It runs in the family…

What is not great food, if not made with love? Family restaurants are often spots with the most love to give, with wonderful stories of humble beginnings, shared passions and the togetherness of building a business as one. Perhaps, everything is better at a family restaurant because of the extra mile taken – the legacy elevates it. In Dubai and beyond, there are many such establishments, flanking desire and familial love in their fare for all of of us to experience. You can be a part of their story too.

Ravi


An iconic family restaurant, Ravi is one of the most iconic spots of Dubai and has seen the city grow and transform over a period of more than 45 years. It was established by the mild-mannered Chaudary Abdul Hameed in 1978, a labourer who came to the UAE from Pakistan in the hope for a livelihood and a better life. He helmed this ship until his sons. Waqar, Waheed and Waseem joined the business in key positions and have been running it ever since.

Ravi has become something of a rite of passage in Dubai, a symbol of pop culture and a hotspot that not only attracts new tourists but age-old regulars who have known and loved the place for a long time. If there is only one venue that serves authentic Pakistani cuisine in the city, it’s Ravi.

@ravirestaurantsuae

Odeon

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by odeondubai (@odeondubai)


Inspired by the joys of Parisian life, Odeon, the winner of What’s On Awards’ Best Homegrown Restaurant of Dubai, was established by couple Thomas and Morgane Duhamel, a chef and an artistic director, and now both co-founders and partners in the restaurant-market-catering service. The staff has grown to over 50 members, all part of a chosen family made up of chefs, bartenders, servers, cheesemongers, fishmongers and culinary experts.

Thomas, having worked with the likes of chef Yannick Alleno, and Morgane, having been in the hotel industry earlier, work together to offer patrons a slice of the Parisian life. It’s homegrown, it’s unique and it’s a labour of love. What’s not to like?

@odeondubai

Marmellata


Marmellata is truly a family restaurant and the brainchild of father-son duo Raj and Sebastian Dagstani, established in 2019. It operates as a no-fuss, no-frills, no-reservations spot that serves incredible pizza. A hotspot in the capital, the core of Marmellata is the team that runs it, and the story of how it all began.

Raj and Sebastian kicked off operations with selling homemade pizzas and focaccias from their tiny kitchen. The shop was open only one night a week, always selling out almost immediately, but since exploding in popularity, they’ve upgraded in space and timings. You can feel the love and the homemade authenticity in every bite of Marmellata pizza. It’s delightful and so is the the energy of the father and son.

@marmellatalove

Pitfire Pizza


Another neighbourhood pizzeria, Pitfire Pizza is the creation of Michele and Bill Johnson, husband-and-wife restauranteurs who started their award-winning homegrown venture after walking away from a flourishing corporate career with no experience in the F&B industry, and only a passion for good pizza. Today, they have a huge fan following, and are known and loved for their pizza style – not quite New York, not quite Neapolitan, with 72-hour aged sourdough for the crust.

The couple has grown the brand into a chain of multiple branches across Dubai, and continues to do cool and inventive things and collaborations with other cult favourite names.

@pitfirepizzabakers

Lila Taqueria


Home of delicious, authentic Mexican fare, Lila Taqueria was founded by Chef Shaw Lash and her partner Tarek Islam. While Chef Shaw is primarily at the forefront of the operations, handling all things food, menu and kitchen, while also being the face, the couple runs the brand together. Recent expansions have seen the opening of a second branch, Lila Molino, at Alserkal Avenue, which is incredibly exciting.

Chef Shaw has worked alongside Chicago’s Rick Bayless, opening a variety of fast-casual Mexican concepts in both Chicago and New York, and also studied under Diana Kennedy, an ethno-gastronomer of Mexican cuisine, so she knows what she’s doing.

Al Ustad Special Kabab


Like Ravi, Al Ustad Special Kabab is a full family restaurant and enjoys legendary status in the city and for all the right reasons. Opened in 1978, the restaurant has stuck around in the back lanes of Bur Dubai since the emergence of the World Trade Centre on the horizon, and has built up a clientele of not only the regulars, but also celebrities from around the world who flock to Dubai now.

Mohammed Ali Ansari of Iran brought his simple menu, delicious kababs and the magic of the human connection and helmed that ship until his passing. His three sons continue to run the business, now a hidden gem plastered with photographs of famous visitors and a commendable legacy of of an unlikely restauranteur.

@ostadi_1978

Mama Rita


Three generations of Mediterranean and international home cooking – that is the story of Mama Rita. Founded by mother-daughter duo Rita and Jessica Kahawaty, this venture began when former model, passionate homecook and mother Rita was taught how to cook by her mother, Nahil. Rita has been a successful model for much of her life, but her most loved creation is this venture, serving a menu of simple, homey and cosy food, meant to emulate the goodness of a mother’s meal.

There’s a blend of Middle Eastern, Venezuelan, African, Italian and more flavours in the menu and each dish is made with heart. The brand is a delivery only service and also offers catering options for groups of six to 20.

@mamarita

Bait Maryam


Chef Salam Daqqaq is the force behind this venture. Bait Maryam, or Maryam’s House, was named as such after Chef Salam’s mother, a tribute to her simple homestyle cooking full of flavour, goodness and love. Bait Maryam serves typical Middle Eastern fare, Levantine cooking from the land of Belad Al Sham in Syria in a cosy, comfortable and inviting setting.

Everything about Bait Maryam says family – the comfortable space, how much Chef Salam invokes her mother and the inspiration she took from her, and the simplicity of the food and how it may take one back to their own homes.

@bait.maryam

Mama’esh


Authentic Palestinian street food straight from Nablus – this is what you’ll get at Mama’esh. It’s a simple concept, with delicious fare served for the whole neighbourhood, with ingredients imported from Palestine. Mama’esh has ten branches across the country, delivering in many more areas, and was founded by Hussam Hasan El Batta in 2015. The focus of the brand is to not only serve great food, but also uplift the community, increase visibility and tell the stories of the lesser known.

@mamaeshme

Orfali Bros Bistro


Mohammad, Wassim and Omar Orfali, three Syrian brothers who have travelled far and wide to explore the enticing world of food, art, culture and inspiration, put their heads and years of experience together to create the Orfali Bros Bistro – a critically acclaimed family restaurant and venue sweeping accolade after accolade every year for the inventive fare and upscale simplicity. While experimental, the food is still inspired by and draws from the Syrian heritage of the brothers.

The venture is forever an ode to the adventurous spirit of the brothers, who aim to break rules and push the boundaries of what is convention in food and pastry. They say food is their language, and their love of the craft is evident in the quality of the experience. Seldom do the stars align for a family like this, but they have, and Orfali Bros Bistro is an unmissable experience.

@orfalibros_bistro

Fusion Ceviche


Self-taught Peruvian chef Penelope Diaz has been serving authentic South American goodness full of character in her JLT joint for a while now. The restaurant is a new baby, having opened doors only in late 2022, but it’s already made waves and scooped up some awards. What we love about this spot is that it is entirely homegrown and chef-owned, with her sons working to build the business as well, so it’s a family restaurant through and through. We love supporting small businesses and such fantastic ones at that.

@fusioncevichedxb22

Maiz Tacos

This humble, homegrown eatery was founded by Luma Makhlouf, Palestinian chef and restauranteur, and is all about Mexican soul food, as the name would suggest. Maiz Tacos started as a simple food truck in 2018, traversing the streets of the city, and has now evolved into a permanent establishment in JLT, as well as another branch in Dubai Hills. With small beginnings as a food truck to where they are now, Maiz Tacos have expanded their services, including food truck catering, live stations, grazing tables, private chefs and beyond.

Luma is one half of the Maiz Tacos story, which she started with her husband Haider Al Assam. They’ve built the business up from the ground and it’s a true family operation. Luma and Haider have gone on to open two more brands – Good Burger and Luma’s Cakes.

@maizdxb

You might also like

Table for one? The best spots in Dubai for solo dining
Enjoy unlimited sushi at these stunning restaurants in Dubai

Akhu Manoushe


Created by dynamic father-and-son duo Ibrahim and Mohamad Akkaoui, Akhu Manoushe is known to serve some of the best Lebanese manoushe in town. The secret recipe has been kept under wraps by Ibrahim – Abu Mohamad – and has travelled all the way from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. Ibrahim and Mohamad built Akhu Manoushe with the desire to create a dining experience where the first bite will take you home. Filled with nostalgia and the simplicity of being a child in the comfort of your home, the manoushe are fuss-free bites.

@akhu.manoushe

Images: Socials