A Guide to Dubai’s Cafeterias

There are restaurants and there are fast food chains, and then (in this lovely part of the world) there are Dubai’s cafeterias. A special kind of food offering that isn’t always understood, but definitely can’t be ignored.

They satisfy our late night, post-club grease fixes. They serve up a ridiculous number of juices with even more ridiculous names. And they’re practically open 24-7, for whenever we need them most – which is always.

The only problem? Their menus are long af! I recently picked up Jabal Al Noor’s menu and found 320 items listed on it. Sure, not all cafeteria menus are that long, but they can all be equally confusing. Which is what brings me to this little guide on what not to miss:


There isn’t much to decipher when it comes to the standard fruit juices. Just pick a fruit you like and you’re good. But the special cocktails are where everything changes. For years, my friends and I would just laugh at all the silly names like ‘Titanic’, ‘Lamborghini’, ‘Computer’, ‘Selfie’, and most recently, ‘EXPO 2020’. I had never actually tried any of them, but decided to take the leap for the sake of this guide.

I stopped by Ijaza on Jumeirah Beach Road and tried the ‘Selfie’ and ‘Burj Al Arab’. Each waiter had a slightly different explanation as to what exactly was in them (sweet melon, banana, chikoo (sapodilla), mango), so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

To be honest, they tasted almost identical 😛 The presence of sweet melon in both mixes was clear, but the rest was a guessing game. And I can only assume that most of the other ridiculously-named cocktails share similarly vague recipes.

My advice: skip the crazy names and perhaps ask about the more low key ones – like Abood. This one’s a classic mix of mango and sweet melon, and it’s delish!


On to the main event. Cafeteria menus can be overwhelming with tons of food options. The only way to get through it without any disappointment is by sticking to the classics.

Skip the frozen deep-fried treats – they usually take way longer to make. Pass on the ‘exotic’ stuff like cheap Chinese meals or biryani. And start by deciding on whether you want your sandwich in Arabic bread (‘pita’ for the expats), paratha (layered Indian bread), burger buns, hot dog rolls (samoon) or sliced bread. Because most menus are basically an overlap of all the same fillings in different types of bread. And they’re ALL delish.

View this post on Instagram

Mega Hotdog Sandwiches

A post shared by Jabal Al Noor Cafeteria®️ (@jabalalnoorcafe) on

Let’s start with the main classics. Playing it safe? Go with a shawarma or two. Wanna try a better version of that? Ask for a shawarma wrapped in a paratha instead (game-changing). And for an even better spin, order the Hassan Mathar – a flat version of the shawarma, filled with chicken/meat (or cut up hot dogs if you get the Ismail Mathar), hot sauce and cheese. Looking for a classic, no-fuss burger? Try the Chicken Burger Special.

On to the ‘Combos’. For some reason, ‘combo’ is just cafeteria code for hot dog roll/samoon bread. Because even the burgers and club sandwiches come with fries. But if you’re in the mood for a roll and want to try something a bit different, order up a ‘Chicken Lemon’ or ‘Cajun’ combo. OR, for a safer bet, try the ‘Hotdog’ combo.

And finally, on to the club sandwiches. A lot more bread, but if you feel like loading up on those carbs, then this is it. Try the ‘Bahariya’ or ‘Zinker’ clubs for some crispy, chunky satisfaction. And tell your trainer to double those reps tomorrow.


Those fruit juices and cocktails are basically tons of sugar, but if you still want something sweet, I’d suggest going to the baqala next door and grabbing a chocolate bar. Some cafeterias have shakes on their menus, but not all of them taste the best, and dessert isn’t exactly their forte.

Cafeteria it-list:

Jabal Al Noor


Al Mallah


+ Tons more, so please share your favs in the comments below!

Modern East TV

You Will Defs Like These too


Omaya Michelle

  • Eclectic soul
  • Staying Mindful
  • Ardently Artistic