With its massive population of Pakistani expats, Dubai has a treasure trove of Pakistani restaurants serving traditional dishes like seekh kebab, nihari, and saji and internationally known delights like biriyani and korma.
Whether you’re a Dubai local or a visitor to this glittering city, when the craving hits, here’s a selection of 13 highly recommended Pakistani restaurants.
A legend in Dubai and recently showcased at the magnificent Expo 2020, Ravi is the best Pakistani restaurant in the city. The original site of Ravi Restaurant, now over 40 years old, is in Satwa, home away from home to many Pakistani workers.
This popular, unassuming restaurant has several branches all over Dubai, including in Karama, so you’ve got no excuse to miss their fantastic Desi food. Try their chicken karahi, mutton peshawari, and brain nihari, but leave room for their luscious desserts.
Ravi Restaurant doesn’t have an extensive menu, but more is less when it comes to quality: they offer all the Pakistani staples, soups, and a variety of naan. While in India and Pakistan, I remember the restaurants not being fancy; the food was delicious and budget-friendly. Ravi is a perfect example of this combination.
Ravi does take away, breakfast, and delivery. They are vegetarian-friendly, halal, and offer vegan options.
- Opening times: 5am-2am
- Contact: +971 04 331 5353
- Address: Shop 245, Opposite Union Cooperative Society, Near Al Satwa Roundabout, Al Satwa
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/ravirestaurantsuae/
2. Hot N’ Spicy
For a quick takeaway to satisfy your hunger, hurry to BBQ mecca Hot n’ Spicy – you’ll get Pakistani favorites like tikka, kebabs, malai boti, and their signature paratha rolls.
The menu includes a lovely Pakistani breakfast that will set you up for the day, as well as aloo and halwa poori with channa masala. Their BBQ chicken biriyani is well-worth ordering.
The three locations also have Desi-Chinese treats on the menu and many vegetarian options with paneer and veggies.
- Opening times: Sunday to Thursday 11am-1am, Friday 9am-12pm, 1pm-2am
- Contact: +971 04 368 8508
- Address: Shop 2, Ground Floor, Al Shaiba Towers, Block A, Barsha Heights
- Website: https://hotnspicy.ae/
3. Little Lahore
The brainchild of Saira Ahmed, Little Lahore offers a taste of home cooking and authentic and nostalgic comfort food. Apart from her exceptional culinary gifts, Saira also traveled widely and trained her culinary team to ensure the quality of the Pakistani hospitality offered at Little Lahore.
Although modern, trendy, and more Western than many other Pakistani restaurants in Dubai, Little Lahore still offers affordable delights, including their signature breakfast, business lunches, a special “hi chai” buffet, and a fantastic Friday brunch.
True to their Dubai roots, Little Lahore offers an innovative “Tiffin” service that will catch any busy mom’s or singleton’s eye. This service provides homemade Pakistani meals delivered to your home or office monthly or weekly.
Little Lahore has the perfect solution if you are looking for delicious food to serve at your corporate or social function. They offer live cooking on the premises and a wide variety of sweet and savory dishes on their catering menu.
Whatever time of the day or the occasion, take the opportunity to sample their special mirch curry, sarson ka saag, and fried daal, paired with Little Lahore’s tasty homemade chutney, raita, and kachumber salad.
- Opening times: 10am-12am
- Contact: : +971 4 441 4270
- Address: UB-10, JBC1, Cluster G, JLT
- Website: https://little-lahore.com/about-us
4. Lal Qila
If you’re looking for a Pakistani restaurant for a special occasion, Lal Qila will not disappoint. Famous for its opulent interiors, inspired by the magnificence of the Mughals, Lal Qila is part of a franchise based in Karachi.
Surrounded by the grandeur and mystique of past princes, you’ll also enjoy a meal fit for a king. The lavish buffet includes traditional Pakistani delights, like roast leg of lamb, Mughali chicken curry, and sheer korma.
Their dessert menu caught my attention as I love Desi desserts – there’s a heavenly dessert bar loaded with gulab jamun, kheer, and jalebis.
Lal Qila has a wide variety on the menu, including meal deals and combo platters. They also offer some Chinese menu options and a special dinner menu on Saturdays and Sundays.
Prices are a little higher than at other Pakistani venues, but the quality of the food and experience is worth it.
- Opening times: Sunday 8.30am-11.30am, 12.30pm-3.30pm; 7pm-11.30pm, Monday-Thursday, Saturday 12.30pm-3.30pm, 7pm-11.30 pm, Friday 1.30pm-4pm, 7pm-12am
- Sunday 8:30–11:30AM, 12:30–3:30PM, 7–11
- Contact: +971 4 325 4778
- Address: Beside ENOC Petrol Station, Opposite Union Flag Area, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah 1
- Website: https://lalqilauae.com/
5. Barbeque Delights
The first port of call for food-loving tourists, Barbeque Delights offers the perfect combination of South and Central Asian food.
With three locations in Dubai, Barbeque Delights presents a variety of Pakistani favorites with an extra twist coming from the charcoal grill. Enjoy the Friday summer buffet al fresco, and enjoy views of the stunning Dubai skyline.
Recommendations from their mouth-watering menu include their chapali kebabs, their gorgeous savory khattay baingan, and my personal favorite, the lamb chops. But don’t stick to Pakistani meals – the Afghani cuisine and North Indian specialties are also delectable.
Focused on freshness and consistency in an open kitchen you can see, this Pakistani hangout is sure to become your new local, whether you’re in Motor City, Ibn Battuta Mall, or at their lively JBR location.
- Opening times: 11.30am-12am
- Contact: +971 52 193 5143
- Address: Jumeirah Beach Road, Adjacent to Sofitel Hotel, JBR Walk
- Website: https://barbecuedelights.com/
6. Des Pardes
Best-known for being open 24 hours a day, Des Pardes is also famed for its authentic Pakistani cuisine and excellent prices.
With food that has been consistently good over the years, Des Pardes has a wide variety on the menu, including breakfast and sweets available in bulk. Their nihari is probably the best in town, which you should pair with halwa and paratha. Don’t leave without trying their unique samosas – or take one along to eat later.
Early in the morning, you’ll find plenty of workers enjoying chai. Later there’ll be queues for lunch, and in the evening there’s a separate section for families.
Opening times: 24 hours per day, seven days per week
Address: Ground Floor, Lahej Building, Street 10, Oud Metha
Contact: +971 4 379 5701
7. Karachi Darbar
Karachi Darbar is a legendary neighborhood restaurant that started in Deira in the 1970s. Created for low-income workers, today the multiple branches across Dubai cater to all segments of society, including taxi drivers, office workers, and well-heeled families.
This small, casual eatery now employs over a thousand staff, with a hefty, 13-page menu covering everything from traditional Pakistani meals to desserts and Indian to Chinese favorites.
Karachi Darbar serves breakfast between 5:00 am and 10:30 am, making it perfect for the early risers to get to work on time. Try the traditional biriyani or sample the excellent haleem, a spicy ground lamb and lentil stew.
Opening times: 5am-2.30am
Address: Karama Shopping Center, behind Lulu’s Hypermarket, Al Karama
Contact: +971 04 334 7272
8. Al Ibrahami Palace Restaurant
For the best in buffet eating, head to Al Ibrahimi Palace Restaurant, a feast for the senses. The massive spread includes a fusion of Pakistani, Indian, Arabic, and Afghani cuisines, from soups to BBQ, from vegetarian dishes to sumptuous desserts.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the incredible variety on offer: take time to savor the chutneys, the tandoori fish tikka, the chicken karahi, and the suji halwa. Prices are reasonable, so your only problem is overeating.
This restaurant has an enormous seating area, ideal for a family birthday party or another special occasion with friends. There is a marriage hall, with catering for weddings.
Opening times: 12.30pm-4pm, 7pm-12am
Address: G Floor, Al Riyan Building, 2A Street, Opposite Burjuman Centre
Contact: +971 04 397 7070
9. Nayaab Handi
This well-loved eatery was established in 2006 and has spread to several locations across the city. The restaurant specializes in grills – Pakistani barbeque, particularly kebabs and mixed grill.
If you’re not in the mood for grills, check out the family buffet, the biriyani, or the generous Afghani rice platter. Or go for one of their most popular items, the malai boti or palak paneer.
Nyaab Handi is an excellent spot for birthdays and anniversaries, with the staff making an effort to celebrate the day.
- Opening times: 12pm-12am
- Address: Shop 1, First Trio Building, Block B, Beside Grandiose Supermarket, Al Barsha
- Contact: +971 04 351 3333
- Website: https://nayaabhaandi.com/
10. Mango People
Mango People is a modern and hip Pakistani fast-food restaurant located in the new builds of Dubailand. Proud of their Desi heritage but bred in the whirlwind of innovation that is Dubai, the owners of Mango People have traveled the world to bring their unique flavors to you.
The menu does include Pakistani favorites, but be prepared for fusion and international cuisine – along with biriyani and sheesh kebab, you’ll find dynamite shrimp, truffle burgers, samosas, and fried chicken.
Mango People offers a vast menu, with specials like All day high tea and Happy Hour, where you’ll find favorite dishes at bargain prices. There’s a breakfast menu including loads of vegetarian options and some khaas meal deals, which feed two to six people.
Opening times: Monday-Thursday, Sunday 9 am-12 am, Friday and Saturday 8 am-12 am
Address: The Blue Building, Wadi Al Safa 5, Dubailand
Contact: +971 4 578 6154
11. Pak Darbar
Pak Darbar is one of those street food eateries you won’t know about unless you are a local. Aimed initially at low-income workers, Pak Darbar now also caters to middle-class residents who want a taste of home.
Fans of Pak Darbar love the authentic Desi flavors, generous portions, and pocket-friendly prices. With a roti costing only one dirham, you can eat your fill on mutton biriyani, brain masala, and the mixed grill. Have a cup of tea or lassi on the side.
Their menu covers a variety of Asian and Pakistani food: anything from daal to egg fried rice can be enjoyed at Pak Darbar. They also offer breakfast, featuring dishes like aloo paratha and classic western items like an omelet and fried egg.
Often, the little places that aren’t on the map offer delicious meals and an authentic experience. Give this little restaurant a try – you might be the only tourist there.
Opening times: 4.01am-2am
Address: Cluster T, JLT
Contact: +971 04 576 6515
With its glitzy mirrors, luxurious velvet seats, and glittering chandeliers, Wakha is an experience in high-end cuisine – this is Desi food for the beautiful people of Dubai. Wakha’s tagline reads “Absolute Shinwari,” referring to the deliciously aromatic North Pakistani and Afghani eating style.
Recommended starters include the fabulous Afghani chicken and chickpea soup and bolani bonjon, a luscious baked eggplant dip that you eat with fresh flatbreads.
For the mains, Wakha is one of a kind. True to the Shinwari approach, you can choose your own cut of fresh meat, which comes simply cooked in its own fat. Whether you prefer grilled chops, boneless lamb kahari, or a lamb pulao, the lamb is superb.
There are slightly different menus for Wakha’s various locations, but delicious dishes like kebabs and chicken tikka are always available. They also have a kiddie’s menu for the little ones.
The Jumeirah branch has a beautiful ambiance and an outdoor seating area where you can enjoy shisha and al fresco dining in the cooler months.
Opening times: Monday-Friday, Sunday 12p,-2am, Saturday 12am-2am
Address: Villa 673, Jumeirah Street, Umm Suqeim 2
Contact: +971 04 234 1937
After a hectic morning walking around the Gold Souk and Spice Souk in Old Dubai, treat yourself to Dubai’s best-priced Pakistani food. This tiny hole-in-the-wall eatery offers you a taste of hearty, homecooked food that will please your palate and your purse.
Don’t be put off by the restaurant’s unassuming exterior. Kojranwala caters primarily to the dockworkers and laborers in the area but still offers quality food at affordable prices. You can get local delicacies like brains and kidneys, a generous plate of daal, karahi, and all with side salads on the house.
For a local experience, full of flavor and warm hospitality, go off the beaten track and find yourself worlds away from the sparkle of the many gold jewelers – the humble Kojranwala.
Note that this is a cash-only restaurant.
Opening times: 4am-1am
Address: 10 16A Street, Deira
Contact: +971 04 226 0766