The Best Dining Spots in Dubai

The best holidays are those, where you eat meals that are truly extraordinary. At least if you ask me – a keen eater, munching away at any occasion, big or small.

And I do believe that I am not alone with this assertion, as one of the most common questions, I get asked, is about great places to eat in Dubai. And I can see why. It is a bit of a jungle with all the excellent food choices, we have here.

In this blog post, I will give you my Top 5 Restaurants sure to impress you and your loved one with some of the most exquisite food experiences in Dubai. After my Top 5 for love birds and/or friends, I will give you my Top 5 Family Friendly Restaurants, for you, who brought the whole family along.

But first, I have 2 tips that you can use in preparation for your vacation:

Check TimeOut Dubai for the latest trends and new eateries in town: – this is especially relevant if you are into a certain type of cuisine or want a very particular experience.

Purchase the app called The Entertainer

This is the classic “Buy 1, Get 1 free” concept, where most restaurants offer you the cheapest main course of your choice for free, when you pay for the most expensive main course of your choice. You can choose between a version of the app called “Food and Drinks” for a good spread of nice restaurants, cafés etc. – and a version named “Fine Dining” for the most exclusive restaurants in Dubai. If you are traveling as a family, I can guarantee you that this app will provide you with significant savings, as a lot of activities and attractions are also included, so any entrance tickets become “half price” by using the app.

Back to the dining spots.

Here is my personal Top 5 of Dubai’s Most Fantastic Restaurants for Couples and Friends:

  1. Zuma in DIFC – Dubai International Financial Centre. Immaculate Japanese food in a perfect setting. Zuma is part of an international chain of restaurants, but this really doesn’t make any difference. It’s perfect in its own right. There is a fantastic bar, by the way, and I can recommend that you hang out for a drink either before or after your meal. On Thursdays, the employees of the financial district have a drink or two at Zuma and it becomes quite a party. Book your table and check out the menu here:
  2. Buddha Bar & Siddharta Lounge at Grosvenor House. A bit of a classic, really, as Buddha Bar is found in many locations, but again, I just have to claim that it is really a wonderful experience – food wise and ambience wise. After an Asian-Fusion meal at Buddha Bar, you just need to cross the street to continue at Siddharta Lounge, which offers a perfect view of the lights over Dubai Marina. It doesn’t get much better than this. An evening where food, conversation, cocktails and music will be in perfect flow.
  3. Pai Thai in Madinat Jumeirah. Make sure to book a table in advance, and you will be sailing onboard the Arabic version of the Venetian gondola to the restaurant from the main hotel, Qasr Madinat. This is the perfect start to a wonderful dinner, where you will experience the very best of Thai cuisine. Remember to order the pomelo salad – you can thank me later!
  4. La Petite Maison in DIFC – Dubai International Financial Centre. Yet another chain restaurant – I know – but this is truly world class French cuisine. My most Francophile friends swear that this is THE place to eat French delicacies in Dubai. Check it out right here: PS: If you are more into a laid-back brasserie environment, I can recommend The Maine Oyster & Grill: This is obviously American-French fusion, but every single thing on the menu is perfect. I love going there, as the bar is noisy and serves as a perfect back drop to the fantastic food and laughter.
  5. 101 Dining Lounge & Bar at One & Only The Palm. Make sure to sail across from the sister hotel One and Only Mirage located in Dubai Marina. 101 Dining Lounge & Bar is an elegant Spanish tapas-style restaurant offering the most spectacular view of the Dubai skyline. If tapas is not your thing, I can recommend the Arabic mezze in the Arabian Court at One & Only Mirage, where you can smoke shisha, too. At the private beach there, you will find a row of incredibly cute and romantic white coves, where you can dine and drink in privacy, while enjoying the feeling of sand between your toes and the calming sound of the ocean at night.

That was my Top 5 for love birds and friends – what do you say?

In addition, why not make your visit to Burj Khalifa even more pleasurable by booking in for either lunch, afternoon tea or dinner at the beautiful restaurant Atmosphere:

If Burj Al Arab is also on your list of “must-see’s” in Dubai, I suggest that you book in at Gold on 27, where you will be sure to get the most golden, shimmery, glittery meals and drinks on Earth. Everything that shines here, is pure gold. It really is an extraordinary experience, regardless of whether you would normally go for edible gold flakes or not. And you get to see the World’s most luxurious hotel at the same time!

Moving on to my personal Top 5 of family friendly restaurants that never fail.

  1. Bussola at Westin Mina Seyahi: – this is simply a perfect Italian diner for the whole family. The quality of the ingredients is outstanding and even the fuzziest of eaters will find their favorites on the menu. Their home made ice cream is delicious – and they serve pizzas with ‘proper’ ham, salami etc. Pork is a rare commodity in Dubai, so be sure to enjoy it, while you eat it!
  2. Breeze Beach Grill at Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah: This place is perfect for a slow morning, a long lunch or even an early dinner. Located right at the sea, the kids can play and enjoy on the beach, while you sit back, relax and enjoy their delicious food and smoothies.
  3. Blue Orange, also located at Westin Mina Seyahi. This is the sumptuous buffet restaurant of your dreams. The kids will love to wander about and do their own pick-and-mix from almost all internationally renowned cuisines. Next to the buffet restaurant is a play area, and if you sit outside, the kids can roam freely in the lovely gardens at Westin.
  4. The Cheesecake Factory, The Walk, JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence). This American chain of restaurants is also located in Dubai Mall with a view to Dubai Aquarium and in Mall of the Emirates over-looking Ski Dubai. This is sublime “feel-good-food” for the entire family. The portions are as American as you can imagine – and no matter what you choose from their extensive menu, it will be just perfect. Don’t miss out on their famous cheesecake – it is THAT good! If you choose the restaurant located at The Walk, JBR, there are playgrounds and a public beach right in front.
  5. Black Tap at Jumeirah Naseem: Treat the kids to milkshakes and ice creams larger than life – and delicious home-made burgers, if there is space for more! Before or after the sugar rush, you should visit the turtle rehabilitation centre recently placed inside the Jumeirah Naseem Hotel, after having been relocated from the Burj Al Arab: It is always good fun to feed the turtles, but there is an educational angle to this, too, as you learn about the challenges that these turtles face in the Arabian Sea due to climate change and pollution. Check feeding times and possible booking requirements prior to heading out to avoid disappointment.

Last, but certainly not least, I can recommend any restaurant in the golf and polo clubs located across Dubai. There are usually really nice play grounds outside – and some have pools, where the kids can swim for free.

Generally speaking, children are very welcome in restaurants and eateries in Dubai. There may be special nights during the week – such as Ladies’ Nights, where children are not welcome. At Burj Al Arab, a certain number of restaurants and bars are not open to children during the evening service, or the children have to be of a certain age to enter. But it really is only a very limited number of places, where you can’t bring your children – and this has more to do with the consumption of alcohol and the party that this brings on, than it has to do with the behavior of our young children. After all, the Arabs adore and dote on their children – and they often bring their whole tribe out for meals.

This was my 5 + 5 of perfect dining sports for couples and families.

And I’m not even getting close to tell you all about the wonderful coffee-cake-places, the afternoon teas, the Friday Brunches or the delectable Ladies’ Nights that are all worthy of your time in Dubai.

That’ll be for another time and blog post – and until then, I’m wishing you:

Bon Appetit!