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The 13 Most Authentic Restaurants In Dubai Where Expats Eat


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Ianthe Heckman



Welcome to the vibrant city of Dubai, where the fusion of cultures has created a culinary scene unlike any other. As a hub for expatriates from around the world, Dubai offers a diverse range of restaurants that cater to every taste and preference. But if you’re looking for an authentic dining experience that truly reflects the local culture, you need to explore the hidden gems that the expats themselves frequent.


In this article, we will take you on a delicious journey through the 13 most authentic restaurants in Dubai where expats eat. These restaurants not only serve mouthwatering dishes but also provide an immersive cultural experience that will transport you to the heart of the city. From humble street food joints to elegant fine dining establishments, each restaurant has its own unique charm and culinary specialties.


So, whether you’re a foodie looking to discover new flavors or a traveler seeking a deeper connection with the local culture, these restaurants are a must-visit. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds and embark on a culinary adventure you won’t soon forget.


Ravi Restaurant

Located in the bustling neighborhood of Satwa, Ravi Restaurant is a hidden gem that has been serving mouthwatering Pakistani and North Indian cuisine for over four decades. It is a favorite among expats and locals alike, known for its authentic flavors and affordable prices.


When you step into Ravi, you are immediately greeted by the aroma of spices and the hustle and bustle of the kitchen. The no-frills ambiance adds to its charm, making you feel like you’ve stepped into a local eatery in Pakistan or India.


One of the must-try dishes at Ravi is their Chicken Tikka, which is marinated in a blend of spices and grilled to perfection. The succulent and flavorful meat is complemented by a side of fragrant rice or freshly baked naan bread. Another popular dish is the Mutton Biryani, a spicy and aromatic rice dish cooked with tender pieces of mutton.


The menu at Ravi is extensive, offering a wide variety of curries, kebabs, and vegetarian options. Whether you’re a meat lover or a vegetarian, you’ll find something to satisfy your cravings. The portions are generous, ensuring you leave the restaurant with a full and satisfied stomach.


What sets Ravi apart from other restaurants is its commitment to using fresh ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. The chefs at Ravi take pride in their craft, ensuring that every dish is made with love and attention to detail.


So, if you’re in the mood for authentic Pakistani and North Indian cuisine, head over to Ravi Restaurant. Prepare to indulge in a feast of flavors that will transport you to the streets of Lahore or Delhi.


Arabian Tea House

If you’re looking for a charming and cozy spot to enjoy traditional Emirati cuisine, look no further than Arabian Tea House. Nestled in the historic Al Fahidi neighborhood, this restaurant offers a nostalgic and authentic dining experience.


The moment you step into Arabian Tea House, you are greeted by a tranquil and inviting ambiance. The interior is adorned with traditional Arabic decor, complete with vintage photographs and intricate lanterns. The outdoor courtyard, with its vibrant plants and water features, provides the perfect setting for a relaxed meal.


Arabian Tea House is renowned for its Emirati breakfast, which is a must-try for both locals and expats. The breakfast spread includes a variety of dishes such as Balaleet (a sweet and savory vermicelli dish), Chebab (Emirati pancakes), and Harees (a wheat-based porridge). Pair your breakfast with a cup of their fragrant Arabic tea or locally sourced coffee for an authentic start to your day.


The menu at Arabian Tea House also features a range of Emirati mezze, main courses, and desserts. Indulge in dishes like Machboos (spiced rice with meat), Majboos (spicy chicken rice), and Luqaimat (deep-fried sweet dumplings). Each dish is lovingly prepared using traditional recipes and locally sourced ingredients.


Aside from the delicious food, Arabian Tea House is also known for its warm and attentive service. The staff goes above and beyond to make you feel welcome and ensure that your dining experience is memorable.


For those interested in learning more about Emirati culture, Arabian Tea House offers cultural tours and workshops, allowing you to delve deeper into the traditions and customs of the UAE.


So, if you’re keen to sample traditional Emirati cuisine and immerse yourself in the rich heritage of Dubai, Arabian Tea House is the perfect destination. Be prepared to indulge in a culinary journey that will transport you back in time.


Al Mallah

When it comes to delicious Lebanese food in Dubai, one name stands out – Al Mallah. This iconic restaurant has been serving up mouthwatering Lebanese street food since 1979 and has become a go-to spot for both locals and expats.


Located in the vibrant neighborhood of Satwa, Al Mallah greets you with its charming and lively atmosphere. The open kitchen allows you to watch as the skilled chefs prepare your food, adding to the overall sensory experience.


Al Mallah is best known for its shawarma, a traditional Lebanese dish made with marinated chicken or lamb, roasted on a vertical spit, and served in a freshly baked pita bread. The meat is juicy and flavorful, complemented by a variety of toppings and sauces. Pair it with a side of crispy falafel or creamy hummus for a complete meal.


Aside from shawarma, Al Mallah offers a range of other Lebanese specialties, including mezzes like tabbouleh, fattoush, and moutabbal. The menu also features delicious main courses like grilled kebabs, chicken machboos, and lamb kabsa, each bursting with authentic flavors and spices.


What makes Al Mallah even more special is its affordability. The prices are reasonable, allowing you to indulge in a satisfying meal without breaking the bank. The casual and bustling setting adds to the overall experience, immersing you in the vibrant street food culture of Lebanon.


Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, Al Mallah is the place to be. Grab a table, savor the delicious flavors, and enjoy the vibrant energy of this beloved Lebanese eatery.


Bu Qtair

If you’re a seafood lover, then Bu Qtair is a dining destination you shouldn’t miss. Tucked away in the vibrant neighborhood of Umm Suqeim, this unassuming restaurant offers some of the freshest and most flavorful seafood dishes in Dubai.


When you arrive at Bu Qtair, you’ll notice the humble setting that belies the culinary treasures within. The outdoor seating area, with its plastic chairs and simple decor, adds to the charm and laid-back vibe of the place.


The star dish at Bu Qtair is their famous fish fry. Fresh catch of the day, usually hammour or barramundi, is marinated in a secret blend of spices and then fried to perfection. The result is a crispy and succulent fish that is bursting with flavor. Served with a side of fragrant basmati rice, tangy house-made sauce, and a generous portion of freshly baked naan bread, this dish is a true seafood lover’s delight.


In addition to the mouthwatering fish fry, Bu Qtair also offers a variety of other seafood options such as grilled prawns, calamari, and fish curry. The portion sizes are generous, ensuring you leave the restaurant feeling completely satisfied.


What sets Bu Qtair apart is its commitment to using only the freshest ingredients. The fish is sourced daily from local fishermen, guaranteeing that every bite is packed with the authentic flavors of the sea.


While the dining experience at Bu Qtair may be simple and no-frills, it is the incredible taste and quality of the food that keeps customers coming back for more. The friendly and welcoming staff add to the overall charm of the place, creating a dining experience that feels like a visit to a local seafood shack.


If you’re craving the taste of the sea and want to indulge in some truly mouthwatering seafood, head over to Bu Qtair. Get ready to feast on delicious fish fry and savor the flavors of the ocean in this hidden gem of Dubai.


Afghan Khorasan Kabab House

For a taste of authentic Afghan cuisine, look no further than Afghan Khorasan Kabab House. Located in the heart of Dubai, this restaurant transports you to the vibrant streets of Kabul with its tantalizing flavors and traditional ambiance.


When you step into Afghan Khorasan Kabab House, you’ll be greeted by the warm and inviting atmosphere. The walls are adorned with traditional Afghan décor, and the aroma of grilled meats fills the air, enticing your taste buds.


The menu at Afghan Khorasan Kabab House is a celebration of Afghan culinary traditions. The highlight of the restaurant is its selection of succulent kababs, made from high-quality meats like lamb, chicken, and beef. Each skewer is marinated in a blend of aromatic spices and grilled to perfection, resulting in tender and flavorful kababs.


One of the standout dishes at Afghan Khorasan Kabab House is the Chapli Kabab. Made from ground beef mixed with a combination of spices and herbs, these flat, savory patties are a delight for meat lovers. They are typically enjoyed with freshly baked Afghan bread and a side of chutney.


In addition to kababs, the menu features other traditional Afghan delicacies such as Mantu, which are steamed dumplings filled with spiced ground meat and served with tangy yogurt sauce. The Qabuli Pulao, a fragrant rice dish topped with succulent braised meat and caramelized carrots, is another must-try.


The experience at Afghan Khorasan Kabab House goes beyond the delectable food. The friendly staff provides excellent service, making you feel like a valued guest. The traditional Afghan music playing in the background further adds to the immersive dining experience.


If you’re in search of an authentic culinary journey to Afghanistan, make sure to visit Afghan Khorasan Kabab House. From the warm hospitality to the mouthwatering flavors, this restaurant is a hidden gem that offers a true taste of Afghan cuisine in the heart of Dubai.


Operation: Falafel

When it comes to satisfying your falafel cravings, look no further than Operation: Falafel. This popular restaurant has made a name for itself with its delicious and authentic Middle Eastern street food, particularly their signature falafel.


Located in various locations across Dubai, Operation: Falafel combines traditional flavors with a modern twist, creating a unique dining experience. The vibrant and welcoming ambiance sets the tone for a memorable meal.


The star of the menu at Operation: Falafel is, of course, the falafel itself. These deep-fried vegetarian patties, made from ground chickpeas and herbs, are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Served in a warm pita bread and topped with a variety of fresh ingredients like vegetables, tahini sauce, and pickles, each bite is bursting with flavor.


But Operation: Falafel offers more than just falafel. Their menu features a range of Middle Eastern classics, such as shawarma, hummus, and kebabs. Their chicken shawarma is particularly popular, with tender and well-seasoned chicken wrapped in a soft pita bread, accompanied by a generous serving of garlic sauce and pickles.


What sets Operation: Falafel apart is their commitment to quality and authenticity. They use high-quality ingredients and traditional recipes, ensuring that each dish is of the highest standard. The flavors are well-balanced, allowing you to truly indulge in the richness of Middle Eastern cuisine.


In addition to the delicious food, the friendly and efficient service at Operation: Falafel adds to the overall dining experience. The staff are knowledgeable about the menu and are happy to make recommendations based on your preferences.


If you’re in the mood for flavorful falafel and mouthwatering Middle Eastern cuisine, make sure to visit Operation: Falafel. Whether you’re grabbing a quick bite or enjoying a leisurely meal, you’re in for a treat that will satisfy your cravings and leave you wanting more.


JLT Dining

If you’re looking for a diverse and vibrant dining scene, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) is the place to be. This bustling neighborhood is home to a wide array of international restaurants, making it a haven for food lovers and expats seeking culinary adventures.


JLT Dining, a collective term for the numerous restaurants in the area, offers a plethora of options to satisfy any craving. From Indian and Lebanese to Italian and Japanese, you’ll find a wealth of flavors and cuisines to explore.


One of the standout restaurants in JLT is Akiba Dori, a unique Japanese street food concept offering delectable dishes like sushi, ramen, and yakitori. Experience the lively atmosphere and savor the authentic flavors of Japan.


For those craving the flavors of Mexico, Loca is the go-to spot. This vibrant restaurant serves up delicious Mexican favorites such as tacos, quesadillas, and guacamole, all made with fresh and authentic ingredients.


If you’re in the mood for a hearty steak, head over to The Butcher Shop & Grill. Known for their premium cuts of meat and succulent burgers, this restaurant offers a meat lover’s paradise.


Looking for a taste of Italy? Rossovivo is the place to go. This cozy Italian pizzeria serves up authentic wood-fired pizzas and homemade pasta, transporting you to the streets of Rome with each bite.


These are just a few examples of the diverse range of dining options available in JLT. Whether you’re craving Asian cuisine, Middle Eastern delights, or international fusion dishes, you’ll find it all within this vibrant neighborhood.


The beauty of JLT Dining lies in the variety and quality of the restaurants. Each establishment offers its own unique experience and culinary specialties, ensuring that there is something for everyone’s taste.


So, if you’re an expat or a food enthusiast looking for a culinary adventure, head over to Jumeirah Lakes Towers and dive into the eclectic dining scene that awaits. Your taste buds will thank you.


QD’s Restaurant

Located along the picturesque Dubai Creek, QD’s Restaurant is a hidden gem that offers a unique dining experience. With stunning views of the city skyline and a relaxed ambiance, this restaurant has become a favorite among expats and locals alike.


QD’s is known for its laid-back vibe and outdoor seating area, making it the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy a meal with friends or family. As you settle in, you’ll be captivated by the breathtaking views of the creek and the enchanting atmosphere.


The menu at QD’s offers a range of international cuisines, with a focus on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors. Whether you’re in the mood for traditional Arabic mezze, wood-fired pizzas, or fresh seafood, there’s something to please every palate.


One of the standout dishes at QD’s is their succulent grilled meats. From tender lamb chops to juicy chicken skewers, each dish is perfectly cooked and bursting with flavor. Pair it with a side of aromatic rice or a crisp salad for a complete meal.


In addition to the delicious food, QD’s is also known for its lively entertainment. Live music and DJ performances add to the vibrant atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for a night out or a weekend gathering.


During cooler months, QD’s extends its outdoor seating area with comfortable lounge seating and cozy fire pits, creating a cozy and inviting ambiance. It’s the perfect place to relax with a drink and soak in the stunning views.


Whether you’re a Dubai resident or a visitor looking for a unique dining experience, QD’s Restaurant is a must-visit. Indulge in delicious food, soak in the serene surroundings, and create unforgettable memories in this hidden gem along Dubai Creek.


Bu Tafish

If you’re a seafood lover looking for an authentic Emirati dining experience, look no further than Bu Tafish. Located in the vibrant neighborhood of Deira, this humble restaurant offers a true taste of the Gulf’s rich culinary tradition.


When you step into Bu Tafish, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a lively seafood market. The open display of freshly caught fish and the energetic atmosphere set the stage for a memorable dining experience.


What sets Bu Tafish apart is its unique concept of “catch and cook.” You have the opportunity to select your fish from a wide variety of the freshest catch available, ranging from hammour and kingfish to shrimps and crabs. Once you’ve chosen your fish, it will be expertly prepared and cooked to perfection.


Whether you prefer your fish grilled, fried, or cooked in a traditional Emirati style, such as Sayadiya (rice and fish) or Machbous (spiced rice with fish), the talented chefs at Bu Tafish will bring out the best flavors of the sea.


In addition to its seafood offerings, Bu Tafish also offers a variety of delectable side dishes and mezze, including hummus, moutabbal, and fried calamari. The authentic Emirati flavors and spices accentuate the freshness of the seafood, giving you a true taste of the local cuisine.


The dining experience at Bu Tafish is casual yet vibrant, with friendly staff members offering recommendations and ensuring your dining experience is top-notch. The restaurant often gets busy, especially during the evenings and weekends, so be prepared for a lively and bustling atmosphere.


If you want to immerse yourself in Emirati culture and savor the flavors of the Gulf, Bu Tafish is the ideal destination. Come with an empty stomach, a sense of adventure, and get ready to indulge in a seafood feast like no other.



When it comes to experiencing the bustling street food culture of the Middle East, Zaroob is the place to be. This popular restaurant, with branches in various locations across Dubai, offers a lively and vibrant ambiance, reminiscent of the vibrant streets of Beirut, Cairo, and Amman.


As you step into Zaroob, you’ll be greeted by colorful graffiti-covered walls, quirky decor, and the irresistible aroma of freshly baked bread. The upbeat music and lively atmosphere create an energetic dining experience that is perfect for both casual meals and social gatherings.


Zaroob specializes in Levantine cuisine, with a menu that features an extensive selection of mezze, wraps, sandwiches, and grilled dishes. The highlight of their menu is their delicious and authentic Lebanese wraps, such as shawarma, falafel, and shish taouk. Each wrap is made with love and packed with mouthwatering flavors, making it a fulfilling and satisfying meal.


In addition to wraps, Zaroob offers a variety of hot mezze appetizers like hummus, moutabbal, and falafel, perfect for sharing and sampling the flavors of the Middle East. For those looking for heartier options, the grilled dishes like mixed grill platter or shish kebabs are sure to satisfy any meat lover’s cravings.


One of the highlights of Zaroob is its open kitchen concept, allowing you to witness the chefs skillfully preparing the food in a traditional way. The friendly staff members are always ready to assist you in navigating the menu and offer suggestions based on your preferences.


With its affordable prices, lively atmosphere, and delicious food, Zaroob has become a go-to spot for locals and expats looking for a taste of authentic street food from the Levant. Whether you’re craving a quick bite or a leisurely meal with friends, Zaroob delivers an enjoyable and memorable dining experience.


So, if you’re yearning for the vibrant flavors of the Middle East and want to immerse yourself in the street food culture, visit Zaroob and embark on a culinary journey that will transport you to the bustling streets of the Levant.



If you’re in search of an enchanting dining experience that combines exquisite North Indian cuisine with live entertainment, look no further than Gharana. Located in the heart of Dubai, this unique restaurant takes you on a journey through the diverse musical traditions of India while delighting your taste buds with flavorful and aromatic dishes.


As you enter Gharana, you’ll be transported to a regal setting adorned with opulent decor and traditional Indian elements. The restaurant’s name, which means “lineage” in Hindi, reflects its aim to showcase the rich heritage of Indian music and cuisine.


At Gharana, the menu is a celebration of the diverse culinary traditions of North India. From succulent kebabs and biryanis to tantalizing curries and vegetarian specialties, each dish is meticulously crafted using authentic spices and traditional cooking techniques.


What sets Gharana apart is its unique concept of themed evenings, where musicians and dancers from various Indian classical art forms perform live, bringing the magic of Indian culture to life. From ghazals and qawwalis to Kathak and Bharatanatyam, these performances add a captivating element to your dining experience.


As you indulge in the delectable food, you’ll be serenaded by the enchanting melodies and rhythmic beats. This immersive dining experience truly makes Gharana a destination for food and music lovers alike.


The attention to detail extends beyond the food and entertainment, as the staff members at Gharana provide warm and attentive service, ensuring a memorable and delightful experience for every guest.


Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply seeking a unique dining experience, Gharana promises to transport you to the mystical world of Indian music and culinary traditions. Prepare to be captivated by the melodies, flavors, and hospitality that make Gharana a true gem in Dubai’s dining scene.


Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe

Step into Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe, and you’ll be transported back in time to the olden days of Dubai. This unique dining establishment is designed to resemble a traditional Emirati house, complete with vintage decor and cultural artifacts, offering an authentic Emirati dining experience.


Located in the heart of Dubai Festival City, Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe takes pride in preserving the rich culinary heritage of the Emirates. The restaurant offers a menu that features traditional Emirati dishes, prepared with meticulous attention to detail and using locally sourced ingredients.


As you settle into your seat, you’ll be greeted with an array of Emirati specialties, such as Machbous, a flavorful spiced rice dish served with perfectly cooked meat, and Harees, a creamy wheat-based porridge mixed with tender meat. The flavors are rich, the portions are generous, and each dish showcases the unique blend of spices that characterizes Emirati cuisine.


Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe is not only about the food; it is also a place to immerse yourself in Emirati culture. The waitstaff, dressed in traditional attire, are friendly and knowledgeable, eager to share insights about the history and traditions of the UAE.


The restaurant’s charming courtyard and majlis-style seating areas add to the overall ambiance, creating a warm and inviting space to enjoy a meal. Don’t forget to round off your dining experience with a cup of traditional Arabic coffee and some delectable Emirati sweets.


Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe is not just a dining destination but also a cultural hub. It offers live performances of traditional music and dance, providing an opportunity to witness and appreciate the rich artistic heritage of the region.


If you’re seeking an authentic Emirati dining experience that celebrates the traditions and flavors of the UAE, Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe is the perfect choice. Step back in time and savor the delicious and wholesome dishes that pay homage to the culinary legacy of the Emirates.


The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

For a truly immersive cultural experience in Dubai, a visit to The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a must. This unique establishment aims to promote understanding and appreciation of the local Emirati culture and traditions through various programs and activities.


Located in the historical Al Fahidi neighborhood, the center offers a range of cultural experiences, including heritage tours, mosque visits, and interactive cultural meals. These experiences provide a valuable opportunity to learn about Emirati customs, traditions, and values firsthand.


One of the highlights of the center is the cultural meals, where visitors can enjoy a traditional Emirati meal while engaging in open and enlightening conversations with Emirati hosts. The hosts share personal stories, answer questions, and provide insights into Emirati culture, fostering understanding and creating a platform for cultural exchange.


The interactive cultural meals also allow visitors to sample authentic Emirati cuisine, which is a blend of flavors influenced by the region’s history and geography. From fragrant rice dishes like Mandi and Majboos to sweet treats like Luqaimat and Umm Ali, the flavors and aromas of Emirati food are sure to tantalize your taste buds.


Aside from the cultural meals, the center also offers guided heritage tours, where visitors can explore the traditional Emirati architecture of the Al Fahidi neighborhood and learn about the history and significance of the buildings. The center’s mosque visits provide an opportunity to learn about Islamic rituals, architecture, and practices.


What sets The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding apart is its commitment to providing an open and welcoming space for cultural dialogue. The staff and volunteers are knowledgeable and passionate about sharing their culture, making every visitor feel valued and respected.


Whether you’re a resident of Dubai or a visitor to the city, a visit to The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding offers a unique and enriching experience. Immerse yourself in the local culture, savor traditional Emirati cuisine, and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the customs and traditions that shape the UAE.



Dubai is a melting pot of cultures, and its diverse culinary scene reflects this beautifully. From traditional Emirati cuisine to flavors from around the world, the city offers a plethora of options for food enthusiasts and expats seeking authentic dining experiences.


In this article, we’ve explored 13 of the most authentic restaurants in Dubai where expats eat. From the humble street food joints like Ravi Restaurant and Al Mallah to the more upscale dining establishments like Gharana and QD’s Restaurant, each of these restaurants offers a unique experience that showcases the flavors and traditions of their respective cuisines.


Whether you’re craving the vibrant spices of Pakistani and North Indian cuisine at Ravi Restaurant, the enchanting melodies of Indian music and flavors at Gharana, or the fresh seafood delights at Bu Tafish, Dubai’s culinary scene has something to satisfy every palate.


It’s not only the incredible food that makes these restaurants special but also the ambiance, the warmth of the staff, and the connection to culture. Many of these establishments go beyond just serving food; they provide an immersive experience where visitors can learn, engage, and forge connections with the local culture and traditions.


So, whether you’re an expat in search of a taste of home or a traveler looking to explore the local cuisine, make sure to venture out to these authentic restaurants in Dubai. Indulge in the rich flavors, immerse yourself in the vibrant atmospheres, and create unforgettable memories as you discover the culinary delights that this global city has to offer.


Dubai’s food and travel scene is constantly evolving, with new restaurants and hidden gems waiting to be discovered. So, keep exploring, keep indulging, and keep embracing the exciting and diverse food travel experiences that Dubai has in store for you.