Home-grown UAE chain Taqado has all the standard Tex-Mex fast-food fare covered. A ten-inch burrito (which comes packed with beans, cheese, rice and more) is flavoursome, filling and immensely satisfying. And it’s only Dhs32. That’s lunch sorted, amigos. Dhs32. Various locations including Dubai Media City, www.taqado.com.
California smashed hummus at California Pizza Kitchen This hummus is a delightful amalgamation of California and the Middle East, with smashed garbanzo beans tossed with tomatoes, red onions, chilli flakes and coriander, served with lemon and olive oil. Scoop this hummus-guacamole hybrid up with pita chips. Yum. Dhs35. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 449 8510).
Cobb salad at Pantry Café The perfect salad for those who don’t love salads. This hearty Cobb is packed with ingredients that will keep you filled up whatever time of the day. Grilled chicken, crispy veal bacon, charred corn, romaine lettuce, avocado, cherry tomatoes, black beans and chipotle dressing make up this salad, which is believed to have been created in the ’30s and named after Robert Cobb, the owner of Hollywood restaurant Brown Derby. Dhs40. Al Wasl Square, Al Wasl Road (04 369 9775).
Elote Asado Pikin Chilli at Tortuga This complicated name is actually a very simple snack, and a very delicious one at that. Taking its place on Tortuga’s new menu, it’s corn on the cob, with pikin chilli, cheese and cream. It will count as one of your five a day (despite the dairy fest). Dhs30. Mina A’ Salam. Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 432 3232).
Fajita rice bowl at Tortilla
Low-carb, no problems! Ditch the wrap (and the calories) and opt for a bowl, chock-a-block with barbacoa, coriander rice, pinto beans, roasted peppers, cheese, sour cream and salsa roja. Quick, easy and healthy (just hold the sour cream and cheese). Dhs32. Dubai Festival City Mall (04 265 2265).
A past winner of our Restaurant of the Year accolade, this top Latin American restaurant rustles up an array of amazing dishes that you’d find on a dining table near the border. Our pick is the pollo tacos, though. Stuffed with chicken, red pepper and sweetcorn, they’re certainly worth making the journey for. Dhs16. Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 316 9600).
Bright, colourful and fun, we love this cantina-style eatery from the folks behind Tom&Serg. One of the restaurant’s specialities, these fish tacos come with habanero coleslaw and garlic aoli. Snap them up… Dhs15. Holiday Inn Express, Al Safa (04 327 5878).
Tacos Baja at Loca Originating in Baja, Mexico, these fish tacos are a staple dish in California. Loca’s are made with spiced grilled kingfish and chipotle mayo. They’re spicy, deliscious and great for taco-ling with friends post-work (sorry, not sorry). Dhs75. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 449 4455).
Tortilla soup at Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen + Lounge A Tex-Mex comfort food dish, there’s nothing more warming and hearty than a bowl of tortilla soup. Dig into pulled chicken, crispy tortillas, crema fresca, avocado, halloumi cheese and fried guajillo chilli strips for the ultimate hug in a bowl. Dhs40. Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street (04 316 5550).
Not to be confused with the popular retro arcade game, this is much more grown-up. Waka’s take on guacamole is a creamy dip made with smoked avocado, onion, chilli and lime and served with nachos. It’s smokin’ (literally, order it to see what we mean). Dhs35. The Oberoi Dubai, Business Bay (04 444 1455).
Key lime pie at Clinton St. Baking Company First established in New York in 2001, this American import prides itself on its pies, and the key lime version, which includes the citrus fruit is a winner in our eyes. A crisp base is filled with creamy, tangy lime custard and topped with light and fluffy meringue. We’ll have another slice, thanks. Dhs180. Burj Views, Downtown Dubai (04 428 1331).
Sandwich Cubano Lito at Cubano Lito The sunshine state of Florida is well known for its thriving Cuban community, which is reflected in the cuisine. Florida natives have adopted the sandwiches of their Caribbean compadres as their own and the Cubano Lito version has pulled beef, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and spicy mustar, all in a ciabatta bun. Dhs65. Hotel Ibis World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 519 5555).
This eatery, as the name suggests, specialises in dishes that all come in at under 500 calories. We reckon this poke bowl is as tasty as it is healthy and pretty. Chopped tuna comes atop salad, with the sushi rice swapped for quinoa, making it a low-carb option. Other toppings include chopped salmon or beef. Decisions, decisions. Dhs60. Cluster Y, JLT (04 449 8556).
Poke bowl at Poke Poke Poke is a dish that has seen a massive boom in popularity recently, and this entire restaurant is dedicated to the Hawaiian speciality. Poke, which means to slice or cut in the island’s lingo, began with fisherman using cut-offs as a snack. Poke Poke lets you construct your own bowls, just choose your base (rice, salad, quinoa), pick a fish topping and then dress it how you please with options including ginger, wasabi, spiced cashews and more. Dhs50. Umm Suqeim (04 347 7222).
Clam chowder at The MAINE Oyster Bar & Grill This creamy, comforting soup is a New England classic that dates back to the 18th century. Crammed with clams, diced potatoes and onion, it’s rich, warming and exceedingly tasty. Soups in the summer might not be your first choice, but chowder is cracking all year round. And where better to try it than at an eatery with name Maine in its name? Dhs60. DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai – Jumeirah Beach, The Walk, JBR (04 457 6719).
Double blueberry pancakes at IHOP International House of Pancakes is world-famous for a good reason, its pancakes really are top-notch. Blueberries are native to New England, and aside from in a pie, we can’t think of a better way to serve them than packed into a pancake and smooshed into a sauce to cover them with. You’ll get four buttermilk pancakes in this one, so come hungry. Dhs42. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 419 0378).
Lump crab cake at Prime 68 Another favourite from New England, where the crabbing industry is big business, is This classic steakhouse starter made with large lumps of crab meat. Savour the Prime 68 versions, which come with marinated cabbage and green apple, while you enjoy the stunning views from up on the 68th floor of the JW Marriott Marquis. Dhs80. JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Business Bay (04 550 8315).
This trendy seafood restaurant started out in New York, where it’s a popular hangout with celebrities, and we love the urban décor with exposed brick walls and red leather banquettes. What we love even more, though, are the lobster rolls. Chunks of tasty lobster meat are tossed in a delicate dressing with salad and chives and served up in a potato bun. Lobster-licious. Dhs110. Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 550 9257).
Whole lobster at Burger & Lobster When only cracking some claws will do, it’s time to go all out for the lobster at Burger & Lobster. This 1lb beauty can be grilled or steamed and is served with a lemon garlic butter dressing, thin and crispy fries and a nicely dressed salad. Hungry? Super-size to the 1.5lb version. Dhs127. Burj Daman, DIFC (04 275 9086).
New York and East Coast
Classic New York-style Reuben at Firebird Diner An authentic hot sandwich that is packed full of home-made pastrami, melted Swiss cheese and retro Thousand Island dressing. While some argue that the sandwich got its name from a Nebraska grocer, others credit the invention to Arnold Reuben, founder of the legendary Reuben’s Delicatessen in New York City. Either way, we just can’t get enough. Dhs75. Four Seasons, DIFC (04 550 9228).
This Madinat Jumeirah smokehouse has a wide selection of US eats. But the standout has to be this Empire State Burger. Be warned, it’s a biggie (as the name would clearly suggest), and comes piled high with cheddar cheese, beef bacon, pickles, onions rings and even fried mozzarella sticks. What a dream. Dhs115. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 6197).
New York import Big Daddy’s has big dishes for big appetites. The diner has so many treats it’s hard to choose just one (shakes, tots, burgers, you name it). But if you’re after a brekkie special, Fred’s Rockin’ French Toast, is coated with Cocoa Pebbles, the famous US cereal, based on The Flintstones. It’s tasty, it’s chocolatey and it’s certainly not one for those of you on a diet. Dhs29. Bur Dubai (04 225 2470).
Hershey’s chocolate bar cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory This well-known brand was set up in Beverley Hills in 1978, but as cheesecakes are synonymous with New York, we think it really lives in this section. This version is made from one of the US’ most famous chocolate brands and is rich, creamy and extremely filling (mainly because it’s sandwiched between two layers of chocolate sponge). Don’t go hard on the savouries as you’ll be left with no room for the main event. And that would be a shame. Dhs35. Various locations including Dubai Festival City (04 419 0877).
Grilled cheese at Five Guys We’re all about the grilled cheese (that’s a cheese toastie to non-Americans) to sate our fromage cravings. This one from Five Guys (which started life up in Virginia in 1986) is the perfect choice to refuel with in the mall if you’re not in the mood for one of the joint’s signature burgers. Dhs26. Various locations including Dubai Marina Mall (04 379 2122).
Smokey Joe at Freedom Pizza One of our favourite pizza joints, head to Freedom and opt for the Smokey Joe, made up of barbecue sauce, mozzarella, double smoked chicken and onions for a traditional US-style pizza pie. Dhs33 (small), Dhs43 (medium), Dhs53 (large). Various locations including Dubai Marina (04 453 4313).
New York strip at The Hide So New York it’s in the name, this strip steak is a juicy, tender cut from the short loin, and weighs in at 300g. It’s the most expensive dish on this list, but it’s worth it for the top-quality beef at this Madinat Jumeirah “American Meatery”. Pair it with a portion of the buttermilk onion rings for an All-American dinner that’s hard to beat. Dhs265. Jumeirah Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 432 3232).
New York-style smoked salmon bagel at Bagels and More The bagel’s ring-shaped dough is first boiled and then baked, lending itself to chewy, satisfying brekkies or sarnies. New Yorkers love a smoked salmon version, and we’d have to agree. This one comes smothered in cream cheese with the addition of capers and tomatoes. Grab a coffee or an OJ and picture yourself in a Manhattan eatery. Dhs28. Various locations including Arabian Ranches and Dubai Sports City, www.bagelsandmore.com.
Red velvet cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery Cupcake o’clock! Set up in 1996 on Bleecker Street in Manhattan, this bakery is most famous for its cupcakes. Its Dubai branch was the first overseas outlet for this bakery, and we can’t get enough of these red velvet cupcakes, which come with either whipped vanilla or cream cheese icing. Dhs19. Various locations including The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 437 1667).
Waldorf Salad at New York Soul An Upper East side favourite, this salad was first made for a charity ball at the Waldorf Astoria New York way back in 1893. It’s been replicated non-stop ever since, and its popularity hasn’t yet waned. New York Soul’s version has celeriac carpaccio, apple, celery and crunchy maple-glazed pecan for that perfect mix of sweet and savoury. Dhs68. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, The Walk, JBR (04 449 8888).
Southern comfort food
Baked S’mores brownie at The Eloquent Elephant Traditionally an American campfire treat of flame-toasted marshmallows squidged between Graham crackers (digestive-style biscuits, if you didn’t grow up in the States) alongside chocolate, the name refers to the fact that you’ll be longing for “some more”. Now imagine all this in brownie format. Yes. Dhs55. Taj Dubai, Business Bay (04 438 3100).
We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to wings in this city, but we’ll go with the self-proclaimed original here. After all, they really are pretty good. Ten wings (normal or boneless, the choice is yours) come with fries and blue cheese or ranch dip. Choose the level of spiciness depending on how brave you’re feeling that day. Dhs65. Liberty House, DIFC (04 359 6900).
Crispy mac ’n’ cheese balls at Bazxar Mac ’n’ cheese. In a ball. Fried. There’s not really much more we need to say about these wonderfully cheesy, carby, gooey bundles of loveliness. Dhs45. Precinct Building 4, DIFC (04 355 1111).
A weird but winning combo. This dish is growing in popularity and the Eggspectation version is just delish (and ginormous). Huge Belgian waffles are topped with pieces of fried chicken, and then all smothered in sweet maple syrup. A light rocket salad drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice cuts through the sweetness making this a good all-rounder for those with a very healthy appetite and don’t mind upping their calorie count. Dhs59. The Beach, JBR (04 430 7252).
Barbecue is as American as apple pie (which we haven’t left out, see Bite Me, page 10). These hickory-smoked beef ribs from the world-famous Hard Rock Cafe are rubbed with the chain’s signature seasoning and basted with hickory barbecue sauce. Grab your napkins and dig in, we didn’t say this one would be pretty to eat… Dhs129. Dubai Festival City, next to Marks & Spencer (04 457 3720).
Seafood jambalya at Nola Eatery & Social House A classic Deep South dish, we’d be remiss to leave off a wholesome, hearty jambalya from any US eats list. Coming from Louisiana, this dish has both Spanish and French influences. This one from Nola (which is the nickname for New Orleans) has flavoursome spicy creole rice, and is chock full of seafood and spicy smoked chicken. This venue is popular for a reason, so make sure you book a table early so you can tuck into this hearty dish in your own time. Dhs76. Armada BlueBay Hotel, Cluster P, JLT (04 399 8155).
Shrimp Po’ Boy at CLAW BBQ CLAW BBQ’s take on this traditional sandwich (that originated in Louisiana) is packed full of crispy fried shrimp, coleslaw, lettuce, avocado, tomato, dill pickles, mustard and chipotle mayo, just the way they do it in the Big Easy. It’s served on a New Orleans-style baguette, as it should be. Dhs85. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 432 2300).
Skillet chocolate chip cookie at Chili’s Something of a Dubai institution, Chili’s has been serving up Southern-style food for more than 40 years. This rich gooey dessert consists of a large chocolate chip cookie baked in a skillet (frying pan), topped with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream and doused with hot fudge sauce. Who’s counting calories anyway? Dhs29. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 705 9672).
Southern-fried chicken at Weslodge Saloon True, this may be a Canadian-themed restaurant (or saloon, should we say?), but this Southern fried chicken sounds to us like it fits perfectly on this list. This version comes with Tabasco honey and Brussels sprouts slaw, for a slightly different twist on a classic. Dhs90. JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Business Bay (04 560 1700).
What’s more American than peanut butter and jelly? Sugar Factory goes heavy on the novelty factor and its dishes have enticed stars all over the world (the Kardashians are big fans). Think vanilla and peanut butter ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate, all topped off with a cute little peanut butter and jam sandwich. Great for kids and adults alike. Dhs65. Dubai Festival City Mall (04 284 3456).