Dubai’s 50 best things to eat in 2018 so far

The top dishes from across the city

Food

Alinazik Kebap at Günaydın
When is a kebab so much more than a kebab? When you’re eating it at this popular Turkish restaurant in Souk Al Bahar. Once you’ve elbowed your way to a prime spot on the terrace, make ordering this house special your top priority. Featuring super-succulent minced lamb atop a rich, creamy blend of smoky aubergine, yoghurt and garlic, it’s so show-stoppingly attention-grabbing you’ll hardly spare a thought for the dancing Dubai Fountain beside you.
Dhs145. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 554 0700).

Babybel Croquettes at BARBARY Deli + Cocktail Bar
We’ll say that again. Babybel. Croquettes. Sounds simple, tastes off-the-charts sublime. Particularly when paired with the accompanying jalapeño dip and a creative mixed drink from the expert mixologists of this funky Barsha Heights bar. Every night of the week, these delicious cheesy discs fly around the room to diners and drinkers – little wonder they get through a whopping 1,350 Babybels a week…
Dhs28. TRYP by Wyndham, Barsha Heights (04 247 6688).

Baked Cheesecake at Milk & Honey Café
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, head over to Milk & Honey Café and give this baked cheesecake a try. With a fluffy outer layer and a delectably dense creamy centre inside, this dessert absolutely steals the show.
Dhs30 (one slice), Dhs200 (whole cake – because why not?). Shoreline Building 10, Palm Jumeirah (04 432 8686).

Banana Pancakes at Amongst Few
Located in Palm Strip Mall, this seriously cool café is ideal if you’re after good, wholesome – highly Instagrammable – food in a lazy lunch spot. This stack comes sprinkled with blueberries, avocado, passionfruit and dark chocolate shavings and has a healthy dollop of vegan yoghurt to top it off.
Dhs45 (pancakes served until 3pm daily). Palm Strip Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1 (056 216 7976).

Bangkok bowl at Café Isan
A budget Thai joint that captures the spirit and flavour of Isan cuisine perfectly (due to the kitchen being run by people from the area). It’s a small place with a small menu, but the recently launched Bangkok Bowls have added a “make your own” section, which we heartily recommend. Starting from Dhs39, you choose massaman, green, Penang or peanut curry, which type of rice or noodle you want, your meat (or tofu or egg), veggies and topping. We love the prawn massaman topped with fried onions best.
Cluster M, JLT (04 513 5289).

Beef Brisket Mighty Quinn’s
Barbecue expert and chef Hugh Magnum is truly a master at his craft, and a taste of the buttery beef brisket at Mighty Quinn’s JBR only proves it. The flavour of the succulent, slowly smoked beef brisket, smothered in the restaurant’s signature barbecue sauce, is so mind-altering it might even convert vegetarians. (Might.)
Dhs56 (single serving), Dhs70 (half pound), Dhs130 (full pound). The Walk, JBR (04 429 8847).

Big Man Burger at DIRT
Vegan burgers are big business in Dubai right now – and this is one of the best we’ve tried. The Big Man Burger stars a DIRT no-chicken patty, tomatoes, pickles, shitake mushrooms and onions with mayo and ketchup. It has a delightful crunch and a wonderfully fresh taste. We recommend adding a slice of vegan cheese for Dhs7.
Dhs38. Al Quoz (04 350 2012).

Buffalo Franks Wings at Perry & Blackwelder’s
Cast love aside and fly on the (chicken) wings of P&B’s. Let’s face it – they’re infinitely more worth doing an extra load of laundry for. Prepare to emerge from a basket of these crispy, juicy Buffalo beauties (rival flavours are available) completely smothered in sauce, and with an invigorated appetite for life. Or, at least, chicken drummers.
Dhs68 (ten), Dhs100 (20), Dhs142 (30), Dhs205 (50 – oh go on, just do it). Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 437 6063).

Charcoal grilled corn at Stars N Bars
When is corn on the cob so much more than corn on the cob? When it’s been basted with Cajun butter, rolled in lime mayonnaise and coated with finely grated cheese. Sure, your doctor’s not going to thank you for defiling one of your five-a-day, but everyone deserves a meal off. Make a beeline for La Mer and order this one up, pronto. Did when mention this place has hops “vending machines”?
Dhs45. La Mer, Jumeirah 1 (04 349 9903).

Charred Spring Vegetables Tartine at SLAB
The vegetarian tartine resembles a kaleidoscopic field of root vegetables that wouldn’t be out of place in Alice in Wonderland. It’s all held together by walnut butter and a generous helping of ricotta. It’s an absolute hit and, appropriately, it looks very much like a slab. Well done, team.
Dhs45. La Mer, Jumeirah 1 (04 448 9526).

Chocolate Decadence French Toast at Sugar Factory
This extra-huge dessert is a meal on its own. The dark chocolate-filled brioche is topped with strawberries, chocolate sauce, and white chocolate curls for a heavy dose of sugary yumminess. Add bananas and you’re in for a real treat.
Dhs50. La Mer, Jumeirah 1 (04 385 5312).

Chocolate lava cake at STK
Granted, the main reason to visit STK is for the cracking steaks. However, leave room for dessert and you’ll not be disappointed. Essentially a chocolate fondant (although lava is more dramatic), the molten, cocoa-y middle of this is a pure delight.
Dhs49. Rixos Premium Dubai, JBR (04 323 0061).

Clam Linguini at Larte
A bowl of pasta that tastes exactly how you hope it will. The sweet clams are abundant and give a taste of the sea that runs through every bite of the dish. The venue could often do with being busier, the cooking deserves it, for sure, but tucking into this will render any outside inferences obsolete. Al dente pasta, sweet cherry tomatoes, clams and a crunchy pangratto topping (herby breadcrumbs) – this hearty bowl is nothing short of perfection.
Dhs70. Building 10, d3, Ras Al Khor Road (04 240 0441).

Crispy spring roll with crabmeat & black truffle at Yuan
This is NOT your average takeaway springer. From Atlantis’ fine-dining Chinese restaurant comes a crispy-fried nibble so tasty that even your truffle-loathing mates won’t be able to keep their mitts off. Generously packed with sweet, meaty crustacean and the fragrant fungus, these are the ultimate sophisticated bar snack – pair them with a lychee mixed beverage and don’t look back.
Dhs55. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).

Crushed Avocado on Toast at Café Rider
These days, you can’t swing a cat for accidentally getting a tail in someone’s avocado on toast. It’s absolutely everywhere – we’re living in the Age of Avocado. But hopefully you’re not sick to death of the those good fats yet, because this one is in a league of its own. The fresh avocado is laced with red onion and covered with a crumbling of feta cheese. Cherry tomatoes and a side salad are a nice finishing touch.
Dhs33.60. Al Quoz (04 321 4411).

DXB Shortribs at Cuisinero Uno
The menu at chef Jon Buenaventura’s homegrown restaurant is filled with quirky-sounding dishes that deliver on flavour as well as fun. But, the one dish we come back to time and again is the DXB shortribs. The recipe has been tweaked since first appearing, and now the beautifully tender slices of rib sit on top of a madrouba (an Emirati favourite) made up of deliciously creamy oats with complex spicing.
Dhs65. Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay (04 431 7816).

Empire State Onion Rings at Serendipity 3
You’ll be in an Empire state of mind after attempting this towering side dish. (Which, in this case, likely means food coma.) Served hot and fresh out of the fryer, Serendipity 3’s onion rings are stacked up and sprinkled with Romano cheese, and come with Ranch dressing and barbecue “seren-dips”. All together now…“USA! USA! USA!”
Dhs39. City Walk and Dubai Festival City locations (04 455 1666).

Falafel waffle at Sesame
Now this is something we’ve never seen before. Really. A full waffle made purely from falafel awaits at this “plant-focussed” restaurant in Jumeirah’s Sunset Mall. Topped with an oozy poached egg, harissa sauce and tomato. It’s ludicrously filling, but every bite is worth it.
Dhs60. Umm Suqeim (04 339 1300).

Fibber’s Cheese on Toast at Fibber Magee’s
Ideal for those who consider one piece of toast little more than a canapé, this plate comes loaded with the stuff, in turn loaded with piles of cheese. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll add chopped bacon and green chillies. Sure, the latter isn’t the most traditional of Irish fare, but the quaint, cosy interiors of this tiny pub more than make up for your savagery.
Dhs20-25. Open daily 8am-2am. Saeed Tower One, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 332 2400).

French toast at Beefbar
It’s obvious that you need to go to Beefbar for the steaks. Then you’ll stay for the almost entire menu of different flavours of mashed potato. But linger on into the night for dessert, because this sweet, carmelised French toast with dulce-chocolate ice cream is the perfect way to end a meal at the new DIFC restaurant.
Dhs70. DIFC (04 352 2223).

Grilled jumbo prawns at Ibn AlBahr
It may be getting a little too warm outside to enjoy the sand between your toes while you tuck into the sensational seafood at this Lebanese spot, but that shouldn’t stop you beating a path to these barbecue-style beauties. Head to the fish counter to pick your prawns (fingers crossed they’ve caught some that morning), and order them up Provençal-style. The sweet crustaceans pair perfectly with the herby, tomatoey and slightly spicy sauce – and it will all you can do to stop yourself slurping up the leftover juices straight from the plate.
Market price. Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah (04 553 9575).

Grilled tiger prawns at Nusr-et
Nusr-Et has a rep for fairly pricey food, but while these may clock in at Dhs100 for a starter, the arrival of four sizeable prawns on each plate makes it feel like one of the restaurant’s better-value dishes. Add to their freshness, tastiness and the expert simplicity of the cooking, plus a knockout mango salsa, and these are almost worth visiting the salt-synonymous steakhouse for alone. Unfortunately, Nusr-Et declined to allow Time Out Dubai to photograph its prawns, so we’ve drawn this picture for illustrative purposes only. We promise they look better in real life.
Dhs100. Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 407 4100).

Guac pani puri at Bombay Bungalow
We never can resist avocado, so what better than an Indian-Latino combo? These crispy, moreish little parcels are stuffed with avocado salsa and laced with a spicy tamarind dressing. They’re fresh, light and bursting with flavour.
Dhs35. The Beach, opposite JBR (04 449 8595).

Halloumi Fries at Axe House
Move over, mozzarella sticks – whoever came up with the idea to make halloumi fries is an absolute genius. Golden, crunchy and filled with delectably salty cheese in every bite, these makes for a satisfying appetiser, or main course if you indulge in a few more portions…
Dhs40. Armada Bluebay Hotel, Cluster P, JLT (04 399 9577).

Hot Artichoke Dip at The Hide
A “four-cheese apocalypse”, if the restaurant does say so itself. It’s cheesy, it’s gooey, it’s salty and unbelievably moreish. Served with leafy vegetables for a refreshing crunch and perfect for scraping up every last morsel.
Dhs60. Jumeirah Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 432 3232).

Hummus at Bait Maryam
Ah, hummus. That simple Middle Eastern staple dish. But when done really well it can be mind-blowing. Like Bait Maryam’s. The silky-smooth texture and beautifully balanced chickpea-tahini taste will really rock your world. Add meat to the mix to lift the flavours (and experience) further. You’re onto a true winner with this morsel of mezze.
Dhs19. Lake City Tower, Cluster D, JLT (04 550 8312).

Ice Cream Burrito at iScream
Delicious ice cream in any flavour of your choice (including curry and wasabi, no less), lovingly folded into a fluffy bed of freshly whipped candy floss and topped with anything your heart desires – we recommend the fruity pebbles.
Dhs30. La Mer, Jumeirah 1 (04 220 8648).

Huitlacoche tacos at Luchador
These miniature huitlacoche tacos are the real deal – authentic Mexican food cooked as it should be. The creamy corn is subtly balanced with crispy courgette and topped off with a drizzle of truffle oil and rosemary mayo. The short rib version is also a cracker, if you’re a meat lover.
Dhs55. Aloft Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jumeirah (04 247 5555).

Jalapeño Cheese Balls at Trader Vic’s
Goodness gracious great balls of fromage – these are good. Sure, they’re nowhere near as Polynesian as the surroundings they’re served in, but you won’t care a jot as you break into one of these piping-hot orbs of awesome. A molten blend of Emmental and cheddar, filled with the finely chopped pickled peppers, oozes out from within a crunchy, deep-fried casing – and just like that, all is well in your world. Stop drooling and get eating.
Dhs55. Various locations including Crowne Plaza Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (800 276 963).

Lasagne of Devon crab at Galvin Dubai
This dish, a signature from the Michelin-starred Galvin brothers, is a big hit. It’s far cry from any limp pasta bake you might envisage and is packed full of flavour. It’s delicate, fresh, light and yet rich in equal measures, with layers of al dente pasta and sweet crustacean. A fancy dish and every mouthful is a treat.
Dhs110. City Walk, Al Safa Street (04 590 5444).

Levee Eton Mess at Levee Café & Lounge
This is a refreshing Mediterranean twist on the traditional Eton Mess. Rather than being overloaded with heavy cream, the meringue pieces are drizzled with a tangy berry coulis which makes for a flavourful combination, and it’s all topped with a cloud of candy floss. It might just be posher than the school itself.
Dhs45. La Mer, Jumeirah 1 (04 380 2000).

Lomo Saltado at Ají
If you’re yet to savour the increasingly popular Peruvian Japanese bites at Ají, then you’re in for a treat. The lomo saltado is a particular highlight. Chunks of tenderloin beef are marinated in a fragrant, zesty and ever-so-slightly spicy sauce, and served up with ají amarillo (yellow peppers), Peruvian potatoes and some Latin American-style egg-fried rice. You’ll be begging for seconds.
Dhs175. Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah (04 552 0244).

Mac ’n’ Cheese at JW Steakhouse
The chefs over at this charming, little (but very high class) steakhouse at the JW Marriott Dubai in Deira have taken the classic cheese-laden dish and given it a refined edge. It’s light, it’s cheesy but (but not so much as to bring on the guilt), and it’s littered with fresh herbs. If you’re a fan of the classic one-starch-one-carb side order with your steak, this is the perfect accompaniment. You might come back so often you’ll even get a plaque with your name on nailed to the table (because that’s exactly what happens for regulars here).
Dhs38. JW Marriott Dubai, Deira (04 607 7977).

Merguez Sausages at Pots, Pans & Boards
A stack of extra-meaty beef and lamb sausages served in a frying pan with flavour-packed ratatouille. The meat is spicy and succulent and you’ll even get a fried egg on top for good measure. An excellent way to start the day.
Dhs48. The Beach, JBR (04 456 1959).

Moussaka at Mythos
There are a handful of cracking Greek restaurants in Dubai, and Mythos in JLT serves up a wonderful moussaka. But this is no lob-it-in-a-dish-and-be-done-with-it service, no. This is a refined, delicately prepared and perfectly balanced dish that’s bursting with flavour. At a good Greek restaurant, this is the perfect main course – and you should get the tyrokafteri spicy feta dip and tomato kefta to start.
Dhs68. Armada BlueBay Hotel, JLT (04 399 8166).

Oh My Vegan (OMV) at Pinza
Plant-eaters, assemble! Pinza has long looked after vegetarians, but it now has even more vegan-friendly options than ever before. Featuring – deep breath – the best vegan cheese we’ve found anywhere in the city. Oh My Vegan is composed of vegan mozzarella, vegan chipotle sausage and a ton of tasty veggies that taste oh-so-fresh. So why, Oh why, have you not tried it yet?
Dhs58. Business Bay and Jumeirah Village, www.pinza.com.

Oxtail Tartine at Bleu Blanc
David Myers’ French restaurant is simply one of the best places to open in Dubai in recent years and there are plenty of things we could pick from the menu (hello, lobster risotto). However, for a good value, unbelievably tasty option, we’re going for the oxtail tartine. The deep, rich flavour of the meat is complemented by nutty comte cheese, soft yolk from a poached egg and mustardy Hollandaise, and offset by a spicy pickle. The crunch of the bread – baked in-house – adds texture. For something seemingly simple, we could talk about it for hours.
Dhs60. Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai, Business Bay (04 512 5533).

Polpo Alla Brace at Il Borro
That’s grilled octopus to you and me, and what an octopus it is. The charred exteriors of the tentacles give way to the thick and juicy flesh within. It’s meaty, it’s smoky, it’s downright delicious – and it’s served up by our Restaurant of the Year.
Dhs88. Jumeirah Al Naseem. Madinat Jumeirah (04 275 2555).

Prawn anticuchos at LIMA Dubai
As winner of Best Latin American restaurant 2018, everything on the menu at LIMA Dubai is delicious. Our pick though is the prawn anticuchos. Marinated with traditional Inka panca chilli sauce, they’re grilled and taste as good as they look – which is exquisite.
Dhs95. The Square, City Walk, Al Safa Street (056 500 4571).

Pulled tandoori chicken bao at Masti Cocktails & Cuisine
Ah, the beloved bao. So beloved, in fact, that Pixar’s latest heart-warming short is called just that, with the story centred around a lonely Chinese mother whose empty nest syndrome is alleviated when her homemade dumpling comes to life. (A sentiment we can surely all relate to…) While Masti’s might not actually come alive, they’ll certainly make your taste buds. Packed with tangy, spicy tandoori chicken, this trio of fusion bites are perfect with a coconut mixed drink overlooking the beach.
Dhs70. La Mer, Jumeirah 1 (800 62784).

Queensland tenderloin and potato gratin at J&G Steakhouse
Well, it’s our Best Steakhouse of 2018 for a reason, and J&G Steakhouse serves up an absolutely stonking cut of perfectly prepared meat. Simply seasoned and with a marvellously seared coat, the steaks here (and particularly the Queensland tenderloin) are magnificent. With a side of belt-looseningly brilliant potato gratin, you’ll be making involuntary yummy noises all through your meal.
Dhs260 (8oz steak). St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor City, (04 435 5577).

Rib-eye Terikayi at Asia Asia
These boast succulent meat with roasted kabocha, parsnip mayo and glazed ancho chilli. The tender chunks are infused with the rich and tangy flavour of the teriyaki and taste phenomenal. The Marina views are pretty special, too.
Dhs145. Pier 7, Dubai Marina (04 276 5900).

S’mores French Toast at Eggspectation
This drool-worthy brioche is stuffed with the softest Nutella and gooey marshmallows, then drizzled with pure Canadian maple syrup and chocolate sauce – a campfire favourite that will have you reliving your childhood with one bite.
Dhs58. City Walk, Al Safa Street (04 240 6877).

Soya Paneer Pepper Fry at Jodhpur Royal Dining
Stuffed full of flash-fried tofu cubes, the soya paneer is packed with South Indian spices and finished with a flourish of mustard seeds. Fragrant and spicy, it’s perfected with crispy layers of Dosa. Sublime.
Dhs105. Roda Al Murooj, Downtown Dubai (04 355 9846).

Spicy beef tartare at 3 Fils
The winner of our Best Asian Restaurant award 2018 is up there with the very best venues in the city, and this dish is perhaps our favourite tartare around. The beef is mixed with a spicy sauce and topped with lime pickle. Served on slices of toast, this is a rustic-looking plate of food, but it stays true to 3 Fils’ chef Akmal Anuar’s philosophy – it’s made with top ingredients that are treated with respect – and that’s what matters most.
Dhs36. Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, Jumeirah 2 (056 273 0030).

Steamed lobster at Sea Fu
This atmospheric, romantic venue specialises in Asian seafood. There are plenty of small plates that do the business (think sushi rolls, salmon tartare and Hokkaido scallops) that might tempt you to stick with a bunch of things to share. However, missing out on this main course would be a travesty. It’s a delicately plated beauty that sees the steamed crustacean sitting atop baby leeks and shiitake mushrooms in a fragrant lemongrass cream and coconut foam. It looks stunning and tastes it, too.
Dhs175. Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 270 7777).

Super green hummus at BB Social Dining
We love hummus, in all its various guises, which in this city are plentiful. However, we’ve never come across one quite like this. And we’re thrilled to have discovered it. Vibrant green, it’s a combination of edamame, spinach and tahini and is the perfect, moreish mish-mash of flavours.
Dhs27. Gate Village 8, DIFC (04 407 4444).

The Original Lobster Roll at Burger & Lobster
Still probably the best lobster roll in town. The lobster meat is fresh and chunky, tossed in a light Japanese mayo and nestled carefully in a toasted brioche roll. You’ll also get a pile of fries and a side salad. It’s phenomenal. Head to youtube.com/timeoutdubai to see the team attempt to scoff a whole stack.
Dhs105. Burj Daman Building, DIFC (04 514 8838).

Tuna Pizza at The Penthouse
This is absolutely NOT what you’re thinking. No grey, tinned fish, and not a kernel of sweetcorn in sight (thank goodness). This is a classy bite from a truly classy rooftop spot. Artfully described by one tongue-tied Time Outer as “small, truffley loveliness”, these super-thin, cracker-sized morsels come topped with truffle (there it is) cream cheese, jalapeño and wasabi tobico, in addition to beautiful slivers of tuna sashimi. We could eat them for days – and we bet you’ll feel the same.
Dhs80. FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai, Palm Jumeirah (052 900 4868).

Tuna Pizza at The Penthouse
This is absolutely NOT what you’re thinking. No grey, tinned fish, and not a kernel of sweetcorn in sight (thank goodness). This is a classy bite from a truly classy rooftop spot. Artfully described by one tongue-tied Time Outer as “small, truffley loveliness”, these super-thin, cracker-sized morsels come topped with truffle (there it is) cream cheese, jalapeño and wasabi tobico, in addition to beautiful slivers of tuna sashimi. We could eat them for days – and we bet you’ll feel the same.
Dhs80. FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai, Palm Jumeirah (052 900 4868).

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