Fancy a bit of Middle East or North African cuisine? Step this way…
Here are our top 10 places in Dubai to head for some tasty Middle East or North African treats...
Khan Murjan: With live music and entertainment in the form of dancers and whirling dervishes, we couldn’t be more charmed, and the space, designed to resemble a 14th-century Baghdad souk, has no shortage of atmosphere. But it’s the food that ultimately sold us. The menu is massive, and incorporates food from all over the Middle East and North Africa. Regardless of what we’ve ordered (and we’ve sampled a hefty percentage of the menu), we’ve never experienced a dish that is anything short of spectacular.
Al Hadheerah: This pricey Jumeirah spot still draws the crowds with its varied menu and Arabic charm. If anywhere in Dubai serves traditional Emirati food, then this is the place. There’s lamb aplenty, slow cooked or in kebabs, as well as local grilled fish, some of Dubai’s best fresh bread, and delicious sweet nut baklavas.
Shabestan: The experience at Shabestan is Iranian food in a relaxed five-star venue rather than a busy, streetside setting. The main courses consist of large portions of meat and rice; the joojeh ostkhouri are perfectly tender baby chickens, delicately flavoured and served with a choice of rice, while the ghormeh sabzi is a dark, thick and flavoursome mutton stew. For dessert, our personal favourite is the fruity, refreshing and brilliantly titled Ali Baba ice-cream.
Al Hallab: If you’re looking for reasonably-priced, yet excellent, Lebanese food, Al halab should be your first stop. Creamy houmous, crispy falafel and more meaty main courses than any self-respecting carnivore could wish for, make it the perfect place to swing by for a bite. It also does a pretty popular line in takeaways, especially for the lunchtime crowd.
Al Qasr: Al Qasr doesn’t do things by half. A dizzying deluge of wonderful cold and hot mezze arrives with all the commotion of a flash flood. While the band plays and the belly dancer does her thing, you should finish with a mountainous stack of fresh fruit, cakes and shisha. An evening here is a whole heap of fantastic fun.
Almaz by Momo: With its multi-coloured low-hanging lamps, a ceiling that glitters like a desert sky and a soundtrack of frantic zithering beats, the dusky Almaz isn’t short on atmosphere. It’s here courtesy of restaurateur Mourad ‘Momo’ Mazouz, whose outlet in London, with its hugely popular celebrity clientele, provides the blueprint for this excellent Dubai restaurant.
Marrakech: Two-time winner of the best North African restaurant in the Time Out Restaurant Awards in the past three years. This upmarket Moroccan joint is effortlessly elegant, with clean-cut North African flourishes – lots of graceful arches, subdued lighting and plenty of pottery. The pigeon pastilla is a highly successful wedding pie between a sugary pastry and a tender, meaty interior and big enough for two to share.
Mezza House: This Burj Dubai-side restaurant is a tribute to the traditional cuisine of the Levant region, showcasing the age-old delights and delicacies of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Palestine. Lebanese tabbouleh can sit with Syrian muhammarah (spicy walnut and pepper dip). Or you can try the Palestinian style mosakhan roll with its chicken and pine nut flavourings. If you want to learn more about the cuisine of the region Mezza House is a wise choice.
Pars Iranian Kitchen: Throw off your shoes and spread out over the low seating to enjoy a multitude of salads, breads, dips, grilled meats and fish under the stars (weather permitting). Reasonable prices, polite service and an Iranian crowd complete the relaxing, authentic picture.
Reem Al Bawadi: Great décor, and delicious food, on Beach Road. The eclectic mix of Lebanese and American styles makes for a varied menu to suit most tastes. Hot and cold mezze and the ubiquitous mixed grill are interspersed on the menu with soups, salads, pasta dishes, burgers, sandwiches and desserts of western origin. There’s something for everyone.