We round up 22 of the city’s most shareable hot and cold appetisers to tuck into during iftar
We round up 22 of the city’s most shareable hot and cold appetisers to tuck into during iftar or suhoor
Baked feta cheese at Eat Greek A classic dish done well, this is not to be missed if you’re dining down at The Beach. In cooler months sit out on the expansive terrace, but either indoors or out you’ll be able to enjoy the views of the sand, sea and soak up the holiday vibe. It’s not quite Greece, but the food is as authentic as it comes. We love this baked feta dish, which is indulgent, tasty and filling. Roasted with tomato, red peppers and olive oil, it’s the perfect mezze for veggies and cheese-lovers. Dhs59. The Beach, opposite JBR (04 430 5249).
Batata harra at Mezza House We’re big fans of spicy, fried potatoes, served in bite-sized little cubes, but these are among our favourites in town. A Middle Eastern take on patatas bravas (kinda), these tasty squares of starchy goodness are delightful. Served up by the quirky and vibrant Mezza House in Downtown Dubai, this version is scattered with a range of spices including chilli and garlic. Dhs38. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (050 945 5597).
Cheese rolls at Ayam Elezz You can’t go wrong with fried cheese, and Ayam Elezz’s pastry rolls are a light, savoury joy. This quirky, retro joint – which is kitted out like a 1960s Lebanese sitting room – serves up delightfully crispy, not-at-all greasy versions that are brimming with gooey cheese and a herby touch. Head here after a day screaming your way around the rides of Wild Wadi Waterpark for a filling, family-friendly feast. Dhs23. The Mall, opposite Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Road, Umm Suqeim (04 388 0380).
Eggplant moussaka at Al Halabi Not a mezze? We’re not mezz-ing around. Not all moussaka dishes are enormous main courses from Greece. Served chilled, this dish features chunks of tender aubergine, crumbly chickpeas and a mighty dose of garlic, all coated in a rich, homemade tomato sauce. Rarely does something that’s actually good for you taste this, well, good. Dhs26. Sheikh Zayed Road (04 395 1615).
Fatteh with yoghurt at Al Safadi This traditional dish comprises chickpeas, fried bread and yoghurt. Sounds simple? That’s because it is. But don’t overlook it, you can add meat if you prefer, both options are packed with flavour. Al Safadi serves up an excellent Levantine breakfast, too. Dhs28. Sheikh Zayed Road (04 343 5333).
Fattoush at Em Sherif You can’t have a mezze list without fattoush, and the one served up at Em Sherif is worth trying. Light, tangy (in a good way) and fresh, with just the right proportion of lemony, pomegrantey dressing – ensuring the crispy bread isn’t weighed down by the oil – it’s tasty and moreish. It comes as part of the set menu (the only way to dine here, unfortunately), so you’ll get to try the extensive list of mezze, grills and more – so bring your appetites. This Lebanese restaurant looks fantastic and serves excellent food, but it’s on the pricey side so is best left until after payday. Part of set menu, prices vary. At the foot of The Address Downtown Dubai (04 424 3000).
Hummus Balila at Al Hallab Restaurant & Sweets Granted, with the word sweets in the name, you know that if you head here for a traditional dessert you’ll leave happy. But you’ll also be thrilled with the hummus. However, skip the regular stuff and go for this one from the warm mezze menu. A chunky, textural mix of whole and crushed chickpeas, generously doused in olive oil, lemon and what might seem like a whole bulb of garlic (it’s worth the after-breath), scoop it up with Al Hallab’s excellent, piping hot, pillow-puffy pita breads, which arrive fresh from the oven. Dhs20. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 330 8828).
Hummus at Bait Maryam We love the hummus at Bait Maryam so much that it secured a spot on our recent 50 best dishes of the year (so far) list – so it would be remiss to run a mezze shortlist without it. Everything about this little JLT eatery is homely and comforting. From the décor – rustic, colour-washed wooden chairs, tables and cabinets – to the trinkets and condiments stacked on shelves dotted around the space. And the food matches this vibe. Home-cooked and lovingly prepared. It’s top value, too. This silky-smooth hummus comes with soft bread to scoop it up with. It’s a sizeable portion and utterly delicious. Add meat, if you like, but either way it’s a winner. Dhs19. Lake City Tower, Cluster D, JLT (04 550 8312).
Kbaibeit with yoghurt at Al Falamanki Famed for its superb baked goods as much as its charming, mismatched garden, Al Falamanki is one of the highlights of Dubai’s casual Lebanese dining scene. Mezze is top-notch, especially the excellent hummus Hachim-style, packed with pine nuts and chunks of chickpea, and draped with a spicy, bright green Jordanian sauce. But for something different try this dish. The small fried kibbeh swim deliciously in a tasty yoghurt sauce that’s brimming with coriander, garlic and pine nuts. Dhs49. Opposite Four Seasons Resort, Jumeirah Beach Road (055 300 4550).
Kibbeh al bezar at Seven Sands Emirati spot Seven Sands has a range of authentic, dishes, all paired with views across The Beach to Ain Dubai. There’s no run of the mill hummus here, either. The recipes come from past generations with the restaurant aiming to educate about the emirates’ heritage. Our pick from the mezze? The kibbeh al bezar. Perfectly seasoned minced lamb and beef is baked with almonds. The coating is light, yet firm and crispy, breaking open to reveal the delicious, juicy interior. Try it. Dhs42. The Beach, opposite JBR (04 551 6652).
Koussa Mtawmeh at Villa Beirut That’s marinated and grilled courgette topped with yoghurt and garlic, if you’re not fluent in your mezze. And if you don’t know it, we suggest you try it, as this Villa Beirut version is a cracker. Well-seasoned and well-portioned, the plate’s a winner for carnivores and vegetarians. It’s a good balance to often rich and heavy mezze, which all too often make the main course a one-stop lesson in gluttony. The yoghurt is thick, creamy and delicious. Dhs20. Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim (04 341 1310).
Lubia bil Zaite at Al Nafoorah The current title holder of Time Out Dubai’s Best Lebanese 2018, the menu at Al Nafoorah is a winner all round. We’ve waxed lyrical about the hummus here on many a time, some of the dreamiest and creamiest in the city, but what you can’t miss when it comes to mezze is this lubia bil zaite. Green beans are paired by tomatoes, garlic and onion, in a sauce that’s perfectly spiced. It may be more expensive than other Lebanese restaurants in the city, but Al Nafoorah is worth pushing the boat out for. There’s also a second, regal location on the Palm. Dhs40. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road. Other location: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Crescent, Palm Jumeirah (04 432 3232).
Marinated Tomatoes at Barracuda Sounds simple, tastes sublime. While it may be the freshly caught fish that lures you into this Beach Road seafood spot (you can’t miss it for the giant fin on the roof) – and you should absolutely try the chargrilled cuttlefish – this little salad is the perfect way to start. Thick wedges of tomato are coated in a bright green chermoula, a classic North African blend of garlic, cumin, coriander, lemon and salt. One bite, and you’ll never want to eat a tomato any other way. Better still, there’s always plenty of sauce left to scoop up with crispy baked shards of pita bread. Dhs15. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 394 0408).
Pastrami hummus at Günaydin This trendy Turkish restaurant has prime views across to The Dubai Fountain, and the meat cuts here are equally impressive as the surroundings. And to compete the hat trick, the mezze is top, too. The enormous menu offers everything from Anatolian mezze to pides, steaks and burgers, come hungry as you won’t want to miss sampling as much as your wallet allows. The semsek pide smothered in antep cheese is a highlight, but the warm hummus topped with tiny morsels of pastrami has us coming back time and again. Dhs40. Souk Al Bahar, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard (04 554 0700).
Sikka hummus trio at Sikka Café The quirky café in City Walk has many things to love, from the menus that resemble broadsheet newspapers, to the quaint tea cup hanging lights, it’s a charming spot for some mezze. Go for the trio of hummus for a treat. Prettily presented with swirls of spices there’s a rich and creamy original, a bowl of pink-hued chilli and cumin hummus and a Beiruti one that’s loaded with chickpeas, cumin and meat. Grab some bread and get dipping. Dhs31. City Walk, Al Safa Street (04 385 6524).
Stuffed vine leaves at Ibn AlBahr This Lebanese seafood restaurant is so good at both of its cuisines that it was Highly Commended in both the Best Lebanese and Best Seafood restaurants at the 2018 Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards. With views out across the water from Club Vista Mare, take a seat right on the sands when it’s not scorchio. The terrace is lovely, too, while the welcome you get inside is always friendly. The grilled fish is where it’s at at Ibn Albahr, but of course you need a starter. The hummus is a hit, but these stuffed vine leaves are a must-try. Tender leaves that aren’t too chewy encase rich tomatoey rice. It feels decadent yet healthy at the same time, which can only be a good thing. Dhs28. Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah (04 553 9575).
Super green hummus at BB Social The name of this mezze says it all, it’s really green and it really is super. A delicious combo of spinach, edamame and tahini it’s a quirky and fun dish that’s as pleasing to the palate as it is to the eye. We love hummus in all its forms, and this one is high up there. Dhs27. Gate Village 8. Happiness Street, DIFC, (04 407 4444).
Stuffed falafel at Operation Falafel Where else would you go for falafel? Well several places on this list, of course, but with a name like Operation: Falafel you can’t go far wrong by ordering up a portion of the home-grown eatery’s signature dish. The regular ones are a classic, but shake things up a bit by going with a stuffed version. Packed with onion and pine nuts these little beauties are not at all greasy and even better when paired with a generous dollop of creamy hummus. Dhs10. Various locations including The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, www.operationfalafel.com.
Tabbouleh at Mashawi A staple mezze that’s surprisingly quite divisive. This refreshing and healthy Middle Eastern salad is fresh, tasty and tangy, and lighter than your average. Whether you’re a fan of the herb salad or not, we implore you to try this one, packed with finelychopped parsley, onion, tomato and a generous squeeze of lemon (just don’t forget your toothpick). Dhs19. The Greens (04 361 7755).
Tomato and garlic alayet at Zaroob Zaroob, a 24-hour staple that’s constantly popular, and when nothing but a 3am shawarma will do, you know where to go. And while you’re in there, you might as well treat yourself to a bowl of tomato and garlic alayet. Basically a tomato-based stew, it’s simple and delicious, and Zaroob’s version is packed with flavour (and garlic, naturally). A nutritious addition to your meal, whatever the hour. Dhs20. Various locations including Sheikh Zayed Road, www.zaroob.com.
Tyrokafteri at Elia For Greek food like Greek mothers make it, Elia should be on your hit-list. Highly Commended in the Best European category at the 2018 Restaurant Awards, there’s plenty to love. Starting with the tyrokafteri, aka, spicy feta cheese dip. It’s smooth, it’s tangy and it has a warming kick thanks to a generous pinch of chilli. Dip it up with some walnut bread and you won’t want the plate to ever be empty. Dhs34. Majestic Hotel Tower, Bur Dubai (04 501 2690).
Tzatziki at Mythos This authentic Greek taverna in JLT is a pleasant place to while away a couple of hours. Inside resembles a white-washed cave, while outside there’s a petite terrace that’s a top spot to catch some sun in winter. The menu is traditional and fairly wide ranging. The very reasonably priced keftedakia (homemade meatballs) sit in a rich sauce are a highlight, however, the tangy, light tzatziki is a healthy, refreshing accompaniment to any dish. Dhs22. Armada BlueBay Hotel, JLT (04 399 8166).