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Out for a bite

How to indulge in the national pastime for under Dhs100 per head

By David Light

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Published: Wed 21 Nov 2012, 10:04 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 11:47 AM

EID, DIWALI, CHRISTMAS, or merely a Wednesday evening, when it comes to eating out, any occasion - no matter how big or small - is a chance to save slaving over a hot stove for the night and head out to one of the UAE’s multitude of fine dining establishments. From top-notch nosh to humble hearty meals, this country has outlets offering it all.

Yet, with the frequency all of us tend to forgo the hassle of preparing a meal and subsequently cleaning up the mess, the cost of our trips to restaurants can begin to mount up. Conduct a quick survey on the eating habits of five people you know and, chances are, at least three of them will come back with the answer that they either venture out into the city or order a takeaway around three times a week. With that kind of regularity it is no wonder that many are complaining about being a little short in the week leading up to pay day.

Not to fear, however. Just because you enjoy being cooked for, doesn’t mean it should cost the earth. Obviously sitting down at the Rivington Grills, Nobus and Okkus of this world every night – while amazing – will set you back a fair amount, there are some pleasant alternatives, which are a lot easier on your wallet whilst providing an experience to remember.

Here are a few of our top picks for a more economical night out where a main course, dessert and beverage will cost Dhs100 or less per person.

Royal Express, Admiral Plaza Hotel, Dubai

Now, we have to confess something. Meals here can cost more than Dhs100. HOWEVER, with the new offers from RoundMenu.com, they really shouldn’t. In an effort to bring you a bit of luxury in keeping with the budget, this Indian restaurant, offering all your beautifully cooked favourites and decked out like a classic imperial train (yes, you read correctly), has tied up with the discount booking company to bring you 25 per cent off your total when making a reservation through the system. Log onto roundmenu.com or download the app onto your phone to book your table and the Dhs5 that is charged to your phone bill will mean a quarter off your cheque. If you forget to do it in advance, you could even complete the process at your table before the bill comes, show the waiter your SMS code and enjoy the saving.

GO FOR: The opulence

Caesars Restaurants & Confectioneries, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah

Caesar’s has been a major player in the UAE for over two decades. Serving authentic Indian, Chinese, Iranian and Continental cuisine, such a conglomeration can often mean that while one mode of cooking excels, the others suffer, but are kept on the menu for the sake of appearances. This is certainly not the case with Caesar’s though. Sizzler steaks, chicken masala and a fine noodle soup can all be brought to the table simultaneously and each will be as delicious as the next.

And with the Christmas season around the corner its new special menu including plum cakes, marzipan fruit, edible snowballs and a wide range of traditional goodies will only add to the delight.

GO FOR: The variety

Nandos, UAE-wide

If you hail from the United Kingdom, you’ll be well acquainted with this restaurant franchise and if you’re a South African native, its peri-peri concoctions will be regarded as an institution. For everyone else, let us explain. Nandos does chicken. To order anything else would be tantamount to insanity. The difference from other poultry outlets is its peri-peri sauces, ranging in spiciness from mild to explosive, make said grilled bird absolutely unique. It may be a chain, but Nandos does have a certain homely feel that, combined with the cost of the items on the menu, will have you going back.

GO FOR: The spicy goodness

Bu Qtair, Jumeirah, Dubai

You can have anything you want in this place, as long as it’s fish. Sorry, make that the freshest, best prepared fish in the city. Do not, under any circumstances, be fooled by appearances as you pull up outside the portakabin Bu Qtair premises and survey the brightly coloured outdoor furniture lit by a sole streetlamp. Just because meals can be had for under Dhs100 and it looks like a relief centre in some war torn land, does not mean we are sending you to the back and beyond. Run by fishermen, the amazing eatery only serves fish caught that morning. There is no menu. Walk up to the counter, choose your catch laid out on the counter (charged by the kilo), have the chefs cook it in their traditional South Indian recipe, add a bit of rice and Bob’s your uncle. Simple, cost efficient, delectable.

GO FOR: The fish (duh).

Grill Corner, Satwa, Dubai

Quite possibly the most economical of the lot, this Filipino restaurant serving great portions of Pinoy fare can’t be recommended highly enough. The rather basic layout aside, you can order a truckload of goodies including the beef sisig and kare kare, both with rice, and the feast will come to about Dhs40. If you’re a sucker for a bargain, you’ll never leave.

GO FOR: The price


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