As I previously pointed out in my Making Sense of Dubai Mall Culture post, I knew nothing of Dubai prior to visiting. This was no different when it came to the food. Turkey was a mystery but came through big time. This leads me to think that Dubai would be no different.

Silly Shaun, time for an education.

Dubai eats are expensive

The first thing I learned about Dubai eats is that the food in the UAE is expensive. “Shocking,” said no one except me.  This shouldn’t have been a surprise when the city is all about luxury.  Because of this and the mall culture, we found ourselves eating at food courts… a lot. Normally I would be disappointed with this situation as I love eating what locals eat when visiting a new country, but by this point in our journey I was ready for a taste of home… just a taste though.

Fat Burger never tasted so good…even though the bacon was “beef bacon”
Texas Chicken in Dubai. About as far away from the Lone Star State as you can get.

Also to keep our Dubai eats cheap we snacked on things such as these ketchup chips – not just a Canadian thing after all! We also ate at our hotels included breakfast spread each morning even though it was really bad. Neorion it wasn’t.

Dubai Eats are not fresh

Another reason why Dubai Eats are pricey is the fact that over 80% of the food in the UAE is imported. When you are a country covered in sand, this is not a shock.

We really noticed this at our hotel breakfast and when we ate outside of the food court. We ended up at a tourist trap restaurant on Dubai Creek one day because we were hungry and it had a great patio. I went looking for a more traditional meal but like many of the other tourists that flocked there, we found mediocre food with a great view. Made it worthwhile I suppose.

I’m still not sure what this Dubai eats is. Bleh.
Some Dubai eats we ate that were not deep fried – baba ganoush and dolma, which I really like but here, Meh.

So What Dubai Eats are local?

There was talk of stuffed camel and shwarma but I didn’t readily see this anywhere. This doesn’t mean they don’t exist and I certainly didn’t go out of my way to look for them. Of course, there are world-class restaurants in Dubai (allegedly) but the menu prices were too much for this travel blogger’s budget. Instead, I asked where locals eat. Food courts and malls were the reply. Makes sense with the mall culture and high heat.

When questioned about where all the immigrant workers eat I was told that Dubai has really good and really cheap Indian food. For some reason in my mind, this equated to great Indian food at a nice restaurant. Instead of searching out one of these cheap places we splurged and ate at a high-end place in the Dubai Mall. Although the food was really good, the atmosphere was off. Super modern, funky, and overall trying way too hard for what the food is. Could be my taste but it was over-the-top for some butter chicken and naan.

What Dubai Eats would I go back for?

The best sweet Dubai eats we had was at the Malaysian chain Papparoti…in the Dubai mall. These crispy golden buns are amazing and was completely new to me. Turns out there are over 400 locations worldwide…including the brand-new location in Vancouver.

Possibly the best thing I put in my face while in Dubai was a hookah. We had a great night people-watching over a couple of beers and sweet apple shisha. We liked it so much that we end up buying a small pipe and shipping it back.

At the end of the day the UAE is not a foodie paradise. It has hot heat, sandy beaches, and mind-blowing feats of engineering around every corner, but fresh and unique Dubai eats it does not. There are great meals in Dubai (allegedly) if you are willing to pay. There is amazing Indian food (supposedly) everywhere. Besides that, it is a food court Dubai eats for you.

Good thing Dubai has a mall or two.

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16 replies on “Dubai Eats”
  1. Avatarsays: Ceece'sTaxi

    Ha ha ha ha, I loved reading this article. I have done 2 contracts in the UAE. One in Abu Dhabi and one in Dubai and I can agree almost 100% with what you’ve written. One thing I must say though is that home made food and the cooking together culture is very big within the expat community based in the UAE.

    I dont think I spent a week in my 2 years in Abu Dhabi where I wasnt being cooked for or assisting with group dinners. The Sri Lankin and Philippine community in the UAE take it very seriously, and it is a wonderful way to socialize, be at home and avoid the hustle and bustle of the forever busy UAE lifestyle.

    When we did venture out however, there was a little place hidden in Khalifah City A that made the best noodles I have eaten in my life, and I would often end up in a table at the back of this hideaway. And don’t forget about the fresh pulp filled juices that are available. Being able to watch my juice be freshly pulped and mashed in-front of me and not cost me an arm and a leg, was a luxury I must enjoyed, as it is not cheap in South Africa.

    While eating out isnt exactly a motto one should make a large habit of, I did find myself eating out ALOT in the UAE, because it was SO MUCH cheaper than in my own country. There is no way I could eat, what I was eating for the same price back in South Africa. My favorite UAE place to go was Golden Fork. Not a fancy place, but consistent and delicious.

    Also buying food at Carrefour to stock the cupboards at home, as another amazing experience for me. As everything even converted was insanely cheap for me. At one point a KG of Oranges was something like 5dhs, converted would be around R11.50 at that time in my own country. However a KG of Oranges in my own country R35.00 a KG. As you can see a serious difference.

    I have no idea what those beef meat sticks are either. I never did find out. I did find out that Falafel’s are huge in the UAE, that and Burger King 🙂

    All in all I do agree though, Dubai is not one to visit for the “Food experience” soley.

    Great article, wonderful images

  2. Avatarsays: Amy Franklin

    It looks so good! Dubai (well, the UAE in general) is top of my list of places to visit in 2015.

  3. Avatarsays: Fanny Lopez

    This post is misleading Shaun! All the pictures make the food look really good!

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