Best restaurants in Dubai

Time Out Dubai profiles the best restaurants in Dubai, including brunch, steakhouse, Thai, Indian, Italian, French, Japanese, Asian, Chinese and Cafe

After 12 months of eating our way around the city, Time Out Dubai held their 11th annual celebration of the very best restaurants in Dubai. The Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards took place in late March 2016, and you can relive them using the links below.

The team take the job very seriously, and scour the emirate – from Jebel Ali to Mirdif – looking for the finest food experiences on offer. For the 2015/16 awards, we were surprised by some old favourites, impressed by eateries in what should now be their "difficult second album" period and were blown away by the quantity and quality of new kids on the chopping block.

In a city that is ever-growing, the culinary scene flourishes in tandem and continues to attract star names. Their presence can only help the overall profile of Dubai, but that shouldn't overshadow the reliable stalwarts that serve excellent food year-in, year-out, and have done for many years.

So, after almost 500 restaurant reviews, carried out independently and anonymously, and more than Dhs200,000 spent to help us achieve it, here is the official, definitive list of Dubai's best restaurants in 2016.

Japanese 04 425 5660 DIFC

When dining at Zuma expectations are always high. This is a multiple award-winner, and is therefore always packed out. It’s also very expensive, but don’t let that put you off – save up and go. We mean it, if you dine at one Japanese restaurant in the city, let it be this one.

Book in advance, as it could take weeks before you get a table, it’s that popular. But happily, it ticks all the boxes once you’re in.
Winner of this category – as well as Best Brunch – for the second year in a row, the Japanese juggernaut that is Zuma shows no signs of slowing. It’s unfailingly popular and always busy.

Launched in Knightsbridge, London, in 2002, German-born chef Rainer Becker’s brand has gone from strength to strength, with branches from New York to Miami and Rome.

It’s not the prettiest of locations, set in DIFC with views over the main road, but you’ll hardly notice when your attention is fully focused on what’s on your plate.

Don’t miss the beef and green chilli robata skewers, they’re perfectly charred. The sweet potato with teriyaki and sesame is also a hit.

Main courses are sublime. The black cod is an obvious choice, although an excellent one, but we’d suggest the roasted Boston lobster, with shiso ponzu butter. It’s rich, tender, garlicky and moreish, with every bite a complete delight. And that’s what Zuma is, a complete culinary delight.

The bottom line
Award-winning Japanese. Book it, now.

Turkish 04 407 4100 Jumeirah

Anyone who has pulled up to the grounds of the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach will, firstly, be struck by the hotel’s marvellously impressive approach. Secondly, you are also likely to know that one of Dubai’s most famous restaurants resides here. Home of chef Nusret Gökçe (AKA Salt Bae off the internet), the dining experience at Nusr-Et is very much befitting of its owner.

From almost over-the-top levels of service from the waiting staff, who make sure you’re never left wanting, to the stunning view of the Downtown Dubai skyline (perfectly framed through the restau-rant’s expansive windows), this place is about more than just the food, and that’s why it picked up a Highly Commended gong at our 2018 Restaurant Awards.

Tuck into the Nusr-Et spaghetti – 230 grams of thinly sliced steak ribbons, robustly seasoned with sea salt. If you’re indecisive, waiting staff will insist you get your hands on the restaurant’s burger. It’s big, it’s juicy, it’s tasty, and it will leave you feeling absolutely stuffed.

Nusr-Et isn’t just about the meats, though, and has options for the seafood fans too – with salmon, prawns, crab and lobster also on the menu. And if you’re looking for starters, the massive orb of buffa-lo mozzarella is hard to ignore – and comes with some impressive table preparation from a battalion of waiters.

A world-famous steakhouse, that’s worthy of its renowned name.

The bottom line:
While the dining experience comes at a premium, Nusr-Et is as much performance art as a meal.

04 336 4444 Sheikh Zayed Road

This swanky Asian, set high on the 36th floor of The H Dubai, is the ideal place for a fun, swish night out. As soon as you enter you’ll be wowed by the sparkling vistas out from the floor-to-ceiling windows and the classy, low-key vibe.

The signature dishes here should not be missed. The cuisine is “Mediterrasian”, a blend of light, fresh Mediterranean flavours with the bold, powerful tastes of Asia, and the kitchen does this tremendously.

PLAY’s Pita Surprise – baked crispy pita bread filled with wagyu beef and truffle paste, a Time Out Dubai favourite – is a simply stunning dish. Unique, fun and wonderfully indulgent, the crisp crunch of the casing houses a marvellously creamy, smooth filling. The sushi and sashimi are also delightful, fresh and tasty, too.

Main dishes range from entrecôte with café de PLAY butter – a tender cut of meat enhanced by that unique, tasty spread – grilled sea bass and black cod to oven-baked marinated saffron chicken. However, the spaghetti carbonara with veal pancetta made tableside in a giant Parmesan wheel is a showstopper. Not strictly Asian, it’s a dish served with flair and fun, and encapsulates what’s PLAY is all about.

Sit back and take in the ambiance, and don’t arrive too early – this place ramps up later in the evening. Book later to enjoy the top atmosphere alongside those views and that food.

The bottom line:
Creative dishes and striking views

+971 56 474 6812 Al Quoz

A noisy, happy and casual café, Tom& Serg hasn’t seen any drop off in popularity over the past few years.

Founded by Tom Arnel, a chef and foodie from Melbourne, and Sergio Lopez, a savvy F&B operations director from Madrid, the café – a former Time Out Dubai Best Café winner – prides itself on nutritious, gourmet food and laid-back vibes to go with it.

Upon walking in, the place is heaving, with the crowd laughing and chatting easily. We make our way upstairs, to a table overlooking a bustling ground floor with seating adjacent to the kitchen and bakery.

Tom & Serg is known for its love for avocado, so we can’t miss the marinated green tomato avo on toast – and wait for a good dose of the fatty, single-seeded berry. We’re not disappointed. The tangy green tomatoes are the perfect match for the creamy avocado, with a red dukka and parsley salsa giv-ing it a bitter, satisfying twist.

After the zesty boost, we need something neutral, and so opt for the Caesar baguette – the famous salad in sandwich form – with juicy roasted chicken, crispy veal bacon and leaves. It’s tasty and a hit.

We round it off with a generous serving of salted caramel French toast, complemented with fresh macerated rhubarbs and glazed black cherries. It’s the perfect sweet treat.

Perfect for families, the café has just launched a new kids’ menu, too, showing its dedication to good nutrition for all ages, with dishes including Egg Soldiers (Dhs32), apple pancakes (Dhs30) and chicken quesadillas (Dhs36) among others.

Overall Tom&Serg feels like home, but with food that we’d be too lazy to make.

The bottom line
Cosy venue that pays attention to detail

Newsletters

Follow us