DUBAI is not only home to glam hotels, beautiful beaches and cool culture, but it has an incredible food scene, too.
Whether you like cheap and cheerful grub or love a blow-the-budget dining experience, the city has something to suit every taste.
We asked Dubai local and food expert Naomi D'Souza, for the inside track on where to eat in the city.
As one of the 100 Most Influential Influencers in the UAE and a regular reviewer of Dubai's most amazing restaurants, she's perfectly placed to offer advice to visitors – whether they're visiting for the first or fifth time.
For starters, although Dubai is known for its extravagant side, it's worth knowing that it's not necessarily an expensive city to dine in, with many places to eat under £10.
"You don’t need to spend a lot of money to eat delicious food in Dubai, says Naomi. "The tiniest cafeterias and restaurants all serve amazing dishes for the lowest prices."
"My favourite would have to be Seashell cafeteria. I love their shawarmas, karak chai (aromatic, spiced tea with milk), club sandwiches and hassan mathar (a crossover between a shawarma-like stuffed meat flatbread and a cheesy grilled sandwich)."
For a cheap family restaurant, she recommends Calicut Paragon, a South Indian restaurant serving Malayali food. Don't miss their pathiri (a pancake made of rice flour) and Alleppey chicken curry.
And Spice Klub is the place to be if you want a cheap restaurant that feels expensive – "it has super innovative dishes, great presentation and gorgeous interiors, all without being heavy on the pocket at all."
If you want to hang out in the current hotspots of the city head to Kinoya, a new Japanese restaurant serving authentic ramen. But bear in mind it's incredibly popular and book well ahead – at the moment it's almost impossible to get a reservation on the day or even the next day.
Turkish restaurant Czn Burak should also be on your hotlist for spotting all sorts of celebrities.
The Jumeirah neighbourhood, right by the beach, is a great foodie area to hang out in, with endless restaurant options, and the city is most lively on a Thursday night, making it a great time for a special meal out.
Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for in Dubai, and Vibe Café is the super trendy spot right now with great vegan options and fabulous interiors.
One thing Dubai is also famous for is its impressive and glamorous restaurants, so if you're looking for a fine dining option, Naomi recommends Mint Leaf of London, which serves creative Indian food.
At.mosphere at Burj Khalifa is the highest restaurant in the world and has incredible views of Dubai, as do many of the restaurants in Downtown Dubai.
If you fancy a splurge, book a table at Zuma. "It’s expensive, but also super sophisticated, promises exceptional Japanese food and is guaranteed to be a meal you won’t forget. It was also one of the Best 100 restaurants in the world."
Big name chefs flock to Dubai and there are several amazing restaurants to visit, but Indego by Vineet, by Chef Vineet Bhatia and Torno Subito by Chef Massimo Bottura are some of the top picks.
Saya Caffe in City Walk is one of the most Instagrammable spots in the city – "Make sure to wear a cute outfit because you WILL want to click pics, I assure you", says Naomi.
Brunch in Dubai is an institution and Miss Lily’s has one of the best – "It’s a Caribbean restaurant with beach décor, great music and amazing vibes."
You also can't explore the food scene of the city and not try some traditional Emirati dishes. Naomi recommends starting with the Arabic breakfast at Arabian Tea House, which includes scrambled eggs, tomatoes, olives, rose jam, zaatar with olive oil, labneh, halloumi cheese and fresh cream and honey.
There's also plenty of local food to be sampled at Time Out Market, which houses 17 of Dubai’s top rated restaurants in one spot, plus has a terrace with views of The Dubai Fountain.
And Naomi's secret foodie spots? "Koukh Al Shay in Satwa. I LOVE their karak chai. They also do some great rolls – the Chips Oman cheese roll is my favourite. I also love 3Fils, it’s in the Jumeirah Fishing Harbour."
With such a huge variety of delicious food to sample, it's no surprise food fans are flocking to this glamorous city.
"You can literally find anything and everything in Dubai, across all price ranges, across all cuisines, and across all creativity levels," says Naomi. "Dubai is a fantastic city for someone who loves exploring food."
Dubai holiday deals
Atlantis, The Palm – 3 nights, half-board with return Emirates flights and access to Aquaventure Waterpark & The Lost Chambers. Travel between March 1 -30, 2022 – from £1,165pp based on two people sharing
Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Waterpark – 3 nights, half-board with return Emirates flights and one-day access to Dubai Parks and Resorts. Travel between March 1 -30, 2022 – from £1,135pp based on two people sharing
Hilton Dubai Jumeriah Resort – 3 nights, half-board with return Emirates flights and one-day access to Dubai Parks and Resorts. Travel between March 1 -30, 2022 – from £899pp based on two people sharing
Dubai is following a high standard of safety and hygiene measures, earning it the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travels stamp. This includes the Dubai Assured programme, where inspectors visit hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions every 15 days.
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