From pizza to Pad Thai, ceviche to curry, Dubai is nothing short of a paradise for foodies. You’ll no doubt munch your way through the city’s diverse (and delicious) culinary offerings, but there’s one cuisine that deserves more attention than the others—Middle Eastern.
Dubai has this exciting, flavour-focused fare perfected to a T, however if you’re looking to get your Middle Eastern fix closer to home, we’re happy to announce that some of Australia’s best restaurants, cafes, bars and stores can help with that.
We’ve teamed up with Emirates, the Dubai-based international carrier, to bring you our list of Australia’s best restaurants and cafes serving up a fattoush-ilcious slice of Middle Eastern cuisine.
Middle Eastern Fine Dining
For the best Middle Eastern desserts, go to Gerard’s Bistro | Brisbane
The entire menu at Gerard’s Bistro is brilliant, however it’s the dessert that will reel you in. Chef Ben Williamson has injected the essence of the Middle East into Gerard Bistro’s exceptional desserts. The union of pistachio, rose nougat, orange blossom marshmallows and lamb fat salted caramels is a beautiful one.
For mezze, go to Zaatar | Melbourne
Owned by A1 fam, Zaatar in Coburg has the same fresh, irresistible bread and flatbreads, but the standout is their mezze platters. They’re made for sharing, which is exactly what Middle Eastern food is about, so go for the six-piece option. Zaatar’s samousek, falafel and hummus are always a hit.
For meaty deliciousness, go to Kamel | Melbourne
One of the best restaurants in Melbourne for Middle Eastern food, there’s nothing on Kamel’s menu we don’t love. Their food has a contemporary spin that will keep you coming back for more—think sticky pomegranate short ribs, lamb kofta with preserved lemon, and honey cardamom confit duck legs. Yum
For a bit of everything, go to Maha | Melbourne
Experience Middle Eastern cuisine at its finest with a Maha set menu. Your tastebuds will go from smoked hummus to barramundi to spiced pumpkin and wagyu brisket, ending with pomegranate brulee. Vegetarians, don’t worry. Maha has a vegetarian and vegan-friendly set menu, too.
For pre-flight fashion, go to The Intersection | Sydney
While Dubai is renowned for its mammoth, seriously impressive malls, boutiques are starting to pop up across the city. Sydney knows how to do boutique shopping and a trip to The Intersection will have you hunting down your holiday outfits in no time.
Middle Eastern Cocktails
For a slice of Dubai luxury, go to Blu Bar | Sydney
Dubai has no lack of swanky hotels and rooftop bars, and Blu Bar on 36 is the perfect place to relive the luxury back home in Sydney. One of the best bars in the city, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views across the harbour as you sip on bespoke cocktails.
For cocktails and kebabs, go to Thievery | Sydney
Thievery has rebelled from traditional Lebanese flavours by adding their own spin. Visit this Glebe restaurant for Lebspresso Kahwa—a cocktail of vodka, Lebanese coffee, cardamom spice and vanilla foam. Their kebabs merge ingredients such as slow roast lamb, fried okra, pickled garlic and sheep’s milk yoghurt into one delicious Middle Eastern-inspired sandwich.
For dips and bread, go to Rouj | Brisbane
Now, dips and bread might not seem all that exciting, but Rouj in Rosalie will change your mind. From traditional hommos to baba ghanouj and labneh served with pickles, olives and Lebanese bread, Rouj is an excellent place to try Middle Eastern cuisine in Brisbane. Make sure you stay for the mezze, shish tawouk and sweets, washed down with a dark, strong cup of Lebanese coffee.
For spinach and cheese triangles, go to A1 Bakery | Melbourne
Brunswick family-run Lebanese restaurant, café, and Middle Eastern grocer, A1 Bakery has a bit of a cult following. With kishik pizzas, kibbie platters and the highlight—oozy spinach and cheese pies. The delights are as authentic and delicious as you'll find in Dubai.
For Middle Eastern breakfast, go to Shouk Café | Brisbane
Shouk Café combines Middle Eastern cooking with our favourite meal of the day—brunch! This popular Paddington cafe makes the best shakshuka in town. These Tunisian style eggs are baked in a spiced tomato sauce and served with toasted challah bread and merguez sausage. You’ll get a vibrant hit of flavour with every mouthful.
For grilled meat, Turkish pides and belly dancing, go to Mado | Brisbane
Step into Mado and you’ll understand why it’s considered one of the best Turkish restaurants in Brisbane. Put any hunger pangs to rest with a traditional pide a.k.a. a delicious pizza topped with cheese and a handful of other goodies, or opt for a plate of tender, chargrilled meat. There’s belly dancing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday so get amongst.
Here at The Urban List, we're forever dreaming about, and planning, our next holiday destination, which is why we're excited to join forces with Emirates to inspire you for your next amazing trip. Emirates' expansive global network, with 149 destinations in 80 countries to choose from, the world really is your oyster. Stay tuned for the ultimate guides to the world's best destinations - handpicked, must-do experiences that will take your next holiday to another level. Or to book a trip give Emirates a call on 1300 303 777 visit your local travel agent or go to www.emirates.com/au.
Image credit: Ariana Gillrie, Jenna Fahey White