Each member of the What’s On editorial team share their favourite five dishes in the UAE right now…

Reading our magazine you might get the impression that all we do at What’s On is swan around the Emirates, stuffing our faces and leveraging our audience (you) in order to do fun stuff, pausing only occasionally to write a little report on it. And you’d be absolutely right. We’ve taken on the noble mandate of experiencing the best of What’s On offer in the UAE, evaluating it, and feeding back to you – with our opinions on what’s hot and what’s tepid at best. As part of this peculiar privilege – we’re exposed to a lot of very very good food, and because we’re not the type to plate-keep, we’re sharing with you 35 must-try dishes in the UAE right now…

Alice Holtham, Group Editor

Truffle tagliolini from Alici (Dhs165)

I fell instantly in love with Alici when it opened on Bluewaters in 2019. It was the year my love affair with Italy began, and the Amalfi-inspired interiors and stunning sea views from the first floor terrace meant it went straight to the top of my Dubai restaurant bucket list. I always order the impossibly light fritto misto and the juicy red prawns, but my all-time favourite dish is the ‘tagliolini al tartufo’. The fragrant truffle, the perfectly cooked ribbons of pasta, the delicate shavings of parmesan… it’s three simple parts that make a standout dish.


Garlic knots from Pitfire Pizza (Dhs32)

“But the pizza is so good”, I hear you cry. And I concur. But on good days and bad, the dish I always turn to from Pitfire Pizza is the garlic knots. This baked-to-order box of bread-based beauties is everything you want from an indulgent treat. The perfect balance of crispy outside and spongy, still-warm centre, each knot is dipped in garlic butter and dusted with parmesan cheese, and is best enjoyed with a hefty dunk in the pot of black truffle cream that comes with it.


Padrón peppers from Tagomago (Dhs38)

In my line of work, I don’t often return to the same restaurant twice, simply because there are so many new ones popping up all over town. So when I do, it’s because I really love it. And I’ve been to few places in the last 12 months more than Tagomago. A sun-drenched ode to one of my favourite places on the planet, Ibiza, this Spanish-Mediterranean spot on the beachfront oozes the laidback luxe feel I love. Whether I’m there for a beach day, sundowners or dining in the restaurant, I always order the padrón peppers. Simply seasoned with rock salt, I could happily inhale three bowls full.


Warm prawns from LPM Restaurant & Bar (Dhs82)

This sleek city ode to the Cote D’Azur is a stalwart DIFC restaurants that ticks all the boxes in terms of food, drink, ambience, and service. But the way you know a restaurant brand is really good is through consistency. And having also ticked off its outposts in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, I can vouch for the fact that LPM Restaurant & Bar gets it right every time. There’s plenty of must-tries on the menu, like the Tomatini cocktail, the escargot, and the salt baked seabass. But my death row meal would have to include the crevettes tièdes a l’huile d’olive: warm prawns served in a delicate dose of olive oil and zesty lemon.

@lpmdubai, @lpmabudhabi, @lpmriyadh

Dulce de Leche fondant from Sucre (Dhs70)

Among a sea of globally renowned restaurants in DIFC, Sucre doesn’t get the airtime it deserves. Personally, I think it’s one of Dubai’s most underrated restaurants. I love the way the dining room faces the open kitchen, the décor of exposed brickwork and shades of burnt orange and crimson, and the menu’s focus on fire cooking that traverses culinary borders. But the thing I love most about Sucre is the Dulce De Leche Fondant. Worth every single calorie, it’s rich, sweet and totally indulgent, balanced with finesse thanks to a side serving of vanilla ice cream.


Miles Buckeridge, Deputy Editor – Dubai

90’s Alfredo from Moonrise (part of a Dhs950 tasting menu)

For me, food is at its finest when it connects with memories and emotions. Hastily shovelled mouthfuls that send shockwaves through your synapses, shaking off the dust and projecting big screen reenactments of a time now passed. 90s Alfredo is your invite to share in chef Solemann Haddad’s nostalgia of growing up around the eclectic canteen scene in 90s Dubai. It’s a fuzzy snapshot of lobster and jalapeño ravioli, with a parmesan rind sauce so uniquely well-conceived that it performs the Inception-level mind trick of downloading chef Solemann’s own memories directly into your brain.


Steak frites from Couqley (Dhs139)

This is my Roman Empire. I think about it at least once a day. Like whether it was steak frites, such as this, that inspired Julius Caesar’s raging fixation for conquering Gaul. Its beauty is in its simplicity, it’s (Lebanese) French bistrology 101 – a butterflied tenderloin, fries, salad and a house sauce Cleopatra would have 100 per cent bathed in.


Lobster pani puri from Jun’s (Dhs130)

I’m fully aware that there are many wonderful examples of pani puri found throughout the UAE at a fraction of the cost. But this one is special. I once described it as ‘how I think Goan sunsets would taste if you could somehow sneak a bite’. And I stand by it. It’s an expatriate mash-up of layered celestial glow – butter-poached lobster, achari, coconut and a tamarind gel.


Tiger prawn rice from Tasca (Dhs300)

Dubai certainly doesn’t suffer from any dearth of rice dishes. Byrianis, risotto, mandi, nasi goreng – steamed, boiled or fried – if it’s grown in a paddy field, you’ll be able to find it somewhere in this city. My personal favourite is the warming brothy Portugese seafood aroz at Tasca. It’s the perfect example of that European genre of traditional ‘peasant food’, going through the full Eliza Doolittle treatment, sat on a throne and robed in the finest aioli and lemon zest.


Tantan Men from Tomo (from Dhs65)

If I could eat just one meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the rest of my life – it would be ramen. Call me a monster if you wish but I’d have absolutely zero problem waking up first thing and tucking straight into Kinoya’s spicy duck mic drop, or Daikan’s shoyu ramen, my palate is not a slave to circadian rhythms. I can tell you the moment I fell in love with it as a dish, it was one of the first times I tried it, about 10 years ago – in this Dubai institution at the top of the Raffles pyramid. Sparks flew. As they have for every visit since.


Dinesh Ramanathan, Deputy Editor – Abu Dhabi

Escargots de Bourgogne from La Petite Maison Abu Dhabi (Dhs110)

The snails with garlic butter and parsley. It’s on La Petite Maison Abu Dhabi’s hors d’ouevres menu, and anyone that’s been, will tell you they love it – and that it’s worth visiting just to try this one dish. Scoop and scoop some more, no shame. Everyone around you likely is, as well.


Pepperoni pizza with spicy honey from Marmellata (Dhs80)

Sit at their terrace with views of the Arabian Sea and a hulking liner as you chomp into this masterpiece by Raj Dagestani and co. This really is a flavour explosion, a smorgasbord of tastebud-awakening ingredients, fresh and irreplicable, no less. And there’s one that they include in everything they create, and do, at Marmellata – heart. Chat with the staff while you’re there, they’re one of a kind, too.


How ‘Bout Them Apples from Perlage (Dhs75)

I’m always a big fan of a classic – especially il vino buono – they take a second to show up, and they’re guaranteed to impress. But at What’s On, we’re in the business of unravelling the coolest new concepts in town, so I’m also all about what’s new. Perlage, the sultry bubbly bar at The Galleria Al Maryah Island, serves up this innovative new beverage, and while it’s on the sweeter side, it is a taste you’ll be back for. And the first time I saw this on their red-velvet menu, it took me back to Paul Walker’s line in 2 Fast 2 Furious.


Cannoli de ricotta from Café Milano (Dhs70)

Leave room in your tummies for this one, readers. While this flavourful treat packs the calories, it’s all about indulgence. And when you dine at a spot such as Café Milano, you’re usually either treating yourself, or celebrating something, so I can confidently recommend this dessert. Enjoy guilt free.


Tomato sofrito from Mika (free)

While you’re polishing off the bread basket, the real star is the accompanying tomato sofrito with green chilli paste doused in olive oil. When we visited, we were left wishing they sold it in take-home bottles. Funnily enough, diners around us requested multiple servings as well.


Aarti Saundalkar, Online Reporter

Wok fried lobster with almond brittle from Din Tai Fung (Dhs178)

Din Tai Fung may be known for its dumplings, but the wok-fried lobster with almond brittle is an absolute star. Now, I am not a huge fan of seafood, but it was highly recommended by other What’s On team members – so I had to try it. Created especially for the Din Tai Fung Bluewaters branch, the lobster is perfectly spiced and crispy, and topped with a slightly sweet almond brittle to counteract the fiery notes. It is a triumph of form and flavour, one seafood fans cannot afford to leave without trying.


Yoko chicken special from Yoko Sizzlers (Dhs63)

Yoko Sizzlers in Karama has been around since 1998, and if you pass by on weekends, you will find nearly every table booked. It serves up over 60 different sizzlers from vegetarian to chicken, steak, fish and more. My personal favourite? The Yoko Chicken Special. The sizzling plate comes with two spicy melt-in-your-mouth fillets of chicken on a bed of rice and vegetables and fries topped with a lip-smacking spicy sauce. And the sizzling plate isn’t just for theatrics, it keeps the food warm for a long time, so don’t rush and savour every bite.


Papaya salad (Som Tum) from Siam Restaurant (Dhs30)

A salad? On Team What’s On favourite dishes? I know, I too was just as shocked when my list whittled down to include this humble dish. But it packs a punch. And I am not a salad fan, not even close, but this Thai fusion delight is like a mini firework on the palette bursting with cool and spicy flavours, and the bite is made even better thanks to the mix of textures. You can’t help but reach out with your chopsticks for more. It’s so good that ordering seconds is an easy choice.


Seabass Ceviche from SushiYaki (Dhs79)

Until now, I have not come across an order of seabass ceviche that has let me down, but SushiYaki takes this dish to a whole new level. The seabass is fresh and tangy from the bright orange rocoto sauce with hints of spice from the black chilli oil. If you smothered your bite in the sauce, you will be left with a surprising but mild coal-like note on your palette from the black charcoal cassava. The chulpi and choclo corn also adds another layer of texture to each bite.


Parma Sando from Slaw (Dhs44)

It is so hard for me to say no to a burger from Slaw. Hungry or not, if someone around me is ordering from Slaw, I will be adding a sando to the order. My favourite has to be the parma sando, with fresh fried chicken with that irresistible crunch, parma sauce, and grated parmesan cheese. The classic sando is just as good, but I am not a pickle fan. That Oh Yeah sauce however is pretty delicious. Oh, and I won’t ever say no to the truffle fries either. An extra Dhs28 well spent.


Tamara Wright, Online Reporter

Oven baked falafel fatayer from Mama’esh (Dhs24)

If we’re talking about the places I’ve eaten most regularly, Palestinian restaurant Mama’esh is my go-to comfort spot. I live just across the road and it’s still not close enough. Whether for a weekend breakfast spread or a school night dinner when I don’t have time to cook, the atmosphere is homely, the aroma of freshly baked breads fills the air, and its consistent, delicious home-cooked food. One of my favourites is the soul-warming oven baked falafel fatayer with a non-negotiable order of Palestinian hummus and fresh pomegranate juice.


Rainbow heirloom carrots from Jun’s (Dhs84)

Every dish on the flavour-packed menu at Jun’s comes with its own story and nostalgic narrative which makes the dining experience all the more memorable. The famous heirloom carrots are no exception. A clever interpretation of chef Kelvin Cheung’s mothers’ favourite dish growing up in North America, a smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese, chef Kelvin has recreated a sophisticated and vegetarian version. Featuring smoked labneh, candied walnuts, charred rainbow carrots, served with homemade sourdough, chef Kelvin manages to trick our tastebuds using the power of texture and flavours. It’s so moreish and so fun.


Tuna tartare pizza from La Spiaggia (Dhs160)

Currently ranked number six in the 50 Best Pizzas in the world (2023), Rome-import SEU Pizza Illuminati serves its cult-followed high-end pizza at Bulgari Resort’s casual beachside eatery, La Spiaggia. With its authentic fragrant dough boasting an airy, puffy crust, coupled with high-quality ingredients and creative toppings, these pizzas are truly dream-worthy. My personal favourite creation, and something I probably think about a little too often, is the tuna tartare pizza topped with creamy Stracciatella cheese and pistachio.


Miso butter eggplant from Kinoya (Dhs45)

Kinoya holds a special place in my heart. Whether it’s a dinner for one with a comforting bowl of ramen or a wine-fuelled catch-up with friends, there’s one dish that is a must-order on every visit: their miso eggplant served with bonito flakes and toasted sesame seeds. The warmth and depth of flavour – a perfect blend of umami, smokiness, and sweetness – is truly showstopping and the eggplant is so tender it practically melts in the mouth.


Lamb ‘al pastor’ gringa from Lila Wood-Fired Taqueria (Dhs75)

Homegrown, family-run, and authentic wood-fired taqueria, Lila has become renowned for its genuine Mexican flavours quality locally sourced ingredients, warm atmosphere, and, not to mention, its iconic homemade corn tortillas made daily from Mexican heirloom corn. I could quite happily add at least five dishes from the menu on this list – from the tuna tostadas to the churros – but the spit-roasted lamb tacos I could eat every day for the rest of my life. Marinated lamb, creamy green salsa, and sliced radish comes wrapped in a large tortilla with a coat of salty, burnt cheese. It’s worth every bite.


Shelby Gee, Junior Reporter

Mushroom Truffle Rice Pot from Kata Dubai Mall (Dhs80)

I am a lover of all things carb. So it’s no surprise that a rice-based dish features on my list. I know how some people feel about mall dining, but Kata represents fine dining food at a reasonable price. Exotic mushrooms, delicious truffle butter and a whole lot of table-side mixing before serving.


Chicken sandwich melt from Bonbird (Dhs45)

When I said I was a carb lover, what I really meant was “I am a lover of all things carb, and cheese.” Enter the little sister of the burger fiends, Pickl’s Bonbird. When I first tried this sandwich, I watched as the melted cheese fell all over my fingers and fell in love. It might just be one of my favourite items to order when I don’t know what else to order. Dine-in is obviously best, but it travels really well too. Plus, their fries with chicken salt are a winner too.


Ravioles de royam from Odeon (Dhs90)

It sounds very fancy but this ravioli pasta (see, told you, carbs) sings to me on a cosmic level. My grandma’s favourite cheese is a good comte and I had never delved into its world until I tried it for the first time at Odeon. A gorgeous French restaurant in Jumeirah, it’s beautiful from floor to ceiling with a family running it that makes you truly feel the love. The tiny little bites of pasta pillows in a buttery sauce topped with chives, it’s just perfect.


The bread and butter from Couqley (free)

If a restaurant can’t get something as humble as bread and butter at the beginning of a meal correct – it’s an instant red flag to me. Which is why it comes as no shock at all that Couqley nails it every time. The bread is warm and soft, but the crust is crunchy (and not the “shred the top of your mouth” kind.) The butter, perfectly salty, glides across the bread like a figure skater.


The Whiskey Tart from CE LA VI (Dhs90)

I’m a party girl at heart but I can appreciate a refined cocktail. This is one of those cocktails and it actually sparked my love for the Whiskey Sour. CE LA VI does it in their own special way, much like most items on their menu. And it is divine. The cinnamon mixed with the honey and the whiskey is a liquid dream. Egg white might be a bit of a wild card for you in a drink – but think of it as a mild meringue that sits atop the earthy nectar.


Manaal Fatimah, Junior Reporter

Traditional Biang Biang noodles at San Wan (Dhs41)

This hidden gem in JLT has found a deep place in my heart, and the traditional bowl of hand pulled noodles with chili oil deeper still. Just the authenticity of the noodles, how fresh they are, how welcoming the space is, and of course, the flavours – everything screams heart, soul and goodness. It’s a simple dish, but sometimes simple is best. Douse it with chilli oil and it’s golden.


Roast duck at Demon Duck (Dhs690)

I never stop talking about this dish, and I’m not planning to anytime soon (my apologies, my fellow teammates). The crispy duck by the genius that is Chef Alvin Leung is the best one I’ve had in Dubai. Perfectly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, with a fluffy bun and a myriad of super flavourful sauces to make yourself a little pouch of deliciousness, and it’s just such fine cooking. What a dream.


Peshawari mutton at Ravi (Dhs22)

This is one I grew up eating, and I love going back even now. It’s a traditional Pakistani delicacy I’ve had elsewhere, but Ravi just does it better, and consistently too. The curry is sharp, peppery, tomato-y and the mutton just melts in your mouth. It’s hearty and filling, and eating it straight from the kadhai is the only way to do it. Incredible with some naan dippage. It’s just so nostalgic and reminds me of simpler times. Always good.


Turkish halwa and ice cream from Helvaci Ali (Dhs22)

Also lesser known, but my mother and I discovered this spot by the Kite Beach a while back, and we visit every time we feel like a treat. The concept is foolproof – sugar topped with more sugar. Turkish vanilla ice cream, topped with steaming semolina halva lashed with loads of ghee/butter/some sort of fatty goodness. The halva comes in different flavours like chocolate, pistachio and Lotus, but in my opinion the OG is the best. It feels like a little secret I share with my mum and I like that.


Seared tuna crudo at Rare (Dhs96)

This one is fairly new to the scene, but Rare really won my heart. The seared tuna crudo is one of the starters, but I could have that and only that for the whole meal. It’s a combination of flavours and textures I can’t explain – the tuna is chewy, the brown butter bearnaise is warm and nutty and the anchovy soy is salty. It all comes together in a delightful bite. I just love Rare because you can taste the time, effort and passion put into every dish on the menu and this one is a winner.