Dubai's Orfali Bros Bistro tops Mena's 50 Best Restaurants list 2023

It was followed by Tresind Studio, also in the emirate, and Fusions by Tala in Manama, Bahrain

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A DJ spins upbeat tunes, while delectable bite-size dishes — think pan-seared foie gras finished with dark chocolate and Australian mutton rogan josh — are passed around.

The gala celebration of this year's Mena's 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony was held at Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers on Monday night, with Dubai's Orfali Bros Bistro named the No 1 restaurant in the Mena region this year.

The capital played host to the event for the second time in two years, following the release of the first Mena list by the World's 50 Best group last February. The restaurants are chosen by a panel of 250 anonymous voters, who can select seven restaurants each from across the region.

The evening, hosted by Egyptian-Australian presenter and entrepreneur Shereen Mitwalli, had regional and international chefs — dressed in customary scarlet scarves — restaurateurs, food critics and other culinary experts raising a glass to the best in the business at the glittering event. In attendance were Italian chef Massimo Bottura of three-Michelin-star restaurant Osteria Francescana, Asia’s 50 Best Pastry Chef 2022 Maira Yeo, Peruvian chef Mitsuharu Tsumura, ramen chef Neha Mishra of Kinoya Dubai, cookbook author Anissa Helou and Jordanian celebrity chef Ali Ghzawi.

Orfali Bros was followed by Tresind Studio, also from Dubai; Fusions by Tala from Manama, Bahrain; and Ossiano, Dubai. 3 Fils, which won top honours in the previous list, came in at No 5 this year.

See the full list below

Orfali Bros, which rose to the top spot after coming sixth on the previous list, is a modern, minimalist venue in Jumeirah. Its 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.

Nineteen out of 50 restaurants on last year's list were in the UAE, and this year 18 restaurants from the Emirates secured a spot. This was followed by six restaurants from Israel; five each from Egypt and Jordan; four from Morocco; three each from Bahrain, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia; two from Kuwait; and one from Tunisia.

Elsewhere, Karim Bourgi was named Mena's Best Pastry Chef and Moustafa Elrefaey won the Chef's Choice Award. Opa in Tel Aviv won the One to Watch Award, given to restaurants that have the potential to be included in the 50 Best list in the near future.

Last month, Palestinian-Jordanian chef Salam Dakkak, who runs Bait Maryam in Dubai, was named Mena's Best Female Chef 2023, while Lebanese-Syrian cookbook author Anissa Helou was announced as the recipient of the Foodics Icon Award this month.

"We were gratified by the response we got from the industry when we launched the Mena list last year," says William Drew, director of content at 50 Best. "People embraced what we're trying to do, which is to promote restaurants as a whole. It's not only about the 50 best restaurants, but also about creating a buzz for others in the region, giving the talent behind them the recognition they work really hard for and deserve.

"Of course, the ultimate aim is to attract more travellers to the Middle East and North Africa region for the food, and to understand the scene better than before," Drew adds. "Food is a window to culture, and this is a great opportunity for the world to discover more about the region in that sense."

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023

  1. Orfali Bros Bistro, Dubai, UAE
  2. Tresind Studio, Dubai, UAE
  3. Fusions by Tala, Manama, Bahrain (also named Best Restaurant in Bahrain and won Highest Climber Award)
  4. Ossiano, Dubai, UAE (also won the Highest New Entry Award)
  5. 3 Fils, Dubai, UAE
  6. George & John, Tel Aviv, Israel (also named Best Restaurant in Israel)
  7. Kinoya, Dubai, UAE
  8. Fakhreldin, Amman, Jordan (also named Best Restaurant in Jordan)
  9. Zooba, Cairo, Egypt (also named Best Restaurant in Egypt)
  10. Moonrise, Dubai, UAE
  11. Reif Kushiyaki, Dubai, UAE
  12. Kazoku, Cairo, Egypt
  13. Zuma, Dubai, UAE
  14. OCD, Tel Aviv, Israel (also won the Sustainable Restaurant Award)
  15. Lowe, Dubai, UAE
  16. Baron, Beirut, Lebanon (also named Best Restaurant in Lebanon)
  17. Gaia, Dubai, UAE
  18. Myazu, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (also named Best Restaurant in Saudi Arabia)
  19. Tawlet Mar Mikhael, Beirut, Lebanon
  20. Em Sherif, Beirut, Lebanon (also won the Art of Hospitality Award)
  21. LPM, Dubai, UAE
  22. Sachi, Giza, Egypt
  23. Marble, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  24. A by Yuval Ben Neriah, Tel Aviv, Israel
  25. CUT by Wolfgang Puck, Manama, Bahrain
  26. Hoseki, Dubai, UAE
  27. La Grande Table Marocain, Marrakech, Morocco (also named Best Restaurant in Morocco)
  28. Coya, Dubai, UAE
  29. Shams El Balad, Amman, Jordan
  30. Sachi, Cairo, Egypt
  31. Masso, Manama, Bahrain
  32. Animar, Tel Aviv, Israel
  33. Coya, Abu Dhabi, UAE
  34. La Closerie, Tunis, Tunisia (also named Best Restaurant in Tunisia)
  35. 11 Woodfire, Dubai, UAE
  36. Sufra, Amman, Jordan
  37. Iloli, Casablanca, Morocco
  38. LPM, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  39. Sesamo, Marrakech, Morocco
  40. Milgo Milbar, Tel Aviv, Israel
  41. Alee, Amman, Jordan
  42. White Robata, Kuwait City, Kuwait (also named Best Restaurant in Kuwait)
  43. Zuma, Abu Dhabi, UAE
  44. Jun's, Dubai, UAE
  45. Reif Kushiyaki, Cairo, Egypt
  46. +61, Marrakech, Morocco
  47. 13C Bar in the Back, Amman, Jordan
  48. HaBasta, Tel Aviv, Israel
  49. Hakkasan, Abu Dhabi, UAE
  50. Bonjiri, Salmiya, Kuwait
Updated: February 01, 2023, 5:19 PM