Read on for a list of romantic restaurants and low-key spots that we’ve enjoyed for date nights.
Whether you’re looking for a fancy romantic restaurant in Dubai or something a bit more humble for date night, here are some of our favourite spots to strike up a spark! We got together with some of food tour guides on the Deep Fried podcast and compiled a list of spots across the spectrum of date nights, from blind dates to date nights with your longtime partner.
Tune in to our podcast to hear our guides share their favourite spots for date night or scroll down for a summary list of their recommendations.
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Our very own Sima Aunty (Indian Matchmaking) and food tour guide, Nahla Tabbaa, picks her spots keeping in mind the nerves and awkwardness typical of a blind date. She recommends a more experiential evening where there’s an engaging experience beyond the food in order to break the ice.
Low Key: Bu Qtair in Umm Suqeim
Bu Qtair was the once-obscure but now not-so-hidden beach-side fish shack that skyrocketed in popularity after the late Anthony Boudain featured it during his visit to Dubai. Nahla suggests that waiting in line, selecting your seafood and negotiating the translation barrier with the impatient waiters provides a few amusing opportunities to get to know one another better before the food arrives.
Make sure you to order the fried prawns with the fish gravy, paratha and steamed rice, all washed down with a cup of chai at the end.
Upscale: BOCA in DIFC
Nahla’s secret to a brilliant first date experience is to book the cellar at BOCA if you have the right wasta. This cozy setting tucked away from the main Italian and Spanish tapas bar is sure to win you brownie points with your partner, especially once you’re served courses of perfectly matched dish and beverage pairings by BOCA’s chef and sommelier themselves. A sure shot way to pave the way for a second date!
DATE WITH A LONGTIME FRIEND
Farida Ahmed, our General Manager and food tour guide extraordinaire acknowledges that comfort is key for friends who’re looking to explore that extra dimension in their relationship.
Low Key: Eric’s in Karama
The signature home-style Goan delicacies at Eric’s Restaurant are comfort foods served in a cozy setting. It’s just the right level of spice to hint that you’d like to dial up the heat in your relationship.
Try the fried potato chops, prawn-stuffed papad (poppadoms), fish rechado or chicken cafreal (or xacuti) with the fluffy pav bread. (They also have a new location in Al Safa on Sheikh Zayed Road)
Upscale: Elia at Majestic Hotel, Bur Dubai
An unexpected find in Old Dubai, Elia has an outdoor terrace styled as a Greek ouzeriadecked out with an actual Greek olive tree, private tables, light music and good service.
Farida recommends ordering a range of their flavourful appetizers, a bit like Spanish tapas: taramosalata, tomato kefte, cheese saganaki and kefte dakiya (beef). Going heavy on multiple appetizers is the perfect excuse to cozy up over one main dish between the couple. By the time you’re done, you’ll only have room for the bakalava.
Tanya Rehman, our banker by day and vivacious tour guide by night, knows that when it comes to date night we all want to sneak a taste of our partner’s dish! However, this can be tricky on a double date—how do you manage to try what everyone’s having? In this situation, sharing options are your best bet.
Low Key: Arabian Tea House in Bur Dubai
Switch to a double date morning instead and head down to the historical Fahidi district for a lovely breakfast.
Tanya loves the massive Emirati breakfast platter at Arabian Tea House that’s good for four, making it the perfect double date choice. Hot bread from the oven is continuously supplied and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get the heart-shaped one they often bring out for Tanya. Make sure to swirl your bread with the winning combination of cream cheese and date molasses (dibs).
Upscale: Nola Eatery and Social House in JLT
As the name says, the New Orleans vibe, jazz band and Cajun food with sharing platters make Nola Eatery and Social House a fun place for a small group. You can order the Po Boy (pulled beef) sandwiches, Cajun chicken and mac and cheese. And Tanya swears by their truffle mashed potatoes—you can smell them leaving the kitchen even before they’ve hit your table!
Our Dubai Souks and Creekside Food Walk guide, Noorin Ansari, firmly believes that a romantic date night for couples should be a more intimate moment rather than the instagrammable one that it’s now become. A time for good conversation and bonding over good food. Pretty or not, her food choices will rev up the romance for any carnivorous couple.
Low Key: Bosnian House in Umm Suqeim
The popularity of their freshly grilled kebabs in fluffy pita bread at Global Village led Bosnian House Restaurant to open a year round location on Jumeirah road opposite the Burj Al Arab Hotel. It’s a simple no-fuss place with great food. The small sausage-shaped cevapi (kebabs) come with lepinja/somun bread and dollops of sour cream and ajvar, a red pepper and vegetable relish.
Walk down to the nearby Brew Cafe for a digestive drink and end with a romantic night-time stroll along the beach.
Upscale: Beef Bistro at Le Meridien, Garhoud
For a fancier night out, Noorin and her husband live it up with a meaty affair at Beef Bistro at the Le Meridien Hotel close to the Dubai Airport.
With the main draw being their fantastic Japanese Wagyu rib-eye steak, she suggests a ‘light,’ yet flavourful plate of oysters as a starter. Avoid the carbs and pair the steak with sautéed mushrooms, creamed spinach and truffle fries for some starch. Noorin firmly sticks to the adage “go big or go home!”
If you need sauces go with the wild mushroom or mixed pepper, but steer clear of the extra creamy sauce as Noorin claims it might “contaminate” the fantastic flavor of the beef.
MORE DATE NIGHT IDEAS: OUR FOUNDER’S PICKS
Our founder and CEO, Arva, rounds out this list with a few picks that can work across the spectrum.
Low Key: Al Mallah in Mamzar
Try the grilled chicken wings and the baba ghanouj at this Al Mallah branch, followed by a walk along the beach.
Creek-Facing: Mazmi Cafe in Bur Dubai
Mazmi Cafe is the perfect spot for a brunch date or an early evening dinner (they close by 8pm) followed by a romantic private abra ride across the historic creek. Try their all-day breakfast basket with croissants, grilled halloumi cheese, hummus, granola and their cake of the day. And don’t leave without a lick of gelato, that’s what they’re known for.
Upscale: Long Teng in Business Bay
The classy and elegant Long Teng Restaurant in Business Bay has an amazing dim sum brunch on Friday that takes all the guesswork out of ordering. If you go during the week, make sure to try their irresistible prawns wrapped in tender red rice sheets and drizzled with soy sauce.