Cheap dinners in Dubai

Cutting your spending after an expensive summer? Amy Mathieson unearths 30 brilliant meals for two that will set you back less than Dhs100
Cheap dinners in Dubai

Time Out profiles some of the best value restaurants in Dubai, serving breakfast, lunch or cheap dinners in Dubai for under Dhs100 for two people

Cutting your spending after an expensive summer? Amy Mathieson unearths 30 brilliant meals for two that will set you back less than Dhs100

South East Asian 056 759 8118 Al Karama

Operating in Karama since 2007, Betawi has made a name for itself as a place to dine on authentic Indonesian dishes.

In 2016, the restaurant expanded to JLT, where it knocks out equally impressive cooking.

Expect no frills décor and low prices with food that is full of spice and flavour. We suspect many people won’t be au fait with the particulars of Indonesian food (save, perhaps, for tasty chicken satay and peanut sauce). So while the menu isn’t huge (a few soups, a handful of noodle dishes, nasi goreng and nasi padang) a few pointers from the staff can be very handy – and they’re (mostly) happy to help.

The soto betawi, with chunks of beef in a spicy, coconut soup shouldn’t be missed, and neither should the nasi padang, featuring beef rendang, vegetable curry, an egg and sambal sauce with steamed rice. The nasi padang is aromatic with meat slow-cooked until it falls apart, the curry sauce sweet and spicy and the rice cooked perfectly.

With generous portions and bags of flavour, this place serves up a great family-style feast.

Thai 04 513 5289 Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT)

The people who work here are rather fantastic and very passionate about what they do. It’s a small place in JLT, quite quaint, with room for about 50 diners (it delivers, too), and the cooking is done in front of you. It’s clearly a labour of love for the owners.

You can feel the care and excitement that they have for their venture, which is extremely refreshing. Isan is in North Eastern Thailand, and the food there is lighter than you’ll usually find in more typical Thai restaurants.

Curries and soups are clear, rather than coconut-based, and it is all a touch more spicy. Spring rolls have plenty of vegetables and come with a lovely chilli sauce, crispy beef has a great chew and is accompanied by an excellent spicy sauce, while juicy stir-fried prawns with green beans, red onion and garlic-soy sauce are excellent, as is the sticky rice.

Tastes are clean and fresh, and spicy in that way that only South East Asian cuisines manage – simultaneously as hot as the sun and yet as refreshing as a glass of young coconut water.

The prices are keen, the service superb, and the food delicious.

Indian 04 335 8700 Al Karama

Absolutely unmissable. If there are only two words you should know about of Calicut Paragon, it’s these. This brilliant budget restaurant deserves every single plaudit it has received over the years and more – even if it’s just for one dish (more on that later).

Nestled in the heart of Dubai’s “Curry Corridor” of Satwa, Karama and Bur Dubai, is Paragon. Forget the no-frills décor, this place is all about incredible Keralan flavours where mains often cost Dhs25.

While there are plenty of meat and vegetarian dishes, it’s seafood that reigns supreme in Paragon. And, for us, the stunning crab tushar takes the crown for the best.

Served in a clay pot is a full crab broken up inside – so be prepared to down tools and jump right in with your hands. It’s coated in a caramel-coloured spicy sauce that earns this dish the title of king. If we only ate this thick, bubbling, fiery-yet-creamy gravy for the rest of our days we’d consider ourselves beyond lucky. Mop it up with up an appam, or five.

If you’re not a shellfish fan then the Peralan chicken curry is a must. Although milder in spice, the coconutty sauce still packs an almighty punch and the poached chicken falls off the bone. Order a palak paneer bhurji and some steamed rice and brace yourself for many, many months of telling anyone who’ll listen about this restaurant. We know we have.

The bottom line
Truly brilliant South Indian eats.

04 346 6292 Umm Suqeim

First things first, you don’t need to actually be a surfer to visit this ca-fé, which is fortunate, as otherwise you’d be massively missing out. The Surf Café is a chilled-out haven near the beach that’s worthy of a weekend visit. Floors and walls are covered in a washed, smooth concrete, and to one side of the dining room, there’s a little bar counter where juices and coffees are made.

As well as the top breakfasts – we’ve waxed lyrical about the avocado toast many a time – the lunches and dinners are also great, with seafood, perfectly cooked grills and a huge choice of fresh, colourful salads, all perfect for a casual family meal.

There’s also a large selection of dim sum, and the very on-trend poke bowls ranging from salmon to crab or tuna. Bento boxes, grills and a massive selection of sushi – you’ll pretty much find everything you could hope for here.

While a little pricey for the average café experience, The Surf Café is pleasant enough to justify the extra dirhams.

The bottom line:
Excellent for breakfast, but a great choice all day.

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