We love to champion a homegrown hero…

Dubai is bursting with homegrown independent restaurants, that are loved far and wide. These spots offer a range of global cuisines, with their own unique and personal twist, making them some of our personal favourites.

Here are 22 unique independent restaurants the What’s On team love.

Bait Maryam


Located in Jumeirah Lake Tower’s this venue embodies Arab hospitality, acting as a place where individuals from all communities can come and experience family-style Levantine cuisine in a relaxed and cosy space. Chef and owner Salam Dakkak was a former teacher before she became a renowned chef and owner of her restaurant Bait Maryam, which was named after her mother. This locally renowned eatery pays tribute to her mother through it’s home-style cooking, curating Levantine dishes which are inspired by authentic recipes that have passed through generations of the family. Salam Dakkak was also named by World’s 50 Best as the Middle East & North Africa’s (MENA) best female chef of 2022. Her cooking is not to be missed.

Bait Maryam, Cluster D, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai, 10am to 11pm daily, Tel: (0)4 241 8447. @bait.maryam

Café Isan

This authentic Thai restaurant now has a licensed rooftop venue in JLT. Its rustic vibe will transport you straight to the shores of Thailand, and in true form will make for a dinner date under Dhs500, which won’t leave you hungry. Most mains here are around the Dhs50 mark, with a wide selection of spicy soups, curries and noodle dishes as well as a plethora of delicious starters. Their drinks menu is humbly priced with house wines costing Dhs29, five bottles of beer for Dhs189, and buckets of spirits for Dhs99 which includes a triple shot and a mixer.

Café Isan, JLT, Cluster B, Waterfront, Dubai, Tues to Sun 12pm to 10pm, Mon closed, Tel: (0) 58 529 1003, cafeisan.co

Daikan Ramen


This restaurant aspires to bring you delicious, yet simple Japanese cuisine, and that it does. Every. Single. Time. They offer a variety of broth bases from soy to miso, spicy and veggie. Pick from a number of delicious toppings that are available to add in. There are many bites to go along with your meal such as kimchi or gyozas. Daiken Ramen now has several branches across the city, including JLT, DIFC and Nakheel Mall.

Multiple locations across Dubai, @daikanramen

Fusion Ceviche

Penelope Diaz is the owner of Fusión Ceviche JLT, which has already made a big impression on Dubai’s top restauranteurs, chefs, foodies and residents. This chef stays true to her Peruvian roots, and her restaurant embodies community with her menu exploring Peruvian flavours and traditions, moving from cold to hot dishes through a symphony of tastes, textures and sensations.

Fusion Ceviche, JLT Cluster Q, 1pm to 11pm daily, Tel: (0)50 421 4509, @fusioncevichedxb

Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori

This sleek and modern venue serves snazzy dishes that honour tradition whilst bringing a unique flare that amplifies flavour and taste. Goldfish is very much a neighbourhood restaurant that embodies the feeling of community, bringing people together through a shared love of food.

Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori, Galeria Mall, 403 Al Wasl Rd, Al Safa, daily noon to midnight. Tel: (04) 886 4966. @goldfishdubai



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This hole in the wall is a family-run authentic restaurant, that prepares its food above a wood fire grill bar, which can be seen from the whole restaurant. Expect delicious and tender meats, vegetables and carefully curated plates at this small but mighty spot.

Itadaku, 32c Al Wasl Rd, Jumeirah 1, Dubai, 12pm to 1.30pm and 6.30pm to 9.30pm, @itaduku_dubai



This ramen restaurant takes great pleasure in two things: its ramen, obviously, and its laid-back atmosphere where all visitors can unwind with wonderful cuisine and good company. Pick from slow-cooked chicken, cured duck slices, or tenderloin beef as your ramen topping. Kinoya’s other menu items offer yakitori, tempura and sushi, using the finest ingredients which honour true Japanese cuisine.

Kinoya, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Tue to Sun 12pm to 1am, Mon closed, Tel: (0)4 220 2920, kinoya.ae

Lila Taqueria

This hidden gem is a cosy home-grown taqueria, cooking and grinding the finest flavours from Mexico. Utilising traditional cooking methods and authentic wood-fired ovens to create incredible flavours – expect nothing but the best here at Lila.

Lila Wood-fired Taqueria, 786 Jumeirah St, Umm Suqeim, Jumeirah 3, Dubai, Tues to Sun 9am to 10pm, Mon closed, Tel: (0055 560 1778, lilataqueira.com

Little Lamb Hotpot & BBQ

One of the best hotpots in Dubai, this restaurant is located in a number of different locations so avid hotpot goers will never be far. In classic hotpot fashion, you can choose the flavour and spicy level of your broth along with all your favourite ingredients. Little Lamb also has a lovely selection of side dishes including scallion pancakes and dumplings as well as main courses like sweet and sour chicken and spicy shrimp.

Little Lamb Hot Pot, multiple locations including Deira, Dubai Marina and Dragon Mart, littlelambrestaurant.com

Maiz Tacos

birratacos restaurants JLT

A home-grown concept that started as a food truck back in 2018, Maiz Tacos now has a duo of restaurants in JLT and Dubai Hills. By creating high-quality dishes all for an affordable price, all guests will be able to experience a true taste of Mexico. On the menu, there are a variety of burritos, quesadillas, tacos or enchiladas to feast on. Best of all, Dubai Hills also offers a weekend breakfast.

Maiz Tacos, JLT cluster Y, Dubai, Mon to Thur 12pm to 9.45pm and Fri to Sun 12pm to 10.45pm, Tel: (0)4 514 4712, maiztacos.com


Moonrise dubai

This no frills-restaurant is located on a rooftop of a residential building in Satwa, moving away from the usual chic Dubai restaurant setting and focusing solely on the food. Chef Solemann Haddad’s dishes are served over two seatings at 6.30pm and 9.30pm, where 12 lucky guests can enjoy an 11-course omakase menu. Each dish has a story behind it, personally curated by the Michelin-lauded chef fusing a mixture of Middle Eastern and Japanese flavours for Dhs650 per person.

Moonrise, Rooftop Level, Eden House, Satwa, seatings at 6.30pm and 9.30pm, Mon to Sat, Dhs650 per person. Tel: (0)50 697 2946, moon-rise.xyz

Moonslice Pizza

Moon Slice 7

The art of artisan pizza has been mastered by Emirati restauranteur Mahmood AlKamis and chef Reif Othman. Moonslice’s menu will have all pizza lovers singing their praises. The truffle pizza, with pecorino truffle paste, truffle foam, mozzarella and freshly grated truffle is truly iconic. For those wanting something smaller, their squid ink arancini is a delectable dish you need to try.

Moonslice pizza, Dar Wasl Mall, Open Mon to Sun 12pm to 12am, Tel: (0)50 695 9733, @moonslicepizza



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From the creators of Cassette, this urban sanctuary is located in the hip paddel club Matcha in Al Quoz, serving healthy treats with a Japanese twist. This sleek bistro serves everything from breakfast to late-night dinners, bursting with colour and flavours.

Nette, Matcha Club, Al Quoz, Dubai, 8am to 10pm daily, Tel: (0)4 548 8369, @nettedxb

Orfali Bros

Review Orfali Bros

Owned by three Syrian brothers, this gorgeous restaurant was recently placed at the top of MENA’s 50 best restaurants, for its imaginative Mediterranean and Arabian-inspired dishes. Their menu is sectioned into four, with dishes made for one, those that are cold and hot as well as a selection of ‘pides’ – an oval-shaped flat bread brimming with toppings and stuffings.

Orfali Bros, Wasl 51, Sun to Sat noon to midnight. Tel: (0)4 2592 477. orfalibros.com

Pitfire Pizza

Balancing between Neapolitan and New York-style pizza, Pifire Pizza is one pizza lovers don’t want to miss. Diners can order a 10 or 15-inch pizza with a wide variety of toppings, including gorgonzola and roasted potatoes. Pitfire even has vegan options including vegan cheese and fake meat toppings. If there’s one dish you try from Pitfire, make it the lip-smacking garlic knots.

Pitfire Pizza, JLT Cluster D, 11am to 11pm daily, Tel: (800) 748 3473, pitfiredubai.ae

Planet Terra

planet terra vegan veganuary 2023 dubai

Foodies, travellers, and creative types can all congregate at Planet Terra. Soothe your soul as well as your body in this serene environment that is 100 per cent organic and vegan. Everyone can enjoy a veganized version of a British classic with their ‘tofish and chips’, where crispy tofu is topped with toasted nori seaweed, lemon, miso mayo alongside some sweet potato fries – it’s simply unmissable. Terra’s objective is to bring together a fusion of the world’s tastes, traditions and energies as well as using local and ethical suppliers.

Planet Terra, 6th floor, Panorama Building, The Greens, Dubai,  Mon to Sun 8am to 10pm.  Tel: (0)4 578 2000. planetterra.life

Reif Kushiyaki

reif japanese

A homegrown, family-style restaurant offering unconventional Japanese street food. Reif’s impressive menu will have you spoilt for choice. The ‘Duck Sando’ combines duck leg confit, tomato chilli jam, hoisin plum mayo and pickled cucumber between two slices of shokupan bread. His other show-stopping dishes such as the miso burrata, sushi and escargot Kushiyaki are among the many reasons you need to visit Reif’s soon.

Open Sun to Thur, 12pm to 11pm, Fri and Sat, 12pm to 12am, Tel: (0)50 235 7071, @reifkushiyaki

Streetery Food Hall JLT

streetery JLT restaurant

This one-stop eatery has got all your Asian cravings sorted. If you’re like us, we love to try a little bit of everything, and at Streetery, this is encouraged. Choose between four outlets; Fat Aunts, Zen, Pinkimli, and Hing Kee, where you can mix and match Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Korean or Thai cuisine to your heart’s desire. Enjoy your chicken satay next to dim sum, Korean barbecue, roti and or a laksa. The world is your oyster at this food hall.

Streetery Food Hall, JLT Cluster D, Dubai, 11am to 11pm daily, Tel: (0)4 587 3373, streeteryfoodhall.com

Stomping Grounds

A creation by a former Dubai teacher, this indie cafe has taken cafe food to new levels with an array of Australian-inspired dishes that are bursting with colour and flavour. From elevated breakfast dishes to crispy pizzas and healthy bowls, this cafe will do more than quench your coffee craving.

Stomping Grounds, Jumeirah 1, Dubai, Sun to Thur 7.30am to 11.30pm, Sat & Sun 7.30pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (0)4 344 4451, @stompinggroundsdxb


YUI is located in D3, and creates delicious full-to-the-brim handmade ramen with homemade hand-pulled ramen noodles. All dishes are prepared using the highest quality ingredients from Japan and UAE-based farms and the noodles are made from scratch using Japanese flour and traditional techniques.

YUi, Building 7, Dubai Design District, Dubai. 12pm to 10.30pm, daily. Tel:(0)42434217, selectshopframe.com

11 Woodfire

11 woodfire

This unlicensed fine dining concept located in Jumeirah has taken Dubai by storm. Using smokey flavours throughout all their dishes, from savoury to sweet, this restaurant is every meat lover’s dream. It’s also got one of the city’s top culinary talent’s, chef Akmal Anuar, at the helm.

11 Woodfire, Jumeirah 1, Tues to Sun 10am to 12am, Mon 6pm to 12am. @11woodfire

21 Grams


This female-run, family-style bistro brings it’s guests Balkan soul food. Guests can enjoy a cuisine that brings together the amalgamation of flavours that reside in the Balkan Peninsula. Try their signature phyllo pastry, a burek, which can be enjoyed with either a cheese of minced beef filling.

Meyaan Mall, Al Thanya Street, Umm Suqeim 2, Mon to Thur 9am to 6pm, Fri to Sun 9am to 10pm, Tel: (0)50 841 5021, 21grams.me

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