Eating your way around the world, whilst visiting Dubai, is one of the most deliciously satisfying aspects of a vacation here. The lure of this economic powerhouse has infected some of the world’s best chefs, resulting in Dubai being home to a plethora of world-class, Michelin starred eateries. Yet it must be mentioned that the ‘street food’ here is also top-notch thanks to the cultural diversity of Dubai. Dubai may be home to the filthy-rich yet it is also home to the filthy-poor, and the striking difference between the two social classes is never more evident as with the city’s eating choices. Here, you can buy dinner for $1 or $1,000, the choice is yours. You can either book a table at Pierre Gagnaire’s award winning joint for a mouth-watering blue lobster, or head to Al Dhiyafah Road to join the city’s less-affluent folks in devouring quite possibly the best Lebanese food outside of Beirut.
In Dubai, even shopping mall food courts are out of this world, not to mention the amazing culinary experiences found in the city’s very best hotels and resorts. When it comes to indulging your palate, we dare say eating out in Dubai is about as close to gastronomic heaven as one could get.
Amongst all these choices however, there are three particular experiences which are uniquely Dubai, so if you really can’t spare $1,000 for a Bloomsbury Golden Phoneix Cupcake (one of the most expensive dishes on earth), then at the very least indulge in one of the following memorable eats.
Dubai Food – The Friday all-you-can-eat & drink brunch experience
While brunch may not necessarily be a new concept to you, trust us when we tell you that you’ve NEVER seen a brunch like a Dubai Friday brunch.
Unsurprisingly, Dubai has adopted the brunch scene with fervour and elevated it to levels not seen anywhere else in the world. The all-you-can-eat and drink brunch (held on Fridays, the first day of the Islamic week-end) is a mind-boggling event, no matter where you go. Opt for the Al Qasr Resort in Jumeirah, one of the Dubai’s most elegant and outlandish hotel complexes, and you can join over 800 other guests; all trying to negotiate their palates through 40 international foodie stations spread out over the entire ground floor of the hotel. As you can imagine…it’s not for the faint of heart.
This maze of epicurean delights can be quite overwhelming at first sight, and you may find yourself walking around open-mouthed for the first half an hour. Never fear, you’ve got between 12.30pm and 4pm to eat your way around the world so take your time, and don’t be surprised if you start heading for the Japanese sushi stand and get side-tracked by the Mexican Mojito stand instead, it happens a lot. Not to mention the 10-metre dessert buffet table, complete with one of the largest chocolate fountains we’ve ever seen, which is also annoyingly placed right between the Japanese sushi stand and the Italian wood-fired oven pizza stand, which makes things very confusing indeed. In case you’ve ever wondered what a slice of Napoletana tastes like dipped in melted Swiss chocolate; let us assure it’s good. Really good.
An extravagant Friday brunch at Al Qasr will set you back just over $100, and that includes bubbly and cocktails as well, making this one of the most incredible deals in Dubai.
The sunset dinner cruise experience
Dining aboard a modern cruiser, while sailing alongside the spectacular Dubai Creek, is really something worth experiencing, especially on your first visit to Dubai. Seeing the sun cast its last rays over the extraordinary city is quite impressive at the best of times, yet experiencing it from a boat on the creek is truly exceptional.
The choice of sunset dinner cruises along Dubai Creek is quite head-spinning, yet we think Bateaux Dubai’s luxury cruise is the way to go for an elegant and romantic dining experience. Rather than elbowing your way through a hastily put together buffet table (like most other dinner cruises), you can sit back, relax and enjoy the à la carte table service on board the Bateaux. Dinner cruises range in price from $75 to $100 depending on the season, so check out Bateaux Dubai’s website for the latest special offers.
The desert tent dining experience
This particular dining experience is extra special because you need to join a desert safari group to enjoy it. Ha, double-whammy! Spend a couple of hours bashing around on the dunes before being escorted to a desert tented camp where a delicious grilled dinner awaits your salivating taste buds. Complete with belly dancing show, camel riding and shisha smoking, this is by far one of the most fun ways to ‘eat out’ in Dubai. The desert night sky is mesmerizing, as is the whole set up of these tented camps. The food is delicious and plentiful and buffets include local staples like falafel, hummus and babaganoush, so if you’ve yet to try these Arabic delicacies you’ll be in for a real treat.
The city’s absolutely littered with desert safari companies; it seems as if every dude with a Toyota Landcruiser runs his own trip, and it may seem like they all offer the same services, but actually that couldn’t be further from the truth. Some are just mass-tourism driven, offering a 10 minute dune bash followed my sub-standard dinner fare. So splurge a little here and go with companies like Platinum Heritage who really offer top-notch service and food, it will be well worth your while. Plus…this company uses vintage Land Rovers instead of modern Toyotas, so you know it’s going to be a classy affair, even if you risk breaking down several times on the way to dinner!
** NB. Some tourists have been known to complain that these desert camps don’t seem to be very authentic and, while that may be true, let us assure this is not all bad news. Anyone who’s ever been inside a real Bedouin tent can attest to the fact that if these were genuine camps, you’d be sharing your floor matt with belching camels and stinky goats; you’d barely have enough food to stop the hunger pangs, and there most definitely would not be some slender young thing belly dancing for your evening entertainment. So go forth, book your desert safari and enjoy the experience…in all its authenticity!
Golden Phoenix Cupcake courtesy of Bloomsbury, Dubai
Al Qasr dining courtesy of Al Qasr Resort
Mojito stand courtesy of author 🙂
Dinner Cruise courtesy of Bateaux Dubai
Desert dining courtesy of trecLit via Flickr