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From uber-luxe restaurants that are frequented by Dubai’s royal family to exquisitely designed private clubs, the ‘city of gold’ has plenty of opulent and lavish venues in which to dine.
Dubai loves to be wined and dined. With a long list of celebrity chef restaurants offering discerning gourmands world-class cuisine, fine-dining enthusiasts have an abundance of excellent choices to choose from. But, just because a restaurant is expensive doesn’t mean it’s worth a visit from a royal. An eclectic blend of cuisines and concepts, artfully prepared dishes, creatively crafted cocktails, and a refreshing and distinct ambiance are all factors that make a restaurant stand out.
In this article, we break down some of the most exclusive restaurants in Dubai, including which rich and famous patrons have made them renowned.
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Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) is the UAE’s version of Wall Street. Besides being a bustling trade hub, the area is the city’s restaurant hall of fame. It has an unmistakable foodie soul that satisfies even the pickiest eater.
Alaya, a recent addition to DIFC’s restaurant scene, is a brand-new concept by award-winning chef Izu Ani and pioneering restaurateur Evgeny Kuzin that lives up to all your expectations.
Chef Izu Ani is undoubtedly one of Dubai’s most famous chefs, considered the city’s first ‘homegrown’ celebrity chef with his growing network of fine-dining restaurants and innovative concepts including La Maison Ani, GAIA, Izu Burger, and Kitch-In. Aside from celebrities and social media figures, it’s not uncommon to see UAE royal family members including Sheikh Mohammed, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan, Crown Prince of Dubai visiting his restaurants.
Located in a former art gallery, Alaya is a gorgeous restaurant with Art Deco touches, a coved ceiling, wall tapestries, and marble floors. Green hues are found throughout the restaurant, including jade seats, emerald booths, and even the staff wearing olive waistcoats. The restaurant’s DJ perfectly knows how to enliven the mood without interfering with the conversation.
Alaya’s menu is as sleek as its interior. The unique blend of Mediterranean with Middle Eastern cuisine, known as Levantine, promises an unforgettable savory experience. The menu is divided into starters which include a selection of salads, spreads, cold and hot mezze, a rotisserie selection, and the mains. Fresh-baked bread with feta cheese is served as a welcome appetizer. Alaya is one of the few high-end restaurants in the city that offers both a vegan and vegetarian menu.
Izu’s signature Mediterranean and Provençal touch is evident in every dish. The generous portions are packed with ingredients like almonds, pistachios, sesame seeds, and fresh herbs and spices like cinnamon, curry, ginger, turmeric, and sumac. You can choose from a wide range of meat and fish options. The well-thought-out dishes complement each other and are perfect for sharing. Give Wagyu Ribeye or Short Rib Manti a try and thank us later.
The dessert menu includes Middle Eastern favorites such as date cake, pistachio ice cream, and kunafa, as well as usual European suspects like apricot tart and custard chocolate mousse which are definitely worth the calories.
Alaya is a licensed restaurant which in UAE terminology means it can serve alcoholic drinks. The drinks menu offers plenty of wines and creative cocktails that are worth raising a glass to. The highlight is the Alexandria Fizz with rum, cinnamon, and sour apple, which is just the right combination of spicy and sweet.
The restaurant’s staff are extremely friendly and well-versed in the menu and can provide excellent recommendations if asked.
Location: Gate Village 4, DIFC
Having made its debut in New York over 20 years ago, SUSHISAMBA has opened a long-awaited branch on Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. Those who have dined at the restaurant’s branches in Las Vegas or London will feel familiar or even nostalgic, and those who have never experienced the concept before are in for a treat.
Expect unobstructed 360-degree panoramic views of the entire Dubai skyline, as well as the iconic Palm Jumeirah coastline, as the restaurant sits atop the 51st floor of the Palm Tower which is 230 meters above the ground!
There has been a lot of hype around this branch, and it has well established itself as a celebrity hotspot. The beloved Crown Prince of Dubai posted a photo of himself with Cristiano Ronaldo on the spot.
The spacious 1,115-square-metere venue is dark, evocative, and vibey, featuring large, tilted windows that create a sparkling setting. The state-of-the-art interior is framed by an expansive 3D-printed, woven bamboo ceiling and lush greenery inspired by the Amazon rainforest. The tropical vibe is complete with backlit leather bar fronts, a theater-style open kitchen with a fiery robata grill and sushi bar, and a live DJ. This architectural masterpiece is adorned with warm, deliberate lighting that minimizes reflections on the immaculate views. The overall atmosphere is lively and intimate without feeling loud and crowded.
SUSHISAMBA’s menu is a tri-cultural coalition, inspired by Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine with Japanese influence, offering robata grilled meats, sushi, fish, cold plates, and raw dishes.
Highlights include the crispy Hokkaido scallop, the Japanese A5 wagyu beef gyoza, the Moqueca Mista clay pot, and the Peruvian corn salad. Sushi aficionados should try the Samba Dubai which is exclusive to the Dubai menu and is a flavorful roll of Maine lobster, mango, avocado, soy paper, and aji honey truffle.
For a carb-free dessert, try the pineapple, which is made of real pineapple cubes filled with coconut sorbet and topped with caramelized pineapple slices.
The drinks menu is a perfect match for the dishes on offer. The restaurant’s in-house team of mixologists serves up innovative cocktails, and cultural spirits such as Corcovado, Japanese whisky, and sake along with a wide selection of champagnes and wines.
Our suggestion is to take a seat by the restaurant’s wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows with sweeping views of the Gulf, The Palm, and the Dubai skyline, or at the open kitchen, where chefs prepare sushi live on stage.
Location: Level 51, The Palm Tower, The Palm Jumeirah
Located in the Four Seasons Resort Dubai, Nammos Dubai is a sister of the billionaires’ party spot, Nammos Mykonos, and has a well-earned reputation for being one of Dubai’s VIP restaurants.
Upon entering the venue, you will be struck by a sense of harmony and simplicity. With its neutral colors, sleek wooden furniture, outdoor terrace with lush gardens, and, of course, the sea, it will feel like you’ve stepped right into a Mykonian getaway. Though the restaurant is always packed, it doesn’t feel loud but rather lively.
Like its Greek counterpart, Nammos Dubai is popular with royals and celebrities like Sheikh Hamdan, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Amr Diab.
Dishes are a fusion of cuisines – think Mediterranean-inspired menu with Greek influences. You’ll find everything from grills, steaks, and sushi to a variety of zesty salads. All dishes are served sharing-style, so you can try varied options guilt-free.
Among the favorites are shrimp risotto, a Greek take on an Italian classic, calamari with hummus, ginger and lemon olive oil, and spicy king crab tartare with yuzu truffle. The flavors and textures blend beautifully. Your drinks will be prepared by mixologists who know how to pair them with your meal. Take our advice and save room for desserts as their chocolate mousse is unmissable.
Come hungry with a ready credit card and experience the best culinary fare in this diverse and thriving restaurant.
Location: Four Seasons Resort, Jumeirah 2
The Arts Club Dubai
The Arts Club Dubai is the first international outpost of London’s famous The Arts Club, which is Rihanna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jay-Z, and Beyonce’s favorite exclusive London hangout. Home to A-level jet setters, this is a private, membership-only club that welcomes art enthusiasts from all over the world.
The Arts Club has a rich history. The original establishment in London opened its doors in 1863. It hosted several notable writers and artists, including Charles Dickens, Lord Leighton, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope, Franz Liszt, and Thomas Hughes. Sheikh Mohammed visited the Arts Club Dubai in late 2020 after just a few weeks of opening.
The venue is spread across an impressive 65,000 square feet and features four floors. With elegance and exclusivity at its heart, the club has five lounges, four meeting spaces, a nightclub, a rooftop terrace, a cigar lounge, a library, and a blank canvas events space. It also has three restaurants including the famed Brasserie from London, Rōhen, helmed by head chef Michael Hoepfl, who has been the executive chef for both Zuma London and Miami, and Alveare, the club’s Italian restaurant, which serves Italy’s long-lost regional dishes, taking guests on a culinary adventure inspired by the cuisine of the 60s and 70s.
Whether it’s making new friends, enjoying spectacular dining options, attending unique cultural and artistic events, or dancing the night away, The Arts Club offers many benefits for its members.
There are four categories of membership:
1. Full membership: Open to applicants 30 years of age or older and entitled to full access and privileges of the club.
- Joining fee: 4,288 USD
- Annual subscription fee: 4,288 USD
2. Second person: A spouse sharing the same address as a full member and entitled to full access and privileges of the club.
- Joining fee: Free
- Annual subscription fee: 2,144 USD
3. Young person: Open to applicants who are under 30 years of age and entitled to full access and privileges of the club.
- Joining fee: 2,144 USD
- Annual subscription fee: 2,144 USD
4. International membership: Open to members whose primary club is The Arts Club Dubai, granting full and unlimited access to The Arts Club London.
- Joining fee: Free
- Annual subscription fee: 1,573 USD
A full review of membership terms can also be found on their website.
Location: The Arts Club ICD Brookfield Place, DIFC
Al Ustad Special Kabab
Most people associate Dubai with luxury, extravagance, and modernity. But if you want to go beyond Dubai’s glittering attractions, Old Dubai, including the neighborhoods of Deira and Bur Dubai, offers fascinating insights into the city’s history, culture, and traditions. Within the buzzing district of Bur Dubai, you will find Al Ustad restaurant (also known as Ostadi), a Persian kebab house located a short walk from Al Fahidi Metro Station.
The saying ‘Old is Gold’ fits just right for this restaurant which has been in Dubai since 1978, nearly as old as the city. While being a hidden gem, it is widely known for its authentic Persian kebabs that melt in your mouth. It may not be one of the upscale, trendy spots in Dubai, but it is a budget friendly, and crowd-pleaser restaurant that doesn’t require you to dress up to visit. In short, it is a place for everyone, which is what Dubai represents as well.
The family-run eatery is known for its friendly vibes and hosts guests from around the world. It is frequented by members of the Dubai Royal family, including Sheikh Hamdan, Bollywood stars, celebrity athletes such as Shah Rukh Khan, Chris Rock, and Jackie Chan just to name a few.
The canteen-style interior of the restaurant is like a quirky antique boutique if not a small local museum. The walls are decorated with more than 8000 pictures of people who have dined here together with lots of familiar faces. Under the glass tabletops, you will find a variety of old coins and currencies from different parts of the world. Local artifacts, along with vintage phones and other old-school memorabilia can be found in every corner of the restaurant.
The home style and simplicity of the restaurant are reflected in its one-page menu as well. Each meal is accompanied by a complimentary platter of vegetables and a small bowl of yogurt with cucumber and mint. The starters’ menu is limited to hummus and soups. But what makes Al Ustad famous is its kebabs, which come with rice or bread and a small dish of garlic sauce. Make sure to tuck into the diner’s signature yogurt-marinated mutton and chicken kebabs with Iranian saffron rice. Additionally, they serve some of the city’s best Koobideh and Joojeh Kebabs. There are also family platters which are ideal for sharing and sampling different kebabs.
The restaurant has been featured in numerous culinary guides and foodie reviews. Moreover, they have won several local awards, including ‘Legends of Dubai’ and ‘Best Home-Grown Brand’.
The coveted restaurant is always busy, and they don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait for a table. Additionally, they do not serve alcohol. The multilingual staff are quite friendly and more than happy to give you recommendations, so don’t hesitate to ask.
Location: Al Mussallah Road, Mankhool
CÉ LA VI
CÉ LA VI is one of Asia’s most well-known rooftop venues, with outposts in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. With the opening of CÉ LA VI Dubai in January 2020, the chain has added a new location to the mix.
The restaurant’s super-luxe setting with its 360-degree wraparound terrace on the 54th floor of the Sky View Hotel makes it one of the city’s most desired hangouts.
Aside from its prime location, food, and services, CÉ LA VI Dubai is known for owning two Instagram-worthy spots: the luxurious rooftop infinity pool, and the red floral swing overlooking the world-famous Burj Khalifa that almost everyone and their mother has a picture there. With a sky bar, a club lounge, and a restaurant, this place is unmissable. It’s welcomed none other than Sheikh Mohammed, as well as other well-known faces.
The Korean-American head chef, Howard Ko, with over a decade’s experience at leading Michelin-starred restaurants, designed the menu with a mix of Asian-inspired dishes as well as international favorites.
Highlights from the menu include truffle short-rib croquettes, lacquered bone marrow with teriyaki and smoked vinegar, roasted Chilean sea bass, crispy potato hash okonomiyaki style, black truffle risotto made with sushi rice, and a Katsu veal chop.
Vegetarians will also enjoy this journey since there are a variety of alternatives. Make sure you try the gem lettuce salad with puffed rice and ginger sesame dressing or the French baby radish crudités salad which is a rainbow of spring vegetables. Pair your meal with innovative cocktails created by professional mixologists, as well as a superb selection of premium wines and high-end whiskies.
For those fancying a lazy Saturday morning filled with good food and good friends, CÉ LA VI’s ‘Brunch on 54’ concept does the trick.
What better way to feel royal for a day, than indulging in a languorous mid-day meal, and bottomless beverages, on a lush and elegant terrace with views of the world’s tallest building. Cé la vie!
Location: Level 54, Address Sky View Hotel, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd