FoodfindsAsia.com | 8 Reasons Why Dubai Needs to Be Your Next Culinary Destination | Whenever travelers think of their favorite food capitals, cities like London, Tokyo, and New York always appear on such lists. Honorable mentions also go to cities like Bangkok, Shanghai, and Paris. One underrated culinary gem that often falls just under the radar is Dubai.
Often considered as a lifestyle destination rather than a culinary hotspot, Dubai is creating a new culinary frontier. The city is forward-thinking and cosmopolitan, and this idea is captured through its extraordinary culinary scene.
Whether you’re looking for fine dining restaurants in Dubai or impossibly cool coffee bars, there’s never been a tastier time to visit Dubai.
Here, we round up the eight reasons why Dubai is the perfect setting for your next unforgettable dining experience.
Bustling food scene
Dubai’s reputation as a bustling cosmopolitan hub and a foodie paradise is evident by the number of dining venues opening its doors for the first time every month. In a report published by the Department of Economic Development (DED), in 2018 alone, over 1,100 restaurants and cafes opened in Dubai.
And with Expo 2020 Dubai a few short months away, ongoing investments in the food and beverage industry is expected to accelerate. You’re sure to see a fresh wave of restaurants build new buzz as the city prepares for Expo 2020 Dubai.
Home to a vibrant expat community
A magnetic, multicultural vibe can do wonders for a city’s culinary landscape. From authentic Arabian cuisine to Cantonese dim sum, Dubai has plenty of intriguing cuisines for locals and guests to try. This tantalizing array of mouth-watering options highlights the diversity of the city’s populace.
No matter what you’re craving, Dubai’s globally inspired restaurant scene has something for everyone.
Respected culinary personalities, some with Michelin-star pedigrees, have come to call Dubai home.
From Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal to Kemal Çeylan, several high-profile chefs have set up their signature restaurant across the emirate, earmarking Dubai as a true culinary destination.
But Dubai champions local talent, too. Authentic Emirati fare is increasingly cropping up across town. Some of these newer restaurants are bucking the trend, forgoing traditional menus for something more contemporary.
Whether it’s date-stuffed chicken roulade, naghar mashwi (grilled squid), or lamb machboos, expect hearty meat dishes and a display of openness to global techniques and flavors.
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding also offers travelers the opportunity to partake in local culture while enjoying a traditional Emirati meal.
Pushing culinary boundaries
With some of the finest culinary talents imprinting their name across Dubai’s dining scene, an endless amount of creativity finds its way into many of Dubai’s dishes.
To taste the city’s more refined side, head over to Dubai Creek. A historical focal point for the city, Dubai Creek has long been an important cultural and economic hub for the emirate. Today, Dubai Creek maintains much of its historic charm.
For discerning travelers, Dubai Creek is also home to some of the finest restaurants in the city.
One of the best restaurants in Al Seef is a lifestyle dining freestyle grill concept. Helmed by the celebrated Kemal Çeylan, diners in this waterfront spot will find a global fusion menu that features first-rate dishes like melt-in-your-mouth beef Asado and thick-cut, perfectly seared steaks.
But the star of this culinary show is the fresh sea bass, marinated in chef Çeylan’s signature orange sauce and stuffed spring onion, ginger, garlic, chili, and lemon. The made-to-order baked sea bass is then coated with edible 23-karat gold, making for a truly multi-sensory dining experience.
A farm-to-table approach
Sustainability and food security have long been a focus of the United Arab Emirates government. And as the sustainability movement grows in Dubai, so do the seasonal and local offerings.
Certain innovative approaches to agriculture allow the arid emirate to grow more sustainable crops.
Vertical farming uses hydroponic technology to grow crops with little water. While still a burgeoning movement, this step towards sustainability is paving the way for a new breed of organic, fresh, and accessible deliciousness.
As such sustainable approaches to farming continue to grow, restaurants will soon adapt their menus to offer more seasonal, locally produced goods.
Food festivals aplenty
If Dubai wasn’t already a leading gastronomic destination, its annual culinary celebration transforms the city into a magical place where food enthusiasts can sample some of the city’s best dishes, eateries, and new food concepts.
Running for two and a half weeks, the Dubai Food Festival is a city-wide event that features numerous events, ranging from set menus, masterclasses, and tastings. Of all the city-wide events held during the Dubai Food Festival, none are more highly anticipated than Dubai Restaurant Week.
Held across 10 days, Dubai Restaurant Week showcases esteemed dining venues from upscale restaurants to trendy eateries offering three-course meals at a set price.
Other notable, can’t-miss food festivals held throughout the year include:
- Umm Al Quwain Food Truck Carnival (February 27 – March 3)
- Taste of Dubai (March 12 – March 14)
- The Speciality Food Festival (April 6 – April 8)
A bustling coffee culture
Despite the city’s arid climate, coffee is an obsession in Dubai. The city has a long storied history with coffee. Even today, coffee is a symbol of hospitality, with visitors being offered a cup of coffee served in a small cup with no handle.
With Dubai having one of the most sophisticated coffee cultures in the Middle East, there are many ways you can tempt your taste buds.
One of the most traditional ways to enjoy coffee is by drinking Arabic coffee spiced with cardamom, cloves, and saffron. Enjoy with a platter of fresh dates for a truly authentic experience. For a more ornate affair, indulge by sipping on a cappuccino made with 24-karat gold.
While Dubai’s culinary scene may seduce travelers to visit the city, its scenic dining views are sure to be something that many travelers won’t quickly forget. From incredibly panoramic city views to yachts floating in the harbor, there’s no shortage of stunning vistas to enjoy.
For some truly unique alfresco dining, make it a point to journey out to Dubai during the cooler months.
A spare-no-expense dining scene
Like everything else in Dubai, the city is the ultimate destination for any discerning traveler looking to experience their next great meal. Whether you’re drawn to the city by big-name spots or the diverse cuisines available, Dubai has undoubtedly become one of the most exciting food cities in the world.