Dubai’s Orafali Bros takes the top spot as the finest dining experience in MENA

It’s the 2nd year in the row the family-run dining spot has won


DUBAI is once again the dominant dining city in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to World’s 50 Best, an organisation that ranks restaurants, bars and hotels in regions and around the world.

For the second year in a row, Orfali Bros Bistro in Dubai has topped the list put out for the region by 50 Best. In fact, Dubai swept four of the top five spots. In all, it has 18 entries on this year’s list, up from 15 in 2023; and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has 20 in total.

A tarte tatin from the Orfali Bros Bistro

Orfali Bros is run by three Syrian-born brothers Mohamad, Wassim and Omar Orfali. The menu features what Mohamad has called “modern Dubai cooking” with inspired, internationally influenced dishes like yum yam, a mixed herb salad with buckwheat and tamarind dressing and wagyu beef kebabs with chilis, sour cherry and cinnamon, which is named “Come with me to Aleppo.”

In second place on this year’s list is Trèsind Studio, which like wise held the same spot last year. The ambitious restaurant, which also has 2 Michelin stars, features an immersive tasting menu for 895 UAE dirhams (RM1,166). In third is the seafood-focused Ossiano and No 4 is Moonrise, a rooftop restaurant. Rounding out the top 5 is Khufu’s in Cairo, which moved up a handful of spots from No 12 last year.

Egypt tied for second place for number of restaurants on the list with six total; Israel also had six places.

The awards were announced on Feb 13. The in-person ceremony that had been slated to be held in Abu Dhabi was cancelled in December as a result of the Israel-Hamas conflict. The organisation cited “the current circumstances and challenges faced in the Middle East.”

Dubai is getting more international attention for its restaurant scene. Orfali Bros is seeing increased international attention, breaking into last year’s worldwide 50 Best Restaurant list, at No 47, up more than 40 spots from No 87 in 2022. Trèsind Studio did even better on that ranking, hitting No 11; previously it was No 57.

This is the third year that the 50 Best organisation has published the top 50 restaurants for the region. The list is organised by William Reed, a media company based in the UK. In that short time the list has evolved from including outposts of international chains like Zuma. In 2022, the Japanese chain which has more than a dozen global outposts was No 2 on the MENA list; this year it’s No 13. — Bloomberg

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition