Dubai is a foodie’s paradise, but tourists and expatriates often neglect the local food culture. And that’s a shame – Emirati cuisine is hearty, rustic, and a great way to get to know the UAE better.
Although they’re often like Levantine food, Emirati dishes also draw influence from neighboring Iran and India. Dubai has always been a trade center; nowhere is that clear in the deliciously spiced lamb and seafood dishes the locals enjoy.
Whether you love fine dining or homestyle cooking, you’ll find an authentic Gulf meal in our list of Dubai’s best Emirati restaurants.
1. Al Fanar
Travel back to Dubai in the 1960s by dining at Al Fanar. While the food here is genuinely excellent – my party found the lamb machboos to be succulent and flavorful – it’s the décor I must highlight first.
Al Fanar is a restaurant like none other: with stone walls, comfortable wooden furniture, and artwork dating back to a time before Dubai was all glitz and glamour, this Emirati restaurant makes you feel like you’re dining in the past.
And with courteous service and an expansive menu, that experience is worthwhile. I’ve already praised Al Fanar’s rice dishes, but the fish isn’t to be underestimated either.
Their dessert menu is also excellent, offering several homestyle date puddings.
- Opening times: 09:00-22:00
- Contact: +971 4 232 9966
- Address: Canal Walk Canal Walk, Festival City
- Website: Home – Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe | UAE
Enjoy high-class décor and service in the Radisson Blu’s Emirati restaurant, Aseelah. This decadent restaurant on the Creek has a sprawling selection of buffets and entertainment, perfect for a date night or business lunch.
Aseelah’s brunches and Iftar specials aren’t to be underestimated, either. The variety and quality of good on display is astonishing, especially seeing how so much of it is authentically Arabic.
Also, Aseelah is one of the few Emirati restaurants with an alcohol license!
Go ahead and enjoy a glass of wine alongside a well-spiced meal and belly dancing. While it might seem cliché for some, you’d be remiss to turn down an authentic performance at Aseelah.
- Opening times: 12:30-23:00
- Contact: +971 4 205 7033
- Address: 476 Baniyas Road Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek
- Website: Enjoy a Belly Dance in our Dubai Restaurant – Book Now | Radisson Blu (radissonhotels.com)
After a long day exploring Dubai, finding Logma was like a breath of fresh air. This laid-back Khaleeji café finds itself in Dubai’s trendiest mall, Boxpark.
With its casual, coastal décor – plenty of palm trees – I felt like I was on the beach while I tucked into a breakfast flatbread.
However, Logma does more than only breakfasts – although one of their pancakes is a terrific way to start a morning.
Look out for the parathas, especially. They’re lovely Emirati-style tacos with delicious fillings. Their saffron risotto is equally impressive.
The chefs at Logma have also added some modern touches to the menu, so don’t feel afraid to take a friend or date who isn’t as keen on Arabic cuisine as you are. Logma is famous for its signature French fries.
- Opening times: 08:00-24:00
- Contact: +971 800 56462
- Address: Al Wasl Al Wasl Rd BoxPark, Dubai 29883
- Website: Logma | Menu
4. Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
You can enjoy Dubai’s most memorable meals at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
While the SMCCU offers dozens of tours, educational programs, and ways for tourists to learn about the UAE, their meal program is undoubtedly their most delicious.
Relax in a classic Emirati home and eat like the locals off cushioned floors and with good company. Listen to a history of Dubai’s food culture while sipping coffee fresh from a dallah pot, then tuck into a spread of lamb, rice, and vegetarian delicacies.
The meal programs at the SMCCU aren’t only tasty but also educational. It was a lovely experience to meet the Emirati hosts and discuss their beautiful culture.
- Opening times: Book in advance
- Contact: +971 4 353 6666
- Address: Al Musalla Road, Bur Dubai
- Website: Cultural Meals – Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre for Cultural Understanding (cultures.ae)
5. Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant
If you genuinely want to step back into the Dubai of yesteryear, go for breakfast at Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant. This place is almost a museum with its rustic décor, traditional ingredients, and live Arabic music.
Sitting in the courtyard under a palm tree, I enjoyed local-style scrambled eggs and freshly baked bread. Others at my table explored Al Khayma’s impressive mezze platters, another highlight of traditional Arabic food culture.
Everyone found this restaurant cozy, elegant, and somewhere we’ve got to try again. The classic Middle Eastern atmosphere felt like an island of calm in busy, urban Dubai. This meal in the historical quarter was a perfect start to my day.
- Opening times: 08:00-23:00
- Contact: +971 55 180 2080
- Address: Al Fahidi Historical District Building 54 & 55
- Website: http://www.alkhayma.com/
6. Arabian Tea House
If you’re looking for tea – any drink, really – then look no further than the Arabian Tea House.
Whether it’s black tea, Karak chai, or mint lemonade that rings your bell, you’ll find it at this cozy Emirati café. Not only that, but this tea house also offers coffee.
And you can enjoy that coffee or tea over one of their hearty traditional breakfasts. Their shredded lamb has an excellent balance of homegrown flavor, while their platters are also superb.
Arabian Tea House is also an ideal place to take your next Instagram photo. As well as having excellent plating, this restaurant’s décor is elegant, showing the best of what Gulf Arabic styles offer.
- Opening times: 07:30-23:00
- Contact: +971 4 353 5071
- Address: Al Fahidi Street Bur Dubai, Bastakiya Opposite Musalla Post Office
- Website: https://arabianteahouse.com/
7. Siraj Restaurant
Siraj describes itself as offering Emirati Levantine with a ‘contemporary twist,’ and that’s accurate. When I had dinner here, I couldn’t help but be impressed with how their chefs blended authentic Arabic food and modern techniques effortlessly.
However, while Siraj’s menu might be refreshingly multicultural, its décor is proudly Emirati. As I ate, I sat back, read the calligraphy patterning the walls, and checked out the stonework arches decorating the restaurant.
It felt like the restaurant had transported me into the world of Arabian Nights. Still, their excellent saffron prawns grounded me in reality – definitely one must-order meal!
- Opening times: 12:00-24:00
- Contact: +971 4 513 6207
- Address: Souk al Bahar Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard
- Website: Home | Siraj Restaurant & Cafe | Emirati Levantine cuisine | Authentic Middle Eastern restaurant
8. Seven Sands
Seven Sands, one of Dubai’s newest Emirati restaurants, takes its name after the UAE’s seven Emirates. Like the name would suggest, its menu takes the highlights from each.
The atmosphere is equally remarkable; Seven Sands sits opposite the Jumeirah Beach Residence Hotels, giving diners a gorgeous seaside view. If there’s one spot on this list that makes for a perfect birthday party, it’d be Seven Sands.
It was a struggle to pick just one dish to recommend here – everything from the pancakes to the date pudding was magnificent. However, Seven Sands also offers shark meat. Now that’ll be a story worth telling your friends back home!
- Opening times: 08:00-01:00
- Contact: +971 4551 6652
- Address: Shop #5102, The Walk, Dubai Marina
- Website: SevenSandsUAE (@Seven_sands) / Twitter
9. Al Jalboot
Al Jalboot is a hidden gem on the Dubai marina. This restaurant packs plenty of character and charm into its relaxed beachside local, plus a menu of hearty Emirati seafood dishes.
The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, but that’s nothing compared to the view. Al Jalboot has one of the best locations in Dubai, looking directly over the fishing harbor.
And that view is not only for show, either. Instead, Al Jalboot makes excellent use of its terrific location by offering fresh-caught seafood from the Gulf Coast. If you’re ever there, go for the crowd favorite, the biryani shrimp.
- Opening times: 11:30-23:00
- Contact: +971 4 321 5177
- Address: The Souq at Fishing Harbour, Jumeirah Road, Umm Suqeim
- Website: Aljalboot Restaurant in jumeirah Dubai – Emirati Cuisine
10. Al Mashowa
Located on the scenic city walk, Al Mashowa is your destination for classic Arabic seafood. Not only is their fish soup and salmon salad to die for, but their Emirati take on prawns is also excellent.
Generations of Emirati chefs have passed these seafood recipes down – that’s clear in how well and authentically they prepare these dishes.
Last, remember to look out for Al Mashowa’s specials. Although this restaurant doesn’t offer brunch, a keen-eyed foodie will spot several fantastic discounts, giveaways, and meal combos.
- Opening times: 10:00-24:00
- Contact: +971 4 590 5455
- Address: Al Safa City Walk
- Website: Al Mashowa | Facebook
11. Hum Yum
Refuel after a fun day at the beach by getting tea and snacks at Hum Yum, a chilled-out Emirati café. This little restaurant offered refreshing Karak chai tea, plus a mouth-watering selection of flatbreads.
The friendly, local atmosphere is a huge upside, too. Hum Yum’s staff were polite and cheerful, perfectly matching the laid-back beachside vibe.
Hum Yum is also great for tourists on a budget and offers a novel view of Emirati cuisine. In a climate where Arabic restaurants specialize in sit-down meals, Hum Yum’s cheap, light bites are a welcome surprise.
- Opening times: 07:00-03:00
- Contact: +971 4 388 3332
- Address: Jumeira Rd Umm Suqeim
- Website: Humyum Restaurant مطعم هم يم (@humyum) • Instagram photos and videos