Dubai’s best budget restaurants 2020

These are the top budget restaurants and places to eat in Dubai as revealed at the Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2020 in association with Dubai Food Festival

Dubai’s best budget restaurants 2020

WINNER

Vietnamese Foodies
This brilliant budget restaurant in JLT is an excellent choice if you’re after pocket-friendly, delicious Vietnamese food. Service is swift and friendly, the food is awesome – especially the zesty salads, fresh and crunchy summer rolls and smooth pho – and it’s an excellent spot for a quick lunch or date night on a budget.
Open Sun-Thu 11am-10.30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Cluster D, JLT, www.vietnamesefoodies.com (04 565 6088).

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Project Chaiwala
We’ve long waxed lyrical about Project Chaiwala’s chilli-cheese toast but there’s so much more to love about this cute spot in Al Quoz. The home-grown tea shop, tucked away in independent film hub Cinema Akil in Dubai’s artsy area Alserkal Avenue, uses ethically-sourced ingredients from organic tea gardens, and its menu draws inspiration from around the world – from karak spots in Bur Dubai to the spices in Delhi markets. And the food is scrummy – and pocket-friendly too.
Open Sat-Thu noon-10pm, Fri 1pm-10pm. Cinema Akil, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, www.cinemaakil.com (04 223 1139).

High Joint
Possibly the tiniest restaurant in Dubai, this Jumeirah eatery has room for only nine diners inside (at a push). Freshly-prepared burgers include the High Jamz, a smashed beef patty topped with caramelised onions, beef bacon and more. Elsewhere the Katsu Halloumi burger is exactly as you’d imagine – crunchy, tasty, and an absolute delight. For sides, get the cauliflower buffalo wings – they’re beyond amazing.
Open Sun-Wed 11.30am-midnight, Thu 11.30am-2am, Fri 1pm-2am, Sat noon-1am. Al Safa (04 268 1586).

SHORTLISTED

Bento-Ya
At this old-school Japanese restaurant a meal for two can still set you back less than Dhs200, pretty much regardless of what you order. Amply sized chicken gyoza come seven to a portion, while the wide selection of maki feature eight rolls a serving, with top picks including softshell crab and spicy salmon. Bento-Ya has been one of Dubai’s best worst-kept secrets for years – here’s to many more.
Open Sat-Wed 11.30am-11.30pm, Thu-Sat 11.30am-midnight. Unlicensed. Behind Al Kawakeb Building, near Dusit Thani, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 343 0222).

Café Isan
The food at this low-key budget eatery in JLT is absolutely awesome. Curries are swimming in sauce and flavour, salads pack a real punch and spring rolls are crispy and packed full of veg. The best part? It’s extremely friendly on your wallet, as well as your taste buds.
Open Sun-Wed 11.30am-10pm, Thu 11.30am-11pm, Fri-Sat noon-11pm. Cluster B, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 557 9778).

Calicut Paragon
A wonderful budget-friendly restaurant found in the northern end of Dubai, where you’ll find some absolutely spectacular South Asian street food. The fresh seafood here is amongst the best we’ve found, and doesn’t leave a hole in your pocket either.
Open daily 7am-12.30am. Karama (04 335 8700).

Once Upon A Bite
A pokey, upbeat modern Indian takeaway gaff that is playful with menu items and even has its own radio station playing during your visit. Expect Indian-inspired instant ramen, various pavs and saj wraps, as well as a number of different, unusual, but equally tasty bites – plenty for the meat eaters and veggies.
Open daily noon-11pm. 26th Street, Al Karama (04 232 9028).

O’Pao
Indian fast food and sliders/pavs aplenty at this quirky, trendy little spot in Karama. Buns even come complete with branded buns (the sort of branding that comes from a hot iron stick), so you know it’s on-trend. Food is fresh, sloppy and dished up in potato buns. What more could you want?
Open Sat-Wed 11am-midnight, Thu 11am-2am, Fri 1pm-2am. Karama (04 349 6726).

Pickl.
This JLT burger bar has set a new trend in Dubai – gourmet fast food done the right way. Grab the Nashville Hot Chicken Sando, fried chicken that’s organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken that’s left to brine in green tea for 48 hours and fried fresh to order. Alternatively, the double (or even triple…) cheeseburgers are a thing of beauty, and even available in a vegetarian Beyond Meat alternative.
Open Sat-Wed 10.30am-1am, Thu-Fri 10.30am-2am. One JLT, JLT, www.eatpickl.com (04 584 6859).

Streetery Food Hall
Can’t make up your mind what you want but know you don’t have a fortune to spend? Head to this cool budget street eatery in JLT where you’ll have more choice than you’ll know what to do with. Which means one thing: you’ll keep coming back. Curries, dim sum, stir-fries, noodles, barbecued meats – if it’s cheap, cheerful and exceptionally tasty Asian food you’re after, this is for you.
Open daily 11am-11pm. Lake level, Cluster D, JLT (04 587 3373).

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