From Chips Oman sandwiches to camel burgers and carrot cake…
One of the best things about living in a multicultural city like Dubai is that you can enjoy a delicious mishmash of cuisines from all over the globe. Whether you’re craving a bowl of ramen noodles or Russian borscht, it’s all right here on our doorstep.
But then there are the classics. These are the dishes you might never have heard of in your home country, but after you’ve lived here for a while, they end up becoming your favourite go-to snacks (late-night shawarma, anyone?). It’s these dishes that give you a real taste of Dubai.
Here are 10 of the most classic Dubai foods…
Why it’s a classic: Luscious, thinly-sliced meat stuffed into a soft pita, garnished with pickles and fries, slathered in a garlicky sauce and smooshed together to form the most delicious wrap you’ve ever tasted… is it lunchtime yet?
Where to get it: Al Hallab Restaurant & Sweets, The Dubai Mall, 10am to midnight. Tel: (04) 330 8828. alhallabrestaurant.com
Why it’s a classic: For many long-time Dubai residents, Chips Oman is the taste of childhood. The spicy crisps can be enjoyed straight out of the packet, or crushed within a warm paratha, spread with cheese and topped with a generous splash of hot sauce. Humble, but heavenly.
Where to get it: Oyoun Al Reem Cafeteria, Shop 13, Za’abeel, Trade Centre Area, 6am to midnight. Tel: 050 151 6129.
Why it’s a classic: Some of the most mouth-watering kebabs outside of Iran can be found on the streets of Old Dubai. Al Ustad Special Kabab has been serving up the marinated cubes of juicy grilled meat since 1978, making it one of Dubai’s longest-running restaurants.
Where to get it: Al Ustad Special Kabab, Al Mankhool Road near Al Fahidi Metro Station, noon to 4pm, 6.30pm to 1am. Tel: (04) 397 1933.
Why it’s a classic: What better way to impress your guests than by introducing them to this adventurous snack? The desert-dwelling mammal is considered a national delicacy and often stuffed and eaten whole, but a camel meat hamburger patty is a good entry-level option.
Where to get it: Local House Coffee Shop & Restaurant, Bastakiya, 10am to 10pm. Tel: (04) 354 0705.
Why it’s a classic: You’ve probably had hummus in your home country, but it’s got nothing on the silky, creamy dip that can be found in every corner of the city. Mop it up with some warm Arabic bread, and you’ve got yourself the perfect healthy snack.
Where to get it: Zaroob, Jumeirah Tower Building, Sheikh Zayed Road, daily 8am to 5am. Tel: (04) 327 6262. zaroob.com
Why it’s a classic: This isn’t just any old carrot cake, oh no. The Lime Tree Cafe’s carrot cake has been legendary since it opened its first outlet way back in 2001. Many have attempted to recreate their magic recipe, but you can’t go past that thick, creamy icing…
Where to get it: The Lime Tree Cafe, Jumeirah 1, Jumeirah Beach Road, 7.30am to 6pm. Tel: (04) 325 6325.
Why it’s a classic: Ok, so it’s not a food – but we couldn’t well leave out the UAE’s favourite beverage. A comforting blend of black tea, milk, sugar and cardamom, it’s the perfect elixir for any time of day (and it’s a smidge of the price of a cup of coffee).
Where to get it: Al Hara Cafeteria, Al Shamook Building, Al Karama, 8am to midnight. Tel: (04) 379 5659.
Why it’s a classic: This divine doughy treat is essentially the pizza of the Middle East. The popular flatbread can have a variety of toppings, but one of the most tasty combinations is a sprinkling of za’atar and some seriously gooey cheese.
Where to get it: Al Reef Lebanese Bakery, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah, open 24 hours. Tel: (04) 394 5200.
Why it’s a classic: A long-time favourite among vegetarians, these delightful fried fritters might just be one of the most versatile foods out there. Stuff them in a pita pocket for a rustic sandwich, or enjoy the crisp morsels on their own, dipped in tahini.
Where to get it: Al Mallah, Dhiyafa Street, Satwa, daily 7am to 11pm. Tel: (04) 398 4723.
Why it’s a classic: To the uninitiated it might look like instant noodles gone wrong, but don’t be fooled – this Levantine dessert is a sweet tooth’s delight. It consists of gooey cheese soaked in sweet rosewater syrup, topped with a special shredded pastry. Just trust us, it’s good.
Where to get it: Feras Aldiyafa Sweets, Barsha 1, near Mall of the Emirates, daily 8am to 12.30am. Tel: (04) 341 3123.
Images: Supplied, Getty, TripAdvisor