Celebrate National Day by Visiting Some of the Oldest Restaurants in Dubai | Savoir Flair
Celebrate National Day by Visiting Some of the Oldest Restaurants in Dubai
by Hanadi Merchant-Habib 5-minute read November 11, 2023

Join us on a taste-trip down memory lane with the city's most storied eateries.

When it comes to eating out, Dubai’s vibrant food scene never fails to disappoint. With countless eateries, both old and new, there’s never been a dearth of places to dine in. Having said that, to get the real feel of any city, it’s always worth visiting some of the old hotspots – the kinds that have been there for decades. If walls could talk, boy would these restaurants have tales to tell. As the UAE turns 52 this year, we decided to step back in time by revisiting our favorite eateries from back in the day. Savoir Flair takes you through ten restaurants (that are institutions in their own right) that will bring back memories of the good old days and will make for new ones if it’s the first time you’re visiting. 


Al Ijaza Cafeteria

Jumeirah 1 - Beach Road

Okay, hands up if you've stood in the line of cars more times than you can count to get yourself some shawarma and mango juice in the middle of the night. For any old Dubai resident, Al Ijaza cafeteria is an old haunt that holds a special place in their heart. The shawarma is the tastiest in town, and no other cafeteria serves a better fruit cocktail. Also worth noting are the unique names they have for their mixed-fruit juices – Ishy Biladi, Lady Killer, and Fazza, to name a few.

The service lane right in front of the joint is almost always packed with a long line of cars, so don't go there expecting immediate service. Good things come to those who wait. We recommend the chicken shawarma and the rotisserie chicken with a side of garlic sauce, but to be honest, their burgers are also really delicious.


Al Ustad Special Kabab

Musalla Road, Bur Dubai

Four decades ago, Mohammed Ali Ansari opened this legendary restaurant that serves up the best Iranian kababs in town. Although its founder is no more, this family-run eatery is now at the helm of his children. From Sheikh Hamdan to Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan, this is one place everyone visits when they're in Dubai. Don't be fooled by its humble interior, which features hundreds of photographs from days gone by alongside of all the celebrities that have dined there. While we absolutely love the kabab koubideh and sultani, we also highly recommend you try the mutton Bahraini kabab, which is marinated in dry lemon. Pro tip: Make sure you order the special chicken soup, which is bursting with flavor. We also do like to wash the kababs down with a side of Canada Dry ice-cream soda. Whether it's a weekday or a weekend, this place gets super busy, so we suggest you go a little earlier – you'll avoid waiting on the streets.

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The Boardwalk

Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Deira

There's something truly magical about the Dubai Creek. Aside from taking a walk down memory lane, the whole area is so beautiful. The Boardwalk is yet another iconic must-visit restaurant if you haven't already been there. With its nautical-inspired interior and an outdoor wooden deck built over the creek, this award-winning restaurant is the ideal spot for a winter afternoon or evening. From a wide range of seafood dishes to choose from to quintessential Italian classics, the food here has been excellent for 25 years. We recommend the grilled octopus and the Dibba Bay oysters. And the view? Unparalleled.


Bu Qtair

Fishing Harbour 2 - Jumeirah

What started as a beach shack to make food for fishermen, Bu Qtair is now an institution. And if Anthony Bourdain featured it, you know it's the real deal. Their specialty? The catch of the day (a combination of fish and prawns) marinated in their secret blend of spices and deep-fried to perfection. It is then served with soft parathas, rice, and the best fish curry you'll ever taste. For over thirty years, this humble restaurant hasn't compromised on the taste of its food, and once you get past the initial agitation of the long waiting line, you'll see why it was worth it.


Casa Mia

Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre

Another gem at the Le Meridien in Garhoud is the trattoria-style Italian restaurant, Casa Mia. Having stood the test of time thanks to the consistency of its food and its simplistic appeal, the food here never disappoints. In the 27 years that the restaurant has been operating, the city has had countless Italian eateries, but Casa Mia still has lots to offer. With its rustic decor reminiscent of a traditional trattoria (think stone walls with vintage Italian paintings and dark wood furnishings) and exceptional quality ingredients, the next time you want to get a taste of la dolce vita, this is where you need to be. 



Hyatt Regency Deira

Anyone who grew up here will always talk about the iconic hotel of the 80s – the Hyatt Regency in Deira. Also located in the hotel is the restaurant Miyako, which has been serving authentic Japanese cuisine for over three decades. The award-winning restaurant, which has been attracting both tourists and residents for as long as we can remember, is known for its outstanding sushi (it offers an extensive selection) and its traditional hot pots. Miyako is divided into three different and authentic dining experiences – a live Teppanyaki room, a main dining area with a sushi bar, and an intimate Tatami room.




When it comes to Pakistani food, Ravi is perhaps one of the best joints in Dubai. Far from the glitz and glamour of fine dining, here you can expect to eat some mind-blowing food in a much simpler setting. From tourists to locals, for forty years, Ravi has been the go-to spot for those craving traditional Pakistani cuisine. Sit outdoors on a winter evening and watch the buzzing streets of Satwa while you wait for your food. We personally recommend the nihari, chicken tikka, chicken karahi, and mutton Peshawari – to be enjoyed with hot naan served on the side. We'd throw in some fresh green chilies for good measure!


Seafood Market

Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre

For those who grew up here, Seafood Market will bring back a whole lot of memories. As kids, this was one of the fancy restaurants our parents would take us. Located at the Le Meridien Dubai in Garhoud (formerly Fôrte Grand), the restaurant’s market-style display of freshly caught fish and shellfish was quite appealing to us as children, and even now. The interior captures the essence of a bustling Asian market but in a chic cruise-liner setting. From French oysters to Canadian lobsters and Norwegian crabs along with regional produce, this has been the place to eat fruits de mer since the early 90s. Alongside Asian delicacies, you can also enjoy some caviar with blinis and sour cream.



Radisson Blu Hotel, Deira

A favorite among UAE royalty, residents, and tourists since 1984, Shabestan has been cooking up the best Persian food in town. Located at the Radisson Blu hotel in Deira, the restaurant's old-world charm is as enticing as its culinary delights. Grab a table by the window and admire the view while enjoying the beautifully marinated meats. We recommend the sabzi khordan to start with, followed by baghalah polo-ba-mahicheh (leg of lamb slow-cooked in its own juices) served with rice and broad beans. Nothing completes a meal without dessert, and you absolutely must try the faloodeh there. 


Sho Cho

Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa

While Sho Cho may not be as old as some of the other iconic places in Dubai, it definitely brings back memories for many of us. Opened in 2000, Sho Cho was a place most of us went to for a night out with friends while enjoying some unparalleled sea views. In its heyday, it was an extremely popular hotspot for nightlife, and the food was equally good. Now, although slightly run-down, it's still worth visiting for the fresh sushi, and if our memory serves us well, a mean chocolate fondant for dessert.

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