Dubai: gourmet dining without the high price tag

Hear the words 'Dubai' and 'gourmet dining' in the same sentence and you'll probably automatically think of swanky, expensive restaurants that'll leave your wallet wincing and your bank account bereft. And, to be perfectly honest, a lot of the time you'd be right - but what I've recently discovered is that there are actually some fantastic and affordable gourmet eateries if you know where to look.

Here are a few of the best.

Al Nafoorah

Dubai, Gourmet Dining, Restaurant, Restaurant Reviews, Top List, Travel Guide

Where: Jumeirah Emirates Towers

If you want to get a real taste of Arabia, Al Nafoorah is a great place to come that won't break the bank. It's known for its authentic Lebanese mezze platters (you can choose both hot and cold dishes), but it's got a reputation for more than its decent-value, delicious food.

One of the reasons for its popularity is its cosy atmosphere, so it's great if you fancy quite a relaxed meal. It's also got a nice al fresco seating area, which is well worth checking out.

Al Hambra

Dubai, Gourmet Dining, Restaurant, Restaurant Reviews, Top List, Travel Guide

Where: Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah

Now, when you dine out in Dubai, one of the first things you're likely to notice is there's an awful lot of choice in terms of types of cuisine. So, if you're happy to go international rather than sticking to more local dishes, you'll find there are some real gems to try out that don't carry the city's characteristically high price tag.

Al Hambra is one such restaurant. Serving up authentic Spanish food, it's an unbeatable place to go if you want a taste of Mediterranean fare. It does excellent tapas and paella (as you'd expect!), as well as a mean sangria. Usually
open from 18:00 to 23:30 local time, it also welcomes people for brunch on Fridays between 12:30 and 16:00.

Noodle House

Dubai, Gourmet Dining, Restaurant, Restaurant Reviews, Top List, Travel Guide

Where: Souk Madinat Jumeirah

If you're looking for a serious bargain, get yourself over to Noodle House. This lively restaurant serves up all kinds of yummy treats, like kung pao chicken noodles, sticky chilli beef ribs and shrimp siew mai.

Having something of a sweet tooth, I'm particularly attracted to the desserts though - the sticky plum doughnuts sound amazing!


Where: Mina A' Salam, Madinat Jumeirah

Possibly the ultimate choice if you're after casual beachside dining, Shimmers is great for tasty barbecued snacks, like marinated halloumi and vegetable skewers. There is one small snag though - it's reserved for hotel guests only until 19:00.

The good news is that if you really can't wait till the evening, you can get a beach access pass that'll allow you to go in - but you'll have to pay for it. So, if you're trying not to splash out too much on food, it's probably worth sitting tight until the clock strikes 19:00.

Khaymat Al Bahar

Where: Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah

Another beachside venue well worth visiting, Khaymat Al Bahar is an informal, fun place to eat. Its design is inspired by Bedouin marquees and during the day it serves up lots of simple, classic Arabian dishes.

Come nightfall, it offers a la carte dining - again sticking to the Arabian theme. Among the food you can choose from is the Arabic Experience (which is six hot or cold mezze of your choice), charcoal grilled meats and vegetable, lamb and chicken tagines.

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