Best UAE restaurants: Dubai and Abu Dhabi dominate Mena's 50 list

Three in the capital and 15 down the road make the cut. Here's what to keep on your radar

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Of the 50 venues that made it to Mena's 50 Best Restaurants 2023 list, 18 are located in the UAE. Of these, three are in Abu Dhabi, including the Michelin-starred Hakkasan, while the others are located in Dubai.

The UAE is known for its diverse cuisines, with restaurants offering everything from Greek and Latin American to fine-dining fusion and omakase experiences.

Here are the 18 UAE restaurants that made the list.

Orfali Bros Bistro, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 1 (up from No 6)

Cool, creative and confident are all fitting labels for the Orfali Bros Bistro team, which is led by Syrian chef Mohamad Orfali and his brothers Wassim and Omar. The bistro is located at Wasl 51 in Jumeirah 1, and is so humble in its appearance that when the brothers first opened, the occasional grandmother would enter and ask: “What is this place, is it a barbershop?”

There’s nothing minimalist about the menu, though, which comprises creations such as burnt leeks and truffle pide; scallops and sea buckthorn with amarillo leche de tigre; and even one dish simply named Guess What?

Its victory is a feather in the cap for chefs and home-grown restaurants across the Mena region. The bistro is also part of the debut Michelin Guide Dubai’s Bib Gourmand list, which recognises friendly establishments that serve good food at reasonable prices.

More information is available at

Tresind Studio, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 2 (up from No 4)

Known for its experimental take on Indian food, Tresind Studio (not to be confused with Carnival by Tresind or Tresind restaurant), is located at Nakheel Mall on The Palm Jumeirah.

It serves a set tasting menu, which changes every four months: think wood apple pani puri, ghee roast crab with burnt cinnamon and curry leaf tempura and morel pulao with Assam tea dashi.

All the kitchen's scraps, meanwhile, are utilised in a curated drinks programme. Think beverages made with cacao and fennel cordial, popcorn and fig acid syrup, pickled papaya and pineapple tepache.

Led by chef Himanshu Saini, the restaurant was also the only Indian venue to win a star in the Michelin Guide Dubai.

More information is available at

Ossiano, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 4 (new entry)

Award: Highest New Entry

Chef Gregoire Berger looked elated as his "underwater restaurant" Ossiano made it onto Mena's 50 Best list for the first time, settling into the top five. It was one of 15 newcomers on the list. The restaurant at Atlantis, The Palm is also one of 11 Michelin-starred restaurants in Dubai.

Berger's upbringing in Brittany, north-west France, is apparent on the menu, but the dishes are also inspired by sunsets in South America, his wife’s Middle Eastern heritage and the ham and cheese sandwiches he used to eat as a young chef — now reimagined as a delicate croque-monsieur served on top of an actual clock. Other dishes include caviar and gold flake-topped nori tartlets; Brittany brown crab with fragrant kari gosse spice mix and bouillabaisse essence; and scallops dusted with a fine scattering of pure white truffle and artichoke.

All ingredients are sustainably sourced from the ocean or within 50km of a coastline. The marine theme is naturally reinforced by Ossiano’s views of one of the world’s largest aquariums. Multicoloured fish, rays and sharks glide past your table, helping to create a fully immersive experience.

More information is at

3 Fils, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 5 (down from No 1)

Home-grown restaurant 3 Fils made history when it topped the debut Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 list. Speaking to The National just before the Abu Dhabi ceremony, Ahmed Saleh, chief executive of The Lab Holding, which runs 3 Fils, said the team were ready to pass the baton. “There are people in this region who have been working really hard, and they deserve to be recognised regionally and globally," he said. "I'm excited about a new era that the list will usher in for the region.”

Coming in at No 5 is no small feat, either, for this cosy and rustic Jumeirah Fishing Harbour venue. Dishes on the menu, which focuses on quality, not quantity, include Fremantle octopus, sakura ebi, bluefin tuna sashimi, beef carpaccio and (for dessert lovers) African powerhouse — a chocolate tart with a touch of sea salt — and karak ice cream.

More information is available at

Kinoya, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 7 (new entry)

Ramen chef Neha Mishra won the One to Watch award for her izakaya-style restaurant located in The Greens on the debut Mena's 50 Best list.

The shio ramen, a popular dish from Mishra's supper club A Story of Food, is on the menu as are three other ramen bowls — shoyu, spicy miso and wontonmen. Other crowd favourites include Wagyu tsukune skewers dipped in egg yolk and soy sauce, burnt butter scallops and onsen egg on rice with dashi.

Kinoya was also named on the Michelin Guide Dubai's Bib Gourmand list, and its first branch outside the UAE, in Harrods, London, is due to open in October.

More information is available at

Moonrise, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 10 (new entry)

Nestled on the rooftop of Eden House, a residential building in Dubai, Moonrise is an eight-seater omakase restaurant led by Dubai-born Syrian chef Solemann Haddad and declared the "hottest reservation" by Mena's 50 Best.

The menu changes seasonally, with a handful of new dishes introduced every two months. Creativity is the name of the game at Moonrise, with each meal comprising eight dishes, which are prepared in front of diners, with the chef explaining the backstory behind each dish's ingredients and origins.

Permanent fixtures on the menu include pani puri with foie gras and date syrup; and charred madai with sweetcorn, brown butter and bzar. New dishes this season include charcoal khubz with confit garlic and 32-month aged Comte cheese; and Hokkaido scallops with ponzu beurre blanc and fried kelp.

Haddad also won the coveted Young Chef Award as part of the Michelin Guide Dubai.

More information is available at

Reif Kushiyaki, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 11 (up from No 16)

Famed for its ramen bowls and sandos, the Japanese restaurant is led by Singaporean chef and restaurateur Reif Othman. Located at Dar Wasl Mall and propagating a casual-dining ethos, the restaurant presents an unconventional take on Japanese street food with a focus on kushiyaki — grilled meat and poultry held together on a kushi (skewer).

The Cairo outpost of chef Reif Othman’s restaurant also made it to the Mena list, coming in at No 45, while the Michelin Guide Dubai included it in the Bib Gourmand category.

More information is available at

Zuma, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 13 (down from No 2)

Ask anyone where you should dine in Dubai and Zuma is almost always a guaranteed suggestion. The polar opposite of a hidden gem, the restaurant has won countless awards for its contemporary Japanese fare.

The expansive venue in the Dubai International Financial Centre toes the line between fine dining and party lounge, with a bar that is buzzing every night of the week and a food menu that includes 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 also received an honorary mention in the Michelin Guide Dubai.

More information is available at

Lowe, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 15 (up from No 23)

Another home-grown restaurant known for its focus on sustainability, Lowe is the brainchild of culinary duo Jesse Blake and Kate Christou. The restaurant made its name by experimenting with zero-waste dinners and cooking classes where food scraps were converted into gourmet dishes.

Now part of the Nasab creative community and co-working space at Koa Canvas, Lowe specialises in rustic and relaxed dining, centred on an open kitchen with a charcoal grill, rotisserie and wood-fired oven. Dishes include labneh-stuffed olives with honey and gochugaru; nori and ricotta fritti; and chai milk cake with chocolate, kumquat and brown butter.

Lowe also won the coveted Green Star for sustainability as part of the debut Michelin Guide Dubai.

More information is available at

Gaia, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 17 (down from No 10)

Frequented by Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Greek restaurant is located in the DIFC. The brainchild of chef Izu Ani, Gaia is a home-grown fine-dining restaurant that offers sharing-style dishes in laid-back Mediterranean fashion. Staples include sea bream carpaccio, grilled octopus and black truffle pasta.

Its first international outpost opened in Monaco in 2019 and, later this year, Gaia will launch in the heart of London’s Mayfair. There are also plans to expand into Miami, Marbella and Paris.

Gaia also received an honorary mention in the Michelin Guide Dubai.

More information is available at

LPM, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 21 (down from No 8)

LPM, previously Le Petite Maison, has been a stalwart of the DIFC’s burgeoning fine-dining scene and serves classic French fare. With a terrace inspired by the French Riviera, the restaurant offers a menu of classics such as escargots de Bourgogne, grilled Maine lobster with rouille and, according to some, arguably the best creme brulee in the city.

LPM also received an honorary mention in the Michelin Guide Dubai.

More information is available at

Hoseki, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 26 (up from No 44)

Because of its size — Hoseki seats only nine at a time — the Bulgari Hotel restaurant often feels like one of Dubai's most exclusive venues. Hoseki operates on the Japanese omakase notion, where the customer lets the chef decide what dishes to serve.

No two meals are alike, but the restaurant is best known for its seafood, which is sourced directly from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji fish market.

Hoseki is also one of 11 Michelin-starred venues in Dubai.

More information is available at

Coya, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 28 (down from No 13)

Coya is famed for serving Peruvian fare, from ceviche and tiraditos to anticuchos and baos.

However, no meal here is complete without sampling the popular Chilean sea bass. It combines two different cooking styles: the sea bass is cooked in an open charcoal grill, while the arroz, or rice, is cooked like a risotto in an iron pot.

Located at the Four Seasons Resort at Jumeirah Beach, Coya has upbeat music, artistic interiors and mood lighting.

More information is at

Coya, Abu Dhabi

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 33 (up from No 34)

Coya is also one of three Abu Dhabi restaurants to make it onto the Mena's 50 Best list. While the menu mirrors the Dubai outpost, its Al Maryah Island location enjoys water-facing views, separate dining and dancing arenas and a vibrant covered terrace.

More information is available at

11 Woodfire, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 35 (new entry)

Housed in a villa on Jumeirah Beach Road, 11 Woodfire “celebrates Earth's natural bounty and community” with a theme that is centred on fire. The restaurant is led by Singaporean chef Akmal Anuar, who says the delightfully named chlorophyll, a refreshing and tangy salad of green leaves and seaweed, buttressed by sweet and creamy pureed edamame, is one his favourite dishes.

Others on the menu include chicken wings marinated in spiced coconut and togarashi, cooked in the wood-fired oven; crispy duck leg with a cucumber, hoisin and sumac dressing; and Wagyu burger with melted Gouda, mushrooms and sriracha.

11 Woodfire is also one of 11 Michelin-starred restaurants in Dubai.

More information is at

Zuma, Abu Dhabi

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 43 (new entry)

Some of the capital's residents may be surprised to know this is the first time Zuma Abu Dhabi has featured on the list, especially as Mena's 50 Best describes the branch as “a force to be reckoned with”. While the menu is similar to the one served in the DIFC outpost, Zuma Abu Dhabi is more intimate than its club-style Dubai counterpart.

Located at The Galleria Al Maryah Island, it offers waterfront views and a private dining room for up to 14 guests.

More information is available at

Jun’s, Dubai

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 44 (new entry)

Chinese chef Kelvin Cheung was born in Canada, brought up in the US, worked for 10 years in India and has trained in French cuisine. These myriad experiences conflate in his Downtown Dubai restaurant, which offers a fusion of North American, Asian and Indian dishes.

There are no starters and mains here, but “littles” and “grills” instead. Dishes include Hokkaido scallops and corn puree doused in a Japanese yuzu kosho citrus chilli paste; salmon tartare paired with a lightly grilled avocado crushed with shrimp ceviche, and seasoned with thyme, lemon, mint and jalapeno; and tempura za’atar chaat with tamarind, yoghurt, avocado crema and chaat masala.

More information is available at

Hakkasan, Abu Dhabi

Mena’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ranking: No 49 (down from No 25)

Overlooking the grounds of Emirates Palace, the Cantonese restaurant offers two seating options: the cavernous dining room is all dark wood panelling, porthole-like windows and intimate lighting, while the terrace is bright and buzzing.

Best known for its creative dim sum, the restaurant offers flavour combinations such as kaffir lime lobster, Chilean sea bass with truffle and peppery morel mushrooms. Other popular dishes include the crispy Peking duck with hoisin sauce; and fried rice trio, with Thai brown, red vita and riceberry grains.

Hakkasan is also one of three restaurants to receive a star following the debut Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi.

More information is available at

Scroll through the gallery to see all the restaurants part of Mena's 50 Best Restaurants 2023 list

Updated: August 24, 2023, 12:13 PM