Best European restaurants in Dubai
Time Out Dubai is the definitive voice on Dubai's best restaurants, including European. Here's a guide to the best of the world's best culinary continent.
Whether you’re looking for Spanish paella, French onion soup or flavours of the Mediterranean, the food of Europe is renowned for a very good reason. Classic cuisine and fresh flair go hand-in-hand as Time Out has found out by putting every restaurant through their paces, assessing factors including quality of food, ambience and service. Popular or relatively unknown, we’ve gone undercover to find out what you’re getting for your money at each venue.
Every now and then, you’ll find a restaurant that just ticks all the boxes. For us, Elia, in Bur Dubai, does just that.
Elia is as close to an authentic Greek taverna we’ve found in the city. Greek staff, Greek music, Greek decorations and Greek food “like my mother makes every week in Greece”, the manager tells us. And its authenticity shows. Simply put, the food is sensational.
We start with some tomato kefta. The lightly fried Santorini tomatoes sit somewhere between fritters and bhajis and are an absolute treat. Accompanied by some tyrokafteri (spicy feta cheese dip) and walnut bread, we’re treated to a excitement-inducing start to the meal.
And we’re not disappointed when it’s time for mains. We order the traditional moussaka. This is no chuck-it-in-a-dish-and-bake-it moussaka, though, this is one with a fine dining twist. A disc-shaped dish is layered with beautifully seasoned minced lamb, thinly sliced aubergine and topped with a delicately cheesy béchamel sauce that’s delightfully light. We also try the gemista – tomatoes and peppers stuffed with rice and herbs, served with feta. It’s a wonderful vegetarian option on a menu full of them.
If you like Greek food, you really need to try this restaurant.
The bottom line
Some of the best Greek food in town.
Dinner at El Sur really comes into its own with a seat on the balcony, with it not being unfair to assume your meal in the Spanish tapas house would be considerably less enjoyable should you fail to snare an al fresco spot. That’s not to say the inside doesn’t have its charm, but those positive points are confined to the bar through which you arrive. Central to it is a long, high sharing table, perfect for a casual glass of grape and selection of cheeses and cold cuts and other European antipasti. For the rest of the dining area, sandwiched between the backlit bar and the doors to a gorgeous Iberian terrace hemmed in by a rising tree line (you are on the first floor of The Westin), is an afterthought, little more than a walkway between the two other far superior experiences. Adding to the authenticity is a menu that comes in both Spanish and English. It’s packed with influence from all over Spain, from the Catalan stew to the Mediterranean carabineros (deep sea prawns), as well as a several customised paella dishes ranging from the light vegetable option (Dhs95) to a considerably heavier foie and truffle option (Dhs135).
101 Dining Lounge & Bar has everything going for it even before you’ve got there. Jutting out from the southernmost arc of the Palm, it is set upon an elevated platform accessible only by buggy, or by boat from the mainland Royal Mirage hotel. White awnings cover the majority of the space and even within the solid structures of the main dining areas the al fresco illusion is created by a similar set up. Tapas is the order of the day, and in recent years the restaurant has branched out from a Spanish focus to a more international flavour, calling on influence from the Middle East, Japan, South America and Korea to help create a vast selection of small sharing plates. Signatures include king crab hot dog, worth getting just for the slaw garnish, and avocado topped pane carasau, a staple of all good Sardinian meals. Other highlights include the Ossau-Iraty fingers with black cherry jam and beef meatballs, piping hot and smothered in an onion and tomato sauce. 101 could probably charge double what it does and still do a roaring trade.