11 incredible women, 11 incredible recommendations… 

Choosing a favourite restaurant in Dubai is not the easiest task with endless possibilities depending on the mood, cuisine, and occasion. So, to point you in the right direction, we asked some of our favourite women who work in the world of food to share their top recommendations.

It’s fair to say these female chefs and restauranteurs know a thing or two about the city’s restaurant scene. From Michelin-Star restaurants to local gems you may not have heard of, here are some of their favourite restaurants in Dubai that they think you will love too…

Stasha Toncev

Founder, 21Grams 

My all-time favorite Dubai restaurant is Mythos, across both their JLT to City Walk locations. I’ve been a fan since their Bur Dubai beginnings. I love their team, food, and cosy ambiance – whenever I’m at Mythos, it feels like a warm embrace from old friends. My go-to dishes are taramosalata, grilled calamari, and saganaki prawns – every single time, they transport my soul to Greece.

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Shaw Lash

Co-founder and chef, Lila Taqueria

My favourite restaurant in Dubai is La Fabbrica Italiana Focacceria. Sure, the focaccia is great – but for my husband, Tarek, and I, the fresh pastas are a bit of an unsung hero – the spaghetti nerano takes us straight back to Capri and the lasagna is like a warm Italian hug, and Karam and Maurizio are such warm and lovely hosts. It’s one of our favorite lunch spots.

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Jill Okkers

Culinary director, Tashas Group

I don’t eat out often, however, Tresind is really close to my heart. I go at least once a year for special occasions. Everything about it is consistently flawless: the food, the service, the experience, the team. The fact that Indian cuisine has been showcased in this way makes my heart sing. I also love Kinoya. I always feel like I am not in Dubai when I am sitting in that space. I’ve followed Neha’s story for the past six years and am ridiculously in awe of her, her attention to detail, her focus, her palate, and her passion. It’s been the most amazing journey for her and her team, which started from her living room. She’s also a woman of colour in food and that representation is priceless.

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Luma Maklouf

Co-founder of Maiz Tacos, Good Burger, and Lumascakes  

A favourite hidden gem that tugs at my heartstrings is called Sallet Al Sayad in Karama. It’s a Palestinian seafood restaurant that serves the most delicious grilled fish, shrimp, and much more marinated in their house spicy salsas. They also have amazing breads, salads, and mezze. The staff is uber-welcoming and always happy to see you. It’s a place I always crave and bring all my friends to.

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Penelope Diaz

Founder and chef, Fusion Ceviche

The restaurants I revisit most often are Bait Maryam in JLT and Tasca at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Chef Salam (the founder of Bait Maryam) is an inspiration to me. I go here for the delicious Levantine food, cosy, relaxed atmosphere, and the fatet lahme (lamb) with rice is my go-to order. At Tasca, I love sitting in the restaurant and watching the chefs in the open kitchen. My advice is to order the tuna tartare, the tiger prawn rice, and the codfish salad.

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Gabriela Chamorro

Chef and founder of Girl and the Goose

Dubai is such a unique place, it offers the opportunity to taste and enjoy different cuisines, from some of my absolutely favourite institutions in Deira and Bur Dubai to the most luxurious meals at Tresind Studio and Ossiano, but Couqley has become one of my top destinations among my culinary adventures. It is their consistency, quality, and warmth that sets them apart. Expect every aspect of their unparalleled blend of French bistro, cozy and welcoming ambiance, and great value for money. For me, the steak frites and escargot never fail to satisfy my palate.

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Samantha Wood

Food writer and curator (foodiva.net)


I always get asked this question – impossible to answer as it really depends on the occasion, the company, the cuisine, and the location. If I had kids, it would be like choosing a favourite. Hence I publish an annual guide every year to my top restaurants in Dubai. However, one restaurant that is close to my Greek-Cypriot heart is Mythos – the OG in JLT which has pork on the menu! Delicious wallet-friendly meze morsels, and the warmth of the service, like neighbourhood tavernas in Greece or back home in Cyprus, set this restaurant apart.

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Haya Bishouty

Founder, Haya’s Kitchen 

Sallet Al Sayad has to be my go-to for comfort food! Luma (owner of the best Mexican in town Maiz Tacos) introduced me to them a few years back and I crave it all the time. It’s a Palestinian hidden gem in Karama from the heart of Gaza, which is most famous for its seafood dishes. My top dishes would be the Gazawi spicy salad, the grilled shrimp and sea bass in their secret Gazan sauce, and their bread is drool-worthy!

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Michele Johnson

Founder, Pitfire Pizza


My current favourite spot is Lila Woodfired Taqueria.  I have been to Mexico many times and visited many cities and, for me, authentic Mexican food is some of the best food in the world.  Lila delivers just that – authentic Mexican flavors made with love which can be tasted in every bite.  They go the extra mile to ensure the food quality is the best that it can be, and they are the first Mexican restaurant to import dried corn (from Mexico) and process it into fresh masa (the base for the tortillas & chips). What to order: chips and guacamole, tuna tostada, caesar salad, tacos (my favourite is the steak), or for something more indulgent, order the whole grilled snapper or the grilled ribeye. Finish with the churros and you will go home happy and full!

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Tiffany Eslick

Head of content, Spinney’s and Waitrose

orfali bros

I can’t imagine life in the UAE without my regular visits to the multi award-winning Orfali Bros – helmed by Syrian chef and TV personality Mohammad Orfali at Dubai’s Wasl 51 complex. I go there for food that’s packed with a clever confluence of flavours and the intimate atmosphere that is always abuzz. My order, like chef Mohammed’s creations, is consistent and includes the umami éclair – a mushroom and beef, marmite-y marvel; a bowl of “Guess What” – I won’t give the game away; that pomelo salad with calamansi (IYKYK); moreish wagyu beef dumplings with garlic yoghurt and sujuk oil as well as a burnt leek and truffle pide topped with hazelnuts for crunch. Mohammad’s pastry chef bros Wassim and Omar are responsible for desserts. And their much-coveted canelés are addictive.

Kunwal Safdar

Chef and founder, Moreish by K 

dibba bay

As we all know there are many great restaurants in Dubai. I love some old but gold ones namely Shabestan in the Radisson on the Creek, Sind Punjab, Bu Qtair, and Delhi Darbar – these are the casual eats. But then I also love specific things at different places like the cheung fung at Long Teng, tamarind chicken wings at Sticky Rice, garlic knots at Pitfire, halloumi bowl at Tom & Serg, lamb tacos at Lila Taqueria, baked alaska at Flamingo Room, grilled oysters at the Dibba Bay, I could go on and on…

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Images: Provided/Social