After much anticipation, the Mena's 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony named the 50 top eateries in the region at a glamorous ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Offerings on the list span the Middle East and North Africa, with venues in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Qatar, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, Tunisia and Israel all ranking.
However, with 19 of them, including the top two spots, the UAE dominates the list.
Here we highlight the Dubai and Abu Dhabi restaurants that made the cut on the Mena's 50 Best Restaurants list:
3 Fils, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 1
Taking the list's top spot, 3 Fils is a home-grown small 30-seater eatery located in Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, which could almost be described as a hidden gem. It's one of the few restaurants in Dubai where you'll find a queue almost every night of the week, and the restaurant has a no-reservations policy, even for VIPs.
The menu is small and unfussy: a handful of simple Asian-inspired tapas dishes, perfect for ordering in bulk and spreading across your table. But however many dishes you order, your table never gets overloaded – the restaurant's ethos is to bring food out whenever it's ready. It means a steady trickle of food rather than one solid dumping, so nothing gets cold.
3 Fils, shop 2, Jumeirah Fishing Harbour; open daily, noon-midnight; 04 333 4003, www.3fils.com
Zuma, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 2
Ask anyone where you should dine in Dubai, and Zuma is almost guaranteed to be suggested. The polar opposite of a hidden gem, the restaurant has won countless awards for its contemporary Japanese fare.
The restaurant toes the line between fine dining and a party atmosphere, with a bar that is buzzing every night of the week, and a menu that boasts a list of culinary highlights, including the grilled freshwater eel with avocado sweet omelette and gobo maki rolls; grilled Chilean sea bass with green chilli ginger dressing; shiitake mushroom skewers with garlic and soy butter; roasted lobster with shiso ponzu butter; and the famed miso-marinated black cod wrapped in a hoba leaf.
Zuma Dubai is one of 18 around the world, with outposts in London, Hong Kong, Miami and Rome, as well as Abu Dhabi, the Maldives and Bodrum.
Zuma Dubai, Gate Village No 6, DIFC, Dubai; open daily, noon-2am, times for seatings vary; 04 425 5660, www.zumarestaurant.com/locations/dubai
Tresind Studio, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 4, also won Art of Hospitality Award
Coming in twice on Mena's 50 Best Restaurants list along with the main restaurant, Tresind Studio is Tresind’s chef’s table experience. With only 20 guests per service and located behind a door within the main restaurant at the voco Dubai hotel, the brainchild of chef Himanshu Saini has been winning rave reviews for serving modern Indian molecular gastronomy.
Saini’s elevated take on the cuisine includes a 13-course set menu which changes its theme every couple of months and is a dining experience like no other.
"Expect the unexpected,” said 50 Best Restaurants, when it included Tresind in its Discovery list in 2019.
Tresind Studio; Tresind, voco Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road; open daily, noon-3.30pm and 6.30pm-11pm; 04 526 0728, www.tresindstudio.com
Orfali Bros Bistro, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 6
This modern, minimalist venue in Jumeirah 1's wasl 51 is the kind of place chefs like to eat, including folly's Nick Alvis. "They're doing some really cool stuff and I love the food," Alvis has previously told The National. The menu is an exercise in boundary-pushing, experimenting with taste, textures and ingredients to create something unique, from red umami prawns to fluffy pides in various creative flavours.
Orfali Bros Bistro, wasl 51, Jumeirah 1, Dubai; open daily, noon-midnight; 04 259 2477, www.orfalibros.com
LPM Restaurant & Bar, Dubai
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 8
Classic French fare done oh-so-well. LPM, previously Le Petite Maison, has been a stalwart of Dubai's fine dining scene for 12 years. With a stunning terrace inspired by the French riviera, and constant menu classics such as escargots de Bourgogne, grilled Maine lobster with rouille and, arguably, the best creme brulee in the city, its elegant mix of the traditional and contemporary ensures it continues to stand the test of time among the city’s best spots.
LPM Restaurant & Bar, Gate Village No 8, DIFC, Dubai; open for lunch, Monday to Friday, 12pm-3pm; Saturday and Sunday, 12.30pm-3.30pm; for dinner, daily, 6pm-11pm; 04 439 0505, www.lpmrestaurants.com
Gaia, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 10
The brainchild of Dubai’s celebrated chef Izu Ani, Greek restaurant Gaia’s impressive menu has won it many loyal fans since it first opened its doors in the DIFC in 2018. A truly home-grown fine-dining concept, Gaia puts its ingredients at the forefront, with dishes designed to be shared and enjoyed in a laid-back yet intricate Mediterranean fashion. Staples include seabream carpaccio, grilled octopus and black truffle pasta.
Gaia, Gate Village No 4, DIFC, Dubai; daily, 12pm-3.30pm and 7pm-11pm; 04 241 4242, www.gaia-restaurants.com
Il Borro Tuscan Bistro, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 11
Named after the estate of the famed fashion family, the Ferragamos, and run by them, this award-winning restaurant at Jumeirah Al Naseem in Dubai has established a reputation for its farm-to-table dining concept. With organic farming as a guiding philosophy, many of the restaurant’s ingredients are shipped directly from the Il Borro Estate farm in Tuscany, including olive oil, honey and selected vegetables. Last year, the restaurant joined a growing list of home-grown UAE concepts to go international, with the opening of a branch in London.
Il Borro Tuscan Bistro; Turtle Lagoon, Jumeirah Al Naseem, Dubai; Monday to Friday, noon-3.30pm and 6.30pm-11.30pm; Saturday and Sunday, noon-4pm and 6.30pm-11.30pm; 04 275 2555, www.ilborrotuscanbistro.ae
Coya, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 13
This Peruvian hotspot was always going to make a top restaurant list, not only because of its popularity, constantly buzzing vibe and consistently good food, but also because of the team's attention to detail, the ability to innovate and keep up with changing times. Whether it's for brunch, lunch, drinks and even home delivery, Coya Dubai continues to satisfy.
Coya Dubai, Restaurant Village, Four Seasons Resort at Jumeirah Beach, Dubai; open daily, 12.30pm-4pm and 6pm-midnight; 04 316 9600, www.coyarestaurant.com
Reif Kushiyaki, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 16
The casual-dining concept in Jumeirah is helmed by chef Reif Othman with a focus on kushiyaki – Japanese grilled meat and poultry held together on a kushi (skewer). Aside from the chicken and beef skewers, there are also clay pots, ramens, gunkan sushi, gyoza and raw dishes to be had. A star dishes section reads like chef Othman's greatest hits, with wings, angel hair pasta, steamed bun burgers and Wagyu sandos.
Reif Japanese Kushiyaki; dar wasl mall, Al Wasl Road, Dubai; Monday to Thursday, noon-11pm; Friday, noon-midnight; Saturday and Sunday, 11am-midnight; 050 235 7071, www.reifkushiyaki.com
Tresind, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 18
Known for its gourmet and modern Indian dishes, Tresind is helmed by head chef Himanshu Saini. The restaurant was opened in Dubai in 2014 and has quickly made its mark on the country's culinary scene. On the menu are dishes that are almost too pretty to eat, such as arugula pani puri and corn-crusted spinach kebabs, as well as a special chef's tasting menu with a wild mushroom chai soup and tandoori rosemary lamb chops.
Tresind, voco Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road; open daily, noon-11.30pm; 04 526 0728, www.tresind.com
Mimi Kakushi, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 20
Mimi Kakushi harks back to 1920s Osaka, a golden age when traditional Japanese values came into contact with modern art, jazz and western fashions. Called Orient Nouveau, the restaurant’s menu fuses time-honoured Japanese culinary techniques with other Far Eastern flavours, peppered with a few western influences. Expect hot and cold sharing plates of sashimi, sushi, tempura and gyoza, mains such as oven-baked black cod and Kagoshima wagyu beef, followed by an eclectic selection of desserts.
Mimi Kakushi, Restaurant Village, Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach; open daily, 6pm-2am; 04 379 4811, www.mimikakushi.ae
Lowe, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 23, also won the Sustainable Restaurant Award
A home-grown dining concept, Lowe offers a contemporary, experimental menu featuring seasonal produce all cooked naturally on fire. An open kitchen concept is centred on a charcoal grill, rotisserie and wood-fired oven. Part of the Nasab creative community and co-working space, Lowe specialises in rustic, accessible, relaxed dining, offering dishes such as burnt aubergine dip with seaweed zaatar, torched Hokkaido scallop and bottarga toast, and spiced lamb dumplings with sour cream, pine nuts, chickpeas and smoked chilli butter.
Lowe, Koa Canvas; Thursday, 6pm-11pm; Friday and Saturday, 8am-4pm and 6pm-11pm; Sunday, 8am-4pm; 04 320 1890, www.lowe-dubai.com
Hakkasan, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 25
Overlooking the grounds of the Emirates Palace, this award-winning Japanese-fusion restaurant is known for its extravagant culinary offerings. It has an extensive a la carte menu, and serves a Dim Sum, Then Sum menu on Saturdays between noon and 3.30pm, which starts at Dh98 for three baskets. The chic interiors are in keeping with the brand's style globally, or book an al fresco table for views of the Abu Dhabi skyline.
Hakkasan Abu Dhabi, Emirates Palace, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi; open daily, 6pm-1am; 02 690 7739, www.hakkasan.com/abu-dhabi/
Amazonico, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 29
Amazonico in DIFC is inspired by the fusion treasures of the Amazon river. Offering a business lunch of three courses for Dh125, including lubina Nikkei – sea bass with Nikkei ginger and pak choy, or add a fourth course (Dh148) and enjoy a mocha dulce crunch, made with 70 per cent chocolate and Colombian coffee cream dessert. From the a la carte menu, try the ensalada Amazonica, with avocado, mango, confit tomato and kalamansi citrus dressing for Dh65, or the rubia gallega, a 30-day dry-aged Spanish rib-eye, priced at Dh290. With a relaxed bar downstairs, and more formal dining upstairs, all set within a plant-filled interior with vibrant decor and an open kitchen, there is plenty to enjoy.
Amazonico, DIFC, Dubai; open daily, noon-3am; 04 571 3999, www.amazonicorestaurant.com/dubai
BB Social Dining, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 33
Located in DIFC, this cosy nook sits in what was formerly an art gallery and is hailed by many as a hidden gem. The brainchild of Alex Stumpf, the head chef behind Dubai’s Peyote, BB disregards the traditional menu format and opts to categorise dishes based on the four Bs – baos, bowls, bbq and bites. An eastern menu that draws on culinary influences from Asia, the Middle East and beyond is designed to encourage social dining and there’s no differentiation between starters and main courses. Even better, it’s very reasonably priced for a DIFC restaurant. BB is also a favourite with Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, who has been spotted eating here on more than one occasion.
BB Social Dining, Gate Village 8, DIFC, Dubai; open daily, noon-midnight; 04 407 4444, www.thisisbb.com
Coya, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 34
Coya Abu Dhabi is a two-tiered restaurant, bar and "lifestyle destination" that guarantees great Peruvian food, exciting beverages and a lively atmosphere on every visit. Famed for its ceviche, anticuchos and sharing platters, this swanky spot delivers all of the above with exceptional service and just the right level of theatrics. A multifaceted menu, Inca-inspired interiors and custom-crafted furniture, an ever-changing collection of artwork and a sweeping terrace overlooking the waterfront make this spot easily one of the capital’s best eateries.
Coya Abu Dhabi, Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi; open daily for dinner, 6.30pm-11.15pm; daytime openings vary; 02 306 7000, www.coyarestaurant.com
Indochine, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 35
It's been a favourite in New York since the early 1980s, and now it's a favourite in Dubai, too. Celebrity hotspot Indochine, which opened its doors in the emirate in 2020, serves a coveted French-Vietnamese menu, with dishes such as spicy squid salad to jungle curry and banana beignets. The vibe is sophisticated but not too stuffy, modern and yet not overly edgy for the sake of it, and interiors set the perfect backdrop for photo ops.
Indochine, DIFC, Dubai; open Sunday to Wednesday, noon-1am; Saturday, 7pm-1am; Thursday to Friday, 7pm-3am; 04 208 9333, www.indochinedxb.com
Hoseki, Dubai, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 44
Despite its minimalist setting, the nine-seater Japanese restaurant Hoseki is all luxury with its traditional omakase set-up, where the customer lets the chef decide what dishes to serve, and its quality seafood, sourced directly from Tokyo’s well-known Tsukiji fish market.
During dining, chef Masahiro Sugiyama – whose family history in sushi-crafting goes back more than 150 years – bases his courses on the preferences of the guests at the counter. Aside from the unique dining experience, there’s also the view, with the intimate dining room looking out over the Dubai skyline.
Hoseki, Bulgari Resort Dubai, open for lunch on Thursday to Sunday, from 1pm; and dinner on Wednesday to Sunday, from 6pm; 04 777 5433, www.bulgarihotels.com/en_US/dubai/bars-and-restaurants/japanese-restaurant-hoseki
Butcher & Still, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Mena's 50 Best Restaurants rating: No 48
Freshly shucked oysters, a 21-day aged bone-in rib-eye steak, lump crab cake and cherry pie a la mode: these are some of the signature dishes you can expect on the excellent menu at Abu Dhabi's Butcher & Still. Located at the Four Seasons hotel, this restaurant reinterprets a 1920s Chicago steakhouse with sophisticated flair; leather booths, wooden floors and Prohibition era-inspired drinks all set the mood. Those views of Al Maryah Island through floor-to-ceiling windows or from the terrace are simply a bonus.
Butcher & Still, Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi; open daily, 4pm-midnight; 02 333 2444, www.fourseasons.com/abudhabi/dining/restaurants/butcher_and_still
1. 3 Fils, Dubai, UAE
2. Zuma, Dubai, UAE
3. OCD Restaurant, Tel Aviv, Israel
4. Tresind Studio, Dubai, UAE (also won Art of Hospitality Award)
5. Sachi, Cairo, Egypt
6. Orfali Bros Bistro, Dubai, UAE
7. Fakhreldin, Amman, Jordan
8. LPM Restaurant & Bar, Dubai
9. George & John, Tel Aviv, Israel
10. Gaia, Dubai, UAE
11. Il Borro Tuscan Bistro, Dubai, UAE
12. Baron, Beirut, Lebanon
13. Coya, Dubai, UAE
14. HaBasta, Tel Aviv, Israel
15. Myazu, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
16. Reif Kushiyaki, Dubai, UAE
17. Animar, Tel Aviv, Israel
18. Tresind, Dubai, UAE
19. Kazoku, Cairo, Egypt
20. Mimi Kakushi, Dubai, UAE
21. Liza, Beirut, Lebanon
22. Em Sherif, Beirut, Lebanon
23. Lowe, Dubai, UAE (also won the Sustainable Restaurant Award)
24. Pescado, Ashdod, Israel
25. Hakkasan, Abu Dhabi, UAE
26. La Grande Table Marocaine, Marrakesh, Morocco
27. 13C Bar in the Back, Amman, Jordan
28. Tawlet Mar Mikhael, Beirut, Lebanon
29. Amazonico, Dubai, UAE
30. Marble, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
31. Mirai, Manama, Bahrain
32. Iloli, Casablanca, Morocco
33. BB Social Dining, Dubai, UAE
34. Coya, Abu Dhabi, UAE
35. Indochine, Dubai, UAE
36. Cut by Wolfgang Puck, Qatar, Doha
37. Porterhouse, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
38. Zooba, Cairo, Egypt
39. Fusions by Tala, Manama, Bahrain
40. Milgo Milbar, Tel Aviv, Israel
41. Sufra, Amman, Jordan
42. LPM Restaurant & Cafe, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
43. White Robata, Kuwait City, Kuwait
44. Hoseki, Dubai, UAE
45. Izakaya, Cairo, Egypt
46. La Closerie, La Marsa, Tunisia
47. Clap, Beirut, Lebanon
48. Butcher & Still, Abu Dhabi, UAE
49. Plus61, Marrakech, Morocco
50. Tokyo, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia