How to eat on the cheap in Dubai

Pars Iranian-Kitchen

The place to head to for glitz, glamour and seven-star hotels, Dubai doesn’t have a reputation for for being particularly wallet-friendly. But when it comes to eating out, there are ways to keep your spending in check…

Check your hotel’s breakfast offering

Find hotels in Dubai at and ensure that yours offers breakfast until midday – you could fill up on a substantial brunch-style meal, meaning you only have to think about dinner.

Make your way to a mall

Dhow boat in Dubai

Eating at a shopping mall in your home city perhaps doesn’t have the same appeal, but Dubai does malls on a whole different level with never-ending varieties of food and plenty of options that are cheap and cheerful.  Try the Dubai Mall for starters, which has 120 restaurants and cafes to choose from.

Avoid the big landmarks

Although there plenty of lovely looking places to eat around the tourist landmarks such as the Dubai fountains or Burj Al-Arab, there’s every chance you’ll be paying for the views as well as what’s on your plate.

Seek out a shawarma

cheap food dubaiBetter known elsewhere as a kebab (and often eaten at the end of a night rather than as a main meal), the humble shawarma – spit-roasted meat wrapped up in pitta bread with pickles and salad – is cheap, tasty and filling. Try Shawermama behind the Mall of the Emirates, or Al Mallah on 2nd of December Street (formerly known as Diyafah Street) in Satwa.

Keep away from other tourists


Check out the parts of town away from the busy tourist hot spots – Nasr Square, Riqqa or Muraqabat Streets in Old Dubai’s Deira or Satwa, south of Bur Dubai, are good places to start. Even better, you can save your pennies by taking one of the traditional dhow boats across the creek from Bur Dubai to Deira for just one dirham (less than 20p) – leaving plenty of change to spend on dinner.

Dine like a local

David at Pars Iranian kitchen

Search out places frequented by locals – Ravi’s, a Dubai institution, serves up delicious Pakistani curries and grilled meat (a chicken methi, saag paneer, fried lentils, naan bad and paratha for two set us back less than £10); or Pars Iranian Kitchen, where you can sample delicious Iranian bread, houmous, mint salad and a flame-grilled kebab of your choice with buttered saffron rice (a meal for two costs around £15-20). To add some authenticity to the experience, you can dine in traditional Iranian-style boothes, sitting
cross-legged whilst your food is served up in the middle.

Bag a discount

A little forward planning pays off – try a website such as where you can get up to 30% off your food and drinks by booking in advance online. At the time of writing, there were 135 offers to take advantage of, so what are you waiting for?