The areas of Bur Dubai, Karama, Mankool and Oud Metha are packed with interesting dining opportunities that appeal to expats from different cultures as well as local delights of the region. The best eats are, however, to be found off the beaten track.
Al Seef, the newest foodie destination along the Dubai Creek, has a few surprises up its sleeve. There are restaurants that pay homage to Emirati tradition with breakfast dishes, such as the balalit, a sweet spiced vermicelli noodle dish topped with an omelette, or the fresh catch of the day, pan fried and served atop the date syrup-cooked rice. You can, of course, wash it all down with lots of karak chai.
Moving away from the creek and onto the streets of Mankhool, you can enjoy the delicacies of the Orient in some of the popular all-you-can-eat hotpot restaurants. Tables here come with a hotpot stove and barbecue pit. Simply pick the normal or spicy broth base then dig into some DIY dining with an appetising assortment of meat cuts, seafood and fresh veggies plus sauces.
Mankhool is also home to Greek island cuisine. You will find here Cretan favourites, such as the three-cheese carob-scented haroupopita pie, grilled octopus with fava, a vegetarian-pleasing chestnut and mushroom stifado and Cretan lamb pilaf. Enjoy al fresco dining at many of these places and save room for some honey-soaked loukoumades.
This area is also perfect for late-night shawarmas or falafel sandwiches. If you are really lucky you will spot a Mexican shawarma or indulge your inner carnivore with a heaped mixed grill platter. Pair these with a bowl of crisp fattoush and piping hot cheese sambousek. The kebab shops in the area are known for authentic Iranian cuisine and are masters of the chargrilled kebab. Emphasis is on top-quality meat, cooked to order.
Vying for the culinary crown, Karama is awash with casual eating opportunities. Fond of Indonesian culinary delights? There’s a popular family-run restaurant serving home-cooked delights such as crispy batagor fish cake with peanut sauce or a warming bowl of spicy fried oxtail soup. Don’t miss the bestselling nasi padang and fried duck with house sambal or the pleasures of gado gado salad.
For Sri Lankan cuisine, sigh over string hoppers with homemade coconut sambal and choice of dhal, potato curry or crab curry. The Friday lampreis special of cashew nut curry, cutlet, chicken, brinjal moju, sambal and egg is a riot of authentic flavours. Ethiopian expats can find comfort in spicy stews served on traditional sour injera flatbread. Vegetarians can order a Beyayenet platter of sauces, lentils and veggies.
A predominantly residential area, Oud Metha has restaurants that set the scene for some of the most creative vegetarian food in the city. Diners rave about the roasted pumpkin soup, peach and pesto bruschetta and beetroot risotto. The area also celebrates monthly pop-up dinners where strangers bond over good food. No meal is truly complete without a sweet treat. The kulfi shops in Oud Metha lets you explore a range of flavours, some of which are preservative-free and 100 per cent natural. While you are here check out the gajar halwa, jalebi and paan varieties or keep it simple with mango guava and roasted cashew.