When it comes to restaurants in Dubai – as with everything else here – there is plenty of choice. Some people want excellent food, wine, and beautiful environment. Others place more emphasis on, for example, a sea or desert view. I will recommend options that cover these diverse needs.
There is probably no restaurant to rival Reflets in Dubai. It has over the top décor – shocking pink/purple carpet, boudoir chairs, and massive chandeliers. You will want to be at your most elegant.
The food is exquisite and complex. Luckily, the waiter will tell you (in detail) what you are getting in each tiny dish. The sommelier has a broad selection of wines and beers to draw from, and is perfectly pleasant about helping diners match wine or beer to their food.
Despite the small serving sizes, you will not go away hungry if you opt for the tasting menu – but expect a substantial bill and keep calm while you pay it.
This is another great French restaurant, but leaned more to a simpler style of cooking. It is inspired by the food of the old town of Nice and its links to Genoa. You will not need the waiter to explain the menu, nor identify the ingredients in each dish.
If it looks like asparagus, that is what it will be. There is a great bar for pre or post-prandial drinks, and the wine list is appropriate for the menu. The seafood dishes are particularly good, but the chef can produce as good a meat dish as any I have had!
While it is far from cheap, it is not eye-wateringly expensive – considering the elegance of the environment, the pampering offered, and most importantly, the great food.
French again, but as different from the two above as the different regions of France are from each other. The gleaming kitchen is the center of the room, and wood smoke perfumes the restaurant. You will be equally happy with your meal whether you opt for seafood or meat.
Although Traiteur is in the Park Hyatt in Deira, a part of Dubai that has been a little left behind recently, it has the advantage of being right on Dubai Creek. In the cooler months, you can dine right on the creek – but beware, it can actually be too cold some nights.
There was so much excitement about the arrival of Nobu in Dubai, and despite there being many other great Japanese restaurants here now, Nobu’s relaxed fusion means it has retained popularity. Classic dishes like black cod with miso sauce will always delight, but brioche Wagyu burgers and tacos certainly will as well! It’s all a little crazy – and it works.
Being located in the Atlantis Hotel is an advantage enhanced by the rather extravagant décor. It is certainly an experience, enjoyable for both adults and children. Not many of the top restaurants in Dubai are child compatible, but Nobu manages to be.
This restaurant is a contender for those looking for a great Japanese dining experience, yet it is not in direct competition with Nobu. While Nobu is all fusion, Tomo is more traditional Japanese food. The authentic, delicate flavors of varying of types of tofu, as well as the fulsome flavor of shiso, are what diners with a love of traditional Japanese food will be able to revel in.
6. Pai Thai
In the Al Qasr Hotel, part of the Madinat Jumeirah complex is a Thai restaurant you have to know about – as you will not happen to see it in passing. In fact, the Madinat complex is like that in many respects, so it is worth exploring for more than its restaurants.
There are other temptations (such as an amazing spa), and you can even take an abra along the man-made canals to get to the restaurant.
The waiters are knowledgeable and attentive. The food is plentiful, delicious, and served in a fittingly elegant setting. Pai Thai is perhaps best enjoyed in the cooler months of October to April.
There are many Indian restaurants in Dubai. Most of them are very cheap and still very good, but if you want something special, try Amal in the understated elegance of the Armani Hotel. It is right in the heart of Dubai in the Burj Khalifa, and of course, a location like this comes at a price. It also affords you a view of the Dubai Fountain, which puts on a spectacular display of light and sound on the hour.
The food served here is quite different from what you will find at street level, being more refined and delicate of flavor. However, all the expected dishes are available, including charcoal grilled meats, spicy vegetables, and a variety of curries, rice, and naans.
8. Al Hadheerah
This restaurant is at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort, a magical place in the gentle sands not far from the hub of Dubai. It is a chance to feel the desert experience in luxurious comfort, but at a level where you really know you are in the desert.
The food is Arab style with lots of meat cooked over charcoal, but Arab cuisine also has excellent vegetable dishes and an emphasis on fruit. These are well represented here as well.
Edging a little on the twee side, there are accompanying entertainments that include camels and belly dancers – the whole clichéd representation of Arabia – but executed in such charming surrounding, you will enjoy it.
When ambiance is of prime importance, look no further than Pierchic. Seafood in the perfect setting – on stilts in the Gulf. When the sky is clear, there is no better place to be.
Watch the sun sink into the water almost within easy reach and indulge in seafood at its best – but don’t get so overwhelmed by the view that you neglect the food. There is Michelin chef magic inspiring the cuisine, the work of Laurent Gras.
This is the ideal venue for a celebration, and it is possible hire sections (or “pods”) for private parties. Peirchic is part of the Madinat Jumeirah complex, all of which is worth exploring.
These are nine of the best in Dubai, but perhaps on another day I could pick nine equally good but different restaurants. Well, maybe not nine – the first three will always be on my list!