Where to find authentic dishes from around the world
Dubai is home to many award-winning restaurants that offer an authentic taste of international cuisines, thanks to the talented chefs and restaurateurs who bring a slice of their native heritage to this multicultural city. Here is a selection of some of the most traditional eats in Dubai.
Casual Italian at Via Veneto
Inspired by the flavours of Milan, Venice, Naples and Rome, this cucina and osteria prides itself on its rustic Italian fare. Sitting by the open kitchen will have you feeling like you’re in a busy Italian trattoria, as will the woodfired pizzas and tasty pasta dishes. Dine outside at the spectacular terrace and you'll be greeted by sweeping views of the Burj Khalifa.
Home-style Greek at Mythos
Tucked away by a basement car park of a Jumeirah Lakes Towers building is Greek-owned Mythos Kouzina & Grill, an authentic taverna featuring rustic-style furniture and Cycladic design elements. Here you’ll find hearty home-style dishes – including popular favourites such as gyros and souvlaki – and a warm, welcoming vibe that will make you feel right at home. It’s a fast favourite with the JLT locals, but also with those further abroad too, with people travelling from far and wide for what’s renowned as Dubai’s best Greek food.
Classic Lebanese at Babel
With its large expat population, Lebanese cuisine has seeped into Dubai’s lifestyle and culture over the years ensuring you’re never too far from an authentic venue. One such restaurant is casual concept Babel at La Mer, where you’ll find a chic setting and fabulous fresh food including hot-off-the-oven breads, succulent grills and the finest seafood.
Peruvian plates at Coya
One could say 2016 was the year Peruvian cuisine took the world by storm – and the 10-odd Peruvian restaurants that opened in Dubai alone are proof of that. However, there’s one that has long reigned above them all – and that is Coya. Think refreshing ceviches, delightful tiraditos and flavour-packed anticuchos. Nestled in the Restaurant Village by Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, the restaurant presents flavour-packed cuisine in a stunning setting, complemented by slick service.
Persian delights at The Iranian Club
Serving up a smorgasbord of Persian food, The Iranian Club is a weekly pilgrimage for Dubai's Iranian residents. Most opt for the juicy mixed grills, with the saffron-spiced shandiz (lamb chops) and pan-fried zobeidi fish firm favourites. A large space capable of hosting groups for celebrations, the cultural centre caters to a more conservative crowd, with guests expected to follow a modest dress code that includes hair-covering headscarves for women.
Mighty Mexican at Luchador
Part modern Mexican restaurant, part hip hang-out spot for Dubai’s weekend crowd, Luchador is one cool cantina. Attracting its fair share of amigos, there’s fresh, made-to-order platters of tacos, quesadillas, and a ceviche assortment packing a south-of-the-border flavour punch. Diners are encouraged to take their time and stay on for the restaurant’s evening transformation into a Latino lounge, with an in-house band and DJ spinning Español tunes until the early hours.
Terrific Turkish at Kaftan
A local favourite, Kaftan’s secret garden is full of lush greenery and clear paneling to preserve the venue’s city-side views of the Burj Al Arab and natural light. Diners can enjoy a summery al fresco meal featuring Turkish favourites such as bal and kaymak, an organic fresh honeycomb dolloped with thick cream and scooped up with oven-baked bread, and delicious Arabian grills and mezze sharing plates until late. It’s well-known for its excellent breakfasts too, and has recently opened a second outpost in the city’s beachfront development, La Mer.
Australian tastes at Brunswick
The farm-to-table based menu base invites those looking for an off-beat superfood lunch, a gourmet take on a hot dinner, or the restaurant’s ten course brunch. Its Australian background abounds, with a lamington souffle and Aussie beef burgers appearing. The Brunswick still welcomes walk-ins from the adjoining Mall of the Emirates but it’s best to book ahead to secure your table. It’s also owned and run by Australian Tom Arnel and Spaniard Sergio Lopez, whose first venue, Tom & Serg, first brought cosy, hipster cafe culture to Dubai.
South African flavours at Nezesaussi
The name might seem incomprehensible, but when you understand what it stands for, it will all become a lot clearer. Nezesaussi is a humble ode to all things Tri Nations – New Zealand, South Africa and Australia – and its name is a mesh of all of those countries put together. It’s menu and interior is, too. Its menu is a mix of hearty fare and specialties from the homelands – think nachos, burgers and meat pies. It’s perfect for tucking into just before kick-off of an All Blacks match. There’s a second Nezesaussi in Manzil Downtown, too.
Vietnamese wonders at Hoi An
This Vietnamese teahouse in the luxurious Shangri-La Hotel offers a full menu of authentic dishes for an unforgettable dining experience. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the extensive menu, which the enthusiastic, well-informed staff can take you through. The menu brings a blend of authentic Vietnamese food with French-style cooking to the table, meaning a lot of old favourites with new twists. Try the pho with Wagyu or lobster, or the deep fried sea bass with mango salad.
Canadian cuisine at Weslodge
Mixing modern North American with a unique ‘Rock and Roll’ vibe, this Toronto import is just the right amount of contemporary, unique and elegant. Located 68 floors up in the former world’s tallest hotel, JW Marriot Marquis, it’s also set to offer you an outlook like no other. While the menu is varied, there’s a couple of staples to look out for, namely, the lobster poutine and the southern fried chicken. Yum. While it’s not exactly a diner somewhere just off a highway in Canada, this is North American soul food at its best.
Irresistible Irish at The Irish Village
The Irish Village in Garhoud is less of a village and more of a cosy tavern, which suits its regulars just fine. Here, the bangers and mash and a hearty cottage pie take top billing on a menu that sticks to Gaelic comfort foods, punctuated with the occasional (but still substantial) salad. The venue hosts a steady stream of musical acts throughout the year, as well as a quaint and celebrities such as Sir Bob Geldof have even been known to stop by when in town.
Japanese flair at Zuma
With locations in the world’s most exciting destinations, including Miami, London and New York, Zuma is right at home in vibrant Dubai. Inspired by nature’s elements, the setting is chic granite counters and rusted-steel walls. Whether you take a seat at the private dining area, sushi and robata counter or main restaurant, Zuma does not disappoint. The menu has it all, from small plates such as salmon and tuna tartare with sevruga caviar, to signature dishes including seabass with yuzu, truffle oil and salmon roe. You’ll soon be back for more.
Contemporary Indian at Tresind
Tresind is a favourite by many in Dubai, having cultivated a following who will travel for its ‘modernist Indian cuisine’. Long heralded as some of the most innovative takes on Indian cuisine in the city, Tresind offers a menu that pushes the envelope of fusion dining. Try unique dishes like the peanut butter medallion with mint chutney and tomato powder, or the Wagyu satay. The restaurant’s adventurous sister offering, Carnival by Tresind, is also worth a try.