July 7, 2019

A snapshot look at Dubai’s vibrant food scene

Sean Dennis
Co-Founder, Seafood Souq

A snapshot look at Dubai’s vibrant food scene

Dubai is a young, energetic and eclectic city, with a food scene as diverse as its population.

I recently attended the EATDXB event, hosted by Bull & Roo that brought together foodies, independent restaurateurs, chefs and interested consumers — It was enlightening to see a movement like this in Dubai and witness such a passion for food being discussed by key players in the industry. I left feeling inspired and excited that we have taken this plunge with Seafood Souq to be part of this foodie community. With an aim to help business buyers provide the best quality products and to pass the story of the food they serve (through our traceability) onto their consumers, it is important to engage with the entire restaurant ecosystem.

There is a genuine desire in the market to become a food destination of choice for global travellers, deserved of a city like Dubai, and on a par with other international food cities like New York, Hong Kong and London…and in so many ways, we are nearly there.

Dubai, and indeed the UAE, restaurant scene can be split into a few different sectors… I’ll try to do it justice here:

The Internationals:

Many of the best restaurants around the world and the world’s top chefs are brought here to open up their restaurants. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to fine international brand dining, from Nobu to Nathan Outlaw Al Mahara, and Jumeirah Group’s RockFish to Rhodes W1. We typically see these opening up with hotel groups or landmark developments, and they provide the atmosphere and menu to match the expectations of a well-to-do global citizen or visitor — How many locations in the world can compete with Dubai on this front? — not many is the likely answer!

The Home Grown:

I think we can split this group into a few different sub-groups, and this is where we see the most amount of change coming through. We have the veterans, the private restaurants that have been here forever and have weathered the ever changing face of Dubai — tried and tested good food with an established clientele.Then came the new scene of restaurateurs that established themselves in Dubai to make their mark or those that have opened up in response to Dubai’s evolution; good quality food with a personal touch. These restaurants need to build their own reputation through active marketing, create a community and provide an exciting menu that keeps the local clientele coming back. We have seen this group become more and more important over the last few years.

Within months of moving to Dubai, any newcomer will already know the rockstars of the food scene; namely 3 Fils, Tom & Serg and The Maine for example. Chefs that saw an opportunity to change the food landscape by introducing quality food, innovative concepts and redefine casual dining in the city. They have inspired others to launch as Dubai’s residents sought new experiences and dishes from around the globe; with international franchises now competing with the likes of Hapi, Sticky Rice and Kizmet. Watch this space, as we are confident that they are the group most likely to continue innovating and inspiring.

Street Food Delights:

Having grown up in Dubai, this group of local eateries is one that all newcomers should discover. You won’t find these dishes scrolling through your social media channels, but rather be introduced through someone that has ventured past the Instagrammed plates to find the heart and soul of Dubai’s scene. Ravi’s, Al Malah and Bu Qutair are the more famous names; places where you won’t need your phone, just an appetite.

Meal Service Plans:

Long before meal delivery offered every dish within 40 minutes of clicking your screen, convenience and healthy eating spawned a group of Meal Service Plans to cater to the busy gym-going executives of Dubai. What started with KCal as a healthy meal plan for those looking to drop a few pounds, has led to a suite of plans with every diet type offered on a monthly basis. Vegetarian, vegan and paleo options are offered by the larger companies like Right Bite or specialists like Nourishing; all focused on quality product and carefully calculated portions. We are excited for this group, because it is an area where we can offer differentiation and ensure quality. Their customer base are as particular as we are; they want to know what they’re eating and where it came from.

The Fast Food:

While some may think that this category is not worth focusing on, Dubai is a city that has evolved into a health conscious and active city. With that, the fast food scene is quickly transforming itself to ensure that quality is not sacrificed for speed. This group of namely franchises is one where supply chain is the “make or break” of the restaurant. This is where Seafood Souq can support the fast food market with efficient logistics and a transparent supply chain; freshness and speed through our marketplace. We are excited to be in discussions with major players in this space and needless to say, it is a large part of the restaurant market.

Markets & Supermarkets:

And last, but very much not least, let’s not forget the vibrant home cooking scene! Families are large and very close in this region and there is a real culture of food sharing and hosting friends and families. The markets and supermarkets in Dubai play a really important role in providing high quality product and choice for the diverse cultures and cuisines. Our hope is that one day, our Seafood Souq logo will be a trustmark of quality, freshness and traceability; allowing customers to make an informed choice of what they buy.

It is with all of the above in mind that Seafood Souq is here to help and to take our place in the value chain in the evolution of the food scene here in the UAE and beyond. If you are excited to hear more and follow our journey, please follow us on Medium, Instagram and LinkedIn to keep up to date on our adventure. You can always reach out to us directly at as well — we love to chat and we’re excited to hear from you.

Bon appetit

Sean Dennis
Co-Founder, Seafood Souq

© Seafood Souq, 2024. All rights reserved.