With the word fiesta in the name you know you’re in for a good time (as well as good food) at this one. The restaurant chain, which has more than 40 outlets in its native Philippines, as well as in the US and Canada, has two branches in Dubai – in BurJuman, Bur Dubai and Ramada Deira. Offering a range of traditional Filipino fare, including sweet treats, Barrio Fiesta “celebrates the legacy of Filipino cuisine”. Founded more than 50 years ago as a “cosy mother’s kitchen”, you can expect top-notch comfort food here. Don’t miss the sinigang na hipon, a tamarind-based soup with shrimp and veggies (Dhs22).
Open daily 11am-11pm. BurJuman, Bur Dubai (04 359 4158). Other location: Ramada Deira (04 274 0444).
Bodega Street Food
From the team behind Dampa Seafood Grill, Bodega Street Food opened last year in Deira. If you’re with a group of friends this a great spot to get a street food meal deal. Platters coming in at around Dhs225 serve five hungry diners. Dishes range from beef sisig to sizzling sinigang dumplings, by way of barbecue platters and more.
Open daily 12.30pm-11pm. Deira (055 698 9683).
If you’re after live music alongside your sisig head to this Filipino nightclub. There’s a wide variety of food options, including, somewhat oddly many Mexican dishes (nachos, quesadillas etc) but there are more traditional items on the menu, too, such as tapsilog and fish kilawin (fish marinated in ginger, onion and chilli). It’s not the cheapest food you’ll find in the city, with mains ranging from Dhs50-90, but you can make a night of it.
Open daily 7pm-3am. Park Regis Kris Kin Dubai, Bur Dubai (04 377 1210).
Dampa Seafood Grill
Not officially traditional Filipino food, but popular with the community and run by a Filipino team, this is one to visit if you’re after something a little bit different. Once you locate this quirky little spot, be prepared to wait for a table. And when seated, be prepared to dig in. Don your plastic gloves and await your buckets of steaming hot seafood and rice, which will literally be placed directly on the table in front of you. Roll up your sleeves and do battle with those prawns, we say. It’s fun, tasty and not your average knife and fork meal. Plus, two of you can easily eat for under Dhs100, which is always a winner in our eyes.
Open daily 12.30pm-11.30pm. Deira (04 299 0884).
Delve into the snacks, or merienda, at Delmon (think the noodle dishes miki bihon and pancit bihon, all a snip at Dhs15 and under). Functional (although slightly faded) interiors are welcoming and authentic, and there are frequently plenty of Filipino diners. Sweet tooth? Try out the desserts including puto bumbong (a sticky rice cake). There’s also a range of international food (from burgers to empanadas) for fussier diners.
Open Sat-Thu 9.30am-2pm, 5.30pm-11.30pm; Fri 5pm-11.30pm. Near Karachi Darbar, Karama (04 336 9561).
Another celebratory-sounding restaurant, Fiesta Pinoy promises “authentic Filipino food”, and it delivers. A family-friendly chain, it was set up in Reef Mall food court in Deira in 2005, and now has several branches throughout the UAE. It prides itself on using fresh, seasonal ingredients and specialises in dishes including chicken adobo, a traditional dish of chicken stewed in vinegar and soy sauce, and sinigang na hipon – that shrimp and veg in a tamarind soup we mentioned earlier.
Open daily 8.30am-midnight. Al Rigga, Deira (04 295 5524).
This long-standing gem provides hearty, great-value Filipino fare in the heart of Satwa. There’s a massive range of food (including sandwiches and dim sum) but we’re here for the traditional dishes, and there’s plenty of those. Opt for the tapsilog – a rice-based dish with beef strips, topped with a fried egg – which is a steal at just Dhs15. There’s also a selection of dishes made with bangus (milkfish), which isn’t seen in many places in this city. Watch this space, there’s apparently a second branch opening in Deira soon.
Open daily 7.30am-2am. Near Satwa Roundabout (04 358 1445).
If you like fried chicken, chances are you’ll have visited Jollibee. Its “chickenjoy” is famous throughout the world, as this well-known fast-food chain was set up in the Philippines and is now popular in China, the US, Canada and right here in Dubai. If you’re after something quick and cheap while you’re shopping, this is one to stop by at The Dubai Mall. You can get bucket meals (six pieces of chicken, burgers or spaghetti etc) and rice or noodle dishes, too. Chick-enjoy.
Open 8am-midnight. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (052 960 6910).
The Asiana Hotel’s all-day dining restaurant puts on a huge buffet featuring a great range of Filipino dishes, including kare kare (a mixed stew in a peanut sauce) and sisig. There’s a distinctly Filipino vibe and an upbeat, fun atmosphere. Load up your plates and try some new dishes.
Open daily noon-3pm, 6pm-10pm. Deira (04 608 2160).
If you’re after a complete Filipino dining experience, this one’s for you. It’s family-friendly and fun, and, if you’re watching those dirhams, there are plenty of good value deals to be had, too. Try the breakfasts, they’re cheap, cheerful and delicious. The pandesal omelette deal includes three pieces of pandesal (Filipino bread), omelette, pico de gallo and fruit salad all for Dhs10. Enjoy it with a cup of kapang barako (Filipino coffee) and dip the pandesal in the drink for an authentic start to your day.
Open Sat-Wed 7am-midnight. Al Muraqqabat Street, Deira (800 626 452).
For fine-dining Filipino-style, this is your go-to. In the Asiana Hotel (which is also home to Lamesa), this hotspot has cosy interiors as well as live music, and it’s packed more often than not. There’s a charcoal grill and a host of popular dishes on the lengthy menu, including Filipino national dish kare kare, which can be made with beef tripe or seafood. Our advice? Don’t miss the desserts, especially the cassava cake. It’s also one of the few Filipino places in Dubai that is licensed, too.
Open noon-3pm, 6pm-10.30pm. Deira (04 608 2140).
Pool tables, neon lights and loud music. Not only does Manila 21 serve authentic, tasty dishes, it has a party vibe, since it’s a nightclub, too. There are some lesser-seen items on the bar food menu (chicken feet adobo and crispy crablet), but there’s also more familiar dishes including lumpiang Shanghai (spring rolls) and French fries. Order some bites, sit back and enjoy the live band.
Open daily 7pm-3am. Avenue Hotel, Al Rigga (04 297 0808).
With its tasty fried chicken and authentic Filipino dishes, this is a popular spot among Filipinos in the city for good reason. There are more than 100 branches of this restaurant globally, and it’s one that you shouldn’t miss. The spicy chicken sisig is especially good (chopped chicken and chicken liver, cooked with onion and celery, this one’s to share). There’s also plenty of classic dishes on the menu including kamote fries (home-style sweet potato strips) and fresh lumpia ubod, a traditional starter made with coconut shoots, chicken and shrimp wrapped in a fresh egg pancake, served with garlic and soy sauce. You can also go for the full fried chicken with Max’s secret spices (which made the restaurant so famous), at Dhs46. Bring the whole tribe.
Open daily 9am-2am. Trade Centre Road, Bur Dubai (04 325 7797).
Pan De Manila
This Filipino bakery and restaurant has several branches across the city. Not only is the buffet a popular choice, the baked goods, cakes and treats are a speciality – think banana cakes, brownies, cheese doughnuts et al, all for under Dhs5.
Open daily 5.30am-11.30pm. Mankhool Road, Satwa (050 908 2427).
This established fuss-free fast food chain is one of the oldest and most popular in the Philippines. There are more than 40 outlets in its homeland and in Singapore, and four right here in Dubai. There are some excellent meal deals (drinks, rice and mains for under Dhs30), and dishes include lamb tapa, chicken lumpiano and more. There’s also a kids’ menu with spaghetti and hot dogs if your offspring are less adventurous.
Open daily 10am-11.45pm. Various locations including Al Ghurair Centre, Al Rigga (04 294 3930).
This brunch at the no-frills but great fun Maxx Music Bar is a great intro to Filipino food. There are several live stations to browse, from juices to salads and soups. There are plenty of traditional dishes, too, plus pandasal breads halabos na alimasag (steamed crab), pancit and Filipino roasted chicken pandan. All coming in at under Dhs50 with a soft drink, it’s a top way to try a range of dishes.
Dhs49 (one soft drink), Dhs59 (one house beverage). Sat noon-4pm. Citymax Hotels Al Barsha (04 409 8000).