The dining scene in Dubai is diverse, mainly catering to its large expat population and jet-setting visitors. But those in search of authentic local eats with Emirati, Lebanese, Persian and Arabic flavours will find plenty of restaurants in Dubai to satisfy their cravings.

    There's an exciting mix of local-style dining spots in Dubai, from those serving aromatic stews or hearty breakfast platters in traditional-themed settings to low-key cafés where you can fill up on tasty breads, pastries and dates with a traditional qahwa Arabic coffee. Here’s a small sampling of Dubai restaurants that offer tasty local cuisine and interesting dining experiences.


    Siraj Restaurant

    Contemporary Emirati cuisine at Souk Al Bahar

    Siraj Restaurant immerses diners into an Arabian Nights-style setting with its glittering design touches and location in Dubai’s famous Souk Al Bahar. Those in need of a meal after exploring the market and its colourful array of carpets, handicrafts and jewellery could relax and refresh at Siraj, enjoying views of Dubai Fountain on Burj Khalifa Lake while they dine.

    Focusing on authentic Emirati cuisine with contemporary flourishes, the menu at Siraj includes such mouth-watering dishes as arayes lamb (minced lamb in Arabic bread), lobster kibbeh (stuffed dough balls), mouhalabiya (Lebanese milk pudding) with honey, and camel tenderloin.

    Location: Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    Open: Daily from noon to 1 am

    Phone: +971 4 513 6207


    Al Ustad Special Kabab

    Family owned go-to spot for tasty kebabs

    Al Ustad Special Kabab has been a favourite Dubai dining spot for more than 40 years. Found in Bur Dubai near the historic Al Fahidi neighbourhood, this kebab eatery has earned fans for its generous-sized kebab khas – chicken or mutton kebabs marinated in yogurt and served with rice.

    The restaurant is run by 3 brothers from Iran, who have packed it with vintage memorabilia and covered the walls with photos of all the famous and prominent people who have dined here over the years.

    Location: Near Sharaf DG Metro Station, Al Mussallah Rd, Al Hamriya, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    Open: Monday–Thursday and Saturday–Sunday from noon to 4 pm and from 6.30 pm to 1 am, Friday from 6.30 pm to 1 am

    Phone: +971 4 397 1933


    Arabian Tea House

    Emirati cuisine in Dubai’s historic Al Fahidi district

    Arabian Tea House offers a peaceful escape from hectic city life with its skylight-roofed dining area brimming with plants, flowers and cheerful turquoise and white furnishings. Breakfast trays are a popular choice here, with a savoury Egyptian platter, an Emirati platter, and a kid’s tray among the choices.

    This is a place to enjoy lingering over a cup of gahwa (Arabian-style coffee), and for convivial family meals or group gatherings, with bench-style seating and large tables. The original Arabian Tea House is in the historic neighbourhood of Al Fahidi, while more branches have since opened across the UAE and beyond.

    Location: Bastakiya Opposite Al Mussala Post Office, Al Fahidi St, Bur Dubai, Al Fahidi, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    Open: Thursday–Friday from 9 am to 11 pm, Sunday–Wednesday from 9 am to 10 pm (closed on Saturdays)

    Phone: +971 4 353 5071


    photo by Iwona Rege (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Al Fanar Restaurant and Café

    Emirati culture and cuisine in a nostalgic setting

    Al Fanar Restaurant and Café is the place to find traditional Emirati dishes in a setting designed to immerse you into a time when Dubai was a small desert village of tents and fishermen’s huts. Indeed, Al Fanar was named for the kerosene lanterns that were used to light up traditional mud-packed homes.

    Though it’s found in the modern Dubai Festival City Mall, Al Fanar’s architecture and ambiance of muted desert tones and warm lighting evoke a 1960s-era Dubai. The menu covers a range of meals, from Arabic and Emirati breakfast trays with raqaq, khameer and chebab breads, to main dishes like Saloona Lahan Badaweya (mutton stew).

    Location: Ground Floor, Dubai Festival City Mall, Canal Walk, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    Open: Saturday–Wednesday from 9 am to 10 pm, Thursday and Friday from 9 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +971 4 232 9966


    photo by Teeraza88 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Bu Qtair

    Famous for its fried fish and prawns

    Bu Qtair is a place where you don’t have to spend much time browsing the menu since there are only 2 items to try: fried fish or fried prawn. Both are prepared with curry sauce and served with paratha bread, much the same way as they were when Bu Qtair first opened as a simple street food shack in the 1980s.

    These days, diners can enjoy their meal in Bu Qtair’s new location with larger, yet still simple air-conditioned and outdoor dining areas that offer harbour views. Reservations are recommended.

    Location: Old 32B Street, Fishing Harbour 2, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    Open: Daily 11.30 am to 11.30 pm

    Phone: +971 55 705 2130


    Logma Restaurant

    Khaleeji cuisine with contemporary flair

    Logma Restaurant has earned a local following for its traditional Emirati and Khaleeji (Gulf) food with a modern twist. For breakfast, Logma has dishes like chebab (Emirati pancakes) and khameer (flatbread with date syrup and cheese). Other popular dishes include chicken biryani and lamb machbous.

    There are a few Logma restaurant branches around Dubai, with Logma at The Dubai Mall offering views of Dubai Fountain to enjoy with your meal. Other Logma locations include Boxpark outdoor mall and City Center mall in Mirdif.

    Location: The Dubai Mall, Fashion Avenue, L3 New Fashion Avenue extension, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    Open: Daily from 10am to midnight

    Phone: +971 800 56462


    Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

    Cultural learning while dining Emirati style

    • Food
    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding regularly hosts a tasty series of meals where visitors learn about Emirati culture through its food and dining experiences. Found in Al Fahadi, one of Dubai’s oldest neighbourhoods, the centre puts on an elaborate feast for diners to gather around and talk with the host about the UAE’s history and traditions.

    Cultural breakfasts are held every Sunday, Monday and Wednesday at 9 am, while brunches are on Saturdays at 10.30 am. The centre hosts a lunch every Sunday to Thursday at 1 pm, while dinners are held every Tuesday at 6.30 pm. Booking in advance is required.

    Location: Al Mussallah Rd, Al Fahidi, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    Phone: +971 4 353 6666


    photo by Lyleham (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Al Mallah Cafeteria

    Long-running favourite for Lebanese food

    Al Mallah Cafeteria has evolved from a modest juice stand when it opened in 1979 to a hot spot for Lebanese fare including shawarmas, falafels and mixed grills. It still offers a tasty range of juices as well as colourful mocktails like the cherry-red Tahiti.

    The original Al Mallah is set on a busy road in the Satwa neighbourhood, an ideal place to stop by for a takeaway or enjoy a quick and hearty meal while watching the bustling street action. More Al Mallah branches are found in other neighbourhoods around Dubai including Al Seef and Deira.

    Location: Al Dhiyafa Rd, Al Hudaiba, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    Open: Saturday–Wednesday from 7 am to 2.30 am, Thursday from 7 am to 3 am, Friday from 9 am to 2.30 am

    Phone: +971 600 522521



    Traditional Dubai street food with a modern touch

    Zaroob restaurant serves Lebanese and Arabic food that’s prepared in live cooking stations and an open kitchen. The bright, lively setting with lanterns and colourful steel shutters evokes a street-food alley ambience, while the dishes are presented in a contemporary style. Best of all, Zaroob is open 24/7 to satisfy your cravings any time of day or night.

    Zaroob restaurant is found in Jumeirah Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road, with branch locations in Dubai Marina and the Golden Mile in Palm Jumeirah.

    Location: Shop 1, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +971 800 927662


    Maraheb Restaurant

    Lamb mandi and other Yemeni dishes

    Maraheb Restaurant has earned a legion of fans in Dubai for its mandi, a Yemeni dish of meat and rice with a blend of spices, traditionally cooked in an underground pit. There’s a choice of meats but lamb mandi is the most popular. Diners can also choose from a range of breakfast dishes, salads, juices, and sweets such as kunafeh with cheese and cream at Maraheb.

    Maraheb’s location in Al Safa is often crowded so it’s best to book in advance if you have a family or group gathering planned. More Maraheb Restaurant branches are found around the UAE.

    Location: Al Safa, Al Safa 2, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    Open: Daily from noon to midnight

    Phone: +971 4 346 9996

    Lana Willocks | Contributing Writer

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