How to eat your way around the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Dubai
Explore the cuisines of the teams taking part in football’s biggest tournament in Russia, right here in Dubai
With the 2018 FIFA World Cup now into the final round of 16, things are truly starting to heat up. One of the best things about the tournament is the mishmash of cultures from around globe taking part. It’s a great excuse to learn about countries you might otherwise not know a lot about, from everything to their customs to anthems and, yes, even their cuisine.
The best part? Dubai is such a vibrant, multicultural city that you don’t have to travel too far from your doorstep to sample some of the delicious dishes that the participating nations have to offer. Like we even need an excuse…
Russia – Tchaikovsky
There’s an extensive buffet of Russian specialities and you can take in a traditional dance show at this spot that is popular with fans from the tournament’s host nation.
Marina Byblos Hotel, Dubai Marina, Dubai, Sat to Wed 8pm to 3am, Thur and Fri 9pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 4488222. Metro: Jumeirah Lakes Towers. marinabybloshotel.com
Germany – Der Keller
A tournament favourite (despite that loss to Mexico) and the winners of the last World Cup in 2014, and German food is pretty decent as well. Grilled meats and cold steins rule the day at this rustic red-brick German haunt that is well known for its daily happy hour.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Beach Road, Dubai, Sat to Thur 6pm to 11.30pm, Fri 4pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 4323232. Taxi: Jumeirah Beach Hotel. jumeirah.com
Belgium – Belgian Beer Café
Belgium are one of the World Cup’s under-rated teams, but the cuisine has a good reputation in the UAE – you’ll find traditional Flemish stew and plenty of beers to choose from here, but the classic moules frites is the essential dish on the menu.
Various locations including Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Beach Road, Dubai, Sat to Wed noon to 2am, Thur and Fri noon to 3am. Tel: (04) 4470227. Taxi: Souk Madinat Jumeirah. belgianbeercafejumeirah.com
Japan – Katsuya By Starck
With a new coach in Akia Nishino and a thin squad, Japan aren’t expected to go very far at this World Cup – if they do make it to the second round, you can celebrate by grabbing a seat overlooking the turtle lagoon at this sleek and chic spot, serving a popular version of the classic shrimp tempura.
Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel, Beach Road, Dubai, daily 11am to midnight. Tel: (04) 4190676. Taxi: Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel. katsuyarestaurant.com
England – Red Lion
It doesn’t get much more English than this traditionally-styled pub, and you can drown your penalty shoot-out woes and demand that manager Gareth Southgate is sacked with a variety of pints and its artery-clogging English breakfast.
Metropolitan Hotel, Al Thanya Street, Dubai, daily noon to 3am. Tel: (04) 3430000. Taxi: Metropolitan Hotel. metropolitanhoteldubai.com
Iran – Anar
Opt for a traditional Persian stew, merging tender lamb with piquant dried limes, at this popular Middle Eastern joint while cheering on the team and its superstar winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh (the top scorer in the Dutch league last season).
Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Beach Road, Dubai, daily noon to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 3686505. Taxi: Souk Madinat Jumeirah. anardubai.com
France – La Petite Maison
France aren’t expected to win it all in Russia (although many are predicting their young team will romp to victory in 2022), but you’ll find many people who think French cuisine is the best. And is the fine-dining at La Petite Maison the city’s best French restaurant? Tuck into the infamous buratta and superb lamb chops then decide for yourself.
Gate Village number 8, DIFC, Dubai, daily noon to 3.30pm, 7pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 4390505. Taxi: Gate Village. lpmlondon.co.uk
Spain – Toro & Ko
Spain’s team is full of big players from top teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, and this spot in Dubai also comes from a top star – chef Ken Oringer. It’s a stylish spot serving modern tapas, grilled seafood and a truly authentic paella.
The Square, City Walk, Dubai, Sun to Wed noon to 1am, Thur to Sat noon to 3am. Tel: (04) 5905433. Taxi: La Ville Hotel. torodubai.com
Poland – Suvoroff
This is the place to go if you want to try meat-stuffed pierogi dumplings and potato pancakes. While there, you can impress the staff with your knowledge of the national team – the Poles aren’t one of the favourites to win it all in Russia, but they went into the tournament ranked 8th in the world, thanks to the hard work of their manager and former player Adam Nawalka. Just like the cuisine, expect a few surprises from this team.
Murjan 1, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai, daily 10am to midnight. Tel: (04) 4370178. Taxi: Murjan 1, JBR. suvoroff-uae.com
South Korea – Hyu
Fans who want to cheer on the likes of Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-Min will want to head to Hyu – the spicy popcorn chicken and stellar bibimbap at this family run spot will ruin fast food forever.
Cluster O, JLT, Dubai, daily 11am to 3.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm. Tel: (050) 8717389. Taxi: Cluster O. facebook.com/koreanrestaurantdubai
Australia – Jones The Grocer
You’ll likely queue for weekend breakfast, but the coconut pancakes and avo toast are well worth it. While there, you can discuss just how bad the team’s new home kit is. Just what is going on with those sleeves?
Various locations including Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Manara, Dubai, Sun to Thur 7.30am to 11pm, Fri and Sat 8am to 11pm. Tel: (04) 3466886. Taxi: Al Manara. jonesthegrocer.com
Mexico – Loca
Get your friends together to share some inventive guacamole dishes, fajitas and chimichangas while you discuss this weird fact about the team’s manager – Colombian Juan Carlos Osorio. He went to university in Liverpool in the UK and lived in an apartment near the Liverpool team’s training ground so he could secretly watch them train.
Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Beach Road, Dubai, daily noon to 2am. Tel: (04) 3461111. Taxi: Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa. locauae.com
Saudi Arabia – Aldka
Named after the Saudi Arabian reception area to welcome guests, this spot promises an authentically homely experience where you can try traditional dishes such as breakfast dish hemssa lamb liver and mains such as megalgel (lamb or chicken cubes with onion, paprika and black pepper).
Hessa Street, Al Barsha 3, Dubai, daily noon to midnight. Tel: (04) 3577606. Taxi: Close to Saudi German Hospital. aldkafood.ae
Sweden – Ikea
The 2018 Swedish team is regarded as solid if unspectacular by many pundits now that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has retired – a bit like Scandi store’s legendary meatballs and Dhs1 ice creams.
Dubai Festival City, Dubai, Sat to Wed 10am to 1am, Thur and Fri 10am to 1am. Tel: (04) 2037555. Taxi: Ikea. ikea.com
Egypt – Hadoota Masreya
A hit with the city’s Egyptian diaspora, the koshari here is regarded among the most authentic outside Cairo by many.
Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Safa, Dubai, daily 9am to midnight. Tel: (04) 2753066. Taxi: By Indigo Living. hadootamasreya.com
Portugal – Alma 560 Cafe
Avoid the clichéd places like Nando’s and head for a taste of Portugal so authentic we think even superstar Ronaldo would approve. Alma is known for its traditional egg tarts and breakfast dishes such as coconut bread with cheese and smoked roast beef.
Building 5, Gold And Diamond Park, Al Quoz, Dubai, Fri to Sat 9am to 10pm, Sun to Thur 8am to 10pm. Tel: (04) 3405060. Taxi: Gold And Diamond Park. alma560.com
Brazil – Frevo
You might want to skip lunch before a visit to this churrascaria – huge piles of meat, carved tableside, will keep arriving until you admit defeat. Less likely to admit defeat are one of the pre-tournament favourites, with superstars such as Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar in their line-up.
Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, Sat to Wed 7pm to 11:30pm, Thur to Fri 7pm to midnight, Dhs295. Tel: (04) 4573457. Taxi Fairmont The Palm. fairmont.com
Argentina – Gaucho
One of the teams expected to win it all in Russia, there’s much pressure on superstar striker Lionel Messi, regarded by many as the world’s best. You can debate that and more at one of Dubai’s best steakhouses, that just happens to be Argentinian as well. Head here for stellar steaks and a super-chic crowd.
Gate Village 5, DIFC, Dubai, Sun to Thur 9.30am to 11.30pm, Fri and Sat noon to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 4227898. Taxi: Gate Village. gauchorestaurants.com
Serbia – 21 Grams
There’s a common misconception that Balkan cuisine is all meat and potatoes, but 21 Grams proves that’s not the case. You’ll find tons of fresh bread and hearty stews at this outlet that also serves Bosnian and Macedonian grub.
Corner of Beach Road and Al Thanya Street, Umm Suqeim 3, Dubai, daily 7am to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 3490744. Taxi: Corner of Beach Road and Al Thanya Street. 21grams.me
Morocco – Almaz By Momo
Expect a contemporary update on Morocco’s traditional tagines and pastries at this stylish beachfront diner.
The Beach, JBR, Dubai, daily 9am to 1am. Tel: (04) 5516247. Metro: Jumeirah Lakes Towers. altayer.com
Peru – Garden
Serves a variety of Peruvian dishes including ceviches tiraditos and mains such as sea bass with lobster bulgur wheat and criolla salsa. Make sure you try their brunch deal – it’s a chance to discuss how the team’s captain Andre Carillo got his nickname The Snake.
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, Dubai, daily 6pm to midnight, Fri brunch 1pm to 4pm. Tel: (04) 4143000. Metro: Business Bay. jwmarriottmarquis dubailife.com
Eagle-eyed readers will know there’s 32 teams at the World Cup, but only 21 on our list. That’s because these countries are not represented in the emirate’s culinary scene: Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Iceland, Nigeria, Panama, Senegal, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uruguay. So if you’ve got a few dirhams spare and want to start a restaurant, there’s a few niches available.