Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a Halal food paradise. This is due to most of the food imported into the UAE being Halal with the exception of certain non-Halal foods which can only be sold in a separately labelled area or licensed shop (such as pork and alcohol).
For the control of Halal products imported into the UAE, the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology has now introduced a special 'Emirati system' which includes Halal certification mark.
Due to increasing governing body standards, restaurants in general, do maintain the Halal standards despite no formal Halal certification in place for restaurants. International food chains such as McDonalds and KFC ensure the use of Halal certified meats, and the preparation meets the Halal standards.
Where to eat in Dubai when on a budget? Dubai may have five-star or seven-star hotels, and luxury dining but don’t be surprised to know that there are many hole-in-the-wall ethnic eateries and authentic local corner joints that remain favourite among local Emiratis, Muslim expatriates, and regular visitors. Dubai is home to people from many nationalities with a wide range of budgets.
There are also plenty of vegetarian restaurants that are affordable and filling.
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The following are the top 7 budget local eateries and Muslim friendly joints which are popular among Emiratis and various expatriates in Dubai:
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Ravi is not just a local hero but also a global name among tourists visiting Dubai. They serve Pakistani dishes that steal the heart of many, from taxi drivers to professional expatriates. Do try the biryani, mixed grill, peshwari mutton, chicken kadai or chicken Mughlai. Make sure you don’t miss out on the freshly made naan bread. It is advised to come for breakfast to try their famous haleem (stew made of wheat) or nihari (meat stew). Ravi restaurant is a very simple restaurant serving food on the plastic table that is light on the wallet but is packed with flavours.
Location: Shop # 245, Al Dhiyafa Rd, Opp. Emirates Co-operative Society, Al Satwa, Dubai
Contact: +971 4 331 5353
Metro Falcon is a cafeteria corner that serves a wide variety of Indian, Chinese, Arabic and Continental food to suit your taste buds. You can never go wrong with the biryani dishes, machboos, kadai special ranges, mixed grills (sherry fish and lamb chop), burgers, shawarma, manchurian dishes, chicken 65, or chicken hydrabadi. Wash it down well with any of their tall fresh juices or try their version of Malaysian tea. There are also plenty of choices of salads on the menu for vegetarians.
Location: Ahmad Ramzan Jumaa Mosque Building, Behind Shangri-La, Al Satwa, Dubai
Contact: + 971 4 343 2020
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Noodle Bowl is the best place to eat Cantonese cuisine and dishes from Malaysia. This haunt is a real jewel in a Dubai where Chinese food is often a hit and miss. Regular visitors usually stick to their favourites from the extensive menu but the real delights are the selection of Malaysian dishes on the menu. Try the nasi lemak (coconut rice), Assam Laksa, salted fish fried rice, lo mee, Hainan chicken rice, wonton noodle soup, or beef rendang. They also serve special noodles on the menu such as a mixed Hofen and rice noodles in sauce. Wash it all down well with a glass of sweet tofu drink.
Location: Dine Centre, Al Diyafah Street, Al Satwa, Dubai
Contact: +971 4 345 3381
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This small and simple establishment in Karama serves authentic Indonesian cuisine. While the menu may not be extensive, they serve East Java delicacies such as rendang, gado-gado, nasi padang and ayam penyet at a reasonable price. If you are taking the Dubai Metro, stop by at their express outlet (Betawi Express) by the Emirates Towers Metro Station, South Exit 2. Cafe Betawi is a must visit to fix one’s Indonesian food craving.
Location: Shop No.20,21, Mabrook Building, 4 B St., Opp. Park Regis Hotel, Al Karama, Dubai
Contact: +971 56 759 8118
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Eat and Drink is a convenient takeout place for a quick bite of Arabic, Indian and Chinese food. Available at many locations around Dubai, they are well-known among locals for shawarma, pita, and hummus dip, to their Lebanese grill feast. Their slogan of 'quality food at affordable prices' will not disappoint you. You can dine in or simply order from your car and they will bring the food to you while you wait inside the car.
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A popular Pakistani restaurant chain, Karachi Darbar is one of the oldest restaurant chains in the United Arab Emirates. They are committed to a high quality of food and best hygiene standards. Try the chicken tikka biryani or Karachi tikka kadai. Chinese and other Indian dishes are also on the menu. The restaurant has a lively atmosphere and you will leave the restaurant wanting more of the delicious food. The restaurant is best for all-day dining.
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Saravanan Bhavan is a quality Indian vegetarian restaurant that is a part of a worldwide chain originating from Chennai. For breakfast try their poori, iddiyappam, dosa, idli or aapam. They could be serving the best masala dosa in town or if you like string hopper, they serve a coconut and lemon version that is worth a try. For lunch, it’s all about the delicious thali set that is easy on your wallet.