Newcomers or OGs, these are the restaurants to check out in Dubai right now
Ah, Dubai; a city where eating out is basically a national sport. With restaurants offering cuisines from all over the world from street food to Michelin stars, the F&B* market in the UAE is an ever-growing one with profits accumulating nearly 38 billion dollars this 2023.**
While some venues no longer need to make a name for themselves, plenty of new openings promise to keep things interesting. We put on our foodie cap on and went on a tasteful adventure around town to bring you the best of what the food scene in the city has to offer right now.
The Citronelle Club at SO/Uptown
Leave it to Factory People to bring in the fun and now, the flavours into your life. A Beirut-import, Soul Kitchen is one of our favourite new addition to the Dubai dining scene. A fusion of Mediterranean and Latino cuisines, inspired by the Arab diaspora in South America, Soul Kitchen combines all the elements for a night to remember: delicious food, original drinks, cool vibes and good tunes.
We’ve completely fallen in love with the Arak peach Bellini, which probably says a lot considering Arak isn’t our thing (we know, an unpopular thing to say as Lebanese), while the hamachi ceviche and red snapper are bursting with flavours and the vegetarian manti (Armenian dumpling in yogurt and tomato sauce) truly hits the spot . The churros are the perfect sweet ending, lighter than most we’ve had.
The decor was also particularly well thought-of and makes you depart Dubai to land in an edgy mystical forest somewhere between Peru and Mexico. A major plus? The fabulous Jazz night once a month on Monday. A brunch is launching this week but we will have to report back for that one. Oh, and if that’s your thing, don’t mess out on the mezcal Negroni.
Marasi Drive, Business Bay
T: 04 836 0900
Roka is part of these places we keep going back to because, from the friendly service, to the good vibes and spectacular food, there’s really not much not to love here.
This time, we made our way to Roka for their newly-launched buffet brunch that is taking place every Saturday: Thankfully, we came hungry and gladly honored about every single dish that was beautifully displayed on the counter.
Where to even begin? While some of the signature rolls were cozying up next to crunchy salads, crispy rice bites and other takoyakis, mini burgers and karaage chicken sat next to each other, offering an alternative to the otherwise mostly pescatarian and vegetarian options.
And if the buffet suffices to keep you full until your next brunch, know that a main dish and a selection of desserts await to be served to you at your table. For an additional 60dhs, you can even order the house’s signature Black Cod and honestly, we would’t sleep on that option.
With 3 different packages of mocktails, house wine & prosecco or champagne, everyone will find something to enjoy. The atmosphere was laid back but still elegant and the tunes just kept on giving. Service was top notch and legend says we already booked for next month.
The Opus by Omniyat Level 1, Business Bay
T: 04 439 7171
While Saudi breakfast might not be your typical go-to, Foul and Tamees will make you want to turn that around real fast. In a beautiful setting in Jumeirah 3, with gorgeous interiors, Foul and Tamees serves all the traditional Saudi breakie staples in a relaxing atmosphere.
The tamees were filling and delicious , with generous portions to share. The signature shakshuka was one of the best we’ve had, complimented by warm house bread to scoop it with.
As coffee lovers, we were excited to try the espresso and are happy to report that it was absolutely delicious. At Foul and Tamees howeevr, no plant-based milk, so in case that’s what you usually go for, here it’s best to enjoy your kahwa black.
Staff was very kind and helpful and clientele was fully local and Saudi which, we’d like to believe is a sign that food is proper.
FOUL AND TAMEES
Villa 9 Al Athar Street – Jumeirah 3
T: 04 548 8362
A place to see and be seen, Alaya is the Mediterranean – Levantine fusion restaurant of the Fundamental Hospitality group (Gaia, Shanghai Me, La Maison Ani and partnerships with Cipriani, Scalini …) where crowds of beautiful people gather in a luxurious atmosphere.
As it is often the case with restaurants around DIFC, the lights are dimmed and the music is loud, making it the perfect spot for a girl’s night out or just a fun night with your friends or boo.
While we know our levantine cuisine’s classics. Alaya proposes revisited versions, elevated with surprising twists. So what’s to order absolutely? The yellowtail lakerda with ginger and sumac, the kale tabbouleh diced to perfection, the grilled octopus with avocado mousse and the gigantic chilean seabass with tamarind, lemon and thyme.
But no matter what you do, please make sure to save room for dessert and treat yourself to the Alaya tiramisù, as to know, cylinders of phylo pastry filled with a delicate whipped coffee cream. Sorry Nonna, but this was incredible.
The service was helpful, kind and attentive, and told us to be back on a weekend when allegedly, everyone ends up dancing the night away.
Gate 4, DIFC
04 570 6289
Nestled in the newly opened SO/Uptown hotel in JLT, The Citronelle Club marries pan-Asian cuisine and French influences for an unforgettable result.
First and foremost, we need to mention how attentive and kind the staff was, truly an essential part of an enjoyable night out. Please do yourself a favour and order the incredible dim sums, the shrimp and scallop siu mai and the -nothing short of exceptional- lobster curry, which definitely jumps on the podium of the 3 best dishes we’ve had in the city. Try it for yourself but we said what we said!
The ambiance is as lovely as the rest, and if you plan on visiting with a large party, know that they have gorgeous – what we’d call semi-private- dining rooms, the perfect occasion to immerse yourself in the The Citronelle Club experience fully.
THE CITRONELLE CLUB
SO/Uptown , JLT
T: 050 421 0753
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*Food & Beverage
** Source: statista.com