Dubai's culinary scene continues to flourish with new restaurants offering elegant experiences and mouthwatering cuisine. Explore these must-try gems of the year.
Dubai has finally earned its place on the global culinary map. Last year, renowned institutions like the Michelin Guide and the prestigious 50 Best recognized the city's vibrant dining scene with well-received inaugural lists. Not only that, but the New York Times recently crowned Dubai as the food capital of the world. With such prestigious endorsements, it's no wonder that Dubai offers an abundance of dining choices to satisfy any craving.
But the culinary journey in Dubai is just beginning. A multitude of new restaurants have emerged, offering elegant and glamorous experiences accompanied by mouthwatering cuisine. To help you navigate this thriving scene, we ventured into these new establishments to uncover the must-try gems of the year.
Editor's Note: As we continue to explore and review this ever-expanding culinary landscape, we'll keep adding to this list throughout the year. Bon Appétit!
Tasha's Group has landed on Nikki Beach. Replacing the seaside dining restaurant Key West, the newly opened Bungalo34 is already making waves on the culinary scene. First of all, you really cannot beat the location. Right on the white sand and overlooking the pristine waters at Nikki Beach Resort, the restaurant is set up for casual dining day and night with the kind of food we have come to expect from Natasha Sideris' team.
The freshly shaved crudité salad with a tangy sauce of horseradish and crème fraîche suits the beachy vibes, as do the oysters on the half shell served with a side of Mignonette salsa, a slice of lemon, and Tabasco — for those of us who like a little kick. We also enjoyed seconds of ‘The Sofia’, a seafood fettuccine dish accompanied by jumbo prawns, tiger prawns, mussels, and clams, all cooked together in a tangy shellfish cherry tomato stew. But where the seafood normally would take the focus, the ‘Filet Affetatto’ surprised everyone at the table. The beef was soaked in a mixture of olive oil, ginger, sundried tomatoes, and topped with Parmesan cheese, fresh tomato, rocket, and pine nuts. It was mind-blowingly divine. Our entire table asked for thirds. Don’t skip the punchy pineapple cheesecake with a sumptuously caramelized and poached pineapple with sweet coconut ice cream, and if you’re not a fan of the fruit, then we would definitely try the ‘Italian Kisses 76’. Just trust us on that one.
Landing in DIFC all the way from Florence, Chic Nonna lives up to its name. Tastefully decorated with plush couches, magnificent chandeliers, and artsy corners, the restaurant is not only super chic, but much like your Nonna's (Italian for grandmother's) cooking, it'll have you coming back for more.
Spread over two pages, the delicious Chic Nonna menu, curated by Michelin-starred Chef Vito Mollica, introduces Dubai diners to traditional, home-style Italian cooking with an upscale twist. The rich flavors of southern Italy come to life on every plate in the form of refreshing salads, authentic Italian pizzas, risottos, and succulent meats. Begin your meal with the restaurant's special 'Burrata with Tomato Carpaccio' and the Mazzancolla prawns before savoring the delightful pizzas and the special saffron risotto. While we are firm believers that tiramisu is not to be missed, well, anywhere, you will absolutely relish the layers of gold leaf-sprinkled creamy deliciousness that is Chic Nonna's version of the dessert. For an extra treat, stay late to watch the chic restaurant transform into a vibrant atmosphere, courtesy of a stellar line-up of swing jazz performers and groovy DJs.
What is it that you look for in a restaurant before deciding to eat there? Delicious food? An elegant atmosphere? Hospitable staff? If you answered yes to these questions, then you'll want to make reservations at Cou Cou, Dubai’s latest rooftop Mediterranean restaurant. Perched 52 stories in the sky on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah, with a picturesque backdrop of the city’s iconic structures, the view is as exceptional as the food. Indulge in a delectable blend of Mediterranean flavors, beginning with entrées like refreshing burrata, grilled prawns, and mouthwatering garlic butter escargots. Moving on to the mains, the lobster linguine and Tuscan truffle cream strozzapreti will have you reaching for more. From the excellent food and impeccable service to the location, Cou Cou impressed us over and over again.
Pro tip: You certainly want to leave room for the restaurant's seriously Instagrammable desserts. Our favorites? The tiramisu and the tropical platter.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal could very well be ranked as one of the best restaurants in Dubai. To put it bluntly, it is not always easy to transfer an award-winning dining concept to another location and retain the quality and brilliance that the original is known for, however, the team at Dinner here in Dubai has managed to surpass our highest expectations. It is no wonder that a mere months after it opened, Chef Tom and his team earned their very own Michelin star.
Located at the brand new Atlantis the Royal, we made our way through the secret room and into an expansive dining area with gorgeous views of the fountain and the Palm. The concept appeals to the history nerd within, as it takes old British recipes dating back as early as 1390 – one of the recipes even originated on the table of King Henry the VIII – and reimagines them into a modern delicacy. Each menu item is shown with the year the recipe is from, and what truly impressed us was you could ask any waiter about the story of a particular dish, and they would enlighten you with an interesting tale about the year and origin of what you were about to eat.
Highlights from the menu include the succulent Sherried Scallops (from 1965); the playful and smooth Meat Fruit (from 1500 — it was a favorite trick of King Henry VIII to serve his guests, because it looks like fruit but is actually filled with meat); the roast halibut with a green sauce (from 1440) that we wanted to drink; the braised and juicy duck breast (from 1846); the earthy, sweet, and distinctive flavor of the goat's milk cheesecake called Sambocade (from 1390); and the tangy Tipsy Cake (from 1858). No matter what you order, though, it will be a delicious journey through the kitchens of England from beginning to end, putting to rest the age-old criticism that British cuisine is boring. Here, it is anything but.
Pro tip: You have to try the ice cream. The restaurant uses an old ice cream maker which our gracious server had to manually crank to freeze the cream, but it was worth it when she put it in one of Agnes Marshall's cones.
We’re not entirely sure why Nikkei cuisine — a blend of Peruvian ingredients and Japanese cooking techniques — is the new food trend, but we’re not complaining. As one of the newest additions to the Dubai restaurant scene, Issei in DAMAC Hills has entered the Nikkei group chat, promising delicious colorful dishes and a dining experience enhanced by gorgeous views of the area's golfing greens. With chefs and staff flown straight from Peru to lead the kitchens, Issei cleverly combines the bounty from land and sea. Not to miss are the all-time favorites such as the fiery Padron peppers, zesty smoked wagyu beef skewers, and refreshingly tropical salmon tataki topped with piquant jalapeño sauce. Meanwhile, the standout dish is definitely the ‘Pulpo with Antichuchero Marinade’. Octopus is typically a challenging ingredient, but Issei’s masterful grilling technique brings out its unique flavor and texture in the best way possible.
The lovely team at Issei explained that in Japan and Peru, food isn’t just about sustenance; it's an expression of gratitude for a bountiful harvest. For us, Issei’s sincere interpretation of this mindset makes it one of the best places to experience all the exciting dishes this fusion cuisine has to offer.
An evening of enchantment and exquisite Parisian glamour await you at the newly opened Josette restaurant. Step into a world of elegance and sophistication, where every detail has been meticulously crafted to transport you to the heart of Paris. As you settle at your table, you'll notice a delightful bell adorning it, beckoning the attentive waiters to indulge you with another glass of that golden bubbly. The culinary experience at Josette is nothing short of decadent, with a menu that tantalizes the taste buds and celebrates the art of gastronomy. Each dish is a masterpiece, expertly prepared with the finest ingredients to deliver a symphony of flavors. The ambiance is not only luxurious but also playful, inviting you to embrace the joy of dining. Josette is more than just a restaurant; it is a vibrant and unforgettable experience that brings a touch of Parisian magic to the heart of Dubai.
There is a strong emphasis on Japanese cuisine in Dubai, and we are lucky enough to have the best Japanese restaurants outside of Japan right outside our doorstep. That said, KATA has surpassed even Dubai's usual high standards. We recommend starting the meal with popcorn shrimp, which are evenly coated and crispy with an excellent crunch. The buttery Japanese sweet corn with black sesame is juicy and has a kick of smoky charcoal flavor. However, the award of the meal must go to the tangy 'Wagyu Katsu Sando', which hits a sublime balance of tanginess, spiciness, and sweetness – seared to perfection. It was topped with creamy wasabi, adding an extra punch that hits your palate with every bite.
Don't sleep on the 'Wagyu Truffle Rice Pot,' as it's also outstanding, or the sushi, which is fresh, flavorful, and creative. If you still have room after this feast, order the hot apple crumble dessert and the 'Balloonium', which is playfully presented and has a delightfully sweet taste. The presentation, atmosphere, and stunning Burj Khalifa views make KATA one of our most highly recommended restaurants of 2023 (so far).
Located in ICD Brookfield Place, right next to the exclusive Arts Club, we took the private elevator up to the grand hall of La Niña for what turned out to be a delicious, fun, and flavorful experience. From the azulejos that climb the walls to the Gothic and Manueline-inspired architectural decor to the servers — all of whom hail from the Iberian peninsula or Latin America — dining at La Niña brings the best of Spanish and Portuguese cuisine and traditions together with the newer techniques and flavors from South America into one courageous meal.
We particularly enjoyed the tartare which was richer and creamier than we anticipated, and came with a welcome kick of habañero and truffle to round out the flavors. Similarly, the risk of flavors in the ‘Coca de Trufa’ paid off with the sweet taste of fig blended with the earthy notes of truffle atop the buttery pastry oozing with melted cheese, and even the salad offered a new twist on a fresh favorite when it was served in individual baby gems that burst with traditional Latino flavors like roasted corn, tomatillos, Cotija cheese, and pumpkin seeds for a zesty fresh reprieve after all that cheese. The salmon came dressed ready for a fiesta, but if we had to choose again, we would certainly order the braised oxtail one more time so we could savor the tender meat (no knives necessary, that’s how soft it was) and cheesy potato mash. For desserts, we tried a few options, but by far, the surprise standout across the table was the guava and vanilla soft serve. So simple, but after such a rich meal, it felt like getting that last taste on a Brazilian beach.
La Sirène is a stylish and casual dining destination that blends contemporary Beirut café culture with mouthwatering Mediterranean cuisine. Here, guests can immerse themselves in an interesting experience where tradition meets innovation, as Levantine classics are creatively reimagined with bold twists. The menu showcases generous portions of exquisite seafood, refined Lebanese street food, and beloved regional favorites, all meant to be shared and savored with friends. While indulging in these tantalizing flavors, take in the breathtaking views of Palm Jumeirah and the iconic Burj Al Arab from the outdoor terrace, adding a touch of magic to your meal.
La Sirène’s meticulously curated menu aims to leave a lasting impression on your palate. Standout dishes like the ‘Lawha Nayeh’ bring together an assortment of kibbeh, kafta, habra, kibbeh orfali, and kibbeh fraki, showcasing the diverse flavors of Lebanese cuisine in one delightful platter. Don’t miss the succulent ‘Makanek Ghanam,’ teasing your taste buds with aromatic spices and tender texture. Seafood enthusiasts will delight in the ‘Octopus Provençal,’ expertly prepared with a Provençal twist that enhances the natural flavors. Take it up a notch with the ‘La Sirène Seafood Platter,’ featuring hammour filet, salmon filet, grilled lobster, and sea bass, each grilled to perfection. Complete your meal on a sweet note with the divine ‘Knafeh’ dessert, tucking you in the warm embrace of Middle Eastern flavors. As you relish these culinary delights, let the colorful and quaint decor of La Sirène transport you to a world of charm and elegance. The friendly staff contributes to the welcoming ambiance, providing warm and efficient service that ensures your dining experience is nothing short of exceptional.
Le Petit Beefbar
Meat lovers, this one is for you. One of the latest restaurants to land in Dubai's elite culinary district, Le Petit Beefbar – as its name suggests – takes up a cozy yet elegant space in the very heart of DIFC. A branch of Riccardo Giraudi's famed Beefbar chain, Le Petit Beefbar maintains the DNA of the brand in terms of ambiance and, of course, flavor. At Le Petit Beefbar, guests can relish a number of the restaurant chain's favorites, including the 'Mini Big K Kobe' beef bacon burgers, the famous steak frites & sauce, the 'Relais' shawarma, and the marbled chocolate bar, among other dishes. What's even better? At Le Petit Beefbar, diners can enjoy their delectable meat selection all day long. From a mouthwatering breakfast menu to an indulgent business lunch to a range of dinner meals, the Le Petit Beefbar kitchen is well-equipped to pamper your tastebuds at any hour of the day.
The verdict is in: Loren at West Palm Beach is thoroughly impressive. The restaurant feels as if it is inviting its guests into a sophisticated drawing room along the Italian Riviera, with its modern yet stylish interiors that have a cheeky throwback to mid-century aesthetics. Offering a refined experience of Italian-style coastal dining, the menu will have you savoring la bella vita all day long.
We started with the roasted beef carpaccio, vitello tonnato, and ‘Fiori Di zuca Al Tartufo’ (fried zucchini stuffed with ricotta), which was beautifully presented and had a great balance of flavors. Moving on to the mains, we particularly enjoyed a creamy pasta with a hearty helping of peppers and artichoke. We also highly recommend the fillet steak; it was delicate in a way that steak usually isn't, cooked to perfection, and thoroughly satisfying. We savored every single bite. We ended the night with something sweet – a pistachio gelato and some zesty profiteroles, which were divine!
Welcome to Meda, where the flavors of Spain, Italy, and Greece come together in a delightful celebration of Mediterranean cuisine. Led by Chef Mario Fico, the venue has an impressive selection of tapas, mains, and desserts. The best cold tapas on offer are the ‘Cured Cold Cuts,’ a scrumptious spread of chicken chorizo, beef chorizo, and bresaola, and ‘The Meda Salad’ which is a refreshing mix of asparagus, zucchini, avocado, artichokes, parmesan chips, and truffle vinaigrette. For a unique hot tapas option, try the ‘Huevos Rotos,’ which is a dish of black truffle, crispy potato, veal jus, and shaved parmesan. When it comes to mains, the ‘Lobster Calamarata Napolitan Pasta’ is a must-try, with its succulent lobster and perfectly cooked pasta. The ‘Pan-Seared Cod Fish in Mediterranean Sauce’ is another favorite, with its juicy, flaky fish and savory sauce. And if you still have room for dessert, indulge in the ‘Chilled Pineapple Crunch’ or Meda’s interesting hot-and-cold take on the classic ‘Tiramisu.’
The interiors of Meda feature a neutral palette with pops of color, making it an ideal space to discover the refreshing flavors of the Mediterranean. Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner for two or a gathering with friends, this hidden gem is the perfect spot.
They say that love is the secret ingredient in cooking, and MIYA restaurant seems to have figured that out — every dish served is made with the freshest ingredients that turn into delectable culinary wonders. The interior mixes brick walls with blue-and-white flowers, clay pots, beautiful statues of Greek gods, and traditional ornaments, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.
But it’s not just the decor that makes MIYA special. The food is absolutely divine, and MIYA’s commitment to quality and perfection shines through in every dish. For a perfect start, try the mezze options — ‘MIYA’s Tzatziki’ and ‘Tirokafteri’ are both bursting with flavor, and the ‘Greek Salad’ is a must-try. Another standout mezze dish is the ‘Manouri,’ which combines truffle honey with torched grapes for a unique and mouthwatering flavor. Moving on to the main course, guests should not miss the ‘Roasted Octopus.’ It is tender and flavorful, and blends perfectly with the vegetable stew. The ‘Beef Souvlaki’ is another excellent dish, with juicy rib-eye that can be enjoyed with warm bread and a side of portobello mushrooms. And if you’re still craving something sweet, be sure to save room for the ‘Milhoja,’ a Greek take on the classic mille-feuille. It features layers of crisp pastry and a creamy custard filling, topped with a drizzle of honey and crushed pistachios. With MIYA’s love for food apparent in every dish, guests are sure to have a memorable dining experience. Whether you’re enjoying the stylish and relaxed atmosphere, the delicious food, or the friendly and attentive service, MIYA is a restaurant not to be missed.
It’s not often that we see a beach club cross over into ‘Best New Restaurant’ territory, but if any place deserves recognition for the incredible cuisine coming out of its kitchen, it’s Playa. This recently opened beach club in West Palm Beach doesn’t mess around when it comes to fine dining. With imported Peruvian staples guided by the expertise of Chef Carlo Valentino, Playa is serving up an incredible cevicheria concept – quite clever given the fact that this light and easy-to-eat fare won’t make you feel like postponing a dip in its inviting pool or nearby ocean.
After snacking on handfuls of addictive, crunchy Cancha (Peruvian corn), dig into scallops in citrus and shredded truffle. As one of our guests at the review put it, it’s “an elevator ride of flavors!” An exceptional bite comes from the sea bass tiradito, balanced with smoky jalapeno and bright citrus notes. Comfort food with a kick comes in the form of a Peruvian dish similar to Shepherd’s Pie, featuring wagyu inside with a potato topping and two sauces (avocado and spicy mayo). The octopus course was a table favorite, which was dusted with powdered Peruvian corn. Save room for Chef Carlo’s playfully inventive soaked cake, which comes with a surprise. Bringing one of his favorite childhood candies into the mix, one bite will tell you the source: pop rocks! Not only is it fun to eat, but it’s also utterly delicious.
Upon first glance, the soaring chandeliers and crimson surroundings create an atmosphere of indulgence and extravagance, with hints of medieval Russia — like the Matryoshka dolls and metal dishes throughout — at this Russian cabaret-inspired Parisian outlet. The lively festivity harkens back to the Moulin Rouge with its exaggerated disco ball and DJ booth that take the spotlight as the evening transforms from restaurant to an after-hours club. And if you happen to visit on a Wednesday night, you get to hear the live music. But we went for the food, and we will most likely come back for precisely that.
Raspoutine is proud of its caviar, and it has every right to be so as it has one of the finest collections, and we can attest that the blinis with caviar were indeed something to write home about. The mouthwatering ‘Stracciatella di Buratta’ went down light and smooth and was another favorite that we couldn’t get enough of, and the decadent ‘French Foie Gras Terrine and Toasted Brioche’ stood out with its unique amalgamation of flavors topped with Dubai’s favorite garnish: a bit of gold flakes. The dense pâté made from duck (not goose) liver took a moment for us to fully indulge in, but once it hit, the buttery taste coated our mouths with its luxurious flavors. Of course, we (and you) would be remiss if you did not try the famous ‘Raspoutine Pavlova’. The tart sweetness of it concludes your meal perfectly.
With the precision of the Fibonacci sequence, the ingenuity of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting technique, the striking architecture of Opus Tower by Zaha Hadid, and the culinary mastery of Michelin-recognized Chef Alena Solodovichenko, Sfumato is the ultimate meeting of multi-generational genius. It’s a place where art, science, and gastronomy intertwine to create a sensory experience that is simply brilliant.
As a cross between fine dining and dégustation, the menu is finely crafted to tantalize both the taste buds and the eyes while maintaining the pure goodness of the ingredients. A few dishes draw nostalgic inspiration from the chef’s Ukrainian roots, which adds a heartwarming touch to the experience. But make no mistake, this is not your average eatery. The dishes here are elevated, artistic interpretations of beloved classics, resulting in a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Kick things off with the ‘Cauliflower Risotto with Scallop and Black Caviar’ and follow it up with a unique spin on ‘Borsht’ featuring slow-cooked beef and smoked pears. The ‘Octopus and Tomato Fondant’ is bursting with umami flavors, and the ‘Jerusalem Artichoke Cream Soup with Scallop and Truffle’ boasts a delightful mix of intriguing textures. However, if there’s a single dish that will make us return time and time again, it’s undoubtedly the ‘Honey Cake with Liver Pâté.’ It may resemble a dessert, but it is a meat lover’s dream come true. Smooth chicken liver is expertly layered between slices of honey cake and accompanied by a delectable rhubarb chutney. The symphony of flavors is so unconventional — almost irreverent — and undeniably irresistible. With this extraordinary creation alone, Sfumato is destined to become the top choice for Dubai’s adventurous diners seeking a novel culinary experience in the city.
At first glance, SOON Nobby x True Izakaya in JLT may give off vibes that it’s made only for fans of Japanese pop culture and retro aesthetics, but trust us, it’s a place where everyone can have an amazing time. This spot takes inspiration from Japanese gaming culture, cyberpunk feels, and the iconic 1980s era to create a colorful experience that’s all about clever design, mixology magic, and energetic beats. At SOON, you can expect more than a delicious meal; it’s a kaleidoscopic party that transports you into the neon-lit streets of Tokyo’s legendary nightlife. Imagine it as a fusion of fine-dining and anime subculture. (Cosplay outfit optional.)
Chef Brian Hoang is the culinary genius behind SOON’s menu, paying mad respect to the rebellious spirit of 80s Japanese culture while still keeping it global. Get ready for flavor explosions that will surprise your taste buds, like the house signature ‘Mud Crab Udon,’ where tender crab meat teams up with shiro miso, tobiko, corn, and nori flakes to create an umami party in your mouth. Another must-try is the mouthwatering ‘SOON Fried Rice’ with barbecue meats, Japanese XO sauce, salmon ikura, and corn, serving up a symphony of bold flavors. Oh, and don’t sleep on the playful surprise of the ‘Crispy Eggplant Mochi’ topped with sansho pepper and sesame, giving you a tantalizing combination of crispy and pillowy textures. These shareable dishes are the perfect match for the highly creative beverages that complete the experience.
Bringing the nostalgic taste and rustic aesthetics of Ukraine to Dubai, YOY has opened its doors at The Pointe, welcoming diners to experience its unique cuisine and warm hospitality. From the outside, YOY looks similar to its neighbors — a spacious terrace, panoramic Dubai Fountain views, and breezy al fresco seats. The interior, however, is what sets it apart. Every single detail is an obvious nod to Ukrainian culture, from the hand-embroidered staff outfits designed by stylist Yuriy Zhuykov to the authentic Kosiv ceramics sourced from craftsmen in the Transcarpathian region. Sheaves of wheat adorn every table, serving as a gentle reminder that Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe.
You’re here to eat traditional Ukrainian food; and traditional Ukrainian food is what you’ll get, courtesy of YOY’s unique fireside cooking setup and semi-open kitchen. On the menu are several straight-out-of-the-pich smoky dishes, as well as deliciously juicy “lazy-style” dumplings. Of course, you’d be remiss to not try the borscht. YOY’s version is a perfectly simmered vivid, red broth, topped with bone-in beef, sour cream, and garlic bread. Like all specialized restaurants, it’s best to save YOY for a celebratory occasion when you can brag to your friends about Dubai’s latest culinary hidden gem.