Located along the iconic Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula, The United Arab Emirates is a melting pot of cultures, and its cuisine is no exception. From traditional Emirati dishes to international cuisine, the UAE is a food lover’s paradise. But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go for the best food in the UAE.
I had the pleasure of exploring the UAE’s food culture with friends like Trevor James, Luca Gallone, and Peyman Al-Awadhi in late 2021. In this article, I’ll be sharing my top picks for where to find the best foods in the UAE. Whether you’re a tourist or a resident, these restaurants and eateries will satisfy your taste buds and leave you craving more. Get ready to embark on a culinary journey and discover the hidden gems of the UAE’s food scene!
If you’re looking for some of the best food in the UAE, I highly recommend visiting Rokn Al Fahedi Café. This eatery in Dubai serves delicious methi aloo parathas stuffed with aloo methi, mint, cumin seeds, onions, and chilies. They’re almost like north Indian pizzas and come with mint chutney, yellow dal, and pickled chilies called achar.
The paratha is spicy and potent with a ghee flavor, and dipping it into the thick yellow dal was a great combination. The achar was also spicy. To finish off the meal, the cafe offers incredible masala chai and mango lassi to cool down your mouth.
No trip to Dubai is complete without eating at Veg World, a popular restaurant that boasts hundreds of vegetarian dishes on its menu! Among their specialties are jini and masala dosas, which come topped with cheese, butter, and cilantro. The jini dosa has a unique blend of spiciness, tomato flavor, and Szechwan seasoning. It comes with coconut chutney and is considered one of the best dosas I’ve ever tasted in my life!
Veg World also offers a massive but refreshing grilled Titanic sandwich, with mint chutney, cucumbers, tomatoes, and cheese. The masala dosa is another must-try item on the menu, along with their fluffy dhokla, crispy ghee roast dosa, vada, and ganthiya. Try the hot and sweet chilies, which add an extra kick to any dish you pair them with. It’s some of the best food in the UAE!
Travelers and foodies looking for a lavish, once-in-a-lifetime rice dish should not miss the Gold Foil Biryani sold at Bombay Borough in Dubai. It’s downright massive and costs 1000 AED, or about $270 USD. Its defining feature is the edible gold foil they add on top, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg with this monstrous dish.
It also comes with smoky lamb chops, nihari, badami, za’atar raita, Kashmiri seekh kebabs, coconut curry, Madras chicken, potatoes, and Naga chilies. It’s an enormous, hearty meal that should be eaten by a large group of people, so I suggest enjoying it with friends or family. But flavor-wise, it’s more than worth the money if you can manage it. Every element is cooked to perfection and has multiple layers of flavor! It’s easily some of the best food in the UAE!
Believe it or not, but finding authentic Emirati food in the UAE is sometimes a challenge! But if you head to Al Fanar Restaurant in Sharjah, you’ll get to try some of the best in the country. Trevor, Ruzaina from The Minority Taste, and I had a delicious Emirati of lamb nashef, parotta, balaleet, fool, chickpeas, shebabs, and karak tea. The crispy parotta was flaky and paired well with the lamb, potatoes, and tomato curry in the lamb nashef.
The karak tea was hot and spiced while the shebab was full of saffron and cardamom flavor. For the next dish, they wrapped omelet, chilies, fool, pickled salad, lime juice, onions, and chickpeas in roti for a delicious and healthy bite. The balaleet added a unique sweetness to the meal. It’s a hearty and rich breakfast with incredible flavors, and some of the best food in the UAE.
Another rarity in Sharjah is Yemeni food. But Bait Al Mandi Restaurant in UAE is famous for theirs, particularly mandi. Mandi is a unique basmati rice dish that contains numerous spices and topped with whole pieces of meat. The restaurant attracts visitors from all over, who come to enjoy the traditional Arabic coffee and watch the chefs prepare dishes like knafe and huge platters of mandi with onions, garlic, saffron, and raisins.
They also serve salmon bukhari, mandi with camel meat, and mixed grill kebab platters, all of which are exceptional. The salmon is tender and blackened, while the camel mandi is gamy but deliciously tender. The lamb stock and tomato salsa add to the flavor of the dishes. Their entire menu is an embarrassment of riches, so pay them a visit to try some of the best food in the UAE!
With over 27% of its population hailing from India, the UAE is arguably the best place to try Indian food outside of India. One of the best Indian restaurants in Abu Dhabi is Sangeetha Restaurant, which offers south Indian fare. I recommend their breakfast items, including ghee roast paper dosa, idli, vada, rava dosa, and chai with different chutneys and sambar. Their tomato chutney is on another level and the crispy rava dosa is exceptional.
India Palace Restaurant is a great spot if you want some North Indian food. You can’t go wrong with their lamb seekh kebabs, roomali roti, and papadum. The dum ka zafrani murgh and palak paneer were also highlights. And if you’re craving biryani, head to Ritaj Restaurant for the city’s best. Eating their famous Chicken 65 biryani is an out-of-body experience, and I also recommend their along with gosht ka marag. If you’re looking for the best food in the UAE, the Indian food in Abu Dhabi must be on your list!
If you get hungry on the road between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, I highly recommend Ghantoot Royal Restaurant. This fantastic spot is the only dhaba, or roadside restaurant, between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It’s popular among locals, so you know the food quality is top notch! It offers a wide variety of dishes like sandwiches, burgers, soups, salads, rice dishes, shawarmas, mixed grilled dishes, and more.
When Ruzaina and I visited, we ordered mutton masala, kingfish machboos, raita, saman, salad, karak, and juices. The kingfish is fried fresh and served with light rice and creamy raita. I also loved the tender and flavorful mutton and machboos rice. The Afghan roti with toor dal was a spicy and delicious highlight. But my favorite thing about this meal was mixing the different gravies with the rice, mutton, and fish.
One of the best things about my trip to Dubai is that I finally got to meet up with my fellow travel/food vlogger Peyman Al-Awadhi, who took me to one of his favorite local spots, Nahash Restaurant. It offers Emirati, Yemeni, and Persian dishes, which you can enjoy in their large dining hall or one of their smaller, more traditional dining rooms with hand-embroidered pillows and cushions.
Our Emirati feast included hobool (deep-fried fish roe sacks) and jasheed (fried and minced reef shark with cilantro and lemon zest). I loved them with our white rice and machboos. The machboos laham, which is similar to biryani, was the ultimate Emirati dish with smoky and fatty lamb. The tomato gravy added another burst of flavor to the rice. It’s a must!
If you head to the Al Karama area in Dubai, you’ll find Jaffer Bhai’s Restaurant, also known as the Biryani King. The restaurant serves a variety of dishes, including lamb brains scrambled with vegetables, mutton biryani, seekh kebabs, garlic butter naan, and butter chicken. The naan is thick and tasty, and the smoky flavor pairs well with the mutton brain fry.
The seekh kebab is tender and infused with garlic and mint, while the mango lassi is fruity and refreshing. The malai lamb chops are also a highlight. However, the standout dish is the mutton biryani, which is fatty and tender. The slow-cooked meat and bone marrow add a whole new dimension of flavor! Adding butter chicken gravy enhances the dish even further. After you try this food in the UAE, you’ll see why they’re considered the biryani king!
Some of the best food in the UAE is part of the incredible experience you’ll have at the Burj Khalifa. The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa is also home to the world’s highest restaurant, Atmosphere, on the 122nd floor. I visited the restaurant with my good friend (and world-famous magician) Luca Gallone to have a delicious meal of seafood, A5 Wagyu beef, and desserts.
The seafood platter was particularly impressive, with large, succulent prawns and fresh crab meat. The A5 Wagyu beef was covered in truffles and served with truffle mashed potatoes. Finally, I also recommend the gold cappuccino, a $45 USD behemoth that comes with a caramel wafer. It’s delicious but very expensive! But there’s no doubt it belongs on any list of the best food in the UAE!
When planning a trip to the UAE, it’s easy to get lost in the opulence of Dubai’s legendary party scene. But there’s far more to explore in this country than Dubai’s nightlife and the desert. The food in the United Arab Emirates is a gorgeous symphony of flavors and influences.
Your taste buds will never have a dull moment, whether you visit Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, or all three. I recommend visiting all three! Book a trip to the United Arab Emirates today so you can experience the best food in the UAE for yourself!