Don’t-Miss Dishes in Dubai
Dubai’s crossroads-of-the-world location and cosmopolitan nature lends its cuisine incredible diversity. From dishes rooted in Bedouin and Emirati hospitality to spicy Asian combinations—many inspired by the latest international culinary trends—here are some of the traditional and contemporary foods to try while you’re in the emirate.
An all-time United Arab Emirates favorite, this spiced meat-and-rice classic reigns supreme throughout Dubai. Distinctive for the heady aromas of the Arabic spice blend baharat and loomi (dried lime), it’s usually made with chicken, shrimp, or lamb.
While many tourists initially shy away from these meaty snacks, camel burgers are hugely popular with locals. The juicy, low-fat meat is great in burgers and sliders—find budget-friendly options in Deira’s cafés or souped-up, brioche-bun versions at Dubai’s upscale restaurants.
Sink your teeth into the oldest Arabian snack of all—sweet, sticky dates. Usually served as a greeting or finale to a meal alongside Arabic coffee, they come in myriad varieties, including versions stuffed with nuts and draped in creamy, camel-milk chocolate. Splurge on luxe boxed selections at Dubai’s Bateel outlets for the perfect take-home souvenirs.
Tucking into these irresistible fried dough balls has to be one of Dubai’s greatest culinary treats, especially when they’re smothered in date sauce—which they almost always are. Savor them at their classic best at traditional restaurants and top-end hotels.
Strong, black, and pungent gawha (Arabic coffee) is inextricably bound up with Bedouin hospitality and history. Poured from ornate pots into delicate, handleless cups, it’s often served as a complimentary refreshment in hotels, on boat trips, and on visits to Bedouin-style desert camps in the dunes.
These cheap and cheerful meat-filled pita wraps are Dubai’s best-loved hunger-busters. Hit any shawarma joint—you’ll find them almost everywhere you look in old Dubai—and glory in their yummy fusion of chicken, lettuce, fries, and tahini.