These days it’s hard to trust anything you read on the Internet. You don’t know who wrote it and with which agenda. That also applies to reviews and articles about restaurants, bars and clubs. So you might be confused, like us, when it comes to what really are the best restaurants of Dubai. Let’s be clear – our agenda is to spread the word. About great food, amazing places, superb service and anything else that makes a bite or drink just that bit different or special.
So now that we’re coming to the end of 2016, we wanted to put together our top 10 restaurants in Dubai that really stood out this year!
So much of what opens and happens in Dubai is about some latest trend or fad. One of the reasons we like Traiteur is that it stays on point but doesn’t give into crazes. The service and food remains of exceptional quality, and the décor is beautiful but intimate and understated. You can make an evening of it with aperitifs on the terrace,
or post-dinner drinks at one of Park Hyatt’s other atmospheric venues. We like that balance of knowing what to expect (consistent quality!) whilst still experiencing the extraordinary and having a little surprise coming your way (the subtlety of how flavours are woven into a dish).
Although Al Hamra probably doesn’t sit in the fine dining category, it deserves a mention in our opinion. The tapas list includes some creative dishes (potato stuffed with spicy minced lamb), in addition to the well prepared favourites you would expect (albondigas and patatas bravas). Everything that comes on the table is hearty and tasty, and it comes with a smile and authenticity from the staff. The outdoor area is lovely when it isn’t too hot, and they have a band playing some nights of the week that will ensure you won’t be able to keep your feet from moving. The décor strikes a nice balance, not being too casual or formal, but very cosy. Our personal tip is the Paella Valenciana with chicken and rabbit – we’ve never tasted anything quite like it.
Some people would be skeptical about a restaurant linked to such an iconic design hotel, in an area like downtown with a view over the Dubai Fountain. Hashi proves them wrong. Set away from the throngs of the fountain, but with a good view and sparkling lights all around it has a romantic, intimate atmosphere. There’s a list of expertly concocted, subtle cocktails to get your evening off to a great start. The sashimi is fresher than fresh, and the sushi is pure and delicious. There are sharing platters which offer you a taste of everything, and gives you a chance to sample types that you may not have ordered otherwise, and are actually not bad value for money, especially for an upscale venue like Hashi.
We love the Dhow & Anchor for its understated chic pub vibe. Not grubby, but not pretentious either. Simple food made special and flawless. Friendly staff, and the people around you are there just to have a good time with each other and enjoy a bite and a drink, on a date, as a family or with friends. The wooden modern rustic décor makes it elegant yet cosy. It’s one of those places where a quick bite turns into an hours long affair and you forget about time.
We’re suckers for the small French bistro. Usually they’re called Pastis, they’re noisy, and they serve uncomplicated French fare like onion soup, steak frites and tarte tatin. The waiters shout at each other over the animated conversations and rush around carrying too many dishes.
Now Dubai has one and it’s called Bistro des Arts, set overlooking the Marina. Given its Dubai, the service is much more friendly than at the usual French bistro and it may not be as hectic, but the team behind this gem got it exactly right when it comes to the atmosphere and the food.
Another place that strikes a great balance, this time between the stylishness and elegance of an upmarket wine bar and the coziness and intimacy required of a great wine bar. The wine list naturally spans the old and new worlds with well known, and lesser known estates giving you the chance to drink an old favourite and find a new favourite. And of course, there is a cheese selection to pair perfectly with your wine, as well as a menu that is much more expansive than is customary for a wine bar, so you can make a real dinner out of it rather than just a few bites.
Last but not least, the Maine can’t go without mention. The menu lists everything that swims or lives in some sort of shell and then some more: salads, soups, carpaccio, truffle and mushroom pizza. Seafood comes pure, cooked in different styles, or in pasta. And for those that don’t like fish there is a great selection of meats as well. It’s homey comfort food but better and more refined, and it comes with ample choices for cocktails, all put together with a great sense of flavour.
Not the first place that comes to mind when craving a steak in Dubai. But the reviews are raving, and rightly so. Let’s start with the most important part: the steak. Juicy, tender, the melt in your mouth type. The next best part is the service – the smiles, the warmth and the effort everyone puts in to make this a perfect night out for you. And then there’s the views of Burj Khalifa and Downtown’s sparkling lights. Put it on the list for 2017.
We like places that get quality over quantity. Dubai’s weather is too hot most of the year, so there are not many places that do outdoor dining really well. The Edge does. Atlantis’ poolside restaurant does a casual BBQ buffet on Thursdays and Fridays and the buffet has a great range of starters and mix your own salad options. This is followed by a good selection of meat and seafood for the BBQ. Everything prepared to order of course, and then finish it off with a selection of desserts, which are equally fresh and delicious.
Stunned by the décor from the moment you walk in, it’s hard to find fault until you walk out the door again. The décor is exotic, warm and beautifully lighted to make it romantic. The menu has something for everyone, staff (some Thai themselves) are more than happy to recommend and offer advice,
and the dishes themselves are aromatic and authentic. And then Tong Thai throws in a few twists: their famous Monday Tong nights when part of the meal is served buffet style and a list of great cocktails is included, while a DJ spins away and their daily happy hour when you can sip from their extensive drinks list at their equally atmospheric bar.
We hope you enjoyed our top 10 restaurants in Dubai and don’t hesitate to let us know what you think of our list.