(Cover Photo: Al Mallah Cafeteria, Dhiyafah)
Shawarma is one of those ubiquitous street foods that everyone in Dubai has an opinion on: which spot is the best, what sort of bread should be used, what toppings should go in and then the biggest debate—should it include fries or not? We were recently asked all these questions and more on a podcast that we love tuning into: Who Run the World. We’ve shared the episode on our own podcast channel, Deep Fried, so you can hear about the places we love and what we look for in the perfect shawarma by tuning in to the player below.
But first, the question on everyone’s minds.
What are our top 5 must-try shawarma spots in Old Dubai?
In no particular order of preference (we described the first three in more detail on the podcast):
- Meat shawarma at Aroos Damascus.
- Spicy chicken shawarma at one of the two neighborhood contenders: Shiraz Nights vs. Hatam Al Tai. Do a shawarma showdown between the two yourself and decide which one you like better. We’ve revealed ours on the podcast!
- Meat shawarma at the Sharjah-based Mashawi Al Halabi aka Aleppo Grills, all credits for this recommendation to the Aleppan chef himself, Chef Orfali. Thankfully they now have a Dubai branch in Garhoud here. Get their incredible muhammara before you leave.
- Chicken shawarma at Sultan Dubai Falafel.
- Chicken shawarma at Al Farooj Al Shami.
The hosts of Who Run the World, Marilyn and Rhea, also shared their favourites:
- Van Sandwiches in Sharjah.
- Beef shawarma at Sah El Nom (weirdly doesn’t have tomatoes).
- Meat shawarma (and the potato sandwich!) at Laffah.
What do locals consider as “authentic” toppings?
Dubai kids will insist that their beef/lamb shawarma should contain tomatoes, onions flecked with sumac, parsley and tahini. A chicken shawarma must contain towm or garlic aioli and pickles. The question of fries in a chicken shawarma is a controversial one, though we’ve seen most people actually love the addition of fries in their sandwich (with the exception of our founder Arva who feels shortchanged by places that stuff her chicken shawarma with soggy potatoes!)
You can find our friends at Who Run the World on your favourite podcast platform.
And if you want more scrumptious food programming, feast on our main podcast page here!