The 10 Best Casual Restaurants in Dubai

Dubai Travel Guides / October 03, 2016
The 10 Best Casual Restaurants in Dubai Image credit: Boca

To the outside world, Dubai is known for flashy cars, high-end malls, and spectacular jewelry. But the locals know there is one thing that completes all that jazz: food.

Casual restaurants are aplenty in Dubai. With all the choices available to travelers, it’s easy to miss out on the best ones. So below is a guide to finding the best casual restaurants in this cosmopolitan city.

Dubai has a widely diverse population that over time, it has become a culinary melting pot. It boasts an array of delectably delicious fare influenced by different cuisines all over the world. They all have it here, whether you’re craving for gourmet food from the most elite restaurants or street food from the more affordable local dens.

So what is your mission while being in one of the greatest food paradises of the world? It must be devouring the best bites from every part of the globe.

Here is our guide to the 10 best casual restaurants in Dubai for you to do so.

1. Bystro

For one of the best breakfasts in town, complete with heavenly homemade desserts

Bystro Image credit: Bystro

Bystro is a casual and cozy, family-friendly restaurant that serves very good homemade desserts and breakfast in “bistro” style.

The restaurant has a just-nice-sized menu. To taste the best, you should try their sensational coffee or leaf teas and pair it with Italian zeppole or Banoffee French toast with hot Nutella Sauce.

The beetroot hummus looks too good to eat and surprisingly tastes good as well. One would not mind getting out of bed early for this.

Another must-try is their sticky barbecue ribs that you may have for lunch or dinner. A word of advice: Order it in advance since it is often sold out. That is how good it is.

The secret behind their flavorful meals is that the chefs use a Josper charcoal grill for all their vegetable and meat dishes. It is an appliance used by the best restaurants all over the world to give out nice texture to the dishes and maintain the juiciness of the meat.

What to order: Bystro Brisket Hash, Shakshouka, French Toast, Crispy battered fish, Huevos rancheros, Tuscan pastries, coffee and leaf teas

Price Range: 30 – 58AED ($8.17 – $15.79) for breakfast items; 44 – 88AED ($11.98 – $23.96) for lunch and dinner items

When: 08:00 – 22:00 (Mon to Thu); 08:30-22:00 (Fri to Sat); 08:00-17:00 (Sun)

Where: Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Manara, Dubai

How to get there: Take a cab going to Sheikh Zayed Road. Bystro is located opposite Times Square Center, near Al Manara.

2. Casa de Tapas

For the best selection of paellas and tapas

Casa de Tapas Image credit: Casa De Tapas

One does not need to go all the way to Madrid to have a slice of Spain. At the Dubai Creek Yacht Club is Casa de Tapas, a rustic Bodega-style restaurant that is very similar to those found in Madrid.

Since all of their chefs hail from Spain, expect delicious and authentic Spanish dishes from Andalusia to Galicia.

The restaurant’s menu consists of a well-appointed selection of traditional Espanol food. Paella de mariscos and Paella de Fideua are highly recommended. Their Paella de Fideua is really special because it is created by using angel hair pasta instead of rice. Shrimp and squid ink complete the dish – the unique deliciousness that you will not find anywhere else in Dubai.

It is truly indulgent to enjoy sips of Espana’s traditional sangria with hot and cold tapas while listening to great Latino music.

Once you dine at Casa de Tapas, you might find yourself wanting to stay there a bit longer for its amazing view. The restaurant overlooks the Dubai Creek that is full of ships docked at the pier. This will give you more tourist feels.

What to order: Paella de mariscos, Paella de fideua, Salpicon De Pulpo, Labina a la sal, Paletilla de cordero de avila al horno, Sangrias

Price Range: 15 – 50 AED ($4.00 – $13.61) for tapas; 80 – 99 AED ($21.78 – 26.95) for Paella; 25 – 40 ($6.81 – $10.89) for desserts

When: 16:00 – 02:00 (Sun to Thu); 12:30 – 02:00 (Fri)

Where: Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, opposite Deira City Center, Garhoud, Dubai

How to get there: Go to Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club next to Park Hyatt and Casa Tapas is located just above the boardwalk of the yacht club.

3. Leila

For the best authentic Lebanese food

Leila Image credit: Leila

Leila is originally a restaurant from Beirut, Lebanon that serves authentic Lebanese food. Its pretty name came from the owner’s name. Leila has opened her own restaurant after years watching her grandma cook and mastering making all the traditional Lebanese dishes.

The restaurant has excellent service and knowledgeable crew team who will give you all the needed information about their broad menu. That, plus exceptionally good food, reasonable prices, and lively and bright interiors, what else can you ask for?

No wonder, the restaurant is perennially packed. One would also be delighted to know that it closes a little after midnight. So you can get your hungry tummy a good treat even at the ungodly hours.

Their Pesto ras asfour is getting much hype from all the diners who have eaten there. It is a dish with small cuts of meat that has basil sauce and crispy French fries to go with it. The dish is such a simple creation but is very flavorful. Other recommendations are Spicy kibba, Hommos, Ghazal Beirut, Osmalliet and Samboosek.

In Dubai, you will never find a better Lebanese restaurant than that of Leila’s.

What to order: Kebbah Sajiyyeh, Pesto ras asfour, Halloumi grilled cheese, Spicy kibba, Hommos, Osmalliet and Samboosek

Price Range: 40 – 99 AED ($10.89 – $26.95)

When: 08:00 – 01:30 daily

Where: Clarens Tower, Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, Dubai

How to get there: Make a trip to Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard at Downtown Dubai and look for the Clarens Tower.

4. SAPORI de BICE

For the best pizzas, rotisseries and other Italian dishes

SAPORI de BICE Image credit: SAPORI de BICE

An award-winning restaurant, Sapori de Bice is well known for serving the best and authentic Italian food in Dubai. All the ingredients they use are fresh and organic. The restaurant also has a lot of gluten-free products that health buffs would absolutely love.

It is so difficult to single out just one to recommend from their menu since every dish is really good. Do not skip the freshly baked bread that comes with appetizing dips.

Other highly approved dishes are their Osso Buco, Pizza, Ravioli, Truffled carbonara and Burrata bresaola (creamy Burrata cheese served with Bresaola, cherry tomato, rucola and balsamic dressing.)

For dessert, go with any of their cakes. They will all make your sweet tooth happy.

This is one of the places you will go back to every now and then and will want your whole family to try.

What to order: Cavolo Riccio, Ravioli Massaia, Buratta with Bresaola, Pizza

Price Range: 40 – 50 AED ($10.89 – $13.61) for starters; 38 – 65 AED ($10.35 – $17.70) for pizzas; 50 – 63 AED ($13.61 – $17.15) for pastas

When: 08:00 – 23:30 daily

Where: City Walk, Al Safa & Al Wasl Road Intersection, Al Safa, Dubai

How to get there: Take a trip to Jumeirah Beach Residences. You will find it at City Walk Avenue Mall on Al Safa and Al Wasl Road Intersection.

5. Social House

For the best fusion cuisine with a fantastic view

Social House Image credit: Social House

Nothing can get better than the view Social House offers in terms of location. Its gorgeous location faces Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the whole world, and the world’s biggest dancing fountain. Dine here and let the musical performances delight your meal.

The restaurant takes pride in its enormous menu covering dishes from east to west, and from north to south. Do not be surprised if you would see staff bringing bowls of Malay curry, plates of sushi and Kung Pao chicken.

Social House believes that eating should be a social activity, thus the name. The tables and chairs were specifically put close together for the diners’ social skills to be put to good use. But if one just wants to savor his food with close friends or family members, the restaurant has a VIP private room.

Top pick is their fish and chips – two large pieces of juicy and tender fish in an unbelievably crispy batter with a zesty homemade tartare sauce. Portuguese breakfast (chorizo, mixed sausages, poached eggs and potatoes stewed in rich paprika sauce) and Thai green curry continue the list.

This East-meets-West restaurant is perfect for group dining as it has something for everyone.

What to order: Halloumi salad, Mustard marinated salmon fillet, Dynamite shrimp

Average price/pax: 70 AED ($19.00)

When: 10:00 – 00:00 (Sun to Wed); 10:00 – 01:00 (Thu to Sat)

Where: Between Star Atrium and Dubai Fountain, Lower Ground Level, Downtown Dubai, Dubai

How to get there: Take a cab to Dubai Mall and go to the mall’s lower ground level. Social House is located between the Star Atrium and Dubai Fountain.

6. Boca

For the best Mediterranean dishes

Boca Image credit: Boca

Awarded as 2016’s Best European Restaurant in Dubai by timeoutdubai.com, Boca is a restaurant that serves palatable Mediterranean cuisine. It is located at the heart of Dubai’s financial center so it’s hard to miss.

Boca has a very simple philosophy: “Take whatever’s good and fresh and delicious, do as little to it as possible, and share it with people who think like us.”

There are days that you just want to have food that is not so complex. Sometimes the best things come in the simplest form. Boca is a Spanish word for “mouth.” So it is safe to say that anything that goes through the mouth that Boca serves you will be enjoyed.

For starters, try their unbelievably fresh Cauliflower and hazelnut salad (black truffle dressing, heart of lettuce). For your main dishes, order the very flavorful black rice and seared scallops (aromatic clams, Bottarga) and grilled squid (dried Piquillos pepper, mixed sautéed greens, salsa verde). Then cap off your meal with their raspberry-flavored Mascarpone crème brulee.

Overall, Boca will give you a pleasant dining experience without draining your wallet.

What to order: Lobster roll, Black rice and seared scallops, Socca de nice, Grilled Octopus And Air Dried Beef, Boca potato chips

Average price/pax: 100 AED ($27.23)

When: 12:00 – 24:00 daily

Where: Gate Village 6, Dubai International Financial Center, Dubai

How to get there: Take a cab going to Dubai International Financial Center. It is at Gate Village 6 near the DIFC parking.

7. Tribeca Kitchen and Bar

For the best bar grub

Tribeca Kitchen and Bar Image credit: Tribeca Kitchen and Bar

As the name implies, Tribeca Kitchen and Bar offers food that is fresh, healthy and organic in a lounge bar environment. It is a rare combination for a bar, but it works surprisingly well with Tribeca.

The restaurant breathes so much life into Dubai’s night scene. Throngs of people swarm the place as soon as Tribeca transforms itself into a lively and vibrant bar. The place has so many different fun things going on all at the same time.

They have good food to go with their drinks, albeit limited, but are healthful. This is something unusual for bar grub. One would notice their menu on drinks is longer than their food menu. Some of the best food that they have is the Tribeca burger (ground beef, Cajun mayonnaise, beetroot, caramelized onions cheddar), baked organic greek feta (feta, watermelon, honey, rocket salad) and Tribeca eton mess (meringue, strawberries and cream).

If you desire to let loose, drink (and eat) the night away, this is the perfect place for you.

What to order: Truffle risotto, Tribeca burger, Baby octopus salad

Price Range: 70 – 200 AED ($19.06 – $54.45)

When: 17:00 – 01:00 (Sat – Wed); 17:00 – 02:00 (Thu); 14:00 – 02:00 (Fri)

Where: Level 1, JA Ocean View Hotel, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai

How to get there: Make a trip to Jumeirah Beach Residence and go to JA Ocean View Hotel. Tribeca is located at the hotel’s first floor.

8. Lemongrass

For the best selection of Thai dishes

Lemongrass Image credit: Lemongrass

Sa-Wat-Dee! This is a Thai greeting meaning “Hello!” that will welcome you by their Thai-speaking staff as soon as you enter the doors of Lemongrass. The smell of lemongrass and other essences popular in Thailand will wake up your senses. The restaurant serves authentic Thai cuisine prepared by a passionate group of Thai chefs.

Their tom yum soup is a top pick among their avid diners. You can choose the level of spiciness of your soup so it is best that you start with mild first then just step it up a notch once you think you can take more “hotness.”

Garnering so much praises, it is unforgivable to miss their distinctive Pad Thai as well. The dish has bean sprouts, tofu and chives perfectly wrapped in fried egg and gaeng kiew wan, a green curry with eggplant, sweet basil and chili. One will keep coming back to Lemongrass even just for this dish alone.

And for sweet bites, try their fried banana and Thai sweet rice crackers.

What to order: Pad Thai, tom yum soup, prawn cake, green curry, Talay set

Price Range: 30 – 50 AED ($8.17 to $13.61)

When: 11:30 – 24:0 daily

Where: Ibn Battuta Mall, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, Jebel Ali Village, Dubai

How to get there: Take a cab going to the 5th Interchange of Sheikh Zayed Road and go to Ibn Battuta Mall where Lemongrass is located.

9. Atisuto

For some of the best Japanese dishes in town

Atisuto Image credit: Atisuto

Once you set foot in Atisuto, you would instantly feel like you’re entering a very modern world with large paintings, graffiti art and so much more. It provides a pleasant feast for the eyes.

Two big Noh masks fronting the restaurant will welcome you and somehow prepare you for the lively and bright Mojo design inside. Atisuto means “artist” in Japan and is just aptly called so with all the lovely elements adorning the place.

With nearly 100 items on their menu, it might be difficult for one to choose. If you want to get one that will not disappoint, move your eyes to the items written in red since these are their signature dishes.

An all-time favorite is their chicken gyoza (five dumplings delicately huddled together in one gyoza wrapper paired with spicy ginger-garlic sauce). A bowl of steaming ramen is good to share with a friend if you are just a light eater. And finish off your Japanese meal with soft, dense and heavenly Japanese cheesecake.

With the setting and authentic Japanese food Atisuto offers, one will think that the fare here is expensive, but it is otherwise. Atisuto is totally worth a trip, and worth every penny, too!

What to order: Sushi, Chicken gyoza, Nasu dengaku

Price Range: 30 – 70 AED ($8.17 – $19.06)

When: 10:00 – 24:00 daily

Where: Ground Floor, Galleria Mall, 400 Al Wasl Road, Dubai

How to get there: Take a cab going to Al Wasl Road between the Emirates Post Office and Emirates NBD where Galleria Mall is. Go to the mall’s ground floor at retail unit #2.

10. Din Tai Fung

For the best dumplings, roast duck and other Chinese-style dishes

Din Tai Fung Image credit: Din Tai Fung

Even as a first-time Dubai visitor, one has probably heard of Din Tai Fung. Because it has over 100 branches in the US, UK and East Asia, including the one with Michelin star in Hong Kong.

The branch in Dubai may be lacking in its interior design, but their Chinese-Taiwanese fare excellently makes up for it. Just do not go there with already grumbling tummies. It is best that you visit this dumpling heaven before your hunger pangs come out. The reason is you have to join the long queues of diners waiting to have a taste of their impeccable dishes. Not to worry because once you get seated, everything else will be quick.

Take your pick from their wide variety of tasty dumplings. The Xiao Long Bao are noteworthy, particularly the crab and chicken Xiao Long Bao.

Their Hong Kong style roast duck is also just as scrumptious! And all these come in very inexpensive prices. Fill your stomach to the brim without breaking the bank.

What to order: Stir fried morning glory, Crab and chicken xiao long bao, Hong Kong style roast duck, Szechuan shrimp and chicken wontons

Price Range: 20 – 80 AED ($5.45 – $21.78)

When: 11:00-22:00 daily

Where: Level 2, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha 1, Dubai

How to get there: Take a cab going to Mall of the Emirates. Din Tai Fung is at the Level 2 Expansion.