23 golden oldie restaurants in Dubai

Miyako - Dubai restaurants - FooDiva - #GoldenOldieDubai

The award for Dubai’s oldest licensed restaurant goes to…Miyako at the Hyatt Regency!

Dubai’s dining scene is fickle with new restaurants opening and closing almost as quickly as it takes to knock up a curry. Having arrived in Dubai nearly 18 years ago, I have ‘outlived’ many of Dubai’s restaurants, but the fact is, when I started researching this round-up, I never thought Dubai would boast so many longstanding restaurants. By longstanding, I mean restaurants open for more than a decade that are still popular – one even goes back 30 years! So this guide is a tribute to 23 golden oldie restaurants in Dubai who have survived the highs and lows of the local restaurant scene, and continue to pull in regular punters.

The focus is on licensed restaurants, i.e. those serving alcohol. Whilst restaurants may have been refurbished (in fact I hope they have!) the cuisine, concept and location must remain unchanged to qualify for inclusion. To make this guide a compelling read (I hope), I have picked one restaurant from each hotel referenced, even though some may boast more time-honoured establishments. The average price point listed is based on three courses per person without alcohol.

I am organising a Golden Oldie #DineAroundDubai for later this year, so if you’re interested, drop me a note in the comments and I can keep you updated. Alternatively, the last mystery dine around experience before Ramadan kicks in, is set for the 22nd May – more info here if you’d like to join.

Enjoy the read, with respect to the most ‘elderly’ first 😉

Miyako – Hyatt Regency Dubai

The award for Dubai’s oldest licensed restaurant goes to a Japanese outlet, Miyako, which opened nearly three decades ago in October 1987 pioneering a trend for all things Japanese in town. Recently refurbished, it boasts a teppanyaki set menu, which has been served since day one. It’s also one of the few Japanese restaurants in town to offer a dedicated sake and shochu bar. Best-selling dishes: shrimp tempura; seafood bento box; salmon sashimi. Price point: AED280 per person (p/p).

Le Classique - Dubai restaurants - FooDiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiLe Classique – Emirates Golf Club

Opened: 29 years ago (March 1988). In second place sits the aptly named classic French restaurant at Dubai’s oldest golf club. Le Classique’s differentiator is the discovery menu, where instead of a traditional tasting menu, the chef visits your table to create a customised menu based on your food preferences – inspired by seasonal produce and modern French dining trends. It’s also a rather posh experience with a dress code (jackets for men are a must!). Best-selling dishes: French onion soup with gratinated Beaufort cheese; Wagyu beef with beetroot salad; chocolate sphere sharing experience. Price point: AED300 p/p.

Fish Market - Dubai restaurants - FooDiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiFish Market – Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek

Opened: 28 years go (March 1989). Located in what was originally an Intercontinental branded hotel, Fish Market was the first restaurant of its type in the UAE to model itself on traditional Thai fish markets, where to this day you select your seafood from an iced display, along with a choice of cooking technique and sauce. Quite rightly, as part of its support of the Choose Wisely sustainability campaign, they do not serve overfished hammour. Sometimes guests ask their taxi driver to take them to the original fish market in Deira, but are accidentally dropped off at the restaurant, Fish Market. One guest even took their fresh fish home and tried to cook it himself, only to return because he didn’t quite get it right! Best-selling dishes: grilled local halwa fish with red chilli sauce; red snapper in Thai curry sauce; prawns in lemon butter and garlic sauce. Price point: AED200 p/p.

Da Vinci’s – Millennium Airport Dubai

Opened: 28 years ago (1989 – month not confirmed). Da Vinci’s is the oldest Italian restaurant in Dubai – no mean feat given so many have opened and shut shop. A self-playing piano and a three-foot peppermill have been part of the fixtures since the opening. Best-selling dishes: seafood spaghetti; herb-crusted baked salmon; Leonardo pizza topped with bresaola, rocket and Parmesan. Price point: AED200 p/p.

Casa Mia – Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre

Opened: nearly 24 years ago (November 1993). Consistency and authenticity is the key to Casa Mia’s successful longevity, and the reason why many Italian chefs frequent this restaurant. Best-selling dishes: homemade cheese ravioli with fresh tomato sauce and basil; trilogy of fish carpaccio; beef tenderloin tagliata. Price point: AED240 p/p.

JW's Steakhouse - Dubai restaurants - FooDiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiJW’s Steakhouse – JW Marriott Dubai

Opened: nearly 22 years ago (September 1995). JW Steakhouse has retained its loyal clientele, so much so that those who have dined 24 times receive a recognition plaque on their favourite table. The tables are pretty crowded! The opening chef Iqbal is the same chef to this day who churns out dishes with a classic presentation that has remained unchanged over the years. Best-selling dishes: seafood chowder; crab cake; tenderloin fillet. The oysters Rockefeller are my personal favourite. Price point: AED300 p/p.

Antique Bazaar - Dubai restaurants - FooDiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiAntique Bazaar – Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai

Opened: nearly two decades ago (July 1997). Antique Bazaar prides itself on serving authentic cuisine that once ruled the hearts of the Indian royal family – also reflected in the regal décor. Many repeat guests frequent Antique Bazaar from dating to marriage to children, choosing to celebrate special occasions here. Best-selling dishes: non-veg kebab platter; Himachal spiced chicken; crispy lady fingers in an onion-tomato gravy. Price point: AED130 p/p.

La Parrilla - Dubai restaurants - FooDiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiLa Parrilla – Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Opened: nearly two decades ago (December 1997). La Parrilla is Dubai’s first and foremost Argentinian and broader Latin-American restaurant. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the views across to Burj Al Arab are stunning at night. The kitchen team has worked with the same organic grass-fed beef farm in Argentina since the opening. Best-selling dishes: Argentinean lomo tenderloin; empanadas; ceviche. Price point: AED300 p/p.

Splendido - Dubai restaurants - FooDiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiSplendido – Ritz Carlton Dubai

Opened: nearly 19 years ago (September 1998). Splendido was originally the hotel’s all day dining restaurant before the menu changed to focus on traditional Italian dishes. Best-selling dishes: veal Milanese; sea bass in ‘crazy water’; beef carpaccio. Price point: AED200 p/p.

Al Fresco – Crowne Plaza Dubai

Opened: 19 years ago (1998 – month not confirmed). This quaint terraced treasure on the Sheikh Zayed offers traditional rustic Italian dishes with changing daily specials. I used to frequent it regularly when I first moved to Dubai, as my office was a few blocks down. Best-selling dishes: Caprese salad; ravioli stuffed with burrata and truffle sauce; veal Milanese. Price point: AED180 p/p.

Bice - Dubai restaurants - FooDiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiBice – Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Beach

Opened: nearly 17 years ago (October 2000). I have a soft spot for Bice, as it was a regular haunt when I worked for Hilton’s corporate office, especially with the staff discount! It was recently refurbished with a fresh, vibrant look including a terrace and upside-down lemon trees (!) – almost unrecognisable from the original décor. The jazz pianist who started playing in 2003 is still very much part of the atmosphere. Best-selling dishes: veal Milanese; spinach and ricotta tortelli with creamy truffle sauce; rock-salted sea bass. Price point: AED295 p/p.

The Beach Bar & Grill Terrace, The Palace, One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai - Dubai restaurants - FooDiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiThe Beach Bar & Grill – One & Only Royal Mirage

Opened: 16 years ago (March 2001). As one of the very first beach-fronted restaurants in Dubai, including tables on the sand, The Beach has attracted a very loyal following over the years. With a complete refurbishment in late 2015 and the addition of beach gazebos, it has become a popular venue for date nights and proposals. Best-selling dishes: grilled sea bass fillet; mix grill seafood platter; Australian Wagyú steak. Price point: AED270 p/p.

Benjarong - Dubai restaurants - FooDiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiBenjarong – Dusit Thani Dubai

Opened: 16 years ago (April 2001). Benjarong has retained its traditional and very spicy Thai concept – both in food and décor. The female Thai chef de cuisine used to work for the Thai royal family who have her cook when they transit in Dubai. Best-selling dishes: papaya salad; Tom Yam soup; pad Thai. Price point: AED180 p/p.

Teatro – Towers Rotana Dubai

Opened: nearly 16 years ago (October 2001). Teatro is the only restaurant in Dubai, to this day, to boast a multi-cuisine menu and to deliver it successfully and consistently. Spectrum On One at Fairmont, which has closed down, was its only rival. The restaurant is also known for its wine cork collection, displayed at the entrance in multiples of thousands across five large cataplanas. Best-selling dishes: wasabi tempura; miso sea bass; flame-torched baked Hawaiian. Price point: AED 350 p/p.

The Exchange Grill – Fairmont DubaThe Exchange Grill - Dubai restaurants - Foodiva - #GoldenOldieDubaii

Opened: 15 years ago (February 2002). I have fond memories of the Exchange Grill because, steak aside, it was the first restaurant in Dubai to offer pashminas to ladies! And you got to keep them. Best-selling dishes: crab cakes; American Premium Gold Angus grilled steak. Price point: AED300 p/p.

Asha’s – Wafi Sphinx

Opened: nearly 15 years ago (December 2002). Asha’s owes its name to the Bollywood singer, Asha Bhosle, with many of the Indian dishes originating from her own recipes. One of her specials, which go by the name of Muscat Ghost, is boneless tender lamb cooked with clarified butter in a spicy, rich onion and tomato gravy. Whilst sightseeing in Oman, she stopped for lunch at a small ‘dhaba’, a roadside restaurant and ate the most wonderful Karahi Ghost. She returned to Dubai and recreated that dish. 83-year-old Asha continues to select and grind the spices at Mumbai’s famous souk, distributing her signature masala to her restaurants. Best-selling dishes: butter chicken tikka; boneless lamb biryani; kebab platter. Price point: AED175 p/p.

Peppercrab - Dubai restaurants - Foodiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiPeppercrab – Grand Hyatt Dubai

Opened: 14 years ago (March 2003). Peppercrab remains to this day, the only dedicated Singaporean restaurant in Dubai to perfect the cooking craft of one of its national dishes – the finger-licking delicious pepper and chilli crab. Best-selling dishes: Crab aside, the Singapore seafood salad; wasabi prawns with mango salsa; Singapore roasted duck. Price point: AED175 p/p.

Bussola – Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort

Opened: nearly 12 years ago (May 2005). Bussola’s location was part of the original Meridien Mina Seyahi hotel, which then expanded to include the Westin complex. It’s known for traditional Italian dining on the ground floor and a popular pizzeria on the rooftop. Bussola adopted a 500-year old olive tree named ‘Afrodite’ in Salento, Italy to support the centenarian monumental olive tree campaign, using its extra virgin olive oil here in Dubai. Best-selling dishes: Bussola pizza; branzino sea bass; buffalo mozzarella spaghetti. Price point: AED260 p/p.

Indego - Dubai restaurants - Foodiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiIndego – Grosvenor House Dubai

Opened: nearly 12 years ago (June 2005). Indego was the first ‘celeb’ chef Indian restaurant in Dubai, with Vineet Bhatia at the stove. He’s one of the few big-name chefs to regularly visit his restaurant here, and by regular, I mean monthly, if not more frequently. Unlike some other chefs of his calibre, he also curates his own Instagram account giving you a real, honest feel for his cuisine, which offers a progressive spin on Indian flavours. You won’t spot a balti here! Best-selling dishes: home-smoked tandoori salmon; prawns in coconut chilli masala; chocolate samosas. Price point: AED280 p/p.

The Thai Kitchen - Dubai restaurants - Foodiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiThe Thai Kitchen – Park Hyatt Dubai

Opened: nearly 12 years ago (August 2005). Thai Kitchen’s differentiator over other Thai restaurants in Dubai is the authentic, tapas-style presentation. The Thai chef de cuisine, Supattra Boonsrang has manned the live cooking stations at Thai Kitchen for over a decade. She her own herb garden within the Park Hyatt Dubai grounds ensuring that ingredients are as fresh as possible, whilst also importing key produce from Thailand to ensure its authenticity. Best-selling dishes: roasted red duck curry; spicy pomelo salad; coconut ice cream with fresh mangoes. Price point: AED200 p/p.

Salmontini - Dubai restaurants - Foodiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiSalmontini – Mall of the Emirates

Opened: nearly 11 years ago (July 2006). Salmontini launched as a salmon smokehouse in Lebanon using all-natural ingredients before opening the Dubai restaurant. As a result, the salmon dishes on the menu – both smoked and unsmoked – are of exceptional quality. It’s my go-to restaurant in Mall of the Emirates for fresh sushi and sashimi. Best-selling dishes: spicy crispy salmon tartare; salmon fillet with couscous; entrecote steak with a St Germain des Pres sauce and French fries. Price point: AED250 p/p.

Frankie's - Dubai restaurants - Foodiva - #GoldenOldieDubaiFrankie’s Italian Bar & Grill – Al Fattan Marine Tower JBR

Opened: nearly a decade (October 2007). Frankie’s, named after the infamous horse rider Frankie Dettori has amassed a loyal, regular clientele who all know each other by name. The tiny, albeit smokey bar is always a precursor to dinner, as well as for digestifs and dancing. Best-selling dishes: spaghetti frutti di mare; seared sea bass; fillet of beef Rossini. Price point: AED250 p/p.

Elia – Majestic Hotel Tower Dubai

Opened: nearly a decade ago (November 2007). Elia was the first restaurant in Dubai to showcase Greek cuisine in a non-stereotypical way steering away from kitsch elements. The location in the drab Majestic hotel in Bur Dubai is in stark contrast to the charming white-washed Greek restaurant hidden inside, where the food marries traditional with contemporary dishes. Pork galore here too. Best-selling dishes: chicken souvlaki (despite the fact it has a pork licence!); moussaka; Greek salad. Price point: AED150 p/p.

Which one is your go-to haunt? Care to share any memories from meals at these restaurants? Have I missed out any of your favourite #GoldenOldieDubai restaurants? (note – some restaurants I contacted sadly did not respond).

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

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16 Responses to “23 golden oldie restaurants in Dubai”

  1. Caloy Serrano April 24, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    I think you should have included Seafood restaurant in Le Meridien opposite the airport. It was already operational when I arrived in Dubai in May of 1988.

    • FooDiva April 25, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Yes that’s a goodie too Caloy. I opted to include Casa Mia instead as we can only highlight one per hotel. Thanks for flagging it up so other readers can see it 🙂

  2. Laura April 26, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Great post thank you!
    I’m sorry if you’ve already covered this but do you a similar list for restaurants during Ramadan? We’ll be out there during it this time and are just wondering what would be the best dining options!
    Many Thanks

    • FooDiva April 27, 2017 at 7:19 am

      Hi Laura. Yes we’re working on a round-up of daytime dining options over Ramadan (outside hotels) – will go live the week before Ramadan starts!

  3. IshitaUnblogged April 27, 2017 at 10:57 am

    My God! Resonates so much and just scrapped my draft coz you have cpvered them all – Bang on! I am so glad that you did this post – these restaurants deserve more than just a standing ovation and pat in their backs for standing the test of time, specially in a city like Dubai. I had a favourite in Ramada Bur Dubai, but the hotel itself has shut down.

    • FooDiva April 28, 2017 at 9:56 am

      Damn we should have clubbed our research Ishita! Good old Ramada, used to be my local within walking distance. The Chinese in particular (can’t recall the name). Which was your fave there?

      • IshitaUnblogged April 28, 2017 at 7:01 pm

        Dynasty – the Chinese one. Let me try to do a golden oldie list of non-licensed places and link it to this one. That will be quite relevant.

        • FooDiva April 30, 2017 at 8:27 am

          Great idea! I’ll link into yours too 🙂

  4. Caroline Rowe April 27, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    What a fantastic article – I really had no idea we had so many long standing restaurants – interesting to muse what the key to their success has been….

    • FooDiva April 28, 2017 at 9:58 am

      Thanks Caroline. True; that would make a great story idea for a follow-up article. Interestingly these are mostly hotel-operated restaurants which is now no longer the norm. From what we see with new openings nowadays, it’s the independent third-party concepts that tend to have more success than the hotel-operated ventures.

  5. JayEim April 30, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Ahhh. Good old Salik free days.

    I agree at least with one restaurant and it brought back memories

    “The jazz pianist who started playing in 2003 is still very much part of the atmosphere.”

    The one and only Derek 😉

    • FooDiva May 1, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Glad you mentioned his name Jay 🙂 No other favourite haunts from this guide?!

  6. Nicole May 24, 2017 at 10:42 am

    finally got around to reading this and it made my heart happy:-) i’m definitely in for a golden oldie dine around!!

    • FooDiva May 28, 2017 at 10:37 am

      Great Nicole. Planning it for October/ November – will keep you posted 🙂

  7. dubaitara June 6, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Only just read this Sam – such a blast from the past! Our favourite was Casa Mia’s lobster spaghetti from the time it opened!
    Hyatt also used to have an Italian called Focaccia – not sure if that’s still open, but in the 90’s it was wonderful.
    Love your posts!

    • FooDiva June 18, 2017 at 8:28 am

      Apologies just unearthed your comment from the spam folder Tara! Ooh that Casa Mia dish sounds sublime. Sadly Focaccia has closed down. I remember it well though, having organised by ex’s surprise 30th birthday there!

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