Your Fat Pants Restaurant. (a place where you go without worrying about what you look like)
Maria Bonita

Marina Bonita has been here for 17 years – she’s seen it all before and doesn’t stand on ceremony for anything – she’s seen high heels and flats, board shorts and suits – as long as you are enjoying a quesadilla, some freshly made guac & chips and some fajitas then you are welcome here.

That’s where I found myself on a recent Friday night, sitting in their little roadside terrace in a Batman T-Shirt that I wore to bed the night before.  The Serb was wearing a T-shirt with a mayonnaise stain down the front and her sweat pants that she has never once broken a sweat in.   The point is we were super comfortable and because of that, we were able to gorge ourselves without distraction or commotion.  I recommend you go big and tuck into the Chimichanga – A deep fried burrito with melted cheese and refried beans.  It’s a dish about as Mexican as Donald Trump. However, it’s still 400 grams of deep-fried awesome.

Dine Like a Monopoly winner (a place where you go to spend the big bucks)
La Petite Maison

As we all know, DIFC stands for Dubai International Food Court; a district for premium restaurants with a few financial offices scattered around.

La Petite Maison’s menu is an advert for what is arguably the finest cuisine in the world and certainly the most celebrated.   Originating from the southern city of Nice, ‘Cuisine Nicoise’ is a very particular type of cuisine – it is traditional French cooking, blended, evolved and simplified by Mediterranean ingredients and influences.  The food is mouth watering and moreish, flavourful and fresh and served with panache and professionalism.

There are very few restaurants that maintain such impeccable consistency in service, atmosphere, and food quality.  I think it is relatively easy to get it right for the first six months, but to be able to perform at such a high level for seven years?  That’s what La Petite Maison has done, and that’s impressive and worth every dirham they charge.

Your Guilty Pleasure (a favourite hangout where you go to sin)
Al Mallah

Sixteen years ago when I first came to Dubai, I lived on Al Diyafa Street, and on my first night, I stopped off at Al Mallah restaurant and ordered juice and a shawarma.  There was nothing fancy about this place – plastic chairs inches from a noisy street, with grumpy waiters who do an excellent job of ignoring you.

However, none of that mattered when they bought me that hot, carb-loaded, garlic-laden shawarma and a thick juice cocktail.  I was instantly hooked, but it took me another few years to evolve my choices into something rather spectacular and sinful.

So, if you find yourself on 2nd of December Street, alone at one in the morning, look for the famous green neon Al Mallah sign and pull up a plastic chair.  Order yourself a cheese man’ousheh shawarma.  Succulent, grilled, marinated shawarma chicken sliced fresh off the flame, wrapped in a fresh, hot kashkaval cheese man’ousheh, dripping with garlic sauce.  Tell them Food Sheikh sent you.  They’ll have no idea what you mean, but if enough of you say it, who knows what will happen!


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