Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Middle East & Africa >
Sep 6, 2005 09:59 AM


  • j

We are spending one night in Dubai. What restaurants should not be missed? Is the underwater restaurant a total tourist trap? thanks

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. a
    Amin (London Foodie '''')

    Surprisingly there appears to have been barely any posts on this board with regard to Dubai. When I was going there around Apr/May this year, I went all the way back on these threads upto '99, coming up with just one extremely interesting post by Pat Hammonds' son Andrew, which I quote below (unfortunately I cannot track down the URL however I remember it was sometime back in Jan 2003.

    I visited a couple of the places mentioned by Andrew during my last visit, and found them to be spot on as described by him.

    * Al Nafoorah Restaurant (Underneath Emirates Towers) -The best of the lot. Great authentic Lebanese food with wonderful atmosphere, service, and food. Just be sure to save room for dessert because fruit and a sweet mush with honey and pistachios are complementary and they take offense if you give it a miss. Best value at lunch when there are several mezze permutations for less than $10. Hubbly bubbly also available. It's also likely to spot Sheikh Mohammed and his entourage during lunch.

    * The Noodle House (also Emirate Towers) - Good for quick lunch or dinner of japanese noodle or rice dishes. The Sheikh also likes this place.

    * Asha's Contemporary Indian Cuisine (Wafi City shopping center) - Really interesting, inventive Indian food. Also great service. Part of a chain founded by foodie singer Asha Bhosle.

    Good veggie options, lots of kebabs (which don't necessarily have to involve either meat or a skewer, they claim), and a huge cocktail menu. Opened early 2003 but no apparent symptoms - our waitress said they'd been training for three months before the launch.

    * Shabestan (Intercontinental hotel) - Great traditional Persian food. One of the oldest established restaurants in Dubai.

    * Cactus Cantina (Rydges Plaza Hotel) - Muy bueno Mexican food, believe it or not. It's got all the hallmarks of a medium-budget American Italian spot cheesy pinata and pyramids of tomatos and refried bean cans by way of decoration).

    * Come Prima (Al Bustan Rotana hotel) - Very good Italian. Cheesy decorations (wall-sized hands of god and David from the Sistene Chapel acid-etched in glass) and Italian pop music, but a good solid menu and good service.

    * Blue Elephant (Al Bustan Rotana hotel) - Very good thai in a really nice environment. A big pool of carp and lots of skylights and plants work well, and the food is just as good as the version in London. The three-elephant spice rating still didn't make me sweat, however, so be sure to tell them if you like it hot.

    * Goodies - A big Lebanese food shop in Wafi City shopping Center. Lots of prepared and fresh food, a coffee bar, and huge stacks of sweets and baclava perfect for bringing home.

    * Patchi - Also in Wafi City is an outlet of Patchi, the middle-eastern purveyor of chocolate and gifts. Worth a visit if only for the free samples they loveto dole out to all comers.

    If visiting, it's well worthwhile to find an issue of Grumpy Gourmet magazine, which has restaurant listings for Jordan and UAE.

    On a less gastronomic note, we spent an evening at the horse races at Nad Al Sheba. A great night out if you like the races, as the horses are world-class and the facilities are the best I've seen. Not quite as exciting as you might be used to, though, since gambling is prohibited! Next time I hope to go to the camel races. Unquote..

    Also the following (I think this is the original advice on Dubai which was provided for Andrew -dont know by who'm):

    Dubai is pretty good for eating out, though if you want to consume alcohol, with your meal you have to stick to hotel restaurants. Eating in Non-Alcohol licenced restaurants is about 1/10th the price. Not knowing what your son likes to eat here is a very, very brief list of what I reckon are pretty good 'eateries'

    Italian: Medzo, (Pyramids, Wafi City)
    Indian: Khazana (Al Nasr Leisure Land)
    Lebanese: Fakhreldine (Holiday Inn)
    Japanese: Kiku (Meridian Airport Hotel)

    In Emirates Towers there is a very popular pub called Scarletts, a good wine bar called the Agency, a good Lebanese called Al Nafoorah, a very good Japanese called toyko@thetowers. Your son also must go to the bar in the Emirates Towers Hotel on the 54th Floor called Vu's. Prices are outrageous but the view is fabulous and the bar is usually full of very attractive females!

    Restaurants outside hotels are predominately Arabic/Lebanese and Indian, ie catering to 95% of the population in Dubai.

    There is a chain of Lebanese restaurants called 'Automatic' which serve huge portions of good grilled meats and Arabic-style salads. Your son could also, if feeling brave, take a walk down Satwa High Street as they have lots of road-side stalls selling grilled meats/kebabs and the ubiquitous shwarmas. Also on Satwa High Street is a famous Indian restaurant called "Ravi's", very no frills, eat with fingers etc but mountains of excellent Indian food for about USD3.

    Howler who knows loads a people apparently knows Asha Bhosle's son Nandu, and had at the time asked for anyone going there for them to provide pav bhaji. Well, thats upto you whether you do or not.

    I had gone to Vu's on the 55th floor (not 54th) of the Emirates Tower for the stunning views (and not the females as mentioned above).

    I liked the food at Shabestan (Intercontinental hotel)
    and the automatic restaurant had an amazing array of buffet laid out, which for a buffet was not bad.

    ps: do bear in mind that all the prices mentioned will have changed quite a bit by now.

    1. i just found your post, hope i'm not to late.
      i worked in dubai for a couple years. to answer your question about the burj...yes it is a trap. you pay way to much for what you get and the service is not up to the 6 stars they bost. a better bet for fine dinning is (i think it's called) verre. it's in the hilton creek hotel, it's owned by gordon ramsey and it's much better than any of the burj restaurants and for a lot less.
      it also depends on where you're staying. if you're in the jumeira area, try the royal mirage resort. they have an nice asian/fusion restaurant( singaporean chef), an indian fusion restaurant( really talented australian chef. or if you want something more intimate, they have a "small hotel" within the hotel with seating for up to 20 and daily set menus. also a good beach bar and a great night club.
      if youre by the trade centre neer emirates towers, another great option is spectrum on one within the fairmont hotel. baesd on a concept from a restaurant in singapore, it bosts 8 working kitchens, all open and all featuring different types of food'i.e. japanese, european, arabic ect. they also have private dinning rooms available and an extesive wine and liquer list.
      if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at

      1. Amin, I was the one who posted the information on Dubai quoted above. I hope it was useful!

        1 Reply
        1. re: halfmanhalfbeer

          I will be going with my family to Dubai next month. Which are the best places to eat at with kids. we are a large group (7 adults and 4 kids). Is Bab Al Shams worth going to? One of us is a vegetarian.

          I have been to Dubai before and really liked this restaurant called Arroz Damascus. Great lebanese food. Also liked the brunch at the Madinat but we will not be spending a Friday in Dubai this time. We are staying at the Raffles. Will definitely try Asha at the Wafi City as that is attached to the hotel.
          Any other recommendations? I heard Sindhudurg has opened a branch in Bur Dubai. Any one eaten there yet?

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Yess..i completely agree with Anchag.. is really awesome. one of my friend had also told me about this site. its tried and tested by me.