Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants returned for a second edition on Monday 30th January 2023, with a brand-new ranking announced at a live awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi.
This year’s anticipated list features restaurants across 14 cities, with 15 exciting new entries. Explore the ranking in 50 photos and find out which venue was crowned No.1, The Best Restaurant in Middle East & North Africa 2023, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna
No.50 Bonjiri, Salmiya – NEW ENTRY
Inspired by her love for Japanese culture and culinary traditions, Maryam Alnusif – or ‘Mimi’ to those who know her – founded Bonjiri as a yakitori spot in Kuwait’s Salmiya district. The menu offers a focused selection of appetisers that precedes the main section featuring skewers, momos and okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes).
No.49 Hakkasan, Abu Dhabi
Housed in the awe-inspiring Emirates Palace hotel, Hakkasan delivers consistently excellent and beguiling southern Chinese plates. Malaysian-born head chef Lee Kok Hua oversees the kitchen, serving classics including dim sum and crispy duck salad, and new favourites such as stir-fried baby broccoli with preserved olive and crispy seaweed.
No.48 HaBasta, Tel Aviv
In chef Elon Amir’s restaurant, located in one of the corners of Tel Aviv’s central and biggest market, dishes change daily depending on the produce. They always include some preparations based on fresh vegetables, like fried eggplant, stuffed courgettes or kohlrabi with goat’s cheese.
No.47 13C Bar in the Back, Amman
A sommelier, a winemaker and a wine trader joined forces with a restaurateur to create 13C Bar in the Back, which offers an ‘interactive food and wine pairing experience’ to complement their wine shop. Inspired by the Mediterranean with hints of the Levant, the menu offers small izakaya-style plates to accompany spirits, wine and cocktails.
No.46 +61, Marrakech
Co-founders Cassandra Karinsky and Sebastian de Gzell brought a taste of Sydney to Morocco with +61. In a friendly, casual setting, head chef Andrew Cibej elevates simple ingredients into Mediterranean-inspired masterpieces, such as pickled octopus toast smeared with aioli, or roasted cauliflower with almonds and pomegranate.
No.45 Reif Kushiyaki, Cairo – NEW ENTRY
Cairo’s Reif Kushiyaki is the first franchise of the Dubai-born, Japanese-inspired outlet for skewered grills, kushi being the Japanese word for skewers. From hearty bowls of rice and ramen – cooked with your choice of beef, chicken or seafood – to packed, scrumptious sandos and an array of raw seafood options, at Reif’s there’s something for every taste.
No.44 Jun’s, Dubai – NEW ENTRY
While the word ‘fusion’ can strike fear in the hearts of many a gourmand, third-generation Chinese Canadian chef Kelvin Cheung blends his menu into a cohesive whole. Inspiration for dishes comes from kitchens across North America, Hong Kong and India, manifested in dishes like lamb koobideh tsukune, tempura za’atar chaat and kung pao tofu.
No.43 Zuma, Abu Dhabi – NEW ENTRY
Over the years, the Zuma brand has become synonymous with Japanese izakaya, and its Abu Dhabi branch is a force to be reckoned with in the UAE capital. The dining room is breath-taking and the menu is extensive: you can’t go wrong with the miso-marinated black cod wrapped in hoba leaf, or signature barley miso corn-fed baby chicken.
No.42 White Robata, Kuwait City
Located within the Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Center, White Robata is a Japanese concept inspired by international flavours. Honing the robatayaki technique, which translates as ‘fireside cooking’ in Japanese, chef Basil Al Salem specialises in dishes cooked over fire. Don’t miss the six-hour braised short rib with maple glaze.
No.41 Alee, Amman – NEW ENTRY
Perched atop one of Amman’s hills, Alee is designed with the panorama in mind. Chef Ali Ghzawi weaves through the dining room to present each course. His dishes, revolving around modern Levantine flavours, are inspired by the everyday recipes he grew up eating and transformed into memories on a plate.
No.40 Milgo & Milbar, Tel Aviv
Chef Moti Titman’s food mirrors his culinary journey and all his life’s stops, with flavours combining in a Tel-Avivian, contemporary and precise kitchen. Founded in 2013 in one of the city’s main corners on Rothschild Avenue, the restaurant is home to a jovial atmosphere, with music and the sound of the bell summoning staff to the pass ever-present.
No.39 Sesamo, Marrakech – NEW ENTRY
Renowned chef Massimiliano Alajmo and his right hand, Vania Ghedini, bring the culinary delights of Italy to beguiling Marrakech with Sesamo. The restaurant brings Venetian influences to the table, with classic dishes including crispy langoustine rolls, beef with white truffle, and saffron risotto with eel gremolata.
No.38 LPM, Riyadh
LPM, a name associated with exquisite southern France-inspired cooking, has quickly made a home in Saudi Arabia’s capital. Come for the name, stay for the food and linger for the vibrant atmosphere that transports you to the French riviera: seasoned chef Durga Misra presents familiar favourites including burrata, grilled aubergine and a standout risotto.
No.37 Iloli, Casablanca
In the heart of Casablanca, founder chef Yusuke Furukawa combines Morocco’s abundance of excellent produce with the ancestral skills of Japanese cooking. His food tells the story of migration, integration and evolution in dishes like Dakhla oyster with pesto and wakame seaweed, and fried harumaki with lamb, mint and karashi mustard.
No.36 Sufra, Amman
Owned by the Goussous family, Sufra specialises in fukharats – slow clay pot cooking that imparts a very distinct flavour. In a 20th-century villa in one of Amman’s most charming neighbourhoods, dishes are served family-style and showcase the best of Bedouin flavours. Look out for fawaregh ma’anyeh, stuffed lamb chitterlings, and delicate chargrilled quail.
No.35 11 Woodfire, Dubai – NEW ENTRY
Housed in a villa with a large courtyard in Dubai’s Jumeirah district, 11 Woodfire welcomes you into a minimalist industrial chic dining room with a massive open kitchen. From starters to desserts, the dishes are on fire: chef Akmal Anuar infuses them with the scents of hickory or pine, such as the wagyu burger and burnt cheesecake.
No.34 La Closerie, Tunis
Tipping its cap to the era of the resto-club, La Closerie occupies a vast, contemporary villa in the well-heeled seaside neighbourhood of La Marsa. Featuring refined Italian cooking – from the zucchini noodles lavished with pesto for the no-carb brigade, to the crunchy breaded squid with house-cut tartar sauce to share around – there’s lots on the menu to love.
No.33 Coya, Abu Dhabi
At Coya, Peruvian paradise is the order of the day. Malaysian-born chef Pang Long Chin serves up contemporary dishes from Latin America, entwined by Japanese and Chinese techniques and flavours. Try the slow-cooked beef ribs or grilled corn-fed baby chicken with chilli for the top dining experience.
No.32 Animar, Tel Aviv
This casual fine dining spot combines Mediterranean-Turkish dishes with panoramic views of Tel Aviv beach. Like many Israeli restaurants, Animar is best experienced when the food is shared by all guests at the table. Chef Hilel Tavakuli combines flavours from his Persian-Libyan childhood and serves classics like ciğ köfte topped with grated labneh.
No.31 Masso, Manama – NEW ENTRY
Inspired by the French Riviera and the Amalfi Coast, Masso brought fresh flavours and a vibrant dining experience to Bahrain. Executive chef Steeven Gilles harvests produce from the garden for his seasonal menu, featuring salt-crusted sea bass with sauce vierge and smoked short-rib croquettes with black truffle mayonnaise.
No.30 Sachi, Cairo
Sachi offers an escape from the noise of the city with its serene decor and elegant dining room. Flavours from the Mediterranean feature here, such as stracciatella salad with burrata cream, and chef Ashour Dessouki pulls out all the stops with the unmissable chateaubriand for two.
No.29 Shams El Balad, Amman – NEW ENTRY
The small flower-shop-turned-breakfast-café is now one of Amman’s most unique restaurants. It’s a true family operation, founded by Maha Dahmash and her husband, Hazem Malhas, and now run by their children Qais and Karma. Traditional dishes are on the menu, such as green labneh, beetroot falafel, sumac eggplant and cauliflower fritters.
No.28 Coya, Dubai
A restaurant, a lounge, a pisco bar and a private members’ club, Coya burst onto Dubai’s dining scene in 2015 and has never looked back. The menu, packed with Peruvian-inspired small plates, traverses ceviche, tiradito and skewers, appealing to both purists and fun-seekers alike.
No.27 La Grande Table Marocaine, Marrakech
French legend Yannick Alléno and head chef Karim Ben Baba blew Moroccan food as we know it out of the water with La Grande Table Marocaine. The menu features boldly exotic plates of food that conjure all the magic of Arabian nights, with none of the cliché. Try the seffa medfouna – broken vermicelli with lobster, onions, raisins and ginger.
No.26 Hoseki, Dubai
This is the closest you’re going to get to taking a seat at one of Japan’s finest restaurants without leaving the UAE. Chef Masahiro Sugiyama, a sixth-generation sushi master, serves up a set omakase on the fourth floor of the sophisticated Bvlgari Hotel. There are only nine seats, permitting a ring-side view of the unique culinary artistry and jaw-dropping knife skills.
No.25 Cut by Wolfgang Puck, Manama – NEW ENTRY
One of eight Cut by Wolfgang Puck restaurants worldwide, the Bahrain outpost is sleek and elegant, with a state-of-the-art open kitchen and magnificent staircase in the entranceway. Philadelphia-born Brian Becher is at the helm, serving a wide selection of steakhouse classics, from prime dry and wet-aged beef to premium shellfish.
No.24 A by Yuval Ben Neriah, Tel Aviv – NEW ENTRY
Chef Yuval Ben Neriah has built a reputation as one of Tel Aviv’s hottest talents. On the Japanese-accented menu, each plate is minimalist and inherently beautiful. Opt for the steak with a potato gratin saturated in a koji-spiked beurre blanc; or for a fish-led meal, the tempura shrimp, sashimi or takoyaki are just as notable.
No.23 Marble, Riyadh
Chef-owner Abdulrahman Alsowailem serves carnivorous happiness at Marble. What began as a small restaurant with only four main dishes has blossomed into one of the top burger joints in the city. Alsowailem keeps the culinary enthusiasm high by creating seasonal dishes, from exclusive prime rib dinners to Saudi lamb specialty rice plates.
No.22 Sachi, Giza – NEW ENTRY
In a city deprived of rooftop restaurants, Sachi fills a much-needed gap, bringing Baky Hospitality’s hip and sophisticated ambiance to Park Street. The menu at Sachi is plentiful, inspired by cuisines from southern Europe all the way to Japan, while the drinks are taken as seriously as the food.
No.21 LPM, Dubai
LPM is a grande dame of the Dubai culinary scene, having first opened its doors over a decade ago. The Mediterranean fare is unfussy and utterly delicious, with dishes designed to be shared with the table. Top picks include a much copied but never bettered lentil salad, or fresh burrata cheese with basil and tomatoes.
No.20 Em Sherif, Beirut
The quintessential Lebanese dining experience, Em Sherif offers guests a taste of traditional home cooking. Chef Yasmina Hayek’s marathon 30-course dinner of mezze platters, all designed to share, is coupled with her mother and restaurateur Mireille Hayek’s infallible service. The triumphant combination earns the restaurant this year’s Art of Hospitality Award.
No.19 Tawlet Mar Mikhael, Beirut
Rotating weekly, the menu at Tawlet could include any variety of dishes from all corners of Lebanon. Dozens of women from villages across the country take turns designing menus that showcase their local recipes. The restaurant provides a space for open conversation – about the dishes, traditions, and significance of the food for local communities.
No.18 Myazu, Riyadh
Chef Ian Pengelley leads the culinary charge at Myazu, marrying traditional techniques with innovative modern-day culinary creativity. The menu is cleverly curated, consisting of Japanese fan favourites such as marinated yellowtail sashimi, black cod and wagyu beef, all of which are to be enjoyed in the warm-hued, chic dining room.
No.17 Gaia, Dubai
Launched by well-known Dubai-based chef Izu Ani in 2018, Gaia stands out on Dubai’s restaurant scene with its distinctly Athenian fare. The taverna-esque atmosphere, outdoor seating and ice counter – where the catch of the day is displayed – combine for an authentic Greek experience.
No.16 Baron, Beirut
Chef Athanasios Kargatzidis’s Baron is a fun, unfussy, locavore neighbourhood joint hidden in the hip streets of artsy Mar Mikhael in Beirut. Eclectic small plates characterise the seasonal sharing-style menu that changes every few days. Heavy on the vegetables, the food is modern and innovative with Mediterranean and Japanese influences.
No.15 Lowe, Dubai
Tucked away in the clubhouse of a leafy residential development, Lowe is an unassuming space that packs a culinary punch. The interiors are clad in wood and unfinished concrete, allowing the open plan kitchen that occupies the entire width of the restaurant to pull focus. Don’t miss chef Ali Shiddique’s bone marrow with roasted pepper dip and anchovies.
No.14 OCD Restaurant, Tel Aviv
Chef Raz Rahav doesn’t want his food to be labelled as European, Middle Eastern or anything in between. At OCD, he only wants to be known for his “progressive Israeli cooking’. Planet-friendly practices are at the heart of the operation, earning the restaurant this year’s Sustainable Restaurant Award, sponsored by Arla Pro.
No.13 Zuma, Dubai
With three kitchens, two floors and one famous name, Zuma in Dubai offers some of the best Japanese cuisine in the Emirate. Ingredients are of unimpeachable quality across the board and the huge team of chefs are some of the most skilled practitioners of Japanese and Asian cookery in the MENA region.
No.12 Kazoku, Cairo
Kazoku, meaning ‘family’, serves up authentic dishes inspired by the Japanese culinary heritage. Founded by acclaimed entrepreneur Ayman Baky, the restaurant was created to resemble ‘the people’. Try Chef Mostafa Gabr’s pyramid uramaki rolls and the dessert bento box with caramel and chocolate fondants for a culinary treat.
No.11 Reif Kushiyaki, Dubai
Chef-founder Reif Othman finally put his own name to a restaurant in 2019 and the city’s foodies reacted with glee. Othman puts a spotlight on the Japanese snack-like street food skewers cooked over the robata grill, while the Wagyu Katsu Sando is the darling of Instagram.
No.10 Moonrise, Dubai – NEW ENTRY
Moonrise is arguably the hottest reservation ticket in the city. The brainchild of chef Solemann Haddad, it offers just eight counter seats per twice-nightly sitting. Combining global culinary heritages and explosive flavours, the 26-year-old, primarily self-taught chef is making waves across Dubai.
No.9 Zooba (Zamalek), Cairo
Marked by its inviting turquoise door, Zooba is a wholly casual affair, with a long communal dining table sitting as the centrepiece of the small bistro. Expect all the hallmark dishes offered by the vendors that line the roads and markets of the Egyptian capital, such as Egypt’s legendary taameya, a take on falafel with fava beans. The venue is spearheaded by chef Moustafa Elrefaey, winner of the Estrella Damm N.A. Chefs’ Choice Award 2023.
No.8 Fakhreldin, Amman
Diners at Fakhreldin are treated like family: the service style is heavily based on the spirit of Jordanian generosity and is truly tailored to each individual customer. Chef Rafic Nakle serves up traditional and elegant fresh mezzes and signature grilled meats, such as the standout kibbeh nayeh.
No.7 Kinoya, Dubai – NEW ENTRY
At Kinoya, it’s all about ramen and izakaya, but chef Neha Misra’s speciality is the former. After the roaring success of her supper club concept, A Story of Food, Misra opened Kinoya in 2021 and hasn’t looked back since. Don’t miss the shio paintan ramen, which has undoubtedly become a signature.
No.6 George & John, Tel Aviv
In his restaurant, chef Tomer Tal combines flavours and recipes from his Jewish-Moroccan heritage with seasonal raw products from Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market and fresh seafood from adjacent Jaffa Port. Each beautifully plated dish tells its own story, showing an aspect of the local eastern Mediterranean cuisine.
No.5 3 Fils, Dubai
3 Fils was the first-ever venue to be bestowed the title of The Best Restaurant in Middle East & North Africa in 2022. Chef Shun Shiroma’s winning combination of Asian fusion dishes, an unflashy and unlicensed venue and super-casual dining style have transformed it into one of the most sought-after places to eat in all the MENA region.
No.4 Ossiano, Dubai – NEW ENTRY
Newcomer to this year’s list and winner of the Highest New Entry Award, sponsored by Aspire Lifestyles, this restaurant led by chef Gregoire Berger is a bucket list spot in Dubai’s iconic Atlantic The Palm hotel. Situated almost inside an aquarium, the restaurant delivers a tasting menu that is almost as dramatic as its surroundings.
No.3 Fusions by Tala, Manama
Chef Tala Bashmi’s restaurant is trailblazing its way up the list with a record climb of 36 spots since 2022, earning the Highest Climber Award 2023. The talented chef delivers deconstructed and reassembled takes on Bahrain’s classic dishes, including bamia, with wagyu beef cheeks and a crunchy okra crisp.
No.2 Trèsind Studio, Dubai
Learning his trade at lauded New Delhi dining institution Indian Accent before moving to Dubai, chef Himanshu Saini has become the standard bearer of modern Indian gastronomy in the UAE. His theatrical fare masterfully takes diners around the restaurant, as well as on a trip around the Indian subcontinent.
No.1 Orfali Bros Bistro, Dubai
This is the story of three immigrant chef brothers from Syria – Mohammed, Wassim and Omar – working together to create a genuinely unique dining experience: an against-the-odds triumph of personal perseverance, brilliant storytelling and endless curiosity.
Orfali Bros Bistro has captured the imagination of Dubai’s multi-cultural residents as well as food-loving visitors from across the globe, and is crowned with the coveted title of The Best Restaurant in the Middle East & North Africa 2023.
Now recap the list by watching the video:
The list of Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, was announced on Monday, 30th January at a live awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi. To stay up to date with all news and announcements, browse the website and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.