If it’s plenty of spice and flavour you’re looking for on your plate, head to one of these restaurants.
In a city in which nationals from almost every country in the world reside, expect its cuisine to match up too. For those from South America and the Caribbean living in Dubai, these restaurants are sure not to be far off the mark from the ones they’d find back home.
Ting Irie is everything one would expect from a neighbourhood Jamaican joint, it’s casual, heavy on design and has a laid-back hip vibe, thanks to the animated Jamaican staff. While the atmosphere is set to Caribbean chill mode with local beats and gilded chicken statues propping up the mocktail bar (it’s not yet licensed), the food is a little more on the serious side. The Jerk pulled chicken fried rice is served in a freshly hulled pineapple. The homemade nachos are impossible to resist with charred beef patties topping creamy avocado, tomato and a fiery salsa. The humble sandwich’s Caribbean iteration comes in the form of Oxtail cocobread, made with slow cooked braised oxtail meat served in homemade, faintly sweet Jamaican buns. In keeping with the sweet and sour note, we ordered the fried chicken which was, as expected, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and accompanied by a tangy sauce and pickled vegetables. It’s the perfect venue for an entertaining business lunch.
Souk Al Manzil, MBR Boulevard downtown Dubai, +971 4 557 5601
Zoco is one of a handful of trendy new eateries that has opened in the Atrium, Al Habtoor City, sandwiched between St. Regis, W Dubai, and the Westin Dubai. Exposed brick walls and a series of metallic furniture including a long cocktail bar gives this Mexican cum Latin American restaurant edge. Low-level lighting, dark wooden tables and soft brown leather seats afford a cozy atmosphere to this otherwise energetic cantina, which blasts out soulful Latin tunes every night until the early hours. The menu is designed for sharing and has signature dishes like guacamole but with a Zoco twist, using chunky avocado pieces to add texture, as well as variants with mango, pineapple and chili. The scallop crudo packs a punch with thinly sliced raw scallops lathered in passion fruit puree and decorated with sprigs of chili and green tomatoes. If you prefer more heat than zest, opt for lobster tacos with spicy Sriracha, a more refined take on the Cali Baja taco. Desserts are typically South American with Dulce de Leche puff pastry and sugary cinnamon Churros playing a starring role.
Al Habtoor City, Dubai, +971 4 437 0044
The latest concept from the Bull & Roo group (the team behind Tom & Serg, The Sum Of Us, Common Grounds and Brunswick Sports Club) continues to fill a much-needed void in the Dubai dining scene – the cool, neighbourhood restaurant that’s also licensed. At present time, it’s a bit of a conundrum to reach, due to the Dubai Creek construction. But those venturing in the daytime will not be disappointed; the restaurant is a sun-lit, cheerful, quirky oasis serving Mexican fare with a refreshing Australian twist. Taco choices with unusual fillings such as grilled octopus abound, but save room for dessert such as the corn cake piled with corn ice cream, caramel popcorn, and berry granita. Cool, creamy, tart, salty and sweet – it’s a delight for the senses.
Holiday Inn Safa Park, +971 4 327 5878
Totora Cebicheria Peruana
Enter Totora’s restaurant via an Inca style rope bridge which leads to a cool basement lounge complete with Machu Picchu-like stonewalls and turquoise seating that pops brightly – the interiors have been designed by Lebanese architect Fadi Sarieddine, which sets up a huge ask for the food. But after trying the Ceviche it doesn’t disappoint. The raw seafood is lightly tempered with fresh citrus flavours. The Quinotto – Portobello mushrooms and Parmesan cheese drenched in white wine and truffle oil, is a fail-safe option. For an unfussy but delicious dessert try Tres Leches – sponge cake with whipped cream – but if you prefer your dessert in a glass, know fully well that the bar will stay open for an hour after the restaurant closes.
Gate Village, Building 7, +971 4 399 9666