Best restaurants in Dubai

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.
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.

+971 4 323 1833 DIFC

If you work in DIFC, chances are you’ll have been to BOCA. With a fun, post-office vibe it’s a lively and relaxed place for pint with colleagues or friends. But don’t dismiss it as just a bar – this Mediterranean restaurant deserves you staying for dinner.

It’s a cool little hangout, which opens out to a terrace outside, making it feel big, bright and like the place you (and a sizeable chunk of the DIFC crowd) really want be in cooler weather. It’s big, bright and airy and is the place to be in the winter.

The restaurant has made an effort to cater to modern tastes, too, boasting a vegan menu (including vegan grape varieties) as well as sourcing local and sustainable ingredients. Dibba Bay oysters, Emirati sea bass, vegetables from the Waterfront Market in Deira – you can guarantee your produce is fresh and seasonal.

The tasty menu is primarily Spanish – a variety of paella is available, including a vegan rendition – and is heavily focused on tapas such as manzanilla and octopus carpaccio. Some dishes even take on a local twist, such as sweet potato hummus.

With a fun bar, lively staff and top dishes, stop in for dinner in BOCA, DIFC office worker or not, and that’s why it claimed a Highly Commended gong at the 2019 Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards.
Open Mon-Sat noon-1am, Sun noon-midnight. Licensed. Gate Village 6, DIFC (04 323 1833).

050 345 6067 Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)

PERMANENTLY CLOSED

When Tr!beca opened in 2015 it was one of the city’s few retro-cool hangouts with an organic food and grape ethos and alignment to the slow food movement.

Now, there’s a number of such venues across Dubai, increasing the competition for this one somewhat. But it remains popular – just head down on a Thursday and Friday night and you’ll see what we mean.

This is a nightclub-esque bar, where the DJ pumps out loud beats and the vibe reaches fever pitch well before midnight.

Despite the frenetic pace at night, the menu is all about slow food (as is the service, which can be hit and miss). Tr!beca’s focus is preserving tradition, encouraging sustainable farming and supporting small, independent businesses. As such, it’s full of seasonal, locally grown ingredients, as well as natural, organic and free-range produce. There’s even a fresh new vegan menu with dishes including carrot tartare and buffalo cauliflower poppers.

If you’re a fish fan, opt for the black cod ceviche to start. The fish is marinated in citrus juices, coriander and mint. Mango and avocado lift the tart flavours, while a smattering of Thai chilli gives it a kick.

Follow up with classic bar food such as the indulgent lamb burger stuffed with shreds of tender pulled meat piled high on a soft bun and topped with melted cheddar cheese and a spicy Cajun mayo. It’s utterly delicious.

For some decent, organic grub and a lively night out, it’s worth checking out Tr!beca.




THE VEGETARIAN VIEW

Tribeca will take you back to your student years, with its comic book wallpaper, graffiti murals, and industrial vibes.

Hopefully these days you’re wearing a clean t-shirt and have given your hair a brush, for all its laid-back and casual atmosphere, this is still a trendy bar and restaurant in Dubai.

Themed on the trendy lower Manhattan neighbourhood of Tribeca, this JBR hangout is spacious with a warehouse-style ceiling and a hops pong table.

The menu features American dishes like pizzas, tacos and mac ’n’ cheese, and, more surprisingly, is a comprehensive vegan list, including the likes of artichoke dip, ricotta gnocchi, truffle risotto and carrot tartare.

Service is fast and our nachos arrive in record time. Despite rumbling bellies, they’re not consumed with the same haste – as they’re just not that appetising. It’s not cheap, either, ringing in at Dhs75.

We’re impressed with the range on the vegan menu – the bar is clearly trying hard, which we give credit to – but the artichoke dip and the vurger aren’t much to shout about either, disappointingly.

That being said, we’re not here for fine dining and we enjoy the buzzing atmosphere, which makes for a fun night out.

It’s as lively as any student union, but without the sticky carpets and lingering studenty smells, and for drinks, it’s an experience we’d happily resit.

We’re thrilled with the effort and idea of the vegan menu, but more is needed in the execution.

WHAT IS IT...
A trendy bar in JBR with a new vegan menu

WHY GO...
The fun vibe

VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY
4/5

VEGAN-FRIENDLY
5/5

British 04 454 2638 Emirates Hills

A bona fide family-friendly Dubai institution, Reform Social & Grill is that rare thing – a community pub.

Set in The Lakes, Reform is perfect for a weekend meal with a few drinks – mum and dad can chill out in the garden and let the little ones go wild in the small playground, as well as the makeshift football pitch that goes along with it.

During the week this place also gets rammed with people popping in for a pint and bite to eat on the way home after work. And those bites are very good, by the way, hence the award.

Pâtés, steak tartare and salads pepper the starters – and the pear and Stilton tart is a corker, too. Meanwhile there are four packed sharing platters to choose from, top grills good salads. A special shout out to the burgers as well. Juicy and fat. Just as they should be.

Weekends also mean special roast dinners, see right, with options including chicken and beef – as you’d expect. There’s also a properly authentic bangers and mash on the menu, too, and that will keep you coming back for more, as all the dishes here do.

There are good brekkies at this place, too. This is a real top choice for grub that we wholeheartedly recommend.

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.

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