Your ultimate guide to the Dubai Food Festival 2018
Cook with celebrity chefs, discover hidden gems, and eat lots of glorious food…
Time really does fly if you’re a foodie living in the UAE. Dubai Food Festival has now been running for five years, and for this year’s event, it is spreading even further across the city.
So, what can you expect this time around? Pop-up restaurants on the beach, celebrity chefs, market stalls, and food – lots and lots of food. Here are the highlights…
DUBAI RESTAURANT WEEK
The crème-de-la-crème of Dubai’s fine dining scene take centre stage at Dubai Restaurant Week, with 15 high-end restaurants across the city offering a limited-edition 3-course menu for only AED 199.
Be prepared for 10 days of gourmet meals at budget prices when the crème de la crème of Dubai’s fine dining scene serve up three-course dinners for just Dhs199 from February 22 to March 3. There are sittings at 7pm and 9pm each night – but seats are already filling up fast, so we recommend booking now using the RoundMenu website and app. Here’s where to dine:
The Argentine steakhouse serves some of the best meat cuts in the city. Even the views (right in front of the Dubai Fountain) are Downtown’s finest.
2. Asia Asia
The 2016 What’s On Awards winner is a lot of things: glamorous, fun, lively. But above all, it serves a fusion of Asian and Middle Eastern flavours to great effect.
3. Bread Street Kitchen
There’s a lot to love about Bread Street. The service is informed, the food is thoughtful, the ingredients premium, and it’s brought to you by our favourite angry chef, Gordon Ramsay.
4. Lima Dubai
Virgilio Martinez helms the most impressive new Peruvian venue this year. The chef runs the fourth-best restaurant in the world, according to San Pell’s top 50 list. Enough said, really.
5. Folly by Nick & Scott
The What’s On Chef of the Year winners’ latest venture Folly has quickly become one of the best restaurants in the city, with outstanding views to match a spectacular modern European menu.
6. Jodhpur Royal Dining
Indian food with a modern twist. Jodhpur plays a lot with presentation and creates a somewhat unique dining experience for even the most accomplished diner.
7. Jean-Georges Dubai
Now in its third year, this New York-inspired venture imports everything. Sitting inside will let you experience the exhibition-style open kitchen where you can watch your dish go from pot to plate.
8. Pai Thai
Arrive by abra, dine under the stars and be serenaded by live music. The dishes are elegantly presented, with top picks including sticky rice and traditional curries.
The waterside views and the Mediterranean dishes are equally good at this new seafood spot.
10. Scape Restaurant & Lounge
Probably the cheapest way to enjoy an evening at Burj Al Arab, while enjoying some Californian-inspired cuisine.
11. The Atlantic Dubai
Where else can you be seated on the banks of a manmade lake while the world’s tallest tower sparkles as you dine on fresh seafood?
12. Toro & Ko
Spanish cuisine that’s all about bold flavours. You’ll love the paella here.
13. Villa Beach Restaurant
Set on the white sand of Jumeirah Beach, Villa Beach serves good food with Italian, French and Spanish influences.
14. Wakame Dubai
The pan-Asian menu at Wakame effortlessly blends influences from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and further afield in an elegant atmosphere that has made it a contender for our top new date spot.
15. Simply Italian
Located at Club Vista Mare on the Palm Jumeirah, Simply Italian’s menu celebrates fine, fresh flavours with an emphasis on quality ingredients.
A highlight of the Dubai Food Festival, Beach Canteen is almost the heart of the whole event, showcasing the city’s ever-evolving food scene. Budding chefs can brush up on their cooking skills at the many different masterclasses on offer (we’re already eyeing up the chocolate masterclass), while those looking to find their inner zen can take part in morning XYoga sessions followed by breakfast on the beach. You’ll also be able to sample dishes from Dubai’s best home-grown restaurant concepts and food trucks, enjoy live music and comedy shows, plus, there’ll be plenty of activities for little ones.
Sunset Beach, Umm Suqeim 3, February 22 to March 10. dubaifoodfestival.com
Sure, Dubai is a place where big name restaurants open almost every other day – but there are also hundreds of lesser-known eateries, just waiting to be discovered. Dubai Food Festival has made finding these secret spots a little easier, thanks to its 2018 “hidden gems” competition. Spanning traditional Emirati food and authentic ethnic delights in both old and new Dubai, 35 independent venues were shortlisted and nominated for public voting earlier this year. The top 10 hidden gems were announced last week, and throughout the festival, these restaurants will be offering a one-day-only special deal, where diners can enjoy a two-course meal for just Dhs25. You can find out more about the hidden gems here.
THE URBAN FARM
Want to know where your food comes from? Chef John Buenaventura, of Cuisinero Uno (where Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan was recently spotted dining), will take you on a special tour of the restaurant’s greenhouse. You’ll also be able to take part in a planting session with Chef John, and enjoy a one-hour lesson on making healthy smoothies and mocktails. The event is called The Urban Farm and will be running every Friday afternoon from February 23 to March 9.
Cuisinero Uno, Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay, Feb 23 to March 9, every Friday 12pm to 2pm. Tel: (04) 431 7816. More info on website.
TASTE OF DUBAI
If you’re keen to get a taste of everything, head to festival-within-a-festival Taste of Dubai at the Media City Amphitheatre from March 8 to 10. There’ll be music, live demonstrations from top chefs, and the opportunity to sample some of the city’s best dishes – all in one handy place.
Taste of Dubai, Media City Amphitheatre, March 8 to 10, tickets from Dhs80 when purchased in advanced, from Dhs95 on the door. More info on website.
Celebrity chef David Myers will be spending a few days behind the grill counter at his new restaurant, Bleu Blanc in the Renaissance Downtown. He’ll be preparing a three-course meal at this exclusive event (there’s a maximum of six per sitting), while sharing stories of his travels around the globe.
Bleu Blanc, Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Feb 22 to 24, from Dhs350 per person. Tel: (04) 512 5533. More info on website.
DUBAI INTERNATIONAL KITE FEST
The Dubai International Kite Fest returns to Sunset Beach from March 9 to 10. There will, of course, be food involved – you can make a delicious day of it by heading to the Beach Canteen, grabbing a bite from one of the food trucks, and setting up your own little picnic while the sky fills with colour. Bliss.
DUBAI STREET FOOD AWARDS
The inaugural Dubai Street Food Awards will take place on March 10 at Sunset Beach, celebrating some of the city’s best home-grown food trucks and street food vendors. The free event will feature cuisines from all over the world, and a jury of bloggers and entrepreneurs will hand out awards like Best Dessert and Best Street Food Concept.