What’s On lists the best dishes in Dubai from some of the best restaurants in Dubai, including best desserts, best burgers, and best sides.
This cute little Chinese restaurant in Jumeirah likes spice, and nowhere is their fondness for fire demonstrated better than in the mushroom starter. A small dish contained four types of crispy mushroom, gently fried, that came with lots of fresh chili. Definitely one that blew the cobwebs away.
Beach Park Plaza, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai, daily 11.30am to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 3442212. Taxi: Opposite Jumeirah Beach Park. chopsuey.ae
Frioul Bistro de Luxe
Ask anyone at Madinat Jumeirah’s newest restaurant what they’d recommend from the menu, and the answer is the bouillabaisse. One slurp of this hearty seafood soup and we were transported straight to the south of France. The tanginess of the prawns and mussels was well balanced with the creamy potato and tomato, and lashings of melty Gruyere cheese. The generous portion serves two.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, Sat to Wed noon to 1am, Thur and Fri noon to 3am. Tel: (04) 5670011. Taxi: Madinat Jumeirah. frioulbistrodeluxe.com
Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia is a master at creating a cohesive dish using numerous flavours. Nowhere was this more apparent than with his simple vegetable samosa on a strip of smashed chickpeas with sweetened yoghurt and tamarind chutney, at his new restaurant on the Creek.
Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel, Baniyas Street, Dubai, Sun to Thur noon to 3pm, 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 2071410. Metro: Union Square. ashianadubai.com
Smoked mackerel pate
In order to enjoy this starter you first have to pull the lid off the tin can in which it is served. Once inside, we were greeted with a smoky, dense fish pate that had a beautiful saltiness to it. The texture made it just right for spreading on warm toast.
Pier 7, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily noon to midnight. Tel: (04) 4215569. Metro: Dubai Marina. fume-eatery.com
Onion flambé tart
This French restaurant has many highly detailed and show-stopping dishes on its menu, but it’s perhaps the simplest – the onion tart – that stood out for us. Verging on a bar snack, this circular, crispy flatbread topped with caramelised onions, cherry tomatoes and fromage blanc, was so tasty and so moreish that we were in danger of ordering two and spoiling our dinner.
Vida Downtown, Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, Sun to Thur 7am to 11am, Fri and Sat 7am to 12.30pm. Tel: (04) 4286969. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. laserredubai.ae
Spicy feta dip
The spectacular meat grills at this cute place on The Beach may catch the eye, but don’t ignore the starters because there’s a beauty nestled among them: the spicy feta dip. It’s a modest bowl of feta cheese that’s been whipped into a creamy mousse and peppered with chili. When smeared on a piece of warm pitta bread, it made our tastebuds sing.
The Beach, JBR, Dubai, daily noon to midnight. Tel: (04) 4305249. Metro: Jumeirah Lakes Towers. eatgreekkouzina.com
Clay pot prawns
If you can tear your eyes away from the gorgeous interior of this restaurant and read the menu, the clay pot prawns is the dish to order. Shredded celery and sugar snap peas had a satisfying crunch, which combined excellently with the softness of the prawns, and all the while a gentle kick of chilli rumbled away underneath.
Fairmont The Palm, The Palm, Dubai, Sat to Wed 7pm to 11.30pm, Thur and Fri 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 4573338. Taxi: Fairmont The Palm. dineatba.com
Soft shell crab
Eating soft shell crab, which often involves abandoning cutlery in favour of tearing off chunks of meat with your hands, can be a messy affair. Not at Qbara, where crispy morsels of succulent, deep-fried crab arrived drizzled with spicy harissa sauce and tucked neatly into saj flatbreads. Practical and delicious.
Wafi Fort Complex, Dubai, Sat to Wed 6pm to 2am, Thur and Fri 6pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 7092500. Taxi: Raffles Hotel. qbara.ae
We have to admit these deep-fried Indian parcels looked fairly unassuming on the plate, but when we popped one into our mouth it was a different story. Inside the vegetarian street food-inspired snacks was an explosion of textures and flavours, from chili-spiked chickpeas and potato to cooling yoghurt and chutney.
Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate, Ibn Battuta, Dubai, daily 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 4409300. Metro: Ibn Battuta. moevenpick-hotels.com/dubai
It’s a classic order when you’re eating Chinese food, but not all duck salads are created equal. Hakkasan’s version had crispy, sticky skin clinging to slivers of rich, flavoursome duck, with pomegranate seeds and citrus fruit segments adding a tartness that lifted the dish beyond the “old favourite” to something even better.
The Boulevard, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Dubai, Sat to Thur 7pm to 1am, Fri noon to 1am. Tel: (04) 3848484. Metro: Emirates Towers. jumeirah.com
Fregola sarda pasta
This is how we like fine dining: delicate and intricate flavours, but with some robustness to back it up. The girolle mushrooms had a good bite to them, as did the pasta that bordered on risotto rice or giant couscous in texture. Combined with Beaufort cheese and spring onion, it was a fine dish.
One&Only Palm, The Palm, Dubai, daily 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 4401030. Taxi: The Palm, west crescent. thepalm.oneandonlyresorts.com
Wagyu Himalayan Shioyaki
Not only is the wagyu steak at Okku as good a cut of meat as you’ll find anywhere in Dubai, the way it was served was pretty impressive too. Garnished with rocket, spring onions, garlic and oroshi ponzu, its presentation on a hot Himalayan salt stone was stunning.
H Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Sun to Thur noon to 3pm, daily 7pm to 12.30am. Tel: (04) 5018777. Metro: World Trade Centre. okkudubai.com
The Roseleaf Café has many cakes, tarts and quiches on the go whenever you visit, but the frittata is the one that usually has only one or two pieces left, such is its popularity. Potatoes, onions and eggs were neatly layered to form a dense, highly satisfying snack that’s good for breakfast, lunch or just whenever.
Dubai Garden Centre, Al Quoz, Dubai, daily 8am to 10pm. Tel: (04) 3400006. Metro: First Gulf Bank. facebook.com/theroseleafcafe
Burger Joint NY
This quirky burger shack from New York opened quietly in the summer but its burger was something to shout about. The meat and baps are imported from the United States and the quality shines through. Beefy, juicy, nicely seasoned meat burst out of the bun, begging to be devoured. And devour it we did.
City Walk, Jumeirah 1, Dubai, Sun to Wed 10am to midnight, Thur to Sat 10am to 2am Tel: (04) 3444459. Taxi: City Walk. facebook.com/burgerjointnyuae
Fish and chips
We were sold on this dish as soon as it landed on the table at Le Royal Méridien’s new British seafood restaurant. It was wrapped in a (fake) newspaper, just like fish and chips was served in the good old days before health and safety laws came along. The cod inside was flaky and white, the batter was crispy but not fatty, and the chips had the right balance of inner fluffiness and outer crunchiness.
Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai, Sat to Wed 6pm to midnight, Thur and Fri 6pm to 1am. Tel: (04) 3165550. Taxi: Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa.
Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding
The phrase ‘traditional British roast’ is one you hear a lot in Dubai. Some hit the mark, some don’t. But the roast at the Rivington is the best. Slices of perfectly pink roast beef, a Yorkshire pudding that takes up half your plate, creamy horseradish sauce, a pile of roasted root veggies and – the finishing touch – a big splodge of rich gravy.
Souk Madinat, Dubai, Sat to Wed noon to 11pm, Thur and Fri noon to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 3666464. Taxi: Souk Madinat. rivingtongrill.ae
For a true taste of New Orleans, the jambalaya at Cravin’ Cajun will transport you to the steamy party town in Louisiana. Shrimp, mussels and crab were blended with rice and a rich Creole tomato gravy, with a nice hit of spice too. This is a dish with fire in its belly.
Novotel, Al Barsha, Dubai, Mon to Sat 7pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 3049000. Metro: Sharaf DG. novotel.com
TNT shrimp tacos
These fiery little fellas are worthy of inclusion on our list for their name alone. Spicy prawns were tucked up in a soft mini tortilla with some shredded iceberg lettuce to cool things down. Munch it in two bites, or wrap the tortilla tightly and swallow it whole – it’s up to you.
City Walk, Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 8am to midnight. Tel: (04) 3443305. Taxi: City Walk. caramelgroup.com
The beauty of this dish lay in the contrast between the crispiness of the fried skin, sticky with miso glaze, and the soft texture of the perfectly cooked fish underneath, which flaked apart at the merest brush with our chopstick.
Vida Downtown Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Dubai, daily noon to 3.30pm, 7pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 4428383. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. toko-dubai.com
This cute little tapas restaurant tucked away in a corner of the Kempinski knocks out an authentic Spanish paella with either seafood or chicken. Ours arrived in a huge, heavy, metal pan. Thick, flavourful rice had a pleasing bite, and six tasty, salty chicken legs in the centre just begged to be picked up and nibbled.
Kempinski Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Sat to Wed noon to 1am, Thur and Fri noon to 3am. Tel: (04) 4095888. Metro: Mall Of The Emirates. kempinski.com
Egg and cabbage pancake
Ever had Japanese street food? Neither had we, till we tried the egg and cabbage pancake at Umai. Lying somewhere between a Spanish omelette and the old-fashioned British side dish of bubble and squeak, this thick pancake with a nice crunch on top was comfort food Japanese style.
The Oberoi Hotel, Business Bay, Dubai, daily 6.30pm to 11.30pm, Fri 12.30pm to 3pm. Tel: (04) 4441444. Metro: Business Bay. oberoihotels.com
Malay lobster tails
Mint Leaf Of London
If you try nothing else on Mint Leaf Of London’s menu of high-end Indian cuisine, try the Malay lobster tails. The lobster meat was tender and well seasoned, slathered in a creamy tandoori sauce so tasty that we were tempted to lick our plates. Sides of cumin crusted potatoes and kadai asparagus were perfectly balanced too.
Emirates Financial Towers, DIFC, Dubai, daily noon to 1am. Tel: (04) 7060900. Taxi: Emirates Financial Towers. mintleafgroup.com
Just because we don’t get cold weather in Dubai doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a big old bowl of comfort food. The beef in Boutique Kitchen’s chili was slow-cooked until meltingly tender, and the sauce had a rich and spicy depth. The tortilla chips on the side were ideal for scooping up every last bit.
Al Quoz, Dubai, daily noon to 11pm. Tel: (04) 3883549. Delivery only. theboutiquekitchen.com
When Biryani Pot opened a few months ago it caused a stir with its healthy, gourmet Indian soul food. The most talked-about dish on the restaurant’s menu was the vegetarian quinoa biryani. And rightly so. Gluten- and cholesterol-free, it’s lighter than your average rice biryani and superbly rich and tasty too.
Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim 1, Dubai, Sat to Wed 11am to midnight, Thur and Fri 11am to 2am. Tel: (04) 3382277. Taxi: Opposite SAGA World. biryanipot.ae
Rossovivo Artisan Pizza
Earlier this year, we tried and tested ten margaritas from different delivery firms, and Rossovivo’s delightful Neapolitan-style pizza came out on top. Its charred base gave it an authentic smoky flavour and we loved the puffy yet crispy crust. But it was the juicy mozzarella and tangy tomato base that made it the ultimate slice.
Block A, Office Park Building, Dubai Internet City, Dubai, Sat to Wed 11am to 11pm, Thur and Fri 11.30am to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 4272477. Metro: Dubai Internet City. rossovivo.ae
Pulled chicken tostada
Mexican dining concepts can be known to drift into parody, but at Tortuga the food is the star and there’s not a sombrero in sight. From Grandma’s Corner – a selection of home style recipes – to the familiar burritos and fajitas, it was the succulent strips of pulled chicken topped with a pea purée and served on just the right side of crunchy flat wrap that stood out for us.
Mina A’Salam, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, daily noon to 2am. Tel: (04) 3666730. Taxi: Madinat Jumeirah. jumeirah.com
A lightly fried tortilla, lashings of refried beans and salsa, plus two expertly fried eggs encased in cheese – who says Mexican cooking is best left to locals? Bursting with flavour, this terrific concoction is a treat on any day, but best enjoyed as a spicy kick-start to your weekend.
Al Manara, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Sun to Thur 8am to 6pm, Fri and Sat 8.30am to 6pm. Tel: (04) 3368056. Taxi: Next to Reem Al Bawadi, Sheikh Zayed Road. facebook.com/bystrodubai
25 Degrees North
Tucked away beneath the shadow of Damac Executive Heights between The Greens and Tecom, 25 Degrees North is a restaurant inspired by the roadside eateries of north India. The pick of its authentic dishes was a slow-cooked mutton that had all the complexity of traditional Indian cooking, with onion and yoghurt gravy providing mass appeal.
Damac Executive Heights, Tecom, Dubai, daily noon to 3pm and 6.30pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 4527779. Metro: Dubai Internet City. 25degreesnorth.com
It takes a better than average burger to fit in with the splendid 1920s décor at Café Belge, and that’s precisely what we got. Topped with cheese, caramelised onions and tomato confit, it was tricky to eat daintily, but it was so tasty that messiness was a small price to pay.
The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC, Dubai, daily noon to 2.30pm, 6pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 3722323. Metro: Financial Centre. ritzcarlton.com
An obvious choice for a decadent breakfast, The Ivy’s Eggs Benedict were perfectly poached eggs, resting elegantly on a lightly toasted muffin with ham and a tangy Hollandaise sauce. The portion size was just right and left us ready to face the day.
The Boulevard, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Dubai, Fri and Sat 9am to 11am. Tel: (04) 3198767. Taxi: Jumeirah Emirates Towers. theivy.ae
Fat, golden, perfectly crispy and piping hot, we’d gladly eat these chips again as a main course, never mind a side dish. Just give us a double portion and some mayo and we’ll be happy.
Pier 7, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily noon to 2am. Tel: (04) 4222328. Metro: Dubai Marina. thescenedubai.com
Pastel de Papa
If you like Dauphinoise potatoes, allow us to introduce you to your new favourite thing. The Act’s Pastel de Papa is a sinfully creamy combination of gratinated potato and cauliflower layered with Parmesan and mozzarella and spiked with aji Amarillo, a Peruvian chili pepper. One heaping spoonful of this indulgent side dish turned into another, and then another, until we found ourselves scraping the bottom of the bowl.
Shangri La Hotel, DIFC, Dubai, Mon to Wed 8.30pm to 1am, Thur and Sun 8.30pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 3551116. Metro: Financial Centre. theactdubai.com
A shawarma wrap can be a greasy, messy affair. Not so at the gourmet eating spot S’wich. The chicken shawarma was pleasingly grease-free and had fantastic flavours popping up in each bite. It had just the right amount of filling, thereby avoiding any shirt-front spillage. Great value at Dhs22.
Marina View Towers, Dubai Marina, daily 11am to 11pm. Tel: (800) 79424. Metro: Dubai Marina. myswich.com
A monster stack of smoked meat piled on to dark rye bread and topped with cheese, sauerkraut and mustard – this is as close as you can get to New York’s famous Katz’s Deli in the Middle East.
Jumeirah Beach Road, Al Manara, Dubai, Sun to Wed 11am to 11pm, Thur 11am to midnight, Fri and Sat 10am to midnvight. Tel: (04) 3383001. Taxi: Between Al Manara and Al Thanya streets. mldeli.com
Overcooked apples are mushy and turn to powder in the mouth; undercooked apples are too hard and sour. Cook them correctly, as they do at Porterhouse, and you’re halfway to a darn good apple crumble. Drizzled with caramel sauce, the topping was brilliantly crunchy to offset the gooey apple below.
Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, The Palm, Dubai, 7pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 4409300. Taxi: The Palm, east crescent. sofitel.com
Lemon meringue pie
This had all of the elements of a classic meringue: sweet, crumbly pastry, tart lemon custard, and a creamy topping. But most telling was the speed at which it vanished. The pretty-as-a-picture pie disappeared in double quick time.
Mercato Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai, daily 8am to 10pm. Tel: (04) 3444161. Taxi: Mercato Mall. facebook.com/tastekitchendubai
Green tea tiramisu
At first glance on the menu, green tea tiramisu sounded – let’s be frank – strange. But it worked beautifully – no surprise as it comes from Kanpai’s hugely experienced chef Masa. It had the richness and creaminess of traditional tiramisu, but none of that swampy flavour that green tea can sometimes lend to dishes. It was a fascinating fusion of Japan and Italy.
Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai, Dubai, daily noon to 2am. Tel: (04) 4419262. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. facebook.com/kanpaidubai
Berries, bread and vanilla ice cream came together to form the most gorgeous little dumpling of dessert at Gary Rhodes’ new restaurant in the Marina. The stodge of the bread, the sharpness of the berries and the silkiness of the ice cream was a wonderful trio.
Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina, Dubai, Mon to Sat 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 3176000. Taxi: Grosvenor House. rw1-dubai.com
Social By Heinz Beck
It may sound like a new software package but Raspberry 1.1 is a million miles away from the cold, clinical world of computer code. Three Michelin-starred chef Heinz Beck’s trademark dessert contains 11 different textures of raspberry such as sponge, jelly, mousse, sorbet, and meringue. Texture is nothing without flavour and this dish has both in abundance.
Waldorf Astoria Palm, The Palm, Dubai, daily 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 8182222. Taxi: The Palm, east crescent. waldorfastoria3.hilton.com
Passion fruit éclair
The choux pastry needed to make an éclair is notoriously difficult to master. Renowned French chef Pierre Gagnaire clearly has the method nailed down, because the éclair he serves at his café is right on the money. Coupled with the sharpness of the passion fruit filling, this was an afternoon tea treat.
InterContinental, Dubai Festival City, Dubai, daily 6am to 11pm. Tel: (050) 9193990. Taxi: InterContinental, Festival City. diningdfc.com
Reform Social & Grill
No matter how much gastropub grub we stuff ourselves with during any visit to Reform Social & Grill, we can never say no to the Chocolate Pot. In fact, the cool, rich chocolate mousse, layered with oozy, gooey salted caramel and garnished with a spoonful of cream, is enough to make us skip the main course altogether and go straight to dessert.
The Lakes, Dubai, daily 8am to midnight. Tel: (04) 4542638. Taxi: The Lakes Club. reformsocialgrill.ae
This place has two types of churro – long, ridged ones served with hot chocolate sauce, or curly versions drizzled with honey. Authenticity is guaranteed thanks to the Mexican staff in the kitchen. Crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and dusted with cinnamon sugar, we couldn’t get enough of these deep-fried delights.
Gate Building 5, DIFC, Dubai, Sun to Thur 7am to 7pm, Fri and Sat 9am to 6pm. Tel: (04) 3515210. Metro: Financial Centre. taqado.com
Vivaldi By Alfredo Russo
The signature dessert here bordered on a chemistry lesson. Mashed up raspberries lined the bottom of a glass tumbler, topped with vanilla ice cream that was so light, it was almost a mousse. The final layer was a crème brûlée foam that had that lovely caramelised flavour, but without the crunch. A strange sensation in the mouth – but definitely a good one.
Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel, Dubai Creek, Dubai, daily 10.30am to 1am. Tel: (04) 2071717. Metro: Union. sheratondubaicreek.com
Circle Café has cleverly taken America’s favourite cookie and used it to turn its chocolate dessert into something special. The rich, creamy dark chocolate mousse was offset perfectly by the crunch of Oreo biscuits crumbled on the top.
Sheikh Zayed Road, World Trade Centre, Dubai, daily 7.30am to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 3588088. Metro: World Trade Centre. circle-café.com
Clinton Street Baking Company
True to the American diner inspiration, the pancakes with maple butter at the always-busy Clinton Street Baking Company in Downtown Dubai are its signature dish and come with wild Maine blueberries. With a Dhs58 price tag they are certainly on the dearer side, but they were so wonderfully fluffy and crunchy on the edges that they’ll leave you hungry for more.
Burj Views, Downtown, Dubai, daily 8am to 4pm, 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 4281331. Taxi: Burj Views. clintonstreetbaking.ae
Sapori Di Bice
You know how most cinnamon pastries have about four raisins inside if you’re lucky? The one at Sapori di BiCE is crammed with them. The juicy fruit got along famously with the warmth of the cinnamon and the buttery pastry. Put a cappuccino on the side and we were in heaven.
City Walk, Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 8am to 11pm. Tel: (04) 3442550. Taxi: City Walk. saporidibice.com
If you want to try these doughnut/croissant hybrids from Chikalicious, here’s a tip: get there early. They’re so popular that a batch fresh from the oven in the morning will have vanished by lunch. After sampling the golden crust, honey-glazed coating and vanilla cream filling, we knew why.
Village Mall, Jumeirah 1, Dubai, Sat to Wed 10am to 11pm, Thur and Fri 10am to midnight. Tel: (04) 3444700. Taxi: Village Mall. facebook.com/chikaliciousme
Any dessert that involves the chef arriving at your table and using it as a canvas has to be on our list. The constructed pavlova, an Australian dish, was quite literally thrown together in front of awestruck diners, who were then treated to a running commentary on the ingredients, such as lemon myrtle cream and Davidson plum. Strewth, it was good, mate.
Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 6.30pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 5678304. Taxi: The Palm, East Crescent. dubai-palm.anantara.com
In the lush surroundings of Al Barari, far from Dubai’s glitz, it seems fitting that the goodness of the gluten-free brownie stood out from the organic food at The Farm. Crumbly, and oozing with salted caramel sauce – with a hint of coffee – polishing off the stack of three was inevitable.
Al Barari, Dubai, Sun to Thur 7.30am to 3.45pm, 6pm to 11pm, Fri and Sat 8.30am to 3.45pm, 6pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 3925660. Taxi: Opposite Falcon City. thefarmdubai.com
Peanut butter pudding
Like a stripped-down peanut butter Kit Kat, this slab of sweetness at the Chinese restaurant in Atlantis, was partnered with a chocolate-wrapped raspberry jus and topped with iced berries. Where the Chinese influence was, we weren’t sure. We’d finished it off before we had chance to ask.
Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, Sat to Wed 7pm to 11.30pm, Thur and Fri 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 4262626. Taxi: The Avenues, Atlantis The Palm. atlantisthepalm.com