The UAE is home to a diverse range of restaurants, serving a wide variety of cuisine. From Indian curries to Italian pizzas and everything in between, the international offering is expansive. The number of local eateries, on the other hand, is somewhat smaller, but growing all the time.
Here's a list of five of the most popular Khaleeji and Emirati venues across both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
With venues in Dubai and Abu Dhabi – and even a new branch in London – Al Fanar is one of the most recognisable and popular proponents of Emirati cuisine in the UAE. It's well-known for its traditional decor, which has been designed to resemble a 1960s merchant's home, and for serving up dishes found in home kitchens across the Emirates. It's an educational experience; even the menu gives you a crash course in local customs and common food terms, with a couple of recipes thrown in to boot.
The team at Logma has taken classic Emirati cuisine and made it modern by incorporating fusion elements into their menu. The Box Park restaurant in Dubai features trendy interiors (think bright colours and camel motifs) and dishes like the famous Logma Benedict – poached eggs with shakshouka served on mini khameer bread with Hollandaise sauce and Khaleeji-style spices – and the Chips Oman paratha with cream cheese and hot sauce.
Abu Dhabi is home to its own contemporary-casual Khaleeji restaurant, based in Al Muneera and a food truck that roams around the city. Founded by Shaikha Al Kaabi, Meylas serves traditional regional dishes – from balaleet and rgaag to harees and machboos – using local ingredients in a modern setting. This is food just like grandmother used to make.
Authentic Emirati dishes at a modern beachside venue is what Seven Sands in Dubai has to offer. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, the JBR-adjacent venue serves up a selection of specialities from across the seven emirates. This includes everything from classic mezze plates to chicken madrooba and vegetable saloona, as well as a camel burger and plenty of hot Emirati desserts.
The chefs at Aseelah, which is located in the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek, have taken traditional Emirati food and given it a contemporary, high-class edge. Even though the beautifully decorated restaurant is in the old part of town, it's offering something entirely new. Dishes include a beetroot carpaccio with tahini-flavoured labneh, a soup with slow-poached sustainable seafood from local waters and a trio of camel sliders topped with homemade jams, as well as other more classic renditions of regional favourites.