Savoir Flair-Approved: The Best Casual Restaurants in Dubai | Savoir Flair

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Savoir Flair-Approved: The Best Casual Restaurants in Dubai
article @LOGMA
by Savoir Flair 7-minute read February 25, 2023

Too many dining options can sometimes be intimidating, but this definitive list of the best casual restaurants in Dubai will help you plan the perfect meal out.

With new venues popping up around Dubai every week, it can be tough to keep track of what the best restaurants are. In fact, it can be downright daunting. With that in mind, our editors have eaten their way through the city to bring you Savoir Flair’s selection of the best casual restaurants in Dubai. Whether you’re craving a burger, Arabic street food, or Aegean sea fare, we’ve got you covered.

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Best Emirati: Logma 

Think of the food at Logma as Emirati cuisine tailored to the 21st century – sandwiches using traditional khameer bread, a range of salads, hearty rice dishes, and creative desserts such as lugaimat served with Nutella and nuts. Our tip? No matter what you end up choosing, be sure to also order the perfectly seasoned ‘Logma Fries’. This Khaleeji restaurant has proven a real hit with locals and expats alike, thanks in large part to an ambiance that is simple, friendly, and contemporary, with plenty of traditional design elements such as kerosene lamps and woven palm fronds scattered across.

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Best Levantine: Zaroob

Whether you’re a hipster looking to eat a late dinner or a foodie on a quest for authentic street food from the Levant region, this 24-hour eatery on Sheikh Zayed Road will not disappoint. While its kitschy décor will have you convinced you’ve made your way into a Japanese eatery – complete with manga-style artwork and neon lighting – what awaits are traditional and wholesome Arabic dishes such as man’oushe, koshari, foul, and plenty more. Open-plan kitchens, live cooking stations, a juice bar, very reasonable prices, and a fuss-free approach only add to Zaroob’s appeal.

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Best African: KIZA

KIZA Restaurant at DIFC is where Africa comes alive in Dubai. By day, it's a spot to savor the continent's diverse cuisine, and by night, it transforms into a buzzing venue with an authentic African music mix. The menu takes diners on a journey with dishes like the Ghanaian Kele Wele, a spicy fried plantain treat, followed by seafood delights such as Hermanus baby squid and Madagascan tiger prawns. Meat lovers are in for a treat with options like Wagyu Tenderloin, Beef Suya, and Kuku Choma, an East African BBQ chicken. For the perfect end to this African foodie adventure, the Lagos puff puff, similar to Nigerian doughnuts, and the Mousse au Côte d'Ivoire provide a sweet finish to a flavor-packed experience.

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Best Mediterranean: Mythos Kouzina & Grill

If fantasizing about the laid-back vibes and idyllic landscape of a beautiful Greek island comes naturally to you, then make Mythos Kouzina & Grill a go-to spot on your dining list. Corridors and car parks haphazardly pave the way for this warm and vibrant joint that is reminiscent of a charming taverna in the heart of Santorini – stone walls, wooden floors, white furniture accented by pastel-blue décor elements, dim lighting, and an overall feel of intimacy. Here, you can expect to dine on a wide array simple and traditional Greek dishes, courtesy of the chef who hails from Athens. The grilled-octopus starter is as pretty as it is deliciously cooked, while hearty mains such as the slow-cooked lamb and overnight-stewed veal always win rave reviews. And if it’s a day to satiate the sweet tooth, opt for the classic baklava and make your way through layers and layers of filo pastry crammed with walnuts, pistachios, sesame, and homemade syrup.

Best Indian: Farzi Café

Stereotypes around Indian restaurants tend to come from a place of truth, but here’s an eatery determined to defy them at first sight with its quirky and whimsical décor elements. It’s no different as far as the innovative menu is concerned. Humble dishes such as rice with lentils are given an Italian twist à la arancini, British staple shepherd’s pie is deconstructed and lent a touch (or two) of Indian spices, while prawn tempura is jazzed up with lime-chilli foam – all revealing a very hip (and delicious) side of Indian cuisine. Farzi Café is also renowned for its emphasis on culinary theatrics. Palate cleansers come in the form of pebble-like spheres inspired by mango lassi, while little caviar-esque balls make a piña colada feel more like bubble tea. As for dessert? Set the menu aside and order the ‘Tres Leches’: a wonderfully chaotic combination of rice pudding, meringue, nuts, dry rose petals, mawa crumble, and creamy mousse – all accented with a dramatic touch of liquid nitrogen clocking in at -196°C.

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Best Chinese: Din Tai Fung

Founded in 1958 by a Chinese man named Bingyi YangDin Tai Fung boasts over 100 outlets worldwide and is beloved for its range of delicate soup dumplings – xiaolongbao – and more substantial options such as chicken chow mein and Hong Kong-style roast duck. The shrimp and chicken wontons come tossed in a wonderfully spicy sauce, while desserts such as ‘Sweet Red Bean Xiaolongbao’ and ‘Eight Treasure Candied Sticky Rice’ encourage you to linger. The frills-free branch in Mall of the Emirates is easily one of the mall’s most frenzied restaurants – in fact, a meal here feels more like a dining experience on a crammed street in Shanghai. You can expect an hour-long queue on weekends, but remember, patience is a virtue – at least as far as dumplings are concerned.

Best Japanese: Bento-ya Kitchen

Whether you’re craving omurice, yakitori, or sushi, Bento-ya Kitchen is here to satiate you. As one of Dubai’s longest-serving and most authentic Japanese eateries, this all-time favorite restaurant boasts of a very loyal following because of its brilliant food served in a relaxed, no-frills setting. Foodies keep coming back for the delicious ‘Nabeyaki Udon’, a flavorful bowl of thick noodles, rich chicken broth, shrimp tempura, tofu, and seaweed. Looking for more variety? There are 31 bentos on the offering, where you are spoilt for choice when it comes to sashimi, tempura, salads, and different types of grilled meats. The street-side location is perfect for people-watching, and the interior is cozy and intimate — an equally great spot for a casual date night or a long lunch with friends.

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Best Thai: Charm Thai

If a tropical holiday in Thailand is not on the cards this year, Charm Thai has got all your Thai food cravings covered. With a theatrical open kitchen and rustic decor, this Dubai Marina hidden gem truly sets the scene for a memorable dining experience. We recommend trying the fresh vegetable spring rolls with lime dressing, crab meat rolls with glass noodles, and chicken money bags with sweet chili sauce for a delicious preview of authentic Thai flavors. For mains, the roasted duck with hot basil sauce, stir-fried cashew chicken, and ‘Pad Thai’ with tiger prawns make for the perfect sharing plates. But the real star of the show is the house specialty ‘Tom Yum Kung’ with its exquisite zesty and milky flavors that will keep you coming back for more. Those wanting to elevate their dining experience shouldn’t miss out on Charm Thai’s signature beverages — they’re as fiery as the food. And if you’re still craving more (we don’t blame you), order the mango sticky rice for a truly indulgent meal.

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Best French: Couqley French Bistro

One of JLT’s best-kept secrets is the casual but chic French bistro, Couqley, which not only boasts the best steak frites in Dubai, but also an atmosphere so classically Parisian that you feel like you’ve been whisked away to the City of Lights. Friendly, knowledgeable servers, a charming atmosphere, and a top-notch menu offer a dining oasis in a metropolis overflowing with glitzy dining options. At Couqley, you can truly relax. After one visit, you’ll quickly see why this restaurant has so many loyal regulars.

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Best British: Reform Social & Grill

Craving the ambiance of a bona fide gastropub in the heart of London? Head to Reform, where British classics such as fish and chips, chicken and leek pie, and ‘Black Pudding Fritters’ await. The desserts are just as traditional – think: sticky toffee pudding with as much custard as you can handle and artisanal cheeses served with chutney and fruit loaf. In true “English” fashion, there’s also a ‘Curry Night’ each Thursday. Lively, family-oriented, and pet-friendly, Reform is the definitive spot in which to enjoy brunch and transition slowly into a relaxed evening under the stars.

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Best Brunch: Jones the Grocer

Other than sleeping in, the best part about Sunday mornings is brunch — or more specifically, Jones the Grocer’s newly launched Family Brunch at Delta Hotel JBR. While this favorite Dubai pastime is typically associated with mindless indulgence and heavy drinking, Jones the Grocer managed to redefine that with a healthy and family-friendly offering. It starts off with a selection of premium cheeses, followed by the most beautiful starters spread. Filled with juicy mini burgers, tangy crab sliders, freshly made wraps, and sweet potato fries, this board is perfect for sharing among your hungry brunch crew. Moving on to the mains, you’ll be spoiled for choice with elevated renditions of classic favorites such as eggs benedict, steamed sea bass, or a hearty plate of spaghetti. And while you wait for desserts, the only thing left to do is relax and unwind on this languorous weekend — and maybe do enjoy a tipple or two.

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Best Gourmet Cafe: L’ETO

Be surrounded by the lovely garden-themed decor and endless summer vibes at L’ETO as you delight in the new additions to its extensive menu. Bring your appetite and dig into comforting gourmet bistro fare such as ‘Prawn Linguine’ and ‘Pan Fried Sea Bream’. The former is a must-try, consisting of plump, juicy tiger prawns combined with fresh flavors of basil, pink sauce, parmesan cheese, and a kick of spices, before being added to deliciously al dente noodles. Meanwhile, the sea bream is coated in fragrant spices and pan-seared until crisp and succulent. It is served with a drizzle of sriracha hollandaise and a side of English asparagus, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes. As one can expect in any L’ETO outlet, the dessert options are endless — from tantalizing sweet creations like cakes and pastries to citrusy tarts and artisanal coffee.

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Best Burger: SLAW

Who cares about the greasy hands, when you can feast on a succulent and zesty burger? Helmed by Chef Ali YazdiSLAW prides itself on crafting the best burger using only the freshest, highest quality ingredients. And while its ‘SandoSlaw’ or chicken burgers indeed live up to the hype, so do their delectable classic beef burgers that will keep you coming back for more — because we sure did. Savoir Flair’s all-time favorite item on the menu is the ‘BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger’. Loaded with a smashed-and-chucked beef patty, beef bacon, fried onions, cheese and a douse of the restaurant’s secret oh lala sauce, this simple-yet-delicious stack never fails to satiate burger cravings on any given day. For the best experience, first-timers should try the Sunday brunch to get a taste of everything, including the brand-new ‘BeefShroom Burger’ and ‘Japanese Truffle Egg Sando’, accompanied with generous helpings of crispy french fries and corn-on-the-cob. Don’t discount their desserts — the toasted cinnamon bites have just the right sweetness to end a savory meal.

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Best Pizza: Pitfire Pizza

While pizza is inarguably best enjoyed on the couch in front of really good/bad TV, foodies in the know consistently rely on Pitfire Pizza in JLT for serving the best pies in the city. To begin with, its artisan-crafted dough are all cooked in a gas-fired New York “deck oven” for that perfect crispy crust. Classic toppings are always a hit, but their more unusual combinations like the potato-topped ‘Spudnik’ or the beef, date, and gorgonzola favorite ‘The Palm’ are must-tries as well.

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