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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 March 2019

Dubai Food Festival 2019: a guide to what and where to eat

From Dh35 dishes and Dh199 set menus to masterclasses from some of the region's best chefs, here is your DFF 2019 guide

Chicken biryani, aubergine salsa and raita served in a globe at the Tresind Studio x Nadodi chef's table, on March 6 and 7 
Chicken biryani, aubergine salsa and raita served in a globe at the Tresind Studio x Nadodi chef's table, on March 6 and 7 

Dubai Food Festival runs between February 21 and March 9. For these 17 days, the city transforms into a foodie haven, giving you a chance to explore a spectrum of dishes, cuisines, eateries and areas, with much of the chow going for a fraction of the price you’d pay for it otherwise.

The festival is split across various events and venues, and includes tastings, set menus, and cooking classes and competitions, as well as live entertainment, retail pop-ups and child-friendly activities. Here’s what to know and where to go this year.

Beach Canteen

Duration: February 21 to March 9

Location: Jumeirah Beach behind Sunset Mall

Cost: Free entry and activities, and pay-as-you-go for meals

The open-air, activity-filled Beach Canteen is the flagship event of Dubai Food Festival. The beachside arena is divided into different sections, including:

Food Piazza: sample Lebanese bagels from Ka’ak Al Manara; burgers from Gourmet Burger Kitchen; fried wings from Frings; smoked meats and veg from Mighty Quinns; and speciality Xshot coffee.

Fido’s Food Truck Alley: trucks include C’est Cheese, Soulfull, The Inventing Room and Pinkburger.

Cooking Court: where local and regional chefs will host cooking demonstrations.

Lebanese bagels from Ka'ak Almanara Coffee Shop at Beach Canteen during DFF. Photo by David Nascimento
Lebanese bagels from Ka'ak Almanara. Photo by David Nascimento

Workshop Space: including arts and crafts by Al Serkal Cultural Foundation; hip-hop cardio classes by Impact Dance Studios; robotics workshops by Fun Robotics; and Colour My Plate sessions with Hala Barghout and Ladies Dine Design workshops, for food plating and food photography.

An array of activities: toddler gym and nanny services for little ones; rides, canvas painting, balloon bending, magic shows and T-shirt painting for older children; plus family friendly football target shooting by Kickoff DXB, a Tough Mudder mini obstacle course, sport courts and sunset yoga.

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Restaurant Week

Arabic spread at Al Nafoorah during Restaurant Week for Dubai Food Festival 
Arabic feast at Al Nafoorah during Restaurant Week

Duration: February 21 to March 2

Sample menu from Gaucho

Starter options

Watermelon salad with avocado, feta and toasted almonds

Tuna ceviche with guacamole

Shrimp chicharron with ají amarillo sauce

Mains

200g rib-eye steak, with yellow corn and Malbec jus

Salmon with pea purée, truffle oil and purple potatoes

Asparagus risotto with Parmesan

Desserts

Pineapple carpaccio with lemon mint sorbet

Dulce de leche profiteroles

Location: Various restaurants across Dubai

Cost: Dh199 per person for a three-course meal

More than 20 eateries will serve set menus as part of Restaurant Week this year, spanning multiple cuisines and allowing you to sample signature dishes for a fraction of the price.

Participating restaurants include: Andes for South American; Hotel Cartagena and La Parilla for Latin American; Sea Fu for seafood; Gaucho, Beefbar and Prime 68 for steak; Gia and Basta! for Italian; Seven Sands for Emirati, Al Nafoorah for Lebanese, and Bhar for Arabic fusion; Carnival by Tresind for Indian; Pai Thai for Thai; Bleu Blanc for French; Morimoto for Japanese; Scape for Mediterranean fusion; and The Observatory and Hillhouse Brasserie for international.

Each of these will serve a starter, main and dessert, often with options within each, for Dh199 per person. Check out all the menus here.

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Hidden Gems

Dates: Voting open until February 25; winners announced on March 2; top 10 restaurants to serve subsidised meals until March 9

Location: Various restaurants across Dubai

Cost: Dh35 for one dish

A collaboration between DFF and Zomato, Hidden Gems is an annual list of Dubai’s most popular culinary spots, chosen by its foodies. Diners can vote for one of 40 shortlisted restaurants and cafes, each of which will serve a meal for Dh35 per person, including a delivery option.

Participating restaurants: Hole-in-the-wall eateries, such as Sultan Dubai Falafel from Old Dubai compete with loftier offerings, such as House of Pizza on the Palm. For the full list and menus, or to cast your vote, click here.

Sample menu from Ketli Café, Al Karama:

Side dish: Oman chips paratha

Main dish: penne pasta in pink or white sauce

Beverage: soft drink of your choice

Chicken zafrani biryani from Unforgettable Biryani, JLT 
Chicken Zafrani biryani from Unforgettable Biryani, JLT

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Foodie Experience

Duration: February 21 to March 9

Location and cost: Various venues and prices for the masterclasses and chef’s tables

New to DFF this year, Foodie Experience is a chance to pick up a new culinary skill and sample curated menus by world-famous chefs.

Masterclasses include: Dim sum and noodles at Zhen Wei; pretzel baking at Brothaus; cocktail samosas at Mohalla; beef Wellington at Marina Social; sushi at Miyabi; ceviche at Craft Café; risotto at Cova; bread-making at Eataly; and a raw vegan cooking class at The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel.

Chef’s tables include: the 16-course Tresind Studio Gourmet Table; the 10-course Arabic tasting menu at Treej; and unlimited tapas and paella at Casa di Tapas with a flamenco dance lesson.

Sweet potato at the Vegan Chef's Table at Bleu Blanc on February 26 and 27
Sweet potato at the Vegan Chef's Table at Bleu Blanc on February 26 and 27

For the full list, prices and times, click here.

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Cheese Festival

Date: February 23

Location: The Westin Mina Seyahi

Cost: Free entry, workshops and tastings, pay-as-you-go for the cheese you buy

Francois Robin with heart-shaped neufchatel at the DFF Cheese Festival. Courtesy Sopexa 
Francois Robin with heart-shaped neufchatel. Courtesy Sopexa

Sample creamy feta, crumbly Gouda, heart-shaped neufchatel and ripened blue cheeses from around the world at Oeno, which is hosting the Cheese Festival in collaboration with lifestyle company Sopexa Middle East. Visitors can try and buy imported varieties, meet vendors from across the region, and attend workshops to learn how best to choose, make and cook with cheese.

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Street Food Fair

Duration: March 7 to 9

Location: CityWalk

Cost: Free entry, pay-as-you-go for the dishes you try

Galeries Lafayette Le Gourmet and Le BHV Marais at CityWalk are hosting their own mini festival this DFF. The Street Food Fair will have six stalls, one each for grills (meat sliders and chips), Indian (paani puri, egg parathas and pav bhaji), Asian (stir-fried noodles, laksa, and squid, crab and beef balls), Italian (classic pizzas and pasta) and pick-as-you-go sushi, plus rare cheeses and artisanal grocery items.

Updated: February 18, 2019 04:10 PM

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