Part of what makes Dubai so great is that this global city will never disappoint anyone when it comes to food. Many internationally renowned establishments have opened a branch here in the heart of the UAE, from renowned restaurants such as Zuma, Nobu, Cipriani and Hakassan to more laid-back eateries such as Dean & DeLuca, The Meat Co. and Eataly.
However, for travelers in search of a memorable food experience, there are culinary gems throughout Dubai that are definitely worth a visit. Here, in no particular order, are five of these restaurants.
Tom & Serg
Tom & Serg opened in 2013, a collaboration between Melbourne-based chef Tom Arnel and Spanish food and beverage director Sergio Lopez. The two crossed paths and essentially aimed to serve the best coffee in town (which they have successfully achieved), and to accompany their mission, they have also decided to serve accessible gourmet cuisine.
The spacious restaurant, set in industrial décor with a large open kitchen, is a great place for breakfast and lunch. Note: For anyone looking to have a drink with food, Tom & Serg does not serve alcohol.
The Tom & Serg burger is a must especially because it is not too ‘heavy’. The pan-seared salmon is also a great choice if you are a fish lover and prefer a lighter meal. If you are a coffee lover, it is necessary that you order a cup of their roasted brew to sip on premises or to take on the go. (15A Street, Al Quoz Industrial.
This Jamaican restaurant has just recently opened its doors. Originating from the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village, Miss Lily’s owners have chosen Dubai for their first international outpost.
The moment you enter the doors of the cozy and casual eatery, you are immediately transported to the warm and welcoming culture of Jamaica. From the staff’s friendliness to the vibrant colors on the walls to the lively Caribbean music, you instantly forget you are in the UAE.
The modern approach to Jamaican food is depicted in the restaurant’s menu as they serve a variety of Caribbean-influenced dishes mixing the likes of spicy and sweet. You should definitely try the signature jerk chicken, pimento short ribs and hot pepper shrimp.
Make your way to the busy bar once you are done with dinner to sip on one of Dubai’s best Mai Tai cocktails and dance the night away. (Sheraton Grand Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road)
Mythos Kouzina & Grill
I have to admit I was never a big fan of Greek food until I had dinner in the lively restaurant Mythos Kouzina & Grill. The place has such a great vibe and ambience, as it is always filled with people who gather to socialize over tasty Greek food and exotic drinks.
You must start your lunch or dinner with a refreshing order of Tzatziki– a bowl of yogurt dip with cucumber and garlic. The baked feta starter is also to be considered before moving on to the main dish. I highly recommend the Tomato Kefta, a traditional Greek recipe, and the Chicken Souvlaki. Tip: Try to book your table ahead of time as the restaurant is often always full. (Cluster P, Armada 2, JLT, Jumeirah Lake Towers)
One cannot visit Dubai without stopping by the iconic Arab eatery Zaroob. The 24/7 restaurant originally became popular with the after-party crowd and then it eventually evolved into the weekend gathering hole for families and friends.
The diverse menu is actually inspired by the offerings of Middle Eastern street vendors from Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and more. You must try Manakish (the famous oven-baked cheese) and the delicious creamy hummus. Do not forget to order a Kushari, an Egyptian specialty made of rice, lentils and chickpeas. Zaroob is also known for the Kenefeh desert, a crumbly paste filled with melted cheese and a warm sugar topping.
If you are not familiar with Middle Eastern cuisine, do not hesitate to ask the friendly staff for some guidance. No matter what you decide to order, you will not be disappointed. Zaroob now has several locations, however I recommend visiting the original location on Sheikh Zayed Road. (Ground Floor, Jumeirah Tower Building, along Sheikh Zayed Road DIFC)
El Sur is by far one of my favorite Spanish restaurants in Dubai. The restaurant serves share-style portions of fine yet casual Spanish cuisine with a modern and contemporary touch. All of the delicious plates you want to try can start to add up, so I would recommend booking the Saturday brunch concept called La Comilona, which runs from 12.30 to 3.30pm. With the brunch menu, you get to sample a multitude of the chef’s specialties, which include a generous portion of the signature paella, lots of tapas and sangria. If the weather is nice, do not hesitate to ask for a table on the terrace. (Lobby level, The Westin Dubai)