A trip to the Middle East is not complete without a meal at a traditional Arabian restaurant.
Dubai may seem to be a hub of modernity and development, where you can dine on a different cuisine every night for year, but some restaurants are true to their roots, serving wholesome, rich and aromatic dishes that are quickly becoming the locals' dish of choice. We've compiled a varied list of our favourites, which includes both casual and fine dining options.
Located in the heart of Downtown Dubai at the iconic Address Downtown, Em Sherif, which is originally from Beirut, Lebanon, offers authentic Arabic cuisine in an eclectic, chic setting. The intricate detailing of the restaurant stems from founder Mireille Hayek's personal style. You'll be captivated by the royal blue hues and charming vintage art pieces. The uniqueness and detail of the décor is designed to look like an antique Lebanese mansion. The restaurant incorporates several traditional styles, which can be seen on the doors, the mirrors, the tiling and the floral painted ceiling. Each and every item in the restaurant is bespoke and was personally selected to create an eclectic charm.
As for the menu, traditional cooking methods such as the Manakish wood-burning oven allow a true, authentic taste. Signature dishes include Fattoush with aubergine, Bourghol Banadoura and Moudardara. Ask about the Tabekh (the daily dish that changes every day and night). The Laban Emmo or Siyadiyeh are highly recommended.
© Em Sherif
The desserts are not to be missed. Our favourites are the Meghle, with sweet coconut and cinnamon flavours or Mouhallabiyye, the traditional Lebanese pudding that combines hints of vanilla and pistachio. Em Sherif serves alcohol.
To experience traditional Lebanese cuisine with an indoor and outdoor setting, Al Nafoorah located on the lower level of The Boulevard at Jumeirah Emirates Towers (next to Dubai International Financial Centre) is a favourite amongst many Dubai residents.
Terrace restaurant at Al Nafoorah
The secluded location of the restaurant, along with the air-conditioned marquee makes it the perfect spot to enjoy a quiet lunch or dinner, smoke shisha and enjoy the stunning backdrop of Dubai's skyline. Al Nafoorah serves alcohol.
Bahria offers cuisine from the Levant region, Morocco and Egypt with a focus on seafood. The location is unparalleled as it's facing the beach in the new development, The Beach, which is located at The Walk in Jumeirah Beach Residents (JBR), Dubai Marina. It's a casual restaurant where you can sit back and people watch.
Bahria's outdoor terrace
As the area has many dining options, make sure to visit Bahria for their wide selection of delicious hot and cold Mezza and seafood. Order the Hummus, Octopus Provencal, Spicy Potatoes, Moroccan style Hamour Tajine. This restaurant, along with all of the restaurants at 'The Beach', does not serve alcohol.
Monkfish Provencal at Bahria
Abd El Wahab
This Lebanese restaurant chain takes its name from a street in Beirut, the site of their first restaurant. They have several locations both in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, however there's something special about the Souk Al Bahar location. This is mostly due to the fact that it's next to the dancing fountains and a stone's throw from the Dubai Mall. When we visited, we had been shopping all day in Dubai Mall and enjoyed sipping on a glass of wine while listening to the sounds of opera music that's part of the fountain show.
Although the inside of the restaurant has rich oriental accents with damascene walls, brass and glass-blown pieces, we recommend sitting outside. As for the menu, order the Abd El Wahab Mixed Grill and the Baby Chicken along with Mezza starters to share. Be sure to take your staple tourist photo on the bridge next to the restaurant as you have the best photo opportunity with the Burj Khalifa. This restaurant serves alcohol and shisha.