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Feeling peckish? Get to know your kaak from your kunafa while you fill your face with our pick of the tastiest street snacks in town.
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Feteer at Zaroob
\nThis sidewalk spot on Sheikh Zayed Road has been knocking out bargain lunches for years. Recently, the New Dubai crew have been fortunate enough to see a second outlet open on the Palm Jumeirah, serving up that much-loved menu of fusion Lebanese favourites. Amid the medley of mezze, let your eyes come to rest on the feteer. Zaroob’s take on this Egyptian street food classic is thick, doughy, buttery and beautifully layered – think of it as the pillowy cousin of the paratha. Head down on Saturday morning and order yours stuffed with egg and cheese.
\nFrom Dhs27. Sheikh Zayed Road (800 927 662).
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Feteer at E&T Feteer
\nA relative newbie to JLT’s brilliant independent food scene, E&T may be thoroughly frills-free, but when everything else about your day has gone wrong, the skilled bakers in here will see you right. Whether you like yours wrapped, rolled, topped (pizza-style) or stuffed (that’s a meshaltet), the options are endless. If you’re chronically indecisive, we recommend the ratatouille roll (with fries and a drink for Dhs40) or the super-sized, super-shareable meat meshaltet.
\nFrom Dhs18. Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 449 8533).
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Kaak at Kaek Kaeeek
\nKaeeek (!) indeed. Often described as “bracelet bread” thanks to the nifty hole in the centre (which helps with the transport and storage of this classic Middle Eastern street food), this slender snack is best enjoyed stuffed with labneh, mint and a smattering of fresh chopped salad, or oozing with comforting akawi cheese. This JLT snack shop’s dough has the earthy texture of a good wholemeal, topped with crunchy sesame seeds and made all the tastier after a final spin in the oven to warm up your chosen filling.
\nFrom Dhs8. Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 553 0395).
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Kaak at Kaak Al Manara
\nWell known among Dubai’s most dedicated carb quaffers thanks to its recurring presence at the city’s Ripe Markets, Kaak Al Manara is about to graduate to its very own premises. Whether its most inventive creation – ice-cream kaak – will make the final menu remains to be seen, but we’re keeping our every extremity crossed.
\nMercato Mall (04 258 2003).
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Chips Oman Mash-Ups at Il Donaccino
\nRarely has the humble potato crisp achieved such culinary recognition as Chips Oman in the UAE. This JLT doughnut shop pays homage to the spicy snack by stuffing it into and sprinkling it on top of one of its signature doughnuts, along with freshly grated cheese.
\nDhs6. Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 437 6012).
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Chips Oman Mash-Ups at HumYum
\nYou’re as likely to find the Omani crisps stuffed into a sandwich as sitting on a supermarket shelf, so (with the exception of high cholesterol) there’s no excuse for not having tried it. Head to HumYum to peruse options including Chips Oman paratha, chapati or rigag.
\nFrom Dhs8. Umm Suqeim (04 388 3332).
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Falafel at Al Amoor
\nIn the shadow of the mighty Mall of the Emirates, a lone Egyptian eatery quietly churns out some of the best falafel this side of the Red Sea. Artistically fashioned into a variety of shapes (as a result, offering a variety of crunch-to-fluffy-chickpea ratios), these knobbly numbers need nothing more than a quick dip in a blob of tahina.
\nDhs10. Barsha (04 347 0787).
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Falafel at Moshi
\nA portmanteau of its two primary culinary offerings (momos and sushi) Moshi offers a happy fusion of falafel and maki (falaki? Malafel?), with a slick of hummus to round it off. Kudos to this Barsha outlet for also nodding to UAE tradition with a cheese and Chips Oman maki, which, if you close your eyes, could almost taste like tempura. Give it a try – even if you’re a raw fish fan; why should the city’s vegetarians have all the fun?
\nDhs24. Barsha (04 399 9650).
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Shawarma at Al Mallah
\nScope out the supercars and street life on 2nd December Street while you chomp your way through one of Satwa’s most satisfying snacks. Al Mallah has been going for decades, and there are heaps of reasons why the city still loves it – speedy staff, knock-out fruit juices and seriously meaty shawarma. Carved from whopping stacks of chicken or lamb, each bite of every wrap is filled with the warming flavours of Middle Eastern spices and a tangy hit of garlic. Vegetarian? Go for Al Mallah’s deliriously dairy-filled double cheese manakish. #NoRegrets.
\nFrom Dhs7. Satwa (04 398 4962).
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Shawarma at Al Hallab
\nA legend of Levantine cuisine in Dubai, it’s nothing short of a travesty that there’s still only one branch of Al Hallab serving manakish (Garhoud), but fortunately the same fate is not true of its shawarma, which is stuffed to bursting with juicy, tender meat, crunchy pickles, crisp, fluffy fries and a generous slathering of garlic paste. Best of all, it’s wrapped in the restaurant’s famous, freshly baked bread. If you’ve just pulled the shift to end all shifts, ending the day with Al Hallab’s sharwarma is the edible equivalent of a big, consolatory hug from your mum.
\nFrom Dhs8. Garhoud (04 282 3388).
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Kunafa at Feras Sweets
\nKunafa. The Daddy of all Middle Eastern and Levantine desserts and, for the uninitiated, probably the most perplexing. A cheese pastry soaked in syrup? Moreover, salty, stretchy cheese? Leave your questions and reservations at the door of this Dubai institution, because a mouthful of this sweet-savoury dessert will explain everything. Taking on a number of different incarnations (depending on the crust and variety of dough), at its most basic, the popular dessert features a sweet pastry base, a layer of salty, stretchy cheese (often nabulsi), topped with crisp, noodle-like pastry and a sprinkling of pistachio crumbs, topped off with a fresh, liberal drizzling of syrup. One bite can snowball into ordering a kilo to take away – so just don’t say we didn’t warn you.
\nDhs17.50. Barsha (04 341 3123).
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Kunafa at Sukar House of Desserts
\nYou’ve tried the original, now it’s time to try one of Dubai’s fantastic fusion spins on this classic dessert. And what could be more obvious than to turn a beloved cheese pastry into a cheesecake? This is a baked, New York-style number with a distinctly local twist, bearing crunchy, kunafa-style noodles and a pouring of either regular or hot rose water syrup.
\nDhs24. Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 454 7805).
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Manakkish at Al Reef Lebanese Bakery
\nMaking a trip to this local institution is like getting your residency visa – because only then can you say you really live here. While the lemon, sumac and onion-packed spinach option will always have a special place in our appetite, the menu here has many virtues – cheese with honey, labneh with vegetable – and it’s impossible to go wrong with plain old cheese, which is, as it happens, neither of those things; instead, salty, molten and oozing from the edges.
\nFrom Dhs5. Jumeirah (04 394 5200).
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\nCompared with Al Reef, Manoushe Street might seem like a young, impetuous upstart, but here be some of the city’s best speed-dial manakish. In typically 35 minutes, the team can have a hot, salty and reviving meal to you (and we recommend the akawi cheese). Perfect for getting you through that last morning of the working week.
\nFrom Dhs7. Various locatins (600 566 667).