira. They make a fluffy chilli-studded omelette and roll it into a flaky Keralite-style parotta flatbread that's been smeared with cream cheese and dotted with daqoos (local lingo for 'hot sauce'). Dubai kids of the '80s will get an extra secret ingredient crumbled into their rolls – Chips Oman. These spicy potato crisps flecked with powdery red chilli are not just used to quell the afternoon munchies, they're also crumbled by chip fanatics into various carb-loaded comfort foods. The only drink to accompany an anda parotta roll is a steaming hot chai. The cafeteria boils powdered black tea leaves with indiscreet amounts of sugar, evaporated milk and a few pods of cardamom for a saccharine milky brew that locals love.

Essential information

Opening hours: 7:30am-9:30pm daily (timings vary on Fridays)

Cuisine: Indian
Must-try flavours: Egg rolls


Shiraz Nights for fantastic spicy chicken shawarma

Competition is tough at this local shawarma hangout in Deira's Baniyas area. Right next door, wall to wall, is another older Iranian street food kebab and shawarma restaurant named Hatam Al Tai – also vying for the local palate. Each restaurant has its own set of loyal customers queuing outside its shawarma window. If you only have the appetite to try one, go with the Shiraz Nights version as its chicken shawarma is wrapped in a lacy thin Iranian bread that lets the fillings shine. If heat is your thing, try the spicy version with a pat of chili-garlic aioli (spicy towm). For Iranian sweets in Dubai, sample the traditional halwa for just AED5. Grab your shawarma and a tall glass of layered fruit cocktail and walk over to Naif Park nearby to enjoy your meal alfresco.

Essential information

Opening hours: 7am-1am daily

Cuisine: Iranian
Must-try flavours: Shawarma
Contact: +971 4 222 7720


Homestyle fare at Pars Iranian Restaurant

Tucked away at the far end of the street by Trade Centre roundabout, Pars Iranian Restaurant is certainly worth tracking down. One of this Persian spot's most popular meals is the juicy chelow kebab Sultani, served with a generous heap of saffron butter rice and welcome accompaniments like tomatoes, pickles, lime and chillies. Take the waiter’s suggestion and opt for a feta and mint salad; it goes surprisingly well with the meal. The restaurant is ideal for families and has weekly regulars, so it’s best to book ahead of time if you're visiting on a weekend evening.

Essential information

Opening hours: 11:30am-11:30pm daily

Cuisine: Persian
Must-try flavours: Kebab Sultani
Contact: +971 4 398 8787

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