5 Bites of Dubai, United Arab Emirates
They say nothing grows in the desert, but you can bet your bottom dirham that your belly will if you’re planning to holiday in Dubai. A mixture of Indian, Arabic, Lebanese, Iranian, and Moroccan cuisine made for an endless array of options during my two years in sand central. And the brunches. Oh, the brunches.
Breakfast: Feel like eating breakfast like the royals do? At The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding you’ll get your chops around real Emirati food and traditional dishes like chibab, a flatbread infused with saffron, hareess, a kind of meaty porridge, and the yummy luqaimat, a sweet donut that’s served drizzled with honey. Reservations are a must.
Snack: Shawarma is a Dubai staple and Shawermama doesn’t disappoint. Yes, it looks more like a fast-food joint, but don’t judge this Jordanian chain before you’ve tasted meat that’s been marinated in not one, but 15 different sauces. Another snack worth traveling for is the cheese manakish served at the Al Reef Lebanese Bakery. Late at night this will blow your mind and the grease should ease your impending hangover, too.
Lunch: For some of the best food in Dubai on a limited schedule, splash some cash on a Friday brunch feast you won’t forget — unless you gorge on the endless Bollinger on offer at Yalumba, that is. This Australian-themed brunch is one of the best and booziest around. Alternatively, the exquisite Al Qasr brunch is famous for its almost unfathomable size, spanning several restaurants and boasting separate cheese and meat rooms. You even get a map on arrival. Wear loose clothing, and maybe take some Tupperware (sssh!).
Dinner: It might sound mad, but dinner at the foot of the indoor ski slope is a must in Dubai. Après serves up some of the best Gruyère cheese, garlic, and white wine fondue on Earth, and some pretty good pizzas, too. Go on, ogle at the skiers in dish dash and forget you’re in a desert city. For dinner with a view, Vu's Restaurant puts you on the 51st floor of the Jumeirah Emirates Towers and serves the best cocktails in town.
Shisha: OK, so you can’t exactly eat shisha, but it is a staple in Dubai. You can have a puff pretty much everywhere, but for a lively atmosphere and great food, head to Fudo, behind the Mercato Mall. Opt for the mint shisha, the spaghetti Bolognese, and learn something from the inspiring quotes on the walls. For something more opulent outdoors, you can’t beat a pipe at the stunning Arabian Court Peregrine Garden.
Ah, Dubai. Your decadence still dances through my dreams!
Becky Wicks has lived in Dubai for two years and is the author of Burqalicious – The Dubai Diaries, A true story of sun, sand, sex, and secrecy.