13 unusual dishes you can find at UAE cinemas: from butter chicken pizza to red velvet shakes

If you’re looking to ditch the popcorn, here’s a look at the sweet and salty treats you can find at local cinemas

After a hiatus in 2020, it feels like cinema is finally making a comeback.

More and more residents are heading back to theatres and a slew of new blockbusters makes a date with the silver screen all the more tempting.

While there really is something special about the lights dimming and the surround sound kicking into gear, it’s time to show some appreciation for one of the most over-looked parts of going to the movies: the snacks counter.

If you’re looking for something beyond your regular popcorn and nachos, UAE cinemas have you covered. From boneless short ribs to red velvet shakes, here's a look at some truly gourmet options you can indulge in.

Chips Oman popcorn from Reel Cinema

This snack combines spicy, crunchy pieces of Chips Oman with the salty, buttery goodness of popcorn – a treat we never knew we needed.

Dh27; Reel Cinema branches across Dubai; reelcinemas.ae

Butter chicken pizza from Roxy Cinemas

If what you love most about the UAE is its multiculturalism, here’s a dish that encapsulates that. Two cuisines meet in this dish, with chicken, jalapeno, onion, butter chicken sauce and mozzarella making for a winning combination.

Dh60; Roxy Cinema branches across Dubai; theroxycinemas.com

Smashmosa from Cinema Akil

Pop over to the independent arthouse cinema at Alserkal Avenue and you can snack on dishes from home-grown brand Project Chaiwala with your film. Alongside a selection of chai (from masala to karak), you'll find a range of wraps, toast ... and smashmosa. It's a deconstructed version of the street-food favourite samosa, and makes for an intriguing movie-time meal.

From Dh20; Alserkal Avenue; 04 223 1139; cinemaakil.com

Shawarma twister from Vox Private Cinema

The UAE’s most beloved dish is available in many forms. Here, you'll find the ultra-gourmet twister, with spicy veggies and garlic mayo, at Vox Private Cinema (a 15-seat theatre that can be rented out for a corporate or private event).

Dh75; private cinema experience at Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates; uae.voxcinemas.com

Boneless short ribs from Vox Gold

If you’re thinking of upping your movie experience, you can order boneless short ribs as part of Vox Cinemas Gold, a luxury experience. The dish comes with a Pepsi BBQ glaze and is served with polenta Parmesan fries and classic coleslaw.

Dh85; Vox Gold is available at Al Hamra Mall, BurJuman, City Centre Deira, City Centre Fujairah, City Centre Sharjah, Marina Mall - Abu Dhabi, City Centre Al Zahia

Arabic hot mezze from Novo Cinemas

Why not swap the popcorn for a shareable spread of Arabic delicacies? Tuck into a platter of falafel, kibbeh and vegetable samosa with a tahini dip.

Dh50; available in all branches of Novo Cinemas in the UAE; uae.novocinemas.com

Trashcan nachos at Reel Dine-In 

Corn tortilla chips, smoked brisket, brown sugar BBQ sauce, "super melty cheese", beans, jalapenos, pickled red onion and pico de gallo are some of the ingredients in this Instagram-friendly, layered nacho dish.

Dh48; Reel Dine-In Cinema; reelcinemas.ae

Furious burger from Roxy Cinemas

You can pick on this monster meal as you enjoy your film. A 300-gram beef patty is topped with sauteed onion, turkey bacon, chicken chorizo, cheddar, pickled cabbage salad and fries with a lemon-chilli glaze.

Dh110; Roxy Cinema branches across Dubai; theroxycinemas.com

Giant vada pav from Vox Gold

Mumbai’s famous street-food star has a place in UAE cinemas. This potato dumpling comes within a brioche slider bun, complete with French fries on the side.

Dh50; Vox Gold is available at Al Hamra Mall, BurJuman, City Centre Deira, City Centre Fujairah, City Centre Sharjah, Marina Mall - Abu Dhabi, City Centre Al Zahia

Beyond Meat burger from Reel Dine-In

Vegan options may not be the easiest to find, given how many dishes come loaded with cheese. However, UAE cinemas have been stepping up to cater to local demand over the past few years. Case in point: the Beyond Meat burger at Reel's Dine-in experience, featuring a Beyond Meat patty with tomatoes, lettuce, onion, cucumber and a vegan garlic mayo in a multi-cereal bun.

Dh50; Reel Dine-In Cinema; reelcinemas.ae

Red velvet shake from Roxy La Mer

For a dish that's easy on the eyes and the tastebuds, there's the much-loved freakshake. The Red Velvet Roxy Shake is a decadent dessert-drink made with a combination of red velvet cake and strawberry ice-cream, topped with whipped cream and garnished with a piece of red velvet cake and ribbon candy.

Dh40; Roxy La Mer in Dubai; theroxycinemas.com

Roasted pineapple from Vox Gold

Those with a sweet tooth can indulge in a dish of roasted pineapple strips, coconut and marinated strawberries, wrapped up in crepe.

Dh25; Vox Gold is available at Al Hamra Mall, BurJuman, City Centre Deira, City Centre Fujairah, City Centre Sharjah, Marina Mall - Abu Dhabi, City Centre Al Zahia

Honey cake from Novo Cinemas

The dish, which comprises layers and layers of cake and cream, is a regional favourite so it should come as no surprise that you can also find it in your local cinemas.

Dh35 for a slice; available in all branches of Novo Cinemas in the UAE; uae.novocinemas.com