When it comes to deciding where to eat, in Dubai, the restaurants offerings are almost too varied to imagine. Dubai’s best restaurants serve virtually every national cuisine from around the world, including many specializing in Dubai’s own Arabic delights. While there is yet to be a Michelin-starred restaurant in Dubai, the city compensates for its lack of guide by importing chefs or restaurant chains that have previously been recognized elsewhere by this prestigious publication.
The food on offer in Dubai varies massively due to the large expat community they have living in the country. However traditional Emirati food takes its influence from Levant, Arabic and Asian food, with traditional dishes including plates such as stuffed camel, kuboos (more commonly known as flatbreads), Maqluba (a dish whose name literally translates as ‘upside-down’ and is a meat, rice and vegetable dish made with tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and lamb of chicken). More recently Dubai has started serving Arabic food more recognizable to Westerners, including shawarmas, falafel, tabbouleh and hummus.
With Dubai being a Muslim country you will often find some hotels will not serve pork at all, while many others will serve beef as a substitute, such as many restaurants serving beef sausages and veal rashers in place of bacon and pork sausages. However more tourist orientated restaurants and hotels will often serve pork dishes due to the international clientele they attract. The same goes for alcohol, with wine, beer and spirits not being widely available in the country outside of Western bars, hotels and restaurants.
With Elite Traveler’s guide on where to eat in Dubai you will find a wide array of restaurants including more traditional Emirati food alongside modern European and Asian cuisine. Each restaurant featured here is not simply somewhere to eat, but a destination for stunning decor, amazing views and unforgettable culinary experiences. These are our picks of the best restaurants in Dubai.
Set on a bedecked pier jutting out into the Arabian Gulf, Pierchic offers some of Dubai’s finest seafood, and has previously been recognized as Time Out Dubai’s Best Seafood Restaurant. The pier is a romantic outpost, far removed from the noise and bustle of Dubai and offering unspoiled views of the azure Gulf. Enjoy an intimate dinner of modern European seafood dishes alfresco, and take in views of the Arabian Gulf from your over-water dining table. The restaurant is located at the end of a pier at the illustrious Jumeirah Al Qasr hotel, where guests will be transported via a rickshaw. Before a fresh-catch dinner, sip cocktails at the stylish Pierchic Bar.
Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara
Nathan Outlaw brings his luxuriously laid-back approach to seafood to the city as one of the best places to eat in Dubai. The restaurant is not underwater, nor is the ‘submarine’ that takes you there real. Nonetheless, it is an extraordinary and unique experience dining within the vast aquarium that sets the scene for Nathan Outlaw Al Mahara. The Michelin-starred British chef’s dishes emphasize the power of simplicity while the flavors of the finest ingredients speak for themselves. Guests can enjoy signature cocktails in one of the open-air, waterfront patio tables.
The atmosphere at Eauzone is casual during the day, reflecting the slow pace of the One&Only Royal Mirage and the lazy sea beyond.
After sunset, however, this venue smartens up into a sleek, refined restaurant. The design is beautifully positioned around the pool, giving the impression that it is floating on the translucent water. A winding walkway over the pool shows the way into the restaurant where there is a stylish bar and a glamorous, striped poolside marquee deck.
La Petite Maison
Magnificently located in Dubai International Financial Centre, this restaurant’s cooking style belongs to ‘old Genoese,’ serving Mediterranean dishes. Local produce — notably artichokes, courgettes, lemons, olives, tomatoes, peppers and girolles — is used generously with seafood, meat and fresh pasta to produce a style that’s light and healthy.
The signature restaurant of the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa is a 60-minute drive from Dubai airport. The resort is hidden among sand dunes, giving the image of an isolated oasis perfect for a fine-dining experience under the stars. Fourteen live cooking stations provide authentic cuisine from the Middle East while guests enjoy live entertainment. The Emirati Heritage Museum is also located nearby for an extra dose of culture.
Award-winning chefs at Zheng He’s pride themselves on creating dishes that blend modern Western presentation with old Chinese flavors. The setting adds to this fusion — on the ‘dockside’ of a canal that weaves itself into the Madinet Jumeirah resort, it has an atmosphere of ancient simplicity while retaining views of the Burj Al Arab and the Gulf beyond. Try the signature Fortune Beggar Chicken among the exquisite Chinese fare on offer.
Based at the Atlantis Hotel, Nobu fuses cutting–edge Japanese style with Arabian influences, while retaining Nobu classics such as its legendary seared black cod served with sweet miso sauce, and yellowtail topped with thin slices of jalapeño. The menu is complemented by a sushi bar and stylish surroundings, including private areas for more intimate gatherings. Cooking classes are available, allowing guests to learn the secrets behind this world–famous restaurant chain, created by globally renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa to redefine Japanese cuisine.
Located at Palace Downtown Dubai, Thiptara offers diners exemplary Thai cuisine with a focus on Bangkok-style seafood. Aptly named Thiptara, meaning ‘Magic of the Water,’ the elegant restaurant overlooks the Dubai Fountain, making it one of the most romantic restaurants in Dubai. Thiptara’s chef de cuisine has created a menu that pays tribute to Thai culinary traditions; expect a range of fresh, flavorful dishes that cover a spectrum of the nation’s signature recipes. Try traditional courses with Thai iced tea or a cognac from the restaurant’s spirits selection.
Widely considered to be one of the best venues in Dubai, the Buddha-Bar is located in the Grosvenor House hotel, and is named after the giant Buddha statue that watches over this lavish setting.
Actually three venues — a restaurant, bar and outdoor lounge opening onto the Arabian Sea — Buddha-Bar is famed for its unique food, eclectic atmosphere and ambient music from an on-site DJ. The sumptuous restaurant serves a fusion of sushi, Chinese and Thai food, with a bar that plays host to Dubai’s stylish crowds.
This concept restaurant at the Hilton Dubai Creek is a platform for a series of chefs to showcase their creativity as they each curate a different dining experience. Since opening, the restaurant has become known for bringing to the table high-quality and entirely unique dishes with personalized service. Opt for a four-course menu or seasonal options such as king crab ravioli and portobello mushroom carpaccio. The award-winning modern bistro has a casual vibe making it ideal for brunch as well as an evening meal, with Gordon Ramsay-trained Nick Alvis and Scott Price behind its creation.
Dubai does not yet have its own Michelin Guide, but adopts Michelin–starred chefs in restaurants such as Rhodes W1. The flagship restaurant at the Grosvenor House Hotel is headed by Gary Rhodes, who crafts an astonishing fusion of Anglo–French cuisine. The innovative tasting menu is exceptional and uses fresh ingredients sourced from Europe, matched by an extensive collection of modern and vintage wines. Seating in the terrace garden provides panoramic views over Dubai Marina, with interiors lush with greenery and chic yellow accents with a fresh and energetic appeal.
Choix Patisserie & Restaurant
World–renowned chef Pierre Gagnaire, known for taking creative cuisine to its absolute limit, is behind this restaurant at InterContinental Dubai Festival City. Matching the success of his other restaurants in London, Paris and Tokyo, Choix has become renowned throughout Dubai, in particular for its high tea. The restaurant offers à la carte dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a decadent range of pastries and desserts to make the meal even more special. Savor the fish-of-the-day, beef rib eye, or mushroom tortellini. The contemporary white interiors are complemented by the city views this dining space commands.
The beauty of Zuma is that it is luxuriously unfussy, specializing in the Japanese Izakaya style of dining, in which food is served to share.
Zuma combines its classic Japanese dishes with bold, intense flavors and an emphasis on simple presentation acquired through quality ingredients. In the Japanese izakaya style of dining, dishes are steadily brought to the table, timed to create a relaxed style of eating that maintains an air of elegance.