The city's best snacks to start (or finish) a night out
Shawermama: The sanitised presentation of this Jordanian chain is more akin to a burger joint than a shawarma shack. Shawarmas are served in a variety of sizes (standard, double and giant shawazooka) and come with fries and a soft drink – so far, so high street. The revelation comes when you chomp into your tightly wrapped shawarma and appreciate the well-stuffed snack. Meats are marinated overnight in a sauce of 15 different spices, while pickles are chunky and moist. The flavour can be overpowered by spoonfuls of garlic sauce, so ask the chef to go easy on this to get the full nuance of the fillings. Dhs16 (includes fries and drink). Shawarmas served Sun-Thu 11am-1am; Fri 2pm-1am. Near Citymax Hotel, behind the Mall of the Emirates, Barsha (04 453 4704).
Al Hallab: This bustling, grandiose and neoclassical – yes, there are frescos on the ceiling – eatery at The Dubai Mall serves consistently fine fare. The appetiser shawarma options are meat (lamb), chicken or mixed: we like the mixed option, which comes ‘deconstructed’ with a pot of tahini, a bunch of herbs, a collection of (well cooked and not too greasy) meat and deliciously fresh bread. The sandwich options are also worth a look – they’re accompanied by chips and coleslaw. Both are certainly meals in themselves. Dhs22 for chicken, Dhs28 for mixed shawarma. Shawarmas served daily noon-11.30pm The Dubai Mall (04 330 8828). Other locations: Mall of the Emirates; Garhoud.
Al Mallah: Al Mallah’s small but perfectly formed wraps never fail to satisfy, whether as an early-evening snack or at the end of a night on the town. Choose either chicken or lamb – though we recommend you order more than one if you’re hankering for anything more substantial than a snack. Both the chicken and the lamb offerings feature tender meat, which is delicately spiced and expertly wrapped to prevent the dreaded ‘shawarma fallout’. Chips/fries aren’t included, but the punchy pickles and pungent lemon-garlic sauce (in the chicken wrap) and the fresh tomato, herbs and tasty tahini (accompanying the lamb) are a refreshing substitute. Dhs6. Shawarmas served daily 5pm-2.30am. Dhiyafa Street, Satwa (04 398 4723).
Automatic: Automatic’s take on the humble shawarma features plenty of juicy, tender chicken, balanced with just the right amount of pickles and fries, and a liberal helping of garlic sauce. If you visit hungry (perhaps at the end of a big night out), you can upsize by asking for the ‘big’ shawarma – the size of two and a half regular wraps. Thicker bread is used in this sizeable snack, but the flavour of the garlic and chicken still wins through. Dhs6 (regular), Dhs16 (large). Jumeirah Beach Residence, Plaza Level, Sadaf Tower 5, The Walk (04 434 2355). Other locations: Abu Hail, Bur Dubai, Deira, Jumeirah Beach Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, Uptown Mirdif.
Bilad al Sham: This busy Al Qusais spot offers either meat or chicken shawarma sandwiches, the latter packed with crispy chicken, tomatoes, pickles and fries. The piping hot meat is served fresh from the grill: the chefs will assemble the wrap while you wait and can tailor the ingredients to your taste. The standard option uses a smidgen of garlic sauce – enough to give a flavoursome kick, but not enough to linger on your breath for the remainder of the evening. Another plus is that it’s not dripping in grease, so there’s no danger of the juices spilling out the bottom of the paper and all over your hands. The venue is a typical bustling roadside eatery, with queues forming at the shawarma counter each evening (arrive before 8pm to beat the rush, or take a seat in the restaurant for a leisurely meal). Dhs5. Shawarmas served daily 6pm-midnight. After Union Co-Operative Society, Al Nahda Road, Al Qusais (04 261 3332).
Food & Drink: The menu here offers a choice of beef, chicken, or a shawarma plate (where you can make your own mini version) and, oddly enough, there’s also a Mexican variety. All options are considerably larger than your average shawarma: this giant snack is suitable for sharing, as it arrives cut in quarters with a side of fries. Not that you need them – the wrap is loaded with its fair share of starch, garlicky beef (or chicken), tomato, onion and lettuce – but things do tend to get a little messy, because there’s no paper wrapping to hold it together. You won’t find pickle or obvious signs of garlic paste (unless you ask for extra), but the filling is well-seasoned. The cafeteria is clean, small and simple, and perfect for late-night dining. Dhs15. Shawarmas served daily 6pm-2.30am. Various locations, including near Mall of the Emirates, Barsha (04 347 9010).
Ikea: There’s something about Ikea’s shawarma that just draws you in, and not without good reason: morsels of succulent chicken, deftly wrapped in warmed pitta, are a great antidote to stress caused by hours of wandering the maze-like store. But this offering is not for shawarma traditionalists (there are no chips, not much in the way of pickles, and the sauce is more mayonnaise than garlic), although it’s a tasty treat for shoppers on the go, not to mention a good option for shawarma-sceptics who prefer this squeaky clean Swedish-style canteen to Satwa’s back-street vendors. Dhs5. Shawarmas served daily Sun-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. Festival Centre, Dubai Festival City (04 203 7555).
Karam Express: The ‘chicken shawarma platter’ listed on the menu is a tad misleading – it comes in the form of a plastic dish filled with shredded chicken (the one other option is simply ‘meat’). Digging down, right at the bottom is a smidgen of lettuce, sauce and some rather soggy bread, while a harder piece of flatbread is balanced hopefully on top. Yes, there is plenty of meat, but this shawarma can only realistically be eaten with a fork, though even this doesn’t decrease the usual post-shawarma mess. Dhs25. Shawarmas served daily noon-midnight. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 339 9011).
Moulin D’Or: Measuring roughly 15cm in length, this shawarma comes stuffed with a very generous helping of chicken, French fries, slithers of pickle and even a slice of crisp, fresh lettuce – all fused together with a large dollop of garlic paste. Though the shawarma is not greasy enough to leak through its paper wrapping, and holds together well, the meat is a little fatty. The venue has a café area downstairs, a roadside patio where you can eat outdoors, and a more formal restaurant area upstairs, where you can nibble on upmarket veal shawarmas. Dhs6 (small), Dhs9 (large). Shawarmas served daily 11.30am-midnight. Zabeel Road, Karama (04 354 7847).
Wild Peeta: Shawarma isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when on the subject of healthy foods, but local chain Wild Peeta is doing its best to remedy this, serving shawarmas made from halal, locally grown and trans-fat-free produce. What’s more, this venue offers different takes on the traditional shawarma, with sauces ranging from Italian tomato or Arabian tahina to Mexican bean. Though Wild Peeta offers a choice of beef, chicken and broiled vegetables, we recommend the chicken – tender, flavoursome and moreish. What’s more, you can add a salad to your order for just Dhs29. Dhs29 for shawarma and salad meal deal. Shawarmas served Sat-Thu 10am-10pm; Fri 1pm-10pm. Sheikh Zayed Road (800 9453).
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Abul fajal Oct 11, 2015 06:00 pm
Good I needed like this information on shawarma
Ahmad May 27, 2012 12:02 pm
I have tried both meat and chicken , the taste is really good and worth to try. But the price wise considered really expensive comparing to original shawarma price in Dubai ( bought 1 shawarma chicken+ meat+ coke 4dhs = total 45 Dhs) knowing that they are not in mall where high rent take into consideration nor in one of these new Dubai area. Best Shawarma in Dubai can be found as cheap as 3 Dhs. They really need to review their prices if they’re looking to be #1 Shawarma chain.
buthaina Apr 17, 2012 03:49 am
JS Feb 22, 2012 08:39 am
Looking forward to trying shawarma her was a resident in OMAN and man there'sa place there turkish outfit that was amazing 5 omani ryals for a taste that iam still dreaming about,the place used to be packed out as well as drive through amazing!!!! haven't had a bad meal yet here in Dubai so hopefully a killer shawarma!!
Oblivion Feb 01, 2012 09:13 am
You missed the mother of all shawarmas: Fresh Chicken King shawarma. The chicken seasoning is so good you can actually wrap it without garlic sauce, and it would still taste better than any shawarma out there.