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Some foodie travellers may be put off from visiting the ‘City of Gold’ because many believe that it has become synonymous with expensive, high-class dining and gold-leaf lattes. However, Dubai on a budget is still possible.

Dubai is a city like any other and comes with its own depths, complexities, and diversity. Budget travellers looking to eat out are just as at home in Dubai as anywhere else. You can find food and drink experiences such as traditional Arabic and Middle Eastern cuisine, hipster burgers, street food and Gahwa coffee for every budget.

There are, of course, some region-specific quirks that come with any new country and these can impact your spending if you don’t know to look for them.

Food and Drink in Dubai on a Budget

Read on to learn more about how much food and drink costs in Dubai, some helpful tips and tricks from regular foodie travellers to the city, and some of the most affordable spots to visit.

How much does food and drink cost in Dubai?

As with any city, food and drink in Dubai can be as cheap or expensive as you make it. You will find cheaper restaurants, chain restaurants, and more upscale expensive restaurants around the city. By checking menus and price lists in the window or advertised outside, you can see quickly if it’s in your budget.

The one thing about Dubai, however, is that alcohol tends to be more expensive, across the board. A lot of restaurants that serve alcohol in the city are within hotels which tend to charge more anyway but the consensus is that alcoholic drinks will be what raises your bill. Food prices tend to be quite similar to those in London.

Tips and tricks for foodie travellers

So, how can you make sure you experience the eating out experiences Dubai has to offer without spending too much or going over budget? Here are some tips you can use when looking to explore the culinary scene of Dubai on a budget:

Local favourites are authentic and affordable

Speak to the people around you: in the hotel or hostel you’re staying at, the people you meet out and about, the people on your excursions, or at information points. Ask them about some of the local favourite restaurants and cafes in the city. Locals in any city often prefer authentic food in hearty portions for affordable prices.

Save money at a food market or street food vendor

Eating out doesn’t have to mean going to a restaurant or hunting for an elite dining experience. It can mean, dressing up to wander a food market or find the perfect street food vendor. Not only is this food often cheaper than a restaurant but you can mix and match each course across vendors and create a dining experience that interacts with locals and the landscape.

Visit the Dubai Marina Walk where you can find small outdoor lounges and board games. Or try the Last Exist Street Food Market for a diverse eating out experience fit with food from Arabic to international. Or stroll down the Jumeirah Corniche, the longest promenade in Dubai stretching from the Burj al Arab to the Jumeirah Mosque.

Enjoy a diverse experience by splitting several starter dishes as a main

If you do want to visit a restaurant to eat out in Dubai then consider swapping the main course for a couple of starters and sides. If you’re with company then order a bunch of starter dishes between you and create your table tapas to experience three-times the amount of food.

Ask for complimentary tap water or bottled ‘local’ water

Since 2020, Dubai restaurants have been required to offer free tap water to customers. Make the most of this if you want to save money on drinks. If you’d prefer bottled water to tap then you can ask your server for ‘local’ water. This is a far cheaper equivalent to branded bottled water.

Where to visit in Dubai for affordable eating out

Indulge in Pakistani curries at the Ravi Restaurant near Satwa roundabout

Pakistanis are one of the biggest ex-pat communities in Dubai and the Ravi Restaurant is the favourite for authentic and delicious Pakistani curries. This Dubai institution offers curries for less than £9/head.

Try local-favourite shawarma from Al Safadi near Financial Centre metro

Starting at just £2, you can find the national favourite shawarma from Al Safadi. Dubai fashion designer, Meher Mirchandani, is a regular customer of the chicken shawarma!

Enjoy a bun maska with a side of masala tea from the Samboosa House near Meena Bazar

You can find plenty of exquisite Indian snacks at the Samboosa House, including a decadently buttered bun maska for just 50p. We recommend ordering it with a side of masala tea for a local mid-day snack.

tabl. are experts in offering luxury food and drink experiences all around the world. You can choose between food and drink tours, cooking classes, wine tours, brewery and distillery tours, vegan and vegetarian tours, and experiences with celebrity chefs.

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