Whether you live in the UAE’s largest city or are just visiting, chances are at some point you’re going to be on the hunt for the best restaurants in Downtown Dubai. You see, this neighbourhood is arguably one of the busiest and most famous with it being home to The Dubai Mall, the Dubai Fountains and the Burj Khalifa, which has held the title of the world’ tallest building since its inauguration in 2010. It's also home to a lot of residents thanks to it being an area where you can easily walk to shops and restaurants on your doorstep.
Thanks to the numerous sites and attractions in the area, some of Dubai’s best restaurants have set up shop in the Downtown district. In fact, this small area of the city (which is just 2 square kilometres all in) is home to a couple of the only Michelin starred restaurants in Dubai which guarantee to put on quite the hospitality show for your visit. At these spots you can expect all the usual trappings of fine dining, like white tablecloths, impeccable service and beautifully matched drinks flights.
However, you might not always want to spend hours (and let’s face it, lots of money) on a meal in Downtown Dubai. Perhaps you’re looking for a child-friendly restaurant in Dubai if you have the whole team in tow, or maybe a Dubai sports bar is more your vibe. The beauty of this neighbourhood is that there truly is something for everyone when it comes to eating out. From those once-in-a-lifetime experiences through to the we-eat-there-every-Monday type places, every style of kitchen and cuisine is represented here.
For something extra special, head for one of the best restaurants in Dubai with a view, which in this postcode means views of the dancing fountains and the skyscrapers that have made the UAE’s skyline so famous. If you’re in the mood to soak up the atmosphere then why not allow dinner to roll into drinks, when you can enjoy a few of the city’s top-class cocktails from one of the best rooftop bars in Dubai.
The proud owner of a Michelin star and one of Dubai's most exclusive private dining rooms, Armani/Ristorante finds its home inside the Armani Hotel. That means that it’s as refined as you might expect, with fashionable touches and sleek interiors like curved leather banquettes and a state-of-the-art open kitchen. Here there’s a choice of a tasting menu or an a la carte with both options showcasing the very best of Italian food. There’s even a separate truffle menu for those with a love of all things fungus, as well as very deep pockets. A Black Angus beef loin with mashed potatoes, seared fois gras and black truffle, for instance, sets you back 429AED.
Book now: Armani/Ristorante
With unbelievable views of the dancing fountains and the Burj Khalifa opposite, BiCE Mare Restaurant commands one of the best places to dine with a view in Downtown Dubai. The top seats in the house are undoubtedly on the terrace, which means uninterrupted vistas, so we’d recommend asking for a table outside when you book. If you’re doing things properly here you’ll go all-in on an Italian four course meal. Start with salads and dishes of antipasti before moving through pasta plates, mains and desserts. Refreshing appetisers include seabass carpaccio in a lemon dressing with a fennel and orange salad, lemon zest and dill, while mains might bring a breaded veal chop with a cherry tomato, rocket and Parmesan salad.
Book now: BiCE Mare
A little on the outskirts, out towards the financial district and the restaurants of Business Bay, EKAI is worth the short walk from Downtown Dubai. Here you’ll be rewarded with an international menu that somehow manages to seamless fuse the cuisines of Hawaii, Japan and Europe for a menu packed full of bold, bright notes. Once inside you’ll find a cosy, low-lit dining room, perfect for a date, business meeting or group gathering of friends. The menu meanders through everything from seabass cevice and escargot with garlic and parsley butter through to risottos, pastas and paella. The Josper grill is the star of the show, helping to give steaks, seafood and chicken a lick of that signature charred flavour. It might all sounds like a bit of a wild ride, but somehow it works.
Book now: EKAI
Wonderfully theatrical, the whole experience of dining at TABU is out of this world. Huge, global characters adorn the walls and watch you as you eat, while the red lighting and overhead installations make the whole thing feel more like an experiential art show rather than a restaurant. With both a brunch and dinner menu, the offering here is varied, but whatever time of the day you happen to drop in, you’ll be treated to creative Japanese cookery. Hot starters in the evening include black tempura calamari and wagyu beef sliders with cold alternatives running from seaweed salads through to ceviches. The mains list is self-assuredly short with just a handful of crowd-pleasing options such as spicy miso chicken or Japanese rice topped with mushrooms and truffle.
Book now: TABU
For some reason there seems to be a glut of Italian restaurants all clustered into the small Downtown area. Not that we’re complaining though, since we could happily live on pizza and pasta if you asked us to. Duomo – meaning cathedral in Italian – brings palatial energy to this part of Dubai, and holds its own as one of the best Italian restaurants despite plenty of competition from its neighbours. The menu is a lesson in the classics with frito misto, pizza, pasta and risotto all present and correct, alongside mains like roast seabass, grilled wagyu and lamb rump.
Book now: Duomo
BB Social Dining
One of the more casual places to eat in Downtown Dubai, this handy spot is great to have up your sleeve for when you want a laidback lunch or a dinner that doesn’t last hours and span multiple courses. This doesn’t mean sub-par food though, everything here is handled with reverence and care and served in the bright dining rooms (the restaurant has been designed over three floors). Officially serving food of the ‘east’, there’s a distinct Japanese trend played out across the menu that encompasses various price points and dietary requirements, including vegan options. Cult classics include tuna tartare on crispy rice as well as miso black cod.
Book now: BB Social Dining
Less a place for a fully blown dinner and more a spot for enjoying sundowners and snacks, Neos sets itself apart from the crowd with its jaw-dropping views. Here you’ll find expansive windows that frame the picture-perfect scenes below of Dubai’s skyscrapers, including a close up snapshot of the Burj Khalifa opposite. As you might expect, the cocktails here are top-drawer, and to accompany them there’s a far-reaching menu of international snacks and sharing plates. Think samosas, sushi and salads as well as plates of bao, tacos and calamari.
Book now: Neos
The Restaurant at Address Downtown
While Dubai is undoubtedly a city that celebrates excess, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing and wear tired of all the glitz. The Restaurant at Address Downtown acts as a soothing tonic with its pared back interiors and simply furnished dining room. That’s not to say it doesn’t have style, however, with a clean-cut aesthetic on show that celebrates the beauty of simplicity. You’ll find light wooden parquet flooring, neutral soft furnishings in various textures and long, floaty gauze curtains that help to make the place feel exclusive without annihilating the beautiful views seen through the windows. There’s a well-executed menu of international favourites including mezze platters, chicken shawarma wraps and juicy grilled prawns. What’s more, children under five eat free, and those over five can enjoy the menu at 50% off – perfect if you have the whole team in tow.
Book now: The Restaurant at Address Downtown
The Meat Co.
The clue’s in the name, this is one for true carnivores. It’s a steakhouse with African roots, with a team who are passionate about sourcing the very best cuts from around the world. Aside from the usual steaks, sauces and sides, there are also imaginative riffs on seafood starters and a dessert menu that presents beautifully crafted sweets that taste as good as they look. Aside from the food, there’s a fantastic cocktail menu and a swish dining room to relax in – it’s a bit of an all-rounder and perfect for both group dining with friends as well as client or colleague entertainment for work.
Book now: The Meat Co.
Ready to dine further afield? Check out the best Michelin starred restaurants in Abu Dhabi