The Best Local Foods to Try in Dubai

The Best Local Foods to Try in Dubai

Dubai has become a melting pot of different cultures, especially with its huge expat population. This also means that food in the city has become as diverse as its people!

But if you want to immerse yourself in Emirati culture, start by experiencing the local food scene in Dubai. So in this guide, we’ll walk you through these foods and the best spots in the city to get them.

Dubai’s Must-Try Local Foods


Image source: Time Out Dubai

You can get shawarma anywhere in the world, but nothing compares to the authentic shawarma that you can find in Dubai.

In fact, the sight of a huge vertical rotisserie cooking chicken, beef, turkey or veal meat that’s marinated with Middle Eastern spices is already a culinary experience.

Shawarma is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine originating from the 19th century Ottoman Empire.

Back then, people would stack meat slices and grill them horizontally, cutting off pieces as they cooked because they discovered that it kept the meat moist and cooked it faster.

Did You Know?

The Arabic term “shawarma” doesn’t refer to the food itself but the way of cooking the meat. 

The term comes from the Turkish word “cevirme” that means “turning” to describe how the meat is cooked on a rotating rotisserie.

Today, shawarma is a favorite snack among locals and tourists because it’s easy to grab and go, it’s very filling and of course, it’s budget-friendly.

It’s actually one of the best budget foods in Dubai and you can find a shawarma shop in almost every corner in the city.

The Best Places to Get Shawarma in Dubai

The Best Places to Get Shawarma in Dubai
Image source: Food Navigator Asia

There’s no shortage of authentic shawarma shops in Dubai, but here are the top places in the city where you can grab this delicious snack:

Al BeirutiAddress: Umm Al Sheif - Sheikh Zayed Road - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: 04 320 0043

Prices: $10.89 (chicken)/ $11.44 (beef)

This Lebanese restaurant is known for its chicken and beef shawarma platters served with coleslaw, salad, grilled potato or signature fries.

Allo BeirutAddress: Hessa Street - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: 800 862 34788

Prices: $2.99 (small)/ $5.45 (large)

This restaurant is known for their huge delicious beef or chicken shawarmas that you could order with baked saj or Arabic bread.

Al FalamankiAddress: Jumeirah Beach Road - Jumeirah 2 - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: 055 300 45500

Prices: $13.61

This local Lebanese shop offers a unique twist to the traditional shawarma with its beef shawarma rolls.

Al HallabAddress: The Dubai Mall - Downtown Dubai - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: 04 330 8828

Prices: $2.99 (shawarma only)/ $9.26 (with garlic, pickles and fries)

This restaurant elevates the classic shawarma by using a soft bread to encase juicy chicken meat with a side of fries, pickles and garlic paste.

Al MallahAddress: Al Seef - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Prices: $2.45

Al Mallah is an institution in Dubai since it launched as a juice bar in the 70’s and later on became known as one of the best shawarma shops in the city.


Image source: Khaleej Times

If you’re a fan of doughnuts, you’ll love one of the most popular local foods in Dubai, the luqaimat.

These sweet doughnut balls are fried until they’re crispy on the outside and drizzled with a traditional sugar or date syrup to give it that extra sweetness.

Did You Know?

The term “luqaimat” comes from the Arabic word “luqma,” which means bite or morsel.

The dessert was originally called “luqmat al-qadi” or “judge’s morsels.” Luqaimat is also known as “lokma” in Turkish cuisine and “loukoumades” in Greek cuisine.

The history of making luqaimat dates back to the medieval times where traditionally, yeast-leavened dough is fried in oil and drizzled with sugar syrup or honey. 

A good batter plays an important role in achieving that crispy exterior and pillowy interior, so making luqaimat takes true mastery for the craft. 

Aside from being a popular afternoon snack paired with Arabic tea, luqaimat is also eaten a lot during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

The Best Places to Get Luqaimat in Dubai

The Best Places to Get Luqaimat in Dubai
Image source: Gulf News

Whether you’re looking for a perfect dessert to finish a delicious Emirati meal or a snack during tea time, these are the best places in Dubai to get luqaimat:

Bait Al Kanafa and Traditional FoodsAddress: 32 24 St. - Deira - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: +971 4 268 9900

Prices: $6.26

This restaurant doesn’t only serve some of the best local dishes in Dubai, but it also offers different varieties of luqaimat including plain, nutella and lotus.

You can even have your luqaimat topped with Oman chips.

LOGMAAddress: Unit TF - 004 - Financial Center Road - Downtown Dubai - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: +971 800 56462

Prices: $9.53

LOGMA is an Arabic restaurant serving Khaleeji and Emirati cuisine.

It’s popular for making traditional luqaimats drizzled with date syrup, but you also have the option to go modern with a Nutella drizzle.

Loqmato Cafeteria DubaiAddress: Lower Ground - The Dubai Mall (New Food Court Area) - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: +971 58 949 2000

Prices: $5.17

Known for its wide variety of luqaimat options, Loqmato Cafeteria is one of the best spots in Dubai if you’re craving for a snack.

Global VillageAddress: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road - E311 Road - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: +971 4 567 5050

Prices: $16.34 for two people

If you’re visiting Global Village during your trip, make sure to look for luqaimat stalls in the area where you can sample these authentic snacks.

Arabian Tea House Restaurant and CafeAddress: Bastakiya - Al Fahidi St. - Bur Dubai - Al Fahidi - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: +971 4 353 5071

Prices: $8.17

Known for being the first authentic Emirati restaurant in Dubai, the Arabian Tea House is the best place in the city to sample luqaimat and other local dishes.


Image source: Medium

Khuzi or ghuzi is the national dish of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and it’s a feast for the senses.

The star of this dish is the roasted lamb that’s served on a bed of rice with vegetables, nuts and raisins. 

It also speaks of Emirati and Middle Eastern cuisine with all the spices used in making the dish including saffron, nutmeg and cinnamon.

The Best Places to Get Khuzi in Dubai

The Best Places to Get Khuzi in Dubai
Image source: The Modern East

Khuzi is a staple in Emirati homes during special occasions because it’s a dish perfect for big gatherings. 

But you can also enjoy authentic khuzi in one of these top-rated spots in Dubai:

Al Fanar Restaurant and CafeAddress: Al Barsha Pond Park - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: +971 4 232 9966

A lot of locals would recommend Al Fanar Restaurant for its delicious food and traditional ambiance.

It’s also one of the best local restaurants in Dubai to serve khuzi.

Bu Qtair Fish RestaurantAddress: Old 32B St. - Fishing Harbor 2 - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: +971 55 705 2130

Considered one of the best seafood restaurants in Dubai, Bu Qtair is also known for serving delicious khuzi in small or large sizes.


Image source: Living + Nomads

Although it originated in Central Asia, the samosa is a well-loved snack in the Middle East and you’ll find a lot of local shops selling these fried treats in the streets of Dubai.

Samosas are so popular that September 5 is celebrated as World Samosa Day to honor this crunchy snack.

A samosa is essentially a fried pastry filled with meat, vegetables and other types of fillings depending on where you’re buying it. 

Samosas are traditionally triangular-shaped, but you can also see half-moon and cone-shaped samosas depending on the region.

In Dubai, you’ll see both triangular and empanada-shaped samosas being sold on the streets and in restaurants.

Did You Know?

In Arab countries, samosas are also called  “sambousek” and they are shaped like empanadas instead of the traditional triangular samosa.

These snacks are filled with cheese, meat, pine nuts and onion and widely served during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

The Best Places to Get Samosas in Dubai

The Best Places to Get Samosas in Dubai
Image source: Dubai Travel

Whether you like a classic or a more adventurous samosa, here are the best spots in Dubai to grab this quintessential tea time snack:

Gazebo RestaurantAddress: Dubai Creek Harbour- Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: 04 354 7589

Prices: $6.53

Gazebo is a popular Indian restaurant serving some of the best samosas in Dubai.

Try their murgh samosa with chicken mince, cheese samosa and subzi samosa with steamed potatoes and green peas.

Project ChaiwalaAddress: Alserkal Avenue - Warehouse 68 - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: +971 4 223 1139

Prices: $5.45

Established in 2017, Project Chaiwala is a unique tea shop in Dubai that features Chai culture through food.

But what makes this cafe a must-try is their unique samosa called “smashmosa” that’s a reinvention of the fried snack topped with onions, tomatoes and pomegranate seeds.

India BistroAddress: Dubai World - Sheikh Zayed Road - Trade Center 2 - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: +971 52 652 9353

Prices: $5.45

India Bistro is an award-winning Indian restaurant that serves one of the best samosas in the city.

In fact, it’s authentic Punjabi samosa is a favorite among locals with its potato and green peas mash filling.

You can also try their samosa chaat, which is a deep fried pastry that’s crushed and topped with freshly made chutney.


Image source: Feed Your Sole

It may be the national dish of Qatar, but machboos is a well-loved local food in Dubai.

Machboos is essentially a rice dish that’s flavored with different aromatic spices like bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom and dry lime to give it a distinct smoky flavor.

The rice is then topped with grilled chicken, raisins and pine nuts and traditionally served in a huge platter for the family to share.

Some restaurants also use seafood or lamb as an alternative to chicken.

Machboos is also popular in Kuwaiti and Indian cuisines and they’re influenced by the use of spices in Indian cooking.

The Best Places to Get Machboos in Dubai

The Best Places to Get Machboos in Dubai
Image source: We Dubai Online

Never leave Dubai without trying the famous machboos in one of these top places in the city:

Al Fanar Restaurant and CafeAddress: Ground Floor - Dubai Festival City Mall - Canal Walk - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: +971 4 232 9966

Al Fanar Restaurant and Cafe is highly recommended for authentic Emirati dishes including one of the best machboos dishes that you can enjoy in Dubai.

The machboos rice here is a true feast with 2 kilos of mutton shoulder on top of infused basmati rice.

You can also go for the machboos tray with fish, grilled squid and prawns on top.

Al Fanar also offers machboos samak, machboos robyan, machboos laham and machboos deyay.

LOGMAAddress: Unit TF - 004 - Financial Center Road - Downtown Dubai - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Contact Info: +971 800 56462

LOGMA is another popular restaurant in Dubai serving delicious machboos options including fish, lamb and chicken with their famous raita sauce.

A Culinary Journey Through Local Foods in Dubai

Aside from its iconic landmarks, Dubai also offers world-class food options that showcase the rich history and culture of the city.

From main courses to snacks, you’ll never run out of local foods to try around the city, and you don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy an amazing culinary experience.

So, if you’re visiting Dubai soon, make sure that you set aside a day to explore the best food spots in the city and learn about Emirati cuisine that’s one of the most underrated in the world.