From fine-dining to fresh catch of the day at the UAE's most humble hole-in-the-walls, these are six of the best fish restaurants the country has to offer.
Sea views, stylish decor and great food is what awaits at this upmarket restaurant in Nation Riviera Beach Club, as well as live entertainment and a busy upstairs bar. The kitchen uses seafood in all sorts of creative ways and with influence from across the world. Think sea bass ceviche, blow-torch dynamite rolls, shellfish bisque and miso-marinated salmon. There are meat-based and vegetarian options on the menu, too.
Off the Hook
Abu Dhabi and Dubai
This highly recommended eatery a more cheap-and-cheerful option, but that doesn't mean they've sacrificed on quality. Seafood is sold by weight (half or full kilogram), then you choose a sauce and spice level to top it off. Find the freshest of fresh crab, mussels, squid, shrimps, king fish and plenty more, then prepare to eat it all with your hands. It's a casual, cosy place with four branches across Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai.
It might be 30 years old, but Fishmarket is anything but worn out. This lovely beach-side spot at Intercontinental Abu Dhabi is where to get the capital's freshest fish cooked to perfection. Visit the huge central counter to pick your seafood and vegetables, then sit back as the chefs get to work, preparing your dish exactly how you want it. Plates are infused with international flavours, from the Mediterranean, the Emirates and Thailand, to name a few. There are also vegetarian options for those eschewing fish.
The Maine Oyster Bar & Grill
This is a firm favourite among fish fans in Dubai, thanks to the fun vibes, delicious food and sophisticated setting. This extends to both the original branch at The Doubletree by Hilton, JBR and the new spot in Studio One Hotel. While diners can order fresh catch and some of the best oysters in town, there are also plenty of other great fishy options, from battered cod tacos to lobster rolls and clam chowder. There's also a whole steak and chops section, plus you can't go wrong with a sharing plate of the oozing, creamy mushroom and truffle pizza.
Lebanese cuisine meets seafood classics at this Palm Jumeirah spot that boasts gorgeous sea views and is actually owned by fishermen. Get your fish cooked in a variety of ways – fried, steamed or grilled – and it's all priced per kilo and served with tahini or lemon, garlic and olive oil sauce. There are also raw options (sashimi and ceviche), international favourites (think battered fish and chips or shrimp curry) and myriad hot and cold mezze dishes, plus chargrilled chicken thrown in for good measure.
Arguably Dubai's most beloved seafood spot is a budget-friendly, casual spot by the fishing harbour that opened three decades ago. In fact, it's so famous that the late American TV chef Anthony Bourdain once featured it on one of his shows. While it was formerly a very humble fish shack that attracted all the fishermen in the area, today Bu Qtair has upgraded its facilities and attracts a diverse crowd, but there's been no compromise on quality or value for money. It still serves fish straight from the sea, fried and in its own secret sauce that has yet to be replicated.