Abu Dhabi and Dubai update
I've been here on and off for 10 years, amazing changes and great meals.
By far the best Lebanese meals ever are at the Emirates Palace Restaurant: Diwan L'Auberge
NOT CHEAP! Try the Lebanese red wine Kisara (about 250 AED)
Beach Rotana Hotel
Ok there's a Trader Vics AND Benihana's, but the Italian place, Prego's, has good outdoor seating a ok pizzas
Several hole-in-the-wall SE Asian places line the jetty but the Golden Cafeteria is my favorite. Handmade everything and a fisherman's lunch for a few USD.
Pretty good no alcohol local place. Has a small gift shop inside with amusing hand-made trinkets.
Just ate at Zuma and Nobu to compare. Terribly expensive both but Zuma, at the DFIC, wins hands down. I know there's a lot of debate on sashimi but, caution and morality to the wind, the tuna tartare with caviar in a shallw bamboo tray was over the top. Soft shell crab, kobe beef negimaki etc etc. Plus the martinis at Zuma are as good as at the Royalton in NYC. +- 600 AED per person with drinks.
Asado, at the Palace Old Towne near Burj Dubai, is a very welcoming place with an Argentinian spin on meat and fish. Last spring there were tango lessons to boot. Very good wine list. 200-300 AED per person with drinks.
Buddah Bar at the Grosvenor House has decent Japanese food in a really spectacular space
Sho Chos is a rippin' joint on the water at Dubai Marine Club, Asian fusion, plenty of party beat , and ladies of the night hanging out.
Bab el Chams is a kitchy desert affair almost an hour outside of town. It's faux souk-ness is compensated for by good, fresh grilled meat and fish. A variety of stews are cooked in caldrons over wood fires that are supposedly like the native's ate before 1970.
Low end food is pretty well noted in other posts but I love Biblos on SZR near City Tower 2. Also check out little places in the Gold Suq. A no name vegetaria place had an all you can eat for 15AED. They had a window filled with unusual snack combinations like spiced potato strings with white rasins and peanuts.
Also to be tried are the shopping centersin the Al Quz neighborhood. This is where the factories and warehouses are and the low-end malls offer incredible bargains on clothes and electronics (1MB memory card for 20 AED or $7USD) and good local eateries of every nationality. Lunch can easily be had for 10 to 20 AED.
Happy eating, going to Barusti tonight if Ramadan ends!
Also, one of the best thai places I've eaten in Dubai is at the Mall of Emirates-- Bun Mah Thai (or something like that). It's in the upstairs food court behind the kid's play area. It takes a while as they don't cook it until you order it, but it is one of the few places in Dubai that I would get takeaway food from. I tend to think their chicken dishes were a bit better than their beef options, but others I know like both from there.
For cheap eats: General advice is don't trust the local Time Out. Go to Karama or Bur Dubai/Meena Bazaar area and eat in any place where you see a lot of customers. Some favorites
Sukh Sagar: pure-veg Indian. Off the menu standard N. Indian veg fare is good, they have good chaat and good S. Indian snacks like dosas, uttapams, too. My fave on their menu is the Spring Dosa.
Thai Terrace: Thai owned and operated, good stuff. They have kang kung...YUM!
Saravana Bhavan: Very famous, Tamil owned and operated, always packed, fresh hot crispy dosas...I usually get the Onion Rava dosa! Had their Upma and a few other things as well, they live up to their good reputation (their original rest. is famous in Chennai)
Arz Lebanon: Very good Lebanese, not pricey. Good muqabilaat (starters/mezze), slow cooked dishes (ask for the special of the day), and Lebanese grills.
Near Lamcy Plaza:
Barbeque Delights: High quality authentic Pakistani cuisine in a family atmosphere. Their buffet isn't bad, but I am prejudice against buffets. I order their grilled meats fresh usually. Highly recommed the chicken bihari kabab, Afghani tikka, mutton seekh kabob, and chappli kabob. Be sure to try the complimentary "aloo bukharey ki chutney" or Afghan prune chutney.
Lemongrass: excellent Thai, the best in the city, reasonably priced but a bit upscale
Lan Kwai Fong: Cantonese stuff. They can be hit or miss, but when they are good, they are very very good.
In Bur Dubai at Meena Bazaar:
Rangoli: Gujarati food, they have a very good Gujarati buffet...you pick the curries, and they bring you fresh whole wheat flatbreads and butter milk to drink. Their chaat is good, too. Don't miss their dhokla chaat. Skip the dosas.
These are some of my favorite cheap eats around the Karama/Bur Dubai area. Much of my list is Indian veg fare, but that is a specialty in Dubai considering the Indian community here...very good and cheap Indian food outside of India, and a must try when you come to Dubai.
Just wanted to bump this thread with a few cheap eating suggestions:
China Sea - right next to the clocktower on the exit that leads to Nasr Square. Fantastic cheap dim sum, especially on Friday lunchtime. Everything is beautifully fresh and the chef rolls out the pasta for the dumplings in front of you. Two tips: go with someone Chinese if you can. And don't call it dim sum - in my experience, no Chinese person calls it that! Just say dumplings. My personal favourite is the spicy chicken and the leek and vegetable gootie.
Spring Bamboo - a few doors down from Barbecue Delights mentioned above, near Lamcy Plaza. Top quality yet unbelievably cheap Chinese, very popular with Chinese families. Order the crab.
Another Chinese place whose name I forget but it's on the ground floor right next to the Twin Towers on the creek at Deira, slightly to the left as you face the towers. This is actually one of a well known Chinese chain, the only one outside China. It's a hotpot place. They set a pot in the table over a burner, fill it with two different broths, one spicy, one herby. Then you order whatever raw stuff you want to throw in and let it simmer - wafer thin slices of pork and beef, various offals such as lamb's spinal cord (!), big prawns, chicken and fish balls, tons of different veg and greens. There's also a table with about six different types of sauces - help yourself to whatever you fancy. Great food and great fun if you go in a group.
Tahera - Indian kebab place, right at the crossroads of Computer Street, Bank Street and Mussalla Plaza, next door to the York hotel. Only recently re-emerged from behind the hoardings that surrounded the metro construction. Superb barbecued kebabs and great veg curries, all for just a few dirhams.
Special Ostadi - Middle eastern food, mostly barbecue, on the street that runs down from the crossroads towards Al Fayidhi roundabout and the creek. It's been there for 30 years. I've occasionally seen Dubai royal family cars parked outside while the chauffeur is inside picking up takeaway - quite a recommendation! Limited menu, but great kebabs and soups.
Karama Hotel - a scruffy place in perhaps the scruffiest street in Karama (and that's saying something!) but the restaurant on the ground floor does great, very spicy and very filling Indian food. Plus you can get a beer with it if you want.
Would love to hear any more Dubai recommendations.