My 12 Favorite Restaurants in Dubai

I always get DMs on Instagram asking me for restaurant and food tips in Dubai so I thought I would create a list which I will regularly update as I try new places. Naturally the list is very subjective, has some “oldies but goodies” and some newcomers that are making a splash in the restaurant scene.

1. SMK Smoked Meat Kitchen

My absolute favorite meal so far this year came at SMK, located in a small hut right by the beach at La Mer. We basically sampled most if not the entire menu (not that big). The meat was to die for — it was perfectly cooked and succulently spiced. Great service by the staff and a very friendly chef. This place is just too good and I hope they keep it up because I am hoping to stop by every week! (Cuisine: American)

2. Masti

A second really close favorite is Masti, also located in La Mer. I saw a lot of pictures and heard lots of great reviews before coming down here and it did not disappoint. The food was great coupled with amazing decor and cool vibes, this place has everything going for it. (Cuisine: Indian-inspired fusion)

3. Gunaydin

Turkish cuisine is my favorite and Istanbul is one of my favorite cities even after visiting 100s of cities around the world so Gunaydin is a blessing for my hungry stomach when it cannot make it to Istanbul. Despite being located deep in the touristy area, Gunaydin serves an insanely good breakfast and an even better selection of meats for lunch and dinner. Don’t miss the authentic Turkish desserts! (Cuisine: Turkish)

4. Bombay Bungalow

Despite a first experience that was kind of a mixed bag, I gave this place a second chance and boy am I glad that I did! The decor is just beautiful here and the food is beyond great and I can say that with confidence after having tried most of the menu. 10/10 for this place especially for being close to my place! (Cuisine: Indian)

5. Jolie Cafe

You would be forgiven to think this is just another place at Citywalk but you would be wrong! Jolie Cafe is not just another pretty face with cool interiors — the breakfast here is one of my favorites in town (and I do love my breakfasts) and the French toast should not be missed! The staff are also some of the friendliest you will meet in Dubai. (Cuisine: cafe, dessert, bakery)

6. Sukkar

I am a compulsive sweet tooth so the moment I heard about Sukkar opening up in Boxpark I knew I had to try it. Imagine the most delicious cake you had, multiply that by 10 and you get this place. Ironically you will also gain 10 kilograms walking out from here or as your friends roll you over! (Cuisine: dessert)

7. 21 Grams

Another newcomer is 21 Grams, a Balkan restaurant inconspicuously located inside the Park Regis hotel in Jumeirah. The restaurant has such a homely and cozy feel to it and the food is reflective of that as you will feel your grandma cooked it for you. Make sure you try an assortment of the appetizers. (Cuisine: Balkan)

8. Bait Maryam

Slowly but surely become a JLT staple, Bait Maryam is another place with a cozy, homely feel. While I enjoyed my lunches and dinners here, the breakfasts are the main star of the show, offering you the chance to sample a bit of everything the average Lebanese/Levantine person has in the morning. (Cuisine: Lebanese/Levantine)

9. Maison De Juliette

One of the many places that opened at La Mer, MDJ specializes in French cuisine and if you are lucky, you will be welcomed by the smell of fresh baked bread as you come in. What I like about this place is the generous portions of food, unlike many places in Dubai where plates seem to be getting smaller and more expensive. I am not a salad person really (I always say salad is the food my food eats!), but the seafood salad at this place might be enough to convert me. Also not to be missed is the burrata and pesto sauce on toast for starters. (Cuisine: French, bakery, dessert)

10. Ibn Al-Bahr

My go to place for Lebanese seafood is unhesitatingly Ibn Al-Bahr on Palm Jumeirah. The food is fresh, the beer is flowing, and the service is always great and quick. (Cuisine: Lebanese seafood)

11. 3 Fils

A cool and cozy place by the sea in Jumeirah, this place serves deliciously creative seafood dishes and sushi. Although the portions can be bigger, I still love coming here during the cooler months.

12. Cafe Society

A sleek newcomer located in Dubai Marina, Cafe Society has delicious food in a very stylish setting. I highly recommend the artichoke dip, mushroom and truffle croquette, and seafood paella. Everything else on the menu is just packed with flavors and spices. Portions are big and prices are reasonable so come on an empty stomach!

What is your absolute favorite restaurant in Dubai? What is the first place you take an out of towner to? Name them below!