Before or after shopping at Deira’s gold and spice souks, have lunch at the nearby Hyatt Regency’s revolving restaurant, Al Dawaar. The 25th-floor dining room rotates slowly, offering spectacular views of the Arabian Gulf, Dubai Creek and the sprawling metropolis of Dubai. This is the perfect place to come with choosy diners, as it offers an international buffet with varied European, Middle Eastern and Asian dishes.
Al Hadheerah Desert Restaurant
For a fun—albeit contrived—take on a traditional Arabic dining experience, drive 45 minutes outside of Dubai to Al Hadheerah Desert Restaurant at the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa—a great choice for large groups, families and couples alike. Guests sit in the open-air dining room and look up at the stars as they graze on a buffet of traditional Arabic fare (an assortment of mezze, lamb, grilled shrimp and chicken) at live cooking stations. Arrive before dinner, at sunset, to watch the falcon show and ride camels. During the meal, belly dancers and a live band perform.
Al Mahara is known as Burj Al Arab’s signature restaurant. Although the so-called “submarine journey” into the dining room is nothing more than an elevator ride, and the “underwater” element is simply a floor-to-ceiling aquarium, the ambiance is unique enough to warrant a visit (unless watching sea creatures swim around as you devour them will make you uneasy). Here, the food is all about decadence and presentation, from Beluga caviar to Wagyu beef served with bone marrow and Alaskan king crab and foie gras, all served in picture-perfect platings. The seafood dishes in particular are heavenly.
Don’t miss a meal at the spectacular Lebanese restaurant Al Nafoorah, considered by many to be Dubai’s best example of local Arabic cuisine. The restaurant has two locations in Jumeriah properties: the original at Jumeirah Emirates Towers, a buzzy dining room with white tablecloth, and the more laid-back yet chic spot at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray at The Palm. Start with tasty hummus and spinach fatayer appetizers, then relish the chicken and beef shawarma and eggplant and minced lamb kabobs. Desserts here are to-die-for: don’t leave without trying the Muhalabiya, a classic Arabic milk, sugar and rose water pudding.
For the best views of Dubai, book a window-side table at At.mosphere’s Restaurant just before sunset. Located on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa, this fine dining restaurant books out early and requires a minimum amount of about $120 per person for dinner. For something more casual, make a reservation at the Lounge, where the minimum is lower and guests can enjoy small bites and cocktails with similar views.
The Dubai outpost of this Paris-based concept features a dining room with sky-high ceilings and a wall of windows overlooking the city. It is ornately decorated in rich fabrics and deep red and brown hues. Come on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night and the volume of hip dance music might prevent you from hearing your dining partners…in which case you can just gaze at the good-looking expats at nearby tables, or concentrate on your delectable Asian- and Mediterranean-influenced plates, such as the Chinese chicken salad, ceviche and prawn and duck curry dishes.
This is one of the best restaurants in Dubai without the hype or accompanying price tag. The food is simple and downright delicious. You’d think you were in Bangkok with the menu, which favors a straightforward balance of flavors and freshness of ingredients over pomp and circumstance. The candlelit ambience on a quiet canal in Madinat Jumeirah helps make it a popular choice for dates and groups of friends.
Situated on a wooden pier in front of the Madinat Jumeirah’s Al Qasr complex lies PierChic, a restaurant where the seafood offerings are fresh and delicious and the views are spectacular. Make your reservations for this small restaurant in advance: if weather permits, ask for an outside table. PierChic offers the best vantage point for photos of the Burj al Arab.
This innovative restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Yannick Al is set in a stylish, black-and-white dining room at the One & Only The Palm. The menu exhibits the chef’s French roots and favors duck and guinea, as well as a plethora of seafood options. Save room for the Pastry Library, where desserts are meted out, literally, by the meter. Note that the restaurant does not accept children below 9 years old.
If you’re doubtful about Mexican food being good in Dubai, don’t be. Tortuga’s dishes are fresh, delicious and authentic. The chef hails from Guadalajara and has worked in top kitchens all over the world. The menu isn’t limited to the expected tacos and burritos, and guacamole is among the best I’ve had. If the weather allows, dine al fresco facing Madinat’s canals.
The French restaurant Traiteur at Park Hyatt Dubai features an architecturally dazzling, bi-level dining room connected by a metal staircase suspended from the ceiling. The restaurant also features a 1200-bottle wine cellar and gorgeous open kitchen. Although the room is a vast, loft-like space, those looking for intimacy will find it at one of the well-spaced, candlelit tables. Menu items are fresh and markedly tasty: of note are the artichoke salad followed by a gently seasoned braised brill and a side of lightly sautéed mushrooms.