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The 10 places in Dubai that promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you just can’t miss.

10. Focaccia

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The Hyatt’s traffic-clogged Deira location can be problematic, but those who make the effort to seek out Focaccia on the mezzanine will be richly rewarded. Not so much a restaurant as a Mediterranean-style country house, this classy eatery boasts authentic pizzas, pastas and seafood. The hotel has undergone extensive refurbishment inside, but Focaccia has remained largely unchanged, although it does have a charming Gulf-facing terrace which is ideal in the winter.

9.  Al Muntaha

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If you don’t fancy the idea of a sub-aquatic dining experience, then the Burj serves up an exhilarating alternative, 200 meters up into the sky. Al Muntaha, which specializes in Mediterranean cuisine, has a sophisticated yet laid-back atmosphere, with prices to match the lofty setting. One of those to ‘tick off’ if you’re looking for that quintessential Dubai experience. It even has a “mixology” drinks trolley, providing you with a perfectly balanced tailor-made cocktail.

8. Blue Elephant

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Widely regarded as one of Dubai’s finest Thai restaurants, the distinctive Blue Elephant features a tranquil waterfall, exotic flowers and greenery, and intricate stained wood accents, creating the illusion that you’re not in Dubai but in some quaint Southeast Asian village. The cuisine matches the decor stroke for stroke. Royal Thai dishes include herbs, spices and produce imported from Thailand, and the aromas of basil, chilies and lemongrass flow through the air, enticing first time patrons to order some of the spicier items.

7. JW’s Steakhouse

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The JW Marriott’s steakhouse has a reputation as the finest in Dubai, with steaks that “cut like butter” and the freshest lobster and seafood you’ll find anywhere. Traditional American steakhouse décor (lots of wood, leather chairs, white linens), remarkably fine and fresh cuisine and top-notch service make this an ideal spot for enjoying a meal with a client or even that special someone.

6. Shabestan’s

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This sophisticated Persian eatery, which has more than a touch of the windswept and interesting scenery, it has consistently won awards for their fine dinning. Tasty delights include the slow-cooked lamb and rice and chello kebab, while yogurt is a base ingredient for many dishes. The Creek views complement the pleasant ambiance and live entertainment is also provided, sometimes without warning.

5. Vu’s

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You can’t eat any higher in the center of Dubai — Vu’s, on the 50th floor at Jumeirah Emirates Towers, takes the stratospheric biscuit. Your ears may pop on the way up in the frighteningly fast lifts, but there shouldn’t be any problems on the taste buds. Enjoy classy French-meets-Italian fine dining, with menu delights including roasted pigeon and tender lamb. As it befits its opulent setting, expect to pay more than you would at your local café.

la-baie-lounge-new-wing4. La Baie

Definitely one for that special occasion, La Baie’s opulent surroundings are matched by their superb cuisine, prepared by chefs at the top of their culinary game. The restaurant’s foray into seafood specialization has been a huge success. Currently La Baie is a strutting peacock. The outdoor terrace is an idyllic spot in winter, overlooking the Gulf and hotel gardens.

3.  Verre

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Located on the first floor of the modernist Hilton Dubai Creek, this impressive Gordon Ramsay restaurant has built up a formidable reputation in Dubai’s ultra-competitive culinary stakes. The emphasis is on quality rather than quantity — it’s the place to come for a gastronomic experience. Dishes have the Ramsay stamp of novelty, such as halibut with pan-fried watermelon. The charismatic chef is now casting an eye over possible locations for other restaurants in the city.

2. Zheng He’s

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Few Chinese restaurants boast such a grand staircase entrance, and the menu is equally appealing from top to bottom. Enjoy a feast of “New Chinese” flavors from the à la carte menu while you soak up views of the resort’s canal by day and illuminated Burj Al Arab by night. The spacious interiors can seat 102 diners and the 58 alfresco seats are hot property in the cooler winter months.

1. Al Mahara

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There can’t be many restaurants in the world where you hop into a Submarine to get to your dining table. But then Al Mahara isn’t your standard seafood restaurant. The fish on your plate is as fresh as that swimming in the stunning aquarium in this award-laden signature restaurant, which serves western seafood with a Chinese touch. Connoisseurs of suave please note: there is a harpist to serenade diners. Gents need to wear a collared shirt and jacket.

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