Originally published July 18, 2016. Prices, menus and openings subject to change.
The month of Ramadan has come to an end, and we can’t help but feel saddened. Not just because of the Ramadan spirit we witnessed from the city and people of Dubai, but because we can no longer enjoy some of the most lavish dining experiences in the world. During the month of Ramadan, the food scene transcends all levels. If you think buffets and brunches in cities like Las Vegas and Los Angeles are mad, you have not seen how the Middle East dines during Ramadan. The Dubai Ramadan food scene is over the top luxurious and overwhelming with selection. Keep an eye out for Ramadan special dishes, drinks, and menus.
Middle Eastern culture is known for its generous hospitality, and even if you are invited to someone’s home, you can expect a selection of food to cover a 12 foot table at least. Dubai’s restaurants and hotels create an alternate dining experience, all extravagant in their own right. If you get the opportunity to be in Dubai during this month, we have the scoop on how things operate, where to eat, and price points. Also, for those who aren’t fasting, we have a list of places you can eat at discreetly during the day.
Some standard rules to consider during Ramadan in Dubai, or any country observing the holy month:
- Eating in public during the day is forbidden. Some establishments that cater to tourists will remain open during normal hours for either delivery or take-out only, or will be operating as usual but minus the outdoor seating. Most restaurants install curtains and window decals during the month, especially in restaurants that are still serving food before Iftar (sunset). Hotels with restaurants will offer in-room dining. Otherwise, all restaurants, cafes, and bakeries are closed until Iftar.
- While most restaurants do not open until Iftar, most stay open very late, ranging from midnight until sunrise (approx. 4am).
- Places that attract mostly expat customers will sometimes close for the whole month. We found that many sushi spots and breakfast cafes closed the entire month.
If you plan to eat out in any way, make reservations ASAP. The most popular spots, such as the tents, book weeks in advance. Restaurants with a set menu or a la carte dining don’t require more than a day or two advance booking (outside of the weekends). Restaurants in the mall mostly don’t accept reservations, so plan to be at the restaurant 15-30 mins before, depending on the restaurant’s popularity. Delivery and take-out orders should be placed about 3-5 hours before. Please keep in mind many of the drivers are also fasting and thus many restaurants won’t deliver until at least an hour after Iftar, or not at all during Ramadan. Check in advance to see that they deliver in Ramadan and when.
We ate out every day in Ramadan for Iftar and Suhoor, except for twice when we were hosted by friends. For two people, we would say expect to spend $100/day on eating out, especially for any of our recommended spots (not including tents). Dubai has the most delectable food scene and prices are comparable most times to Beverly Hills and London standards. We suggest trying a mix of the more lavish experiences and the street foods, not just to get a taste of both the authentic and the extravagant, but also to budget your eats.
The two most popular Ramadan tents: Asateer at the Atlantis and Majlis at Madinat Jumeirah. If you want to see and be seen, go to one of these tents. These two tents are not only extremely difficult to get into, but also the most expensive. In addition, many events are staged at the tent month-long, where bloggers, media, and brands are invited to dine, thus booking up much of the tent. If you cannot get into any of the tents for dinner, try to get in for Suhoor, since no reservations are taken, and it is first-come, first-served. Suhoor at the tents is a la carte, with a minimum spend of around $45/person. Plan to spend $40-$70/person for a tent Iftar.
- Asateer, Atlantis
- Majlis, Madinat Jumeirah
- Desert Tent, Bab Al Shams
- Ramadan Majlis, Ritz-Carlton DIFC
- Dana Ballroom, Four Seasons Jumeirah Beach
SET MENU / A LA CARTE
- Fumé | Set Menu, two menu options.
- Tom and Serg | Set Menu
- Mint Leaf of London | Set Menu
- The Sum of Us | Set Menu / A La Carte
- The Hide | Special Ramadan Set Menu / A La Carte
- Ayam Elezz
- Mezza House | includes hookah
DELIVERY / TAKE-OUT
- Biryani Pot
- Clinton Street
- 25 Degrees North
- Qedreh w Mansaf
- Salt | open until 4am
- Emirates Palace | open until 2am
- Ayam Elazz | smoking + nonsmoking options
- Mezza House | 100 AED minimum per person
- Home Bakery | open until 2am
- Gossip Cafe | open until 3am
- La Serre
- Clinton Street
- La Petite Maison
- Mint Leaf of London
- Royal China