Sharjah is home to a booming art and culture scene and is fast becoming a cultural hotspot in the Middle East, capable of competing with the likes of Abu Dhabi
. The city’s dining scene focuses on high-quality Middle Eastern
fare meaning that eating out in Sharjah is an authentic, aromatic experience. We bring you ten must try restaurants in Sharjah that reflect local culture and cuisines.
Offering classic Arabian service and hospitality, Milas offers traditional Emirati dishes with a Middle Eastern twist. Located in the Denim District of the city, the restaurant represents an authentic Emirati experience, from the home-cooked style food and karak spiced tea to the perfumes and ouds served at the end of the meal. Not to say that they’re stuck in the past; every table has an iPad menu, allowing diners to get a good look at what they’re ordering before they fully commit to it. Dishes include saloonat laham (mutton stew served with white rice), saloonat diyai (chicken stew served with white rice), and house special mbahar tuna (a kind of tuna biryani made to a unique recipe).
Milas, Sharjah Mega Mall, Al Estiqlal Street, Bu Danig, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, +971 6 5503190
El Manza’s authentic Moroccan dining comes paired with elegant interiors and methodical preparation to create a fantastic dining experience. Using the freshest aromatic spices and olive or Argan oils, the food is infused with traditional flavour and tastes. But it’s not just the food that draws in the diners here. Situated in Al Majaz Park, outdoor terrace tables overlook the iconic Sharjah fountain, and guests are treated to a laser show every half hour. All of the traditional Moroccan dishes, including tagines, are on offer here, as well as some chef specialities that are worth experimenting with, such as dessert knafa bil halib, layered filo pastry sheets filled with vanilla cream, nuts and orange blossom and sprinkled with caster sugar.
El Manza, Khalid Lagoon, Al Majaz Waterfront, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, +971 6 5521882
Name checking the ‘kitchen secrets’ of the Royal Kitchens of India as one of its inspirations, Gazebo explores the Indian regions of Lucknow, Hyderabad and the North West Frontier to present a varied, rich menu. Their dum biryanis, notably the most popular Indian recipe worldwide, are of particular merit and well worth their reputation. However, they also offer a popular selection of starters and kebabs, such as the vegetarian hara bara kebab. Diners can tuck into their food amidst beautiful interiors, soft music and subtle lighting for the perfect dining atmosphere. Things can get a little packed at peak times, but with two other branches in the city customers are sure to find a Gazebo that will accommodate them.
Gazebo, Matajer Mall, Opp. Sharjah Muroor, Al Goze, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, +971 6 5529697
Seashells offers something of a change from the Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine that appear to dominate the city. A seafood restaurant that serves fried or grilled shrimp, tuna fish, hammour (grouper) or a seafood platter at low prices, Seashells also has the unusual distinction of being open until midnight. So for anyone in a hurry home, it’s a fine option for a late evening meal, though of course it’s just as worthwhile in the lighter hours. The food is tasty and cheap, and if you want to eat like the locals, you couldn’t do much better.
Seashells, Ahmed bin Dar-eish Square, AL-Chan Road, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, +971 5 283501
Sharjah Dhow Restaurant
Restaurant, Middle Eastern, Seafood, Vegetarian, $$$
Sharjah Dhow Restaurant
Sharjah Dhow, as the name suggests, is situated on a beautiful dhow boat, docked near the scenic Sharjah Corniche. The boat offers a variety of seating options including curtained private booths, long benches with small tables and the choice of dining outside on the bows. But don’t be fooled by the unusual setting, as guests will find that this establishment is much more than a gimmick. The authentic Arabic ambience of the restaurant complements the cuisine on offer, primarily a selection of tastefully presented and well-made Middle Eastern delicacies. The large-portioned and reasonably priced seafood, vegetarian or grilled dishes are a must, and so is their popular mixed grill selection, where diners will receive a generous and delicious combination of lamb, beef, and chicken, served with tasty sides and fries.
Sharjah Dhow Restaurant, Corniche St – Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, +971 6 5730222
Restaurant, Middle Eastern, Lebanese
Meaning ‘window’ in Lebanese Arabic, Shababeek restaurant offers a glimpse into a Middle Eastern world of luxury and fine dining beside the Al Qasba Canal. Modern Lebanese dishes are a specialty here (albeit with a solid grounding in tradition), but there’s something for everyone, especially for families with Shababeek’s excellent children’s menu. Service can be a little variable here, but that’s somewhat part of the UAE dining experience, and the food makes up for it. Popular dishes include the soujouk, which are Lebanese sausages sautéed in garlic, lemon and coriander, lamb kebabs, and potato harra, fried cubes of potato, tossed in lemon, olive oil and garlic. Between October and March, when the weather is a little cooler, diners can also enjoy their meals at outdoor canal seating.
Shababeek, Block B, Al Qasba 66911, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, +971 6 5540444
Restaurant, Indian, $$$
Well known for its steamed momos, handi dum biryani and Kati Rolls, this Indo–Chinese restaurant is a great low-budget option that’s a hit with the locals as well as tourists. The interiors are fairly basic and not naturally ambient, but as Katis is known more for its food, it’s not surprising that the venue prefers to focus on the cuisine rather than the décor. The Katis motto, ‘excellence is not a skill, but an attitude,’ is reflected in the food and service, which remain of a high standard even within the relatively small space of the restaurant.
Katis, Al Khan Street, Al Qasba, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, +971 6 5565598
Another entry in Sharjah’s sizable pantheon of Indian restaurants, Masala Craft specialises in what they call the ‘Live Takatak Tava Tandoor’, as well as a variety of other types of Indian cuisine. The menu is carefully designed with a great selection of dishes, offering a delicious spread of Indian flavours and aromas. Examples include the mouth-wateringly spicy mirchi pakoda (and more generally a variety of spicy curries), as well as an authentically crispy onion bhaji that’s miles away from the stodgy balls found in most Indian restaurants worldwide. Masala Craft is also great for large parties, with plenty of room, outdoor seating and a good cocktail menu to make it a memorable night.
Masala Craft, Block F, Al Qasba, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, +971 6 5566284
Restaurant, Indian, $$$
India Palace concentrates of Mughal cuisine, and the royal Mughal dynasty that produced it. Strongly influenced by Persian, Iranian and Afghan cuisine, this food is often associated with a distinctive aroma and ground spices, and India Palace’s offerings are no exception. Food is pre-marinated before serving and cooked in cal ovens or tandoors, an example of these processes being murg-e-tandoor, barbequed spring chicken in a special marinade, or maas ke shole, charbroiled chunks of lamb in a special marinade. The restaurant also aims to recreate the ‘dazzling grandeur’ of the Mughal dynasty through its hand-carved woodwork, elaborate pictorial presentation and, of course, the ‘secret recipes’ that make its dishes so popular.
India Palace, Safeer Mall, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, +971 6 5374331
Mushmaool Arabic Grill Restaurant
Sometimes, a restaurant can’t go wrong with good food and fantastic service, and Mushmaool is one of those restaurants. Often seen as the best grill in town, Mushmaool is just 50 metres away from Sharjah’s Mega Mall. Lamb chops and shish tawook come highly recommended, with the waffle fries also a popular choice. The interiors are clean and pleasant, with a variety of interesting illustrations and colours dotted around the restaurant. The staff are committed to providing a dining experience as close as possible to a home-cooked meal, so while the food has always been popular, it’s the great service that people come away talking about.
Mushmaool Arabic Grill Restaurant, Al Miraj Building 1, Abu Shagara, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, +971 6 5754244