It’s a secret to no one that Dubai excels when it comes to the variety of dining experiences to be had across its many elegant venues. With a whopping total of 9, 189 restaurants it might be daunting to choose where to dine during a holiday here. To the rescue comes this list of seven exceptionally unique restaurants in Dubai. Be it for the food fare, or more often for the unique location, ambience or decor, these are the ones to check out for a special and extraordinary dining experience.
It’s easy to be blinded by the razzle and dazzle of many of Dubai’s glittering dining venues, which makes it a potentially mindboggling task to try and pick from the wide array of them. Which takes me to why I’ve taken the time to compile a selection of seven remarkable dining places in Dubai to experience the most unique meals . Saving you the time-consuming trouble of conducting your own research, if you seek the different, the weird, the outstanding or the special this is the list to check out.
Now I don’t promise the finest meals or the promptest, must courteous service, this list is not about that ( check Laura Rawlings excellent selection if you are after that ), but what I do guarantee at each of these seven Dubai restaurants is a unique atmosphere, often paired with exuberant, over-the-top entertainment.
Victorian drama – The Act
If you want to be taken back in time, not a decade or two, but a whole two centuries, there’s only one place in Dubai where you can do while sinking your teeth into delicious fare – Japanese and Peruvian, to be more precise. Whilst the menu might appear to be in discordance with the Victorian theme, you’ll soon discover that they beautifully go together, and the marriage of flavours and atmosphere is simply exquisite .
In terms of ambiance, the décor is decidedly theatrical with Victorian-style lamps hanging from the ceiling and rich drapery adding to the 1880s cabaret-style extravaganza. But what really steals the show here are the actual shows performed to the delight of an interacting audience. From jaw-dropping acrobatic numbers to Vaudeville acts, fire-breathing spectacles and Mad Hatter’s Tea parties, this is one place where entertainment takes centre stage, quite literally.
Spinning around – Al Dawaar
Welcome to the Dubai’s only rotating restaurant and one of the world’s very few. With a privileged, sky-high location, standing tall over the scenic Dubai Creek on Hyatt Regency Dubai’s 25 th floor, Al Dawaar is the only place in Dubai where you can tuck into a tasty meal while being slowly rotated and, in doing so, being shown 360 degree views of the Gulf and the city. Enjoy the international fare while drinking in the most panoramic cityscapes.
Don’t worry too much about getting dizzy as the rotation is so slow you’ll hardly notice it. Make plans for it to be a lengthy meal if you want to be shown around its full perimeter, as it takes one hour to complete a full rotation cycle. It makes no difference whether you come for lunch or for dinner as the views are equally captivating . In daylight hours, the radiant sunshine rays make the Gulf waters glimmer and sparkle. If you come in the evening the city’s glittering skyline will be equally entrancing.
A meal on wheels – Royal Express
Made to look exactly like the legendary, ultra-luxurious trains of the 1880s, after which marvels like the Orient Express were modelled, this is one restaurant trains potters and Agatha Christie fans will absolutely love. The only downside to it is that it’s not actually built inside a moving train, but this stationary restaurant’s interiors do certainly play the part. Once inside it’s hard to get your mind around the fact that you’re not actually in a train . You’ll feel instantly transported to the era of the Maharajas as instrumental music is occasionally interrupted by train stopping announcement in Hindi and train-track noises.
The menu is fittingly Indian with a few surprises and twists, set against an immersive ambiance where waiters are fully clad in costumes, complete with turban-style hats. The actual quality of the food doesn’t merit special mention, let’s just say it meets the standards of the kind of food you might expect to find in a train. You’ll find it on the Mezzanine level of the Admiral Plaza hotel in Bur Dubai .
Sailing away – Al Mansour Dhow
If you like being moved and a gentle rotating movement like the one at the above-mentioned Al Dawaar is not enough to entertain you during a special dining occasion (and being gently rocked by water doesn’t make you queasy), then the majestic Al Mansour Dhow is your answer for an unforgettable experience under the twinkling Arabian sky. This is not just about enjoying an extraordinary dinner but also about embarking on a unique sailing journey to get to know Dubai’s Creek.
Onboard this authentic, traditional, century-old dhow you will be enlightened about the area’s history and heritage. During your sailing journey dinner is served buffet style with a wide array of quality options and an unlimited tab of soft drinks and juices. As you fill your tummy with freshly prepared bites you’ll enjoy privileged views of Dubai’s old town and the long, scenic creek that divides it. A dining experienced soaked (yes, the pun was fully intentional) in history and tradition.
A good old hoedown – Texas Roadhouse
If you fancy a bit of good ol’ American fun, western style, there is one place in Dubai that excels at providing a full Wild, Wild West experience with meaty food fare to match. This fun steakhouse really goes all out to provide dining guests with the full Texan immersion, including line-damcomg waiters and ranch-style, finger-suckling-good barbecued meats. In the menu, you’ll find every American classic (burgers, chicken wings, juicy steaks with fries…you name it) with a southwestern twist.
Be prepared to be greeted to a cheerful “Howdy partner!” as you take a seat and enjoy the show. You’ll see waiters donning “I heart my job” T-shirts while engaging in a bit of perfectly choreographed line-dancing. You simply won’t be able to help but join in the fun and warm up to the intoxicatingly lively atmosphere. People rave about the delicious cuisine here as much as for the generous portions and their affordable prices. It’s centrally located inside The Dubai Mall in Downtown Dubai.
Cutting-edge technology – Ebony
Technology geeks and novelty lovers alive are sure to find the Ebony restaurant most interesting and endlessly fun . What makes this restaurant truly special is not its setting, décor or food but the technologically-advanced way in which you can order it – right from the table! You won’t have to waive your hand signalling for the waiter to come and take your order, instead you click your choice from the interactive menu embedded in your table. Fear not if you’re not tech-savvy, waiters will guide you through.
When it comes to the menu, you can find an assorted variety of dishes that range from pasta options to kebabs, mixed grills and an interesting selection of Sudanese dishes. But what really adds to the excitement of eating here is navigating through the menu as you click your way on your table’s screen. If you do get stuck, courteous staff are on hand to help. And it doesn’t end at ordering; via the same screen you’ll be able to see your dish being prepared in the kitchen! If that isn’t enough entertainment while you wait for your food, you can also log onto your social media account, read the news and send e-cards between tables. A tremendous fun way to spend a novel mealtime in Dubai!
Cool it down – Chillout
The coolest of options in this list, will quite literally give you a chill, so do come with an extra layer of clothing if you don’t want to get goose bumps. At Chillout , there’s an actual ice bar, entirely made of ice and from it you can order a selection of chilled foods that range from sushi to ice cream and sandwiches. If you need a warm pick-me-up in the cold, there’s also a variety of heart-warmingly hot soups in the menu. An admission fee is charged to all except children aged four or under and includes a complimentary welcome drink.
At the Middle East’s first sub-zero lounge you’ll be able to select from seating at the ice bar or taking up a table with sculpted ice seats, the bottom part of which is topped by a warm and furry throw to keep your bottom from getting wet, or worst, stuck! While waiting for your food you’ll be able to feast your eyes on beautiful ice sculptures, perfectly complimented by dramatic lighting and an elegant layout. If you leave your jacket at home, upon entering you’ll be given thermal clothing to better withstand the -6 degrees’ temperature!
More to come?
That wraps up my list of Dubai’s seven most unique restaurants, but it’s one that could grow over time to accommodate more innovative, weird, wonderful, or in some way exceptional restaurants. With nearly 10, 000 restaurants in Dubai per the last census published in April (more could have opened since then, and knowing Dubai’s business growth rate, especially in the hospitality sector, many probably have) if there’s something I can guarantee is that there’s someone waiting to create the latest Dubai novelty restaurant, theme-wise or in some other way uniquely surprising!