Al Ibrahimi: At just Dhs46 per person, you won’t find a cheaper, non-toxic, all-you-can-eat buffet in the city. The food is simple fare: grilled chicken, biryani and, er, brains make up the bulk of the menu, but the more timid can of course opt for the curried lentils, which come accompanied by huge discs of fresh bread. Bargain.
Behind Madinat Zayed, next to Post Office (02 632 3344); Electra Street, nr Sands Hotel (02 634 6258)
Abu Shakra: We stumbled across this honest little Eyptian cafeteria dishing out crisp falafel, fragrant tabbouleh and oil-drenched moussaka 24 hours a day for slightly less than a pittance and we love it. The staff are very friendly and the interior is pleasingly large and clean.
Estiqlal Street,opposite Panda Panda (02 633 7849); Tourist Club Area, behind Blood Bank (02 644 7770)
Bandung: Indonesian food is pretty rare in the capital; it’s also fairly inexpensive. At Bandung two people can stuff themselves for less than Dhs70. Slightly shabby on the outside, inside, it is busy and tidy. Check out the nasi goring – fried rice with prawns, chicken and a fluffy omelette on the side – or the chicken satay is also delicious.
Tourist Club Area (02 645 2008)
Transilvania: It takes nerve to put Vlad the Impaler on a restaurant menu, but skip past the safety of the Italian section and you’ll discover a wealth of tasty Romanian dishes. The ones that don’t consist of brains, stomach or lungs – there aren’t as many as you’d hope for – at least offer a gentle introduction to the vagaries of Transylvanian cuisine. We think Vlad would approve.
Hamdan Street, behind BHS (02 631 1662)
The Royal Vegetarian: Nestled among a labyrinth of chaat counters and Asian eateries, this tiny hole in the wall may have something of a humble exterior, but venture inside and decent Indian food for little more than Dhs8 a dish is your reward. At Dhs10, the full thali, which includes curd, soup, bread and vada (a fried lentil patty), is a great deal.
Off Hamdan Street, behind Sun and Sand Sports (02 678 7272)