Shawarmas in Dubai are as common as cheeseburgers in the U.S. Yet, this famous Levantine sandwich is somehow immune to the sort of rampant commercialism that has seen the burger morph into the double whopper and the mighty zinger. Of all the vendors that dole out this staple wrap, none have dressed it up as some mutant version of the original. There’s a variance in shawarmas from place to place around the city; each has its own distinct flavour and it’s difficult to figure out why.
The ingredients are by and large standardized, leaving pita pushers to concentrate on substance — the quality of produce and attention to detail. Also of monumental importance: the chef’s sense of proportion: nobody wants too little sauce, too many tomatoes or a speck of chicken buried in a bundle of bread.
So, if your favourite shawarma spot serves up a plate of tosh, you could assume it’s training day for the cook’s nephew, and not a general decline in food standards.
B-Change presents to you the 5 Shawarma joints in Dubai you have to try:
5. Automatic Restaurant
It is perhaps the best known fast(ish) food Lebanese joint in Dubai. It’s easy in this city to forget that many a nation dotted around the Mediterranean came up with unique versions. Nevertheless, if there were to be an ambassador of the Dubai shawarma, it would be Automatic. It is in the meat department that this restaurant excels. The chicken here is tender with a texture consistent with that of brown meat found on the bird’s leg or thigh. Pickles, garlic, onions and tahini sauce all in the right proportions. The addition of crispy French fries in the wrap? A striker.
How much: AED 6 (AED16 for large)
Where: There are 9 locations – Take your pick. [Google map here]
4. Jimmy The Greek
This Dubai Mall food court resident represents a shift away from the norm in Dubai. The Jimmy the Greek Gyros Pitta comes from Greece. A gyros is a type of shawarma made from rotisserie-roasted lamb thinly sliced into thick pitta bread. It is then drizzled with tomatoes, onions and fresh tzatziki sauce.
It is similar to a doner kebab, but not nearly as overbearing and the ingredients have no trans fats [Yay]. After trying one of these incredibly hearty wraps, one wonders why there aren’t more places like this in town. It’s a little pricey, but it blows everything else out of the water.
How much: AED 20
Where: Dubai Mall [Google Map here].
3. Aces Shawarma House
In a city that boasts more shawarma joints than taxis on time, Aces Shawarma House delivers a unique dining experience. At first glance, it appears the four Emirati brothers who created Aces have achieved this. The flexible seating pyramid is well-executed and quirky, setting the scene for a fast but fun dine-in. Aces makes for a good stop after a night on the town.
My favourite is the King’s Bacon Tradition and it definitely is one to remember.
How much: At AED28 per shawarma combo.
Where: On Al Wasl Square, opposite Safa Park [Google map here].
2. Al Mallah
This place needs no introduction. Every resident has tried their shawarma, juices and oozing lip-biting manakesh. We’d recommend the branch in Al Mamzar – perfect for a quick catch up with a friend and a stroll on the beach.
How much: AED 7
Where: Dhiyafah [Google Map here]
1. Belad Al Sham
After trying out numerous Shawarma joints over many, many years of living in Dubai, none have come close to this tiny trove situated in the heart of Al Ghusais. You’ll be raving about the Mexican Shawarma, if you’re into a bit of spice. The meat is crisp and the shawarmas don’t drip.
How much: AED 7
Where: Al Qusais [Google map here]
Rating : 5/5
Notable mention: Wejdan ( Al Rigga)
Featured Image: shawarmashack.co.uk