Sponsored: The Dubai Food Festival returns on March 25 to April 17, and to celebrate, What’s On is deep-diving into one of the city’s most exciting foodie neighbourhoods: JLT.

From some of the city’s best ramen to drool-worthy ice cream sandos, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (or JLT as it is affectionately known) is the unofficial indie restaurateurs location of choice. So park up anywhere, hop on a hire-by-the minute scooter, and follow our foodie trail to these top notch spots…

1st stop
Mexican: Maiz Tacos

Location: Cluster Y
The tacos at this brilliant taqueria pack a flavour punch, especially the birria, which features juicy braised chuck roast with cheese dipped in chili pol, and garnished with onion, coriander, oh, and a glass of braising liquid to dip in. ‘Mouth-watering’ doesn’t even do it justice.

Co-founder and Concept Creator Luma Makhlouf says: “My husband and I first started Maiz Tacos over three years ago. We had big love for Mexican food, and felt there was a gap in the market for authentic cuisine. Making  tacos from scratch just like the ones you’d find in Mexico, on in the most authentic taquerias in the States – that was vital for us. We first launched a food truck on Kite Beach, and after that we popped up all over Dubai. Eventually we decided to make JLT our home and haven’t looked back.”

2nd stop
Ramen: Daikan Ramen

Location: Cluster Y
This concrete-clad ramen-ya is the real deal, slinging hearty bowls that easily upstage some of its city-wide counterparts. Choose from standards like shio and miso, but we say go for the shoyu, a soy sauce base with juicy chicken chashu, egg and scallions.

Co-owner Bilal Elmascan says: Generally ramen is a combination of five vital components: seasoning, broth, noodles, toppings and aromatic oils. These are the ramen pillars. Our ‘chefs special’ comes with all of the best of that, and the people, they just love it. Dubai folk want the whole spectrum of flavours and we believe that we deliver.”

3rd stop
Best burgers:

Location: One JLT Tower
Yes, there’s a lot of excellent burger joints in Dubai, but this place is worth a scoot away from the clusters for the fried chicken sando alone. Ten burgers and sandos are on the menu, with a vast selection of pickles to choose from to add to your patty. Run by Steve Flawith, this brand doesn’t take itself too seriously, which makes it even better.

Head of Brand, David Dougall says: “All of our burgers are cooked to order and all of the ingredients we use are the best possible quality we can find, with no added antibiotics. We started this with the goal to great a taste experience that would stand out in Dubai. We didn’t think it would build as quickly as it has, and that’s why we’ve expanded so quickly… to keep up with demand.”

4th stop
pizza: Pitfire

Location: Cluster D
Dubai’s canon of great pizza joints wouldn’t be complete without this famous brand, which has been slinging perfect pies for years. All the usual toppings are available, but the classic pepperoni primo shines.

Co-owner Michele Johnson says: “I think it’s all about our crust – that is what has made Pitfire so famous in Dubai. It’s something that we put a lot of time, love and energy into. The secret? It’s all about fermentation. We mix three to four times a day and can take up to 72 hours. It’s intense, but clearly worth it.”

5th stop
Best Greek: Mythos Kouzina & Grill

Location: Cluster P
Dubai is inundated with Greek restaurants of late, but the chef at Mythos has been at it for the longest. The minimalist, stone-built taverna, also a big winner at this year’s What’s On Awards, illuminates through lunch and dinner times and wins with its heavenly Greek dishes, like the gyros, Greek salad, and the beef stifado.

Owners Alex and Fay Economides say: “This all began because we saw that Greek cuisine was under represented in Dubai. We have many great memories of dining out in Greece and we thought it would be wonderful to bring that experience here. Working with each other [Alex and Fay are siblings] has been pretty smooth; we work very well together and we have the same creative direction, which we think has helped with Mythos’ success.”


Best Middle Eastern: Bait Maryam

Location: Cluster D
At any given lunch or dinnertime, Bait Maryam will be a cornucopia of smiling Arab expats pining for a taste of home. At Bait Maryam, it feels like you’re dining inside a family home enjoying homemade falafel, sojuk, crispy potatoes and more. Don’t leave without trying the kunafa dessert.

Best Vietnamese: Vietnamese Foodies

Location: Cluster D
You don’t have to head to DIFC to find exceptional Vietnamese food. This hole-in-the-wall spot not only doles out superb, soul-warming pho, but it also slings packed-to-the-brim bánh mì with a variety of fillings.

Best Asian: Streetery Food Hall

Location: Cluster D
Streetery is a homegrown South East Asian food hall. Focusing on the best of Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian and Korean street food, the team takes you to the streets of the largest continent in the world with authentic flavours and cuisine.

Dubai Food Festival: What’s On?

As always, the annual celebration of gastronomy has plated up a calendar full of foodie events, from bespoke gourmet pop-ups to appearances from world famous chefs as well as regular favourites like Dubai Restaurant Week and Foodie Experiences. Discover homegrown concepts, other fabulous neighbourhood haunts and value-for money hidden gems.

Meanwhile, the beloved Etisalat Beach Canteen will return later in the year when visitors and residents can enjoy all the city’s new and home-grown restaurants, whilst enjoying optimal weather.

March 25 to April 17

For more information on this year’s Dubai Food Festival, visit dubaifoodfestival.com