Being born half-Greek means being dealt the hand of pure, unadulterated patriotism until the end of time, which is exactly why I'm quite this excited about all the Grecian restaurants popping up in Dubai of late. If anyone needs me, I'll be under an avalanche of halloumi at one of these new joints...
Opa - Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road
Nothing says traditional Greek vibes quite like olive trees and pink bougainvillea. Well, apart from maybe some Greek-by-numbers plate smashing which, happily, Opa will provide should you be so inclined. You can also get involved with the Zorba dance - although that's if you can stand up after all the meat, cheese and olive oil that they source directly from Kalamata in the Peloponnese. Two things to remember: Firstly, don't be afraid to shout "opa!" loudly and with feeling whenever you smash a plate/ do a particularly snazzy dance move. And secondly, feel free to exclaim "yammas" just as loudly when you're cheersing over dinner. You're practically Greek now. Congratulations.
- Call +971 4 357 0557 or email email@example.com for bookings
Gaia - Gate Building 4, DIFC
Contemporary, upscale Greek is something that - frankly - has been missing from the culinary landscape, so Gaia's arrival is a very welcome one indeed. They had us at "freshly baked bread," although authentic Med flavours stemming from the foundation of Greek cooking - i.e., great, fresh ingredients that are never overwhelmed by spices - sound pretty good as well. Specifically the baked feta and seabream carpaccio. Aside from the 12-seater chef's table on offer on the lower ground floor, we're also pretty intrigued to poke around the kitsch souvenir shop they've set up, replete with shells, trinkets and olive oil. Island life, in the heart of DIFC. Sort of.
- Call +971 4241 4242 for bookings
Avli by Tashas - DIFC
From the brilliant brain of Dubai-based restauranteur Natasha Sideris (also responsible for Tashas and Flamingo Room), comes another touch of Greece in DIFC (we're fully expecting a replica of the Parthenon to pop up any day now). Inspired by her Greek heritage, Avli (which means garden - every day's a school day, isn't it?) will open this month and promises to be an ode to modern Athenian culture and "the open-air courtyards of the Mediterranean." Think slow-cooked meat that falls off the bone, prepared on a traditional souvla grill, meze, Greek salads, and - more importantly - a celebratory atmosphere reminiscent of how Greeks like to enjoy every meal.
- Call +971 4359 7777 for bookings
Ammos - Rixos Premium, JBR
I'm fully on board with Ammos' motto - "Bringing back the Greek kouzina" - which I like to think is of similar ilk to Justin Timberlake bringing sexy back, just with taramasalata instead. They say, "The Greek dining experience is about so much more than nourishment – it’s about culture, comfort, family and life itself," and honestly, that really does nail it. Expect authentic tzatziki (mint, yoghurt and cucumber), saganaki (fried cheese), lobster spaghetti and oysters.
- Call +971 52 777 9473 for bookings
Photos: Unsplash and supplied