There’s no denying the appeal of Middle Eastern dining staples. Hummus, falafel and kebabs have become the comfort food of choice in various cosmopolitan cities around the world. But Emirati cuisine, the local food of the United Arab Emirates, still remains something of a secret, one that not even many expats who call Dubai home are in on.
On your next trip to the glitzy UAE metropolis, make time to dine at these Emirati restaurants for a taste of local flavor.
You’ll find plenty of local flavor at this fine-dining venue within the Radisson Blu Hotel in Deira. The gold accents, ornamental lamps, warm lighting and beautiful patterns adorning the interior of the restaurant strike a fine balance of traditional references and contemporary style.
When it comes to the food, customary tastes get injected with modern, creative flair. While there are classic dishes like kebabs, machboos (Emirati rice pilaf) and thereed (stew), you also can tuck into chef Uwe Micheel’s more contemporary creations, such as pan-roasted quail salad (pistachio-stuffed breast served with pumpkin purée), Arabian seafood soup, chicken roulade (stuffed with dates and a local bezar spice blend) and a trio of camel sliders.
Wrap up the meal with date pudding or chocolate-cardamom cheesecake.
A meal at this popular local chain (with a newly opened London outpost) isn’t just a sampling of Emirati cuisine, it’s an immersive experience akin to time traveling to 1960s Dubai.
Coral-colored walls, antique wooden doors, latticework, old black-and-white photographs and vintage lamps set the scene as you step into a traditional courtyard that comes complete with lifelike models dressed in traditional attire going about daily life.
The food here is authentic (don’t ask for hummus), with plenty of hearty seafood and meat options served family style. Order dishes like koftat samak (fried fish cakes), machboos robyan (shrimp over spiced yellow rice), saloona laham (meat stew with vegetables) and thereed deyay (chicken stew).
For a sweet finish, opt for cake al cacao beltamor (chocolate cake with dates) or asidat bobar (pumpkin pudding).
With two branches around Dubai (and a third in the works), this casual spot offers authentic Emirati and Khaleeji (from around the Arabian Gulf region) fare with a light and contemporary touch.
With every nook and corner stocked with cool Khaleeji memorabilia, Logma is great for a quick introduction to Emirati cuisine, especially for breakfast. If you make it here for your first meal of the day, order the shakshouka (poached eggs with tomato sauce), egg paratha (think Emirati breakfast burrito) or go all out with the traditional breakfast platter to try a bit of everything: baith tamat (scrambled eggs with tomato and herbs), balaleet (vermicelli with egg), khameer (warm date-sweetened bread) and chebab (thin pancakes) served with date syrup.
You’ll also encounter some traditional rice dishes like machbous and biryani, but the delicious, stuffed khameer sandwiches (available all day) are not to be missed.
With slick Arabian-inspired interiors and a waterfront location, this airy dining room is the place to sit down for a leisurely Emirati meal after a few hours of beach time. The terrace affords views of the Arabian Sea, while inside, ornate lamps hang from the ceiling and the use of latticework and traditional design touches are abundant in an otherwise modern space.
While the cuisine is true to its gastronomic roots, the presentation is contemporary, making for some sensational pre-dinner snapshots.
Try the shark sambousa (fried pastry stuffed with bezar-spiced minced shark), aishu lahem (slow-roasted lamb shank), chicken kebab with saffron and camel biryani. If you’re keen on ordering a number of dishes, opt for the Emirati Culinary Experience, a three-course prix fixe menu.
Retro box TV sets, dallah coffee pots, binoculars and other vintage memorabilia embellish the walls at this hidden gem, tucked away in Al Boom Tourist Village in old Dubai. Outside, alfresco dining on the terrace offers vistas of boats plying across Dubai Creek.
Pair those tranquil scenes with classics like harees (a meaty porridge), hamsat al naghr (calamari stew with onion and potatoes) and even a camel version of the popular street snack shawarma.
Wash it all down with iced laban (buttermilk), and, for dessert, indulge in sticky, sweet luqaimat (fried dumplings drizzled with syrup) or sago (pudding).