Dubai is a gastronomic melting pot, blending culinary influences from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. From savoring Arabic meze to taking food tours that showcase its multicultural cuisine, here are Dubai’s don’t-miss foods and experiences.
Variety is the spice of life in Dubai’s cuisine. That said, many meals start with Arabic meze—assorted small dishes such as moutabel (eggplant dip), falafel (chickpea balls), and khubz flatbread. For mains, locals love mandi—chicken or lamb with nuts, rice, and yogurt. Other staples include Indian-inspired curries and shawarma—lamb, chicken, or beef wrapped in pita bread—often served during dinner on Dubai’s desert tours or as on-the-go snacks. For the ultimate Middle Eastern fast food, however, try a local classic—a camel-meat burger.
Dubai does a mean line in sweets, desserts, and nonalcoholic drinks, too. Try umm ali (bread pudding) and dates coated in chocolate—the latter often camel-milk chocolate. It’s also hard to miss the ritual Arabic dates and ghahwa (coffee). This traditional greeting features strong, freshly brewed coffee in small, handleless cups accompanied by fresh dates. Finally, to quench your thirst, you can’t beat Dubai’s favorite: ice-cold mint lemonade made with lemons, sugar, and fresh mint leaves.
- Join a food walking tour to sample Dubai’s culinary mash-up, from camel burgers to Asian-inspired snacks.
- Discover the key role of coffee and dates in Emirati culture on a guided visit to the Al Fahidi quarter.
- Feast on lamb shawarma during dinner at a desert camp.
- Cool off after exploring old Dubai with a glass of sharp, mint-infused lemonade.
- Take a dinner cruise on an Arabian dhow boat and savor local staples such as moutabel and umm ali.