The social fabric of Dubai is delightfully multicultural and so is its cuisine. Fortunately for gourmands, when it comes to indulging your sweet tooth in this glitzy metropolis, the options are endless and often extraordinarily varied to include the traditional, creative and innovative.
From the pistachio-topped Arabic delicacy knafeh and syrupy, Iranian-born but Indian-adopted falooda, to award-winning Italian gelato and smooth dark chocolate soft serves, here’s where to try the best desserts in Dubai.
Chocolate Soft Serve at Godiva
Well-known Godiva has found an indulgent home in Dubai. When you need a break from sampling the sights, stop by one of the city’s Godiva chocolate cafés (you’ll find outposts everywhere from Mall of the Emirates to Dubai Festival City) to try dreamy soft serve ice creams.
Choose from pure dark or a combination of dark and white chocolate and enjoy your decadent swirl in a fresh waffle cone.
Luqaimat at Al Fanar Restaurant and Café
There are many reasons to dine at Al Fanar Restaurant and Café, from its unique interior that channels 1960s-era Dubai to the tasty and authentic Emirati cuisine.
After a hearty meal of fresh fish, flavor-packed stews and meaty kebabs, be sure to finish off your evening with an order of luqaimat, a traditional dessert made of deep-fried dough balls served piping hot and soaked in sweet date syrup. The Middle Eastern cousin of the Greek loukomades, these fried indulgences are guaranteed to leave you with sweet memories of the city.
Artisanal Gelato at Bacio Gelato
You don’t have to make a pit stop in Italy to get a taste of authentic gelato — Dubai boasts its own globally recognized contender. Third-place winner of the 2014 Gelato World Tour (organized by the acclaimed Carpigiani Gelato University), Bacio Gelato churns out small batches of the frozen sweet every day using only fresh natural ingredients.
Peruse classic flavors, such as hazelnut or pistachio (made with imported Sicilian nuts and topped with honey and pistachio pralines) or bask in a fruity, dairy-free sorbetto on a hot summer afternoon.
Traditional Knafeh at Feras AlDiyafa
A Levantine favorite, knafeh is a sugar-and-syrup-soaked cheesy pastry with a crunchy, crispy top made of kadaif (finely shredded phyllo dough) noodles. This local dessert is the perfect marriage of sweet and savory tastes that makes it impossible to stop eating.
While several variations of the confection are available in the city, from rose-petal-infused versions to a modern cheesecake, the simplest and most authentic knafeh in Dubai can be found at Feras AlDiyafa Sweets. Freshly prepared and topped with pistachios, the knafeh here is perhaps the most famous item on the menu.
Sinful Sundaes at Serendipity 3
The aptly named restaurant and dessert spot Serendipity 3 at City Walk can brighten up even the gloomiest of days with its eclectic ambience, lively vibe and extensive menu of sweet treats.
This international outpost of the storied New York City spot boasts a robust menu of mouthwatering appetizers and mains, but the desserts — specifically, a range of Serendipity sundaes — are the real highlight. Try the carrot cake sundae, a fabulous fusion of butter pecan ice cream, white chocolate, maple walnut sauce and whipped cream. For something (a little) lighter, tuck into one of the signature Frozen Hot Chocolates.
Kulfi Falooda at Kulfilicious
With quirky décor that transports you to an Indian village complete with roadside stalls and rickshaws, Kulfilicious is a fun place to be introduced to kulfi falooda. This frozen Indian dessert is made of dense ice cream, jelly soaked in milk, cornstarch vermicelli, basil seeds, rose syrup and pistachios, and topped off with dried fruit. The tasty concoction is served in a tall glass that allows you to see all the colors and textures blended together.
For the most authentic experience, try this delicacy in a traditional flavor, such as fig, date, pistachio or cardamom. More familiar options, like almond, passion fruit and toffee are also available. The adventurous should opt for one of the Royal Selections in a blend of flavors like avocado, honey and cashew, or saffron, pistachio and almond.