Dubai is a city for foodies – from super street food to fancy fine dining, there are so many incredible dishes to try. While you may have heard about gold-dusted burgers and the like, it’s not all extravagant dining here, though that’s not to say it’s not available if you’re after a blow-out meal. There’s quality food from top chefs at restaurants spanning low-key sushi joints to high-end French icons. The food scene in Dubai is one of the best in the world, peppered with famous Michelin-starred names as well as exciting homegrown eateries. Whether you’re looking to splash out or are on a budget, here are 25 of the best restaurants in Dubai to whet your appetite.
The only way to kick off a Dubai best restaurants list is with some top-notch mezze. There are two branches of this Lebanese fine dining restaurant in Dubai, one on the Palm and one in DIFC, but it’s the latter we’re favouring here. On any given day you’ll find a crowd made up of business people from the city’s nearby financial centre, couples and families. Al Nafoorah is high-end, and while you’ll find mezze cheaper in the city, this is one of the best restaurants in Dubai when it comes to quality Lebanese fare. There’s a choice of set menus – named Beirut, Tripoli, Byblos and Sidon – or à la carte, so you’ll never be short of options. The grills are particularly tasty, if you’re a carnivore.
If you only order one thing… Classic hummus. Call it unoriginal, but this is so much more than an average chickpea dip. Rich, creamy and slathered on fresh, pillowy bread, you can’t go wrong.
Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.jumeirah.com (04 319 8760).
With a lively atmosphere, vibrant décor and a fun-loving, glam crowd, Bistrot Bagatelle is one of the best restaurants in Dubai for a late-night dinner. Head here before 10pm and you might wonder what we’re talking about, but as the night goes on the vibe picks up, with live music and an upbeat party vibe. The food doesn’t play second fiddle either, with standout French dishes ranging from garlicky escargot to herb and sesame studded rack of lamb and truffle roasted chicken.
If you only order one thing… Linguini au Homard Épicé, or, if you don’t speak French, roasted spicy lobster with linguine. This shareable portion of creamy, tomatoey linguine (with a kick) that’s one of the tastiest pasta dishes you’ll find in the city.
Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.bagatelledubai.com (04 354 5035).
This DIFC restaurant has a menu with influences from Spain, Italy and France – all served up in a fun and innovative way. And as well as being creative there’s focus on sustainability here, taking whatever is fresh and keeping it simple. The team at BOCA pride themselves on using locally-sourced ingredients where possible – think local hydroponic farms and oysters from Dibba Bay. There’s also an extensive vegan menu, as well as an interesting grape list. Snack on ice-packed manzanilla olives – which are zingy and fresh – while you have an aperitivo, and then go for what’s recommended that day.
If you only order one thing… Black seafood paella with octopus, shellfish, crispy calamari for an upmarket take on a classic Spanish dish.
Gate Village 6, DIFC, www.boca.ae (04 323 1833).
Carnival by Trèsind
With billowing plumes of dry ice, innovative mixed drinks served in a host of unusual receptacles – we’re talking ceramic skulls and popcorn bags – this younger sister of top Indian restaurant Trèsind is and a whole load of fun. Dishes are super-inventive, as are their names: “who moved my cheese?” (baked paneer pinwheels), Indian-style southern fried chicken, curried mushroom empanadas and biryani burgers. Décor is moody, with vibrant pops of colour, and it’s one of the best restaurants in Dubai for molecular gastronomy.
If you only order one thing… Get the gajak for dessert. It’s basically all the ingredients for a Snickers bar and it’s smashing (literally).
Burj Daman, DIFC, www.carnivalbytresind.com (052 242 4262).
COYA is well-known for being one of the best restaurants in Dubai when it comes to Latin American cuisine. The Peruvian dishes have influences from Spain, Japan and China, meaning a menu that’s bursting with exciting flavours. Sushi, ceviche and grills star on the menu (the arroz Nikkei with Chilean sea bass is a standout), while there’s also a diverse selection of vegan food (the papa seca coliflor deserves a mention). Sweet tooth? Order the churros and get dunking.
If you only order one thing… Keep it simple and go for the perfectly smashed guacamole, prepared at the table.
Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah, www.coyarestaurant.com (04 316 9600).
From one of Dubai’s best known chefs, Izu Ani, this Greek-Mediterranean in DIFC has fast become a go-to spot in the area. Frequently in the news for its royal visitors, the chic dining room is uses neutral tones, gold trimmed décor to give it a sophisticated feel. There’s a fish market-style counter, where you can pick your fresh catch and choose it raw, grilled, baked with Greek herbs and spices or salt-baked, while the rest of the menu focuses on Greek mezze sharing dishes, all with a modern twist and inventive flavours. From the man that made his name at neighbouring star LPM, you can expect excellent food at GAIA.
If you only order one thing… Moussaka. Abandon all thoughts of a stodgy, heavy dish served at inauthentic tavernas, this light and fragrant Greek dish has minced meat delicately piled atop sliced aubergine. It’s a hit.
Gate Village 4, DIFC, www.gaia.com (04 241 4242).
Bringing modern French-Vietnamese cuisine to Dubai’s DIFC, Indochine is a relative newcomer to the Dubai dining scene. The New York restaurant opened in 1984 and has been a main player with celeb names ever since, and it’s been one of the coolest places to be seen in Dubai since opening at the start of 2020. With a cool, lively vibe, swish décor and a place in the gastrohub that is DIFC, getting a table here requires booking in advance. Vietnamese ravioli, duck blossom salad, wagyu beef tartare and escargot are among the most popular dishes.
If you only order one thing… Fried imperial rolls – a fancy spring roll stuffed with shrimp and chicken, carrot, shiitake mushrooms, glass noodles and water chestnut.
Gate Precinct Building 3, DIFC, indochinedxb.com.
La Cantine Du Faubourg
This chic French restaurant in Jumeirah Emirates Towers started out life on number 105 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. And the sophisticated vibe and fun atmosphere has made its way to Dubai. The restaurant has super-cool décor and there’s a charming terrace for the winter months. Known for hosting brunches, events, art shows and more, the bar and lounge area of La Cantine is also popular for a post-work drink, while the restaurant is a top spot for a late-night dinner too, attracting a lively, fun-loving crowd. Dishes are excellent – noteworthy mentions include the honey-glazed wagyu short rib, which is perfectly crisp on the outside and tender inside, as well as the walnut crusted Chilean sea bass with pumpkin, quinoa and parmesan sauce.
If you only order one thing… Yellowfin tuna ceviche with sesame, avocado, sweet onion vinaigrette. Lipsmackingly zingy, fresh and delicious dressing envelopes silky smooth tuna cubes.
Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.lacantine.ae (04 352 7105).
LPM Restaurant & Bar
A big hitter on the Dubai dining scene, and a global name, this renowned French restaurant and bar opened in DIFC in 2010. It was revamped in early 2020 and now has a charming terrace area, too. This fine dining, Parisian-style restaurant attracts DIFC’s foodie crowd – it’s always busy, with a lively vibe as fits its central DIFC location. Service is efficient, food is consistently excellent and you can’t fail to have a top-notch meal here, whether it’s a business lunch or anniversary dinner. Bold, bright colours pair with minimalist décor for a French Riviera vibe, while traditional dishes are given a modern twist. There’s even a dedicated vegan menu. A stalwart when it comes to the best restaurants in Dubai.
If you only order one thing… Lamb cutlets. Perfectly pink, outrageously tasty. Best paired with a bubbling, nutmeggy, creamy dish of potato gratin.
DIFC, www.lpmlondon.co.uk/dubai (04 439 0505).
Famed for many things – not least the invention of miso black cod – Nobu should be on the bucket list of any visitor to Dubai. The worldwide brand stems from a pairing between Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Hollywood actor Robert DeNiro, and it’s now a household name for foodies around the globe with branches in California, New York, London and right here in Dubai. Nobu Dubai is housed in Atlantis The Palm, just across from the huge aquarium. But despite being housed within one of Dubai’s most famous tourist spots, the vibe in Nobu is cool and mellow, with sleek décor.
If you only order one thing… Nobu credits himself with being the first at serving edamame hot, but it’s his most famous recipe you really need to try. The black cod is marinated in miso for three days to make it sweet, rich and indulgent. The recipe is slightly different for the Middle Eastern region than you’ll find elsewhere in the world, and it’s just as delicious.
Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
If you know Japanese food, you’ll know Zuma, and you won’t find a best restaurants in Dubai list without this world-famous name on it. The Dubai version is credited with kick-starting the foodie hub that is now DIFChttps://www.gqmiddleeast.com/The-Best-restaurants-in-Dubai-DIFC, setting up in the city more than a decade ago. It’s always busy, whether it’s lunch, dinner or brunch – and even the bar frequently gets a nod as one of the best in the world. There’s a lounge area, dining room and bar, and although the views aren’t the best in the city, you won’t be looking at much more than your plate as the food is world-class. Founder Rainer Becker now has a second restaurant in the city too – Roka – and both should be on your list if you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine.
If you only order one thing… The black cod wrapped in hoba leaf is a signature that has to be tried.
Zuma, Gate Village, DIFC, zumarestaurant.com/locations/dubai.com (04 425 5660).
Top meals with a view
Making it onto a list of best restaurants in Dubai is about many things, and setting is up there. That’s not to say the food doesn’t live up to the views at Alici, (it does), but the holiday-esque setting is a huge plus. Set right on the waterfront of Bluewaters Dubai, this Italian seafood restaurant overlooks JBR and the sea, and has all the holiday atmosphere you could possibly want. The restaurant itself is whitewashed and fresh, and if you hadn’t just driven across the bridge from the skyscrapers of the Marina you could —almost— be in the Med’. A sister to the much-lauded Il Borro Tuscan Bistro, Alici serves super dishes, which are a treat washed down with a glass of Italian grape.
If you only order one thing… spaghetti alici e mollica. Alici means anchovies in Italian and the salty little fish takes centre stage in this pasta dish, which is tossed up with capers, black olives and toasted breadcrumbs.
Bluewaters Dubai, www.alici.com (04 275 2577).
Named after chef Izu Ani’s wife (how romantic) Carine is a charming restaurant at Emirates Golf Club. It opened in 2018, replacing French stalwart La Classique, and with a new menu came a fresh look, and an utterly gorgeous terrace. With views across the rolling golf course greens, prettily tiled floors and a central outside bar, Carine is one of the best restaurants in Dubai for an al fresco date in the winter months. Inside is delightful too, with whitewashed walls, minimal décor plus citrus fruit, herbs and bread as added decoration (as Ani’s other great love is baking). The menu houses must-try choices including seafood ravioli, salt-baked sea bass and grilled octopus salad, while the desserts are excellent too.
If you only order one thing… Tarte tatin. This needs ordering when you choose your main courses, so don’t forget. Save room for the caramel apple topping and flaky, buttery pastry base.
Emirates Golf Club, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.carine.ae (04 417 9885).
CÉ LA VI
This sky-high restaurant is one of the coolest spots in town – and the views are amazing. You will have seen it paraded proudly on Instagram – and with good reason, as the vantage point from Address Sky View is spot on. Overlooking the skyline of Downtown Dubai and Burj Khalifa, the restaurant sits 220 metres above sea level, on the bridge joining the hotel’s two towers. With an infinity pool (ripe for those picture-perfect Insta shots) and a top roster of party nights and events, this is a playfully chic restaurant to check out. With outlets in Singapore, Tokyo, Colombo, Taipei and Shanghai, the food is fusion fun, with dishes including roasted cauliflower with katsuobushi bagna cauda, black truffle sushi rice risotto and burrata with nectarines.
If you only order one thing… Sweet and savoury shiitake mushroom doughnuts, with beef bacon and an aerated raclette cheese dip.
Address Sky View, Downtown Dubai, www.celavi.com (04 582 6111).
Folly by Nick & Scott
You can’t get much better than the view from this top European restaurant from Dubai chefs Scott Price and Nick Alvis. It’s particularly stunning at sunset when you can gaze out across the waterways of Madinat Jumeriah and beyond. Broken up into several sections – outdoor dining, indoor dining, bar area, terrace, kitchen bar (recommended for a special occasion) you can have a different setting each time you visit. The chef duo have made a name for themselves in Dubai over the years since training under Gordon Ramsay and this flagship spot is one of the best restaurants in Dubai to take visitors to.
If you only order one thing… Crispy hen’s egg, pancetta and maple syrup. Sounds interesting? It is. Try it.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim, www.folly.ae (04 430 8535).
Il Borro Tuscan Bistro
Ask about an Italian restaurant in Dubai https://www.gqmiddleeast.com/travel-eats/Best-Italian-restaurants-in-Dubai and chances are Il Borro Tuscan Bistro will be the first name thrown at you. And if you haven’t been, you should go, as it’s one of the best restaurants in Dubai. In winter take a seat in the sunken dining area outside, set right on the turtle lagoon for a holiday mood and a pinch of romance. It’s fine dining, but not stuffy – there are plenty of pizzas on the menu alongside the fancier items. Ingredients are sourced from the Il Borro estate in Tuscany, meaning the food is authentic and steeped in a 1,000 year history.
If you only order one thing… Burrata di Andria. Creamy cheese, organic tomatoes and fragrant basil make for a top starter.
Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel, www.ilborrotuscanbistro.ae (04 275 2555).
This seaside Indian restaurant in La Mer from chef and restaurateur Hari Nayak does things a little differently. Make time for an innovative mixed drink while you’re there as the Masti team are experts in mixology, using exciting ingredients and flamboyant combinations. Masti serves fun, fusion food that will challenge you to try something different – think butter chicken pizza, quail eggs kofta and “Mastified” paella. It’s a cool spot that gets busy, while it’s sat next to the beach.
If you only order one thing… Pulled chicken tandoori bao for a fun mish-mash of cuisines and flavours.
La Mer South, Jumeirah 1, www.mastidubai.com (800 62784).
Hailing from Greece, Nammos Dubai is the sibling of the trendy Mykonos beach club. Here in Dubai it’s focusing on food too, and the restaurant has a Mediterranean menu, with fresh salads, grills and pasta, alongside a selection of sushi. The vibe is cool, with a holiday mode during the day and on the terrace, while the crowd is there for fun, and it’s chic and lively. Views out to sea are stunning from the beachfront terrace while interiors are minimalist glam – whites, light woods and foliage.
If you only order one thing… Chocolate mousse. It may not be the typical beachside dish, but this famous signature dessert is a moreish marbling of white and milk chocolate.
Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah 1 (04 340 1002).
Few things are better than freshly cooked pizza, an Italian mixed drink and views across the beach. And when the pizza comes from one of the world’s most famous chefs, then you know you’re onto a good thing. Torno Subito – meaning be right back – is Italian chef Massimo Bottura’s first restaurant outside Italy. Best known for Osteria Francescana, a restaurant that’s twice claimed the top ranking on The World's 50 Best Restaurants list, Torno Subito has a casual beach vibe and has super views. Interiors are playful and colourful, making it a fun homage to the 1960s Italian Riviera.
If you only order one thing… Opt for the Torno Subito (of course) – focaccia with stracciatella, beef bresaola and apple mustard.
W Dubai the Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.tornosubitodubai.com (04 245 5555).
This casual eatery in Jumeirah fishing harbour has been a huge hit since exploding onto the Asian dining scene in 2016. Low-key, cosy, friendly and affordable – there’s loads to love, and despite its small stature it’s without doubt one of the best restaurants in Dubai for casual dining. The quaint fishing village setting pairs well with the tasty, fresh sushi and dishes are simple with a modern twist. Led by Singaporean chef Akmal Anuar, expect everything spicy tuna rolls and salmon nigiri to wagyu and caviar nigiri or freemantle octopus. Not a sushi fan? 3 Fils also whips up a mean burger – don’t miss the wagyu overload, topped with provolone cheese and chipotle mayo. If you have a sweet tooth, check out its little sister Brix after your meal for inventive truffles, bon bons, cakes and desserts.
If you only order one thing… Indomie. Instant noodles as you’ve never experienced them before.
Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, www.3fils.com (056 273 0030).
Like your food with a kick? Café Isan will be right up your street. This homegrown Thai spot is one of the best restaurants in Dubai if you’re after tasty Thai food, on a shoestring. The low-key set-up on the lakes of JLT is headed up by Chef New, from the Isan region in the north east of Thailand – so expect light, tasty – and if you’re brave enough – super-spicy dishes. A family-run restaurant, there’s a cosy vibe and a clear passion for cooking, with the motto “home-cooked with pride”. All this makes it a hit with regulars who come back time and again to this casual, unlicensed Thai spot that’s more under the radar than some of the city’s fancier spots, which only adds to its appeal.
If you only order one thing… Check out the Isan specials particularly the som tum thad – an Isan-style papaya salad, chicken wings, mussels, mixed raw veg, noodles and sliced boiled egg for a taste of everything.
Cluster B, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, www.cafeisand.co (04 557 9778).
One of the best restaurants in Dubai for fantastic budget Indian food, this restaurant also has branches in Calicut and Kochi, so you know the food is super-authentic and tasty. It’s pocket-friendly and low-key, and a trip to Karama is well-worth it for the super curries served here. From fresh seafood to veggie dishes, it’s no-frills and fuss-free but the flavours make it stand out. The first restaurant opened in Kerala in the 1930s, so the name has a rich heritage
If you only order one thing… Get the moilee, this traditional Keralan curry has a coconut milk base and is laced with fragrant spices.
Karama, www.paragonrestaurant.com (04 335 8700).
Reif Japanese Kushiyaki
From the glitz and glam of Zuma, Billionaire Mansion and PLAY, chef Reif Othman changed direction for his low-key, unlicensed kushiyaki bar in Jumeirah’s Dar Wasl Mall. Billed as “unconventional street food”, the chef promised that the “craziness” would be a thing of the past, and his food at this home-grown restaurant is simple and delicious. Kusiyaki – bamboo skewers common in Japanese and Singaporean street food – stars, as you’d expect, on this menu, with 14 versions from chicken to escargot. Owned and operated by Othman, expect to see the chef in the kitchen if you visit, adding an extra draw for foodies in the city. This super-cool low-key spot is small – with room for just 29 diners – so be prepared to queue. It will be worth it though, especially if you’re slurping your way through silky smooth ramen or buttery wagyu sando, for which he’s become known. If you’re a fan of sweets, the chef also has a dessert bar – Kushi by Reif – at Nakheel Mall that’s worth checking out, with top picks including yuzu éclair and tiramisu boba. Cakes are inventive, tasty and among the most exciting desserts you’ll find in the city.
If you only order one thing… Opt for the classic chicken teriyaki kushi.
Dar Wasl Mall, Jumeirah, www.reifkushiyaki.com (04 255 5142).
There are two main things to note about this popular, casual restaurant on the Palm. Firstly, it’s from world-famous chef Giorgio Locatelli so you’re in for big-name food. Secondly, it has one of the most expansive vegan menus in Dubai. So if you’re the type of plant-based diner that loves cheese, you’ll be happy – as there’s a lot to work through. The near-on 50-dish vegan menu at Ronda Locatelli is carefully curated, and the Italian chef has put heaps of effort into perfecting vegan cheese – especially mozzarella – so the pizzas are well worth trying.
If you only order one thing… A margherita pizza, vegan or otherwise.
Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.atlantis.com (04 426 2626).
A second homegrown budget eatery in JLT on this list – this brilliant Vietnamese restaurant is housed in the corner of JLT Cluster D right on the lake. Inside is a teeny space, which is super-popular, especially at lunch. Food here is simple and straightforward, and tastes fresh and healthy. Set up by chef and founder Lily Hoa Nguyen, the Vietnamese Foodies team pride themselves on authentic cooking – from pho and claypots via fresh, zingy salads and satays. Service is friendly, the vibe is relaxed and Vietnamese Foodies is a top unlicensed restaurant for a casual meal. One of the best restaurants in Dubai if you’re on a budget.
If you only order one thing… Chicken pho. A massive bowl, swimming with herbs and spices, tender chicken, this is the ultimate comfort food dish.
Cluster D, JLT, www.vietnamesefoodies.com (04 565 6088).