Guide to Dubai’s Food Scene

Dubai is home to a thriving food scene where traditional and international cuisines can be enjoyed at both elegant 5-star restaurants and more rustic road-side takeaways. When it comes to eating out in Dubai prices tend to vary greatly with top-class hotels serving delicious fresh seafood alongside a panoramic view and local market stalls offering the classic taste of India in their flavoursome curries. Dubai offers so much culinary variety that it can often be daunting for visitors. With this in mind, here is a quick guide to the city’s colourful food scene.

Local Markets
There is a surprising number of farms producing fresh produce on a daily basis in Dubai. This means that a trip to one of the city’s bustling markets is a must for anyone interested in the culinary world. You will be able to purchase from a rich selection of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and dairy products. Dubai’s famous fish market is the best place in the city to find fresh seafood. You will also have the chance to sample a range of tasty curries at the local food hawker stalls.800px-Dubai_Fish_Market_01

Sub-continental Cuisine
Dubai is home to many Indian and Pakistani expatriates meaning that you will be able to enjoy delicious desi cuisine in many parts of the city. The Karama district offers an impressive array of fine, and at times economical, eating establishments. Some of the best include Manvaar for its divine authentic curries and the Sind Punjab Restaurant for its fabulous tandoori grill.

Friday Brunch
The culinary tradition of Friday Brunch is now considered by many to be an institution in Dubai. Friday is when the weekend starts here, and the restaurants all put on spectacular buffets and great deals in order to attract hungry diners. The Iranian Club offers a wonderful selection of Persian food at modest prices, whilst luxurious hotel Spectrum On One puts on a lavish and expensive spread.

Hotel Restaurants
Some of the best restaurants in Dubai are often located inside top hotels due to the alcohol licensing laws in place. This however doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on your accommodation as you can still find many cheap hotels in Dubai online. One of the city’s most popular and famed hotel restaurants is that located at the four-star Marco Polo. The Bombay restaurant offers a remarkable choice of cuisines, from Arabic to Chinese and Mexican, at affordable prices.

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Chinatown
Dubai is also home to the extravagant Chinatown. Here visitors are able to explore the district’s endless eating establishments including both high-end restaurants and takeaways. Much of Chinatown is aimed at the wealthy, meaning that you will find an excellent selection of international eateries in this trendy part of town as well as some more mid-budget restaurants.

There are so many great places to eat in Dubai when you consider the city’s up-and-coming restaurant scene. Dubai is without a doubt the gastronomic capital of the Middle East, meaning that any visit will almost certainly be a treat for your taste buds!

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Dubai

After a long flight leaving home in Perth at 4am, we arrived in steaming hot Dubai some 14 hours later at 13:00 local time. Thank God for tamazapan, they thankfully knocked me out for six hours.  My luggage weighed a record low of just 15.7kg.  So light for me! Proud of my packing efforts x

We were met at the airport and transferred to our four star digs for the night, the lovely Qamardeen Hotel near the Dubai Mall in the old town.

Dubai as a place is surreal.  Pavements are made with granite and marble, everything is clean and neat and it feels so functional and efficient. The hotel shuttle bus took us to the Mall of the Emirates, the famous mall with the indoor ski field.  Hard to believe people are skiing inside a mall when it is 40+ degrees outside!

Ski slope, Mall of the Emirates

Zorba was quick off the shopping mark and bought himself a pair of polarised Oakley sunnies on sale for $170 – good shopping from Zorbs!  My purchases = nil. A first for me! I wanted to, but knowing I have a month ahead of carrying it all on my back was all the motivation I needed to keep my wallet shut.

After a short rest in the hotel, we ventured out for dinner at the adjacent  Al Manzil Hotel at the Courtyard restaurant, set in a gorgeous erm, courtyard setting with trees and candles. Both of us were keen to feast on traditional Arabic cuisine and chose the tasting menu at $45pp.  Way too much food for two people, however delicious.

Mezze

A huge mezze spread that included a labne, pickles, Kuwait lobster salad and calamari in spicy sauce.

The main course of gigantic prawns and really scrumptious chicken in like a tikka sauce almost took me to bursting point.

The yummy nutty custard like dessert had to be eaten, but the Arabic biscuits were taken in a doggy bag – much to Zorba’s angst…”why do we need to take these?”. Yes, yes, he was probably right.

Main course

After dinner we braved the almost suffocating heat and walked around to the sensational water fountain light show – which happens every 30mins. We saw it twice. It was spectacular.

The sweet smell of apple tobacco filled the air as hundreds of people enjoyed  a shisha in one of the many the outdoor cafes that line the waterway.

I couldn’t resist, so once back at our oasis, the Qamardeen Hotel, I look my trusty MacBookAir out by the pool and here I am updating this blog whilst having a shisha, and I’m loving it!  Zorba is catching up on zzzz’s in the room.

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We are knackered, no doubt about it. And in hindsight, our stop over to Dubai might have been better on our way home when we could shop shop shop!  Ah, well, never mind. We have had a brilliant first day of holidays.

Next stop Milano tomorrow, where after a six hour flight, we will catch a train to Monterosso on the picturesque Cinque Terre.  A presto!

FACT FILE

Al Manzil Hotel & Qamardeen Hotel
Emaar Boulevard, The Old Town, Downtown Dubai
Tel: +971 4 428 6888
Our room cost A$170 per night.  Dinner cost us about $120 for two, including a beer each.