When I first moved to Dubai (in 2008) I wanted to get a taste of the local culture. I went to some spots where locals hung out like Shu, Jumeriah Beach Road on National Day and Starbuck’s at Mercato. I seemed to have found the traffic but couldn’t find anything more traditional until I met my now husband.
He took me to Al Bastakiya. It’s often referred to as Old Dubai and is settled on the Bur Dubai side of the Dubai Creek. The name Bastakiya comes from the Iranian town of Bastak since many of the traders back in the day were from Iran.
While there we visited Al Fahidi Fort (Dubai’s oldest building dating back to the 1870’s), the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) and the Local House Restaurant. The Local House includes a number of camel meat dishes like camel burgers and camel biryani. I was extra happy to be a vegetarian that day, ha! However, I did try karak chai with camel’s milk. It was a bit thicker than usual but it wasn’t bad.
Since then many more Emirati flavored restaurants have opened and we’ve visited them all! Seven Sands, Al Fanar, Klayya Bakery & Emirati Sweets, Al Barza Cafe. Our favorite would have to be my in-laws home for Friday lunch of course!
After home-cooking, our current local hang is Tent Jumeriah! LOVE IT! We especially like to go there for breakfast. Some our favorite breakfast eats there are nekhi (chick peas with lemon and spices), balaleet (sweet vermicelli with egg), foul plate, eggs and tomato with rgaag bread and chbab (pancakes) with date syrup.
Then comes the karak chai. De-lish! It’s fantastic there! Instead of cake by the ocean, have tea by the sea y’all! You can’t ask for a better view or fresher air in the desert.
They also have a full dinner menu and of course, sweets! My absolute favorite Emirati sweet is the simple, age old delight, luqaimat. They are basically fried dough balls drizzled with date molasses (known as dibs) and sometimes sesame seeds.
Afterwards you can take a walk along the beach to burn off those calories and remind yourself of just how lucky we are to live in Dubai! Yalla, go check it out! Tell them Ali and Mina sent you! They won’t know who we are but say it anyways, ha!