Dining Out 3 minutes 04 April 2023

These 3 Family-Run Bib Gourmand Restaurants Want You To Feel Right At Home

The teams behind Bait Maryam, Orfali Bros and Shabestan tell us what it takes to run the well-loved establishments that make you feel like you're part of the family.

As one of the most cosmopolitan places in the world, Dubai has a rich cultural diversity with 200 nationalities living and working in the city they can call home. Throughout the years, not only has Dubai impressively succeeded in bringing together people from all over the world, but has also united families and offered ways to fulfil their dreams.

Families often band together to create a new venture in the food industry, whether it is turning generations-old recipes and traditions into coveted menus or transforming the warmth of a home kitchen into a successful restaurant.

This iconic city hosts a myriad of homegrown family-run restaurants, and three of them were awarded a Bib Gourmand in the 2022 version of the MICHELIN Guide Dubai for their high quality, value-for-money dishes. Each of these will welcome you like you’re part of the family and serve you the tastiest dishes in a cosy atmosphere that will remind you of home.

Read on to see how their dining experience echoes a sense of family.

Bait Maryam

Bait Maryam

$ · Middle Eastern
Bib Gourmand • Inspectors’ favourites for good value
Cluster D Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai
Bait Maryam Family Photo - MICHELIN Guide Dubai.jpeg

Bib Gourmand Levantine restaurant and Service Award winner Bait Maryam feels like home away from home, from the very moment one sets foot inside this warm Dubai eatery.

Overlooking a tranquil lake in the heart of Jumeirah Lakes Towers’ Cluster D, Bait Maryam is run by chef-owner Salam Dakkak with the help of her daughter Nada Darraj, the restaurant’s general manager.

The restaurant is named after Salam’s late mother, Maryam, and is her way of paying tribute to her warm hospitality and loving energy.

The Levantine homey interior of Bait Maryam
The Levantine homey interior of Bait Maryam

Translating to “the home of Maryam'' in Arabic, Bait Maryam truly embodies a house run by an Arab mother. Inside you will see charming decor typically found in Levantine houses, such as rustic wooden furniture, arched windows, beautiful trinkets and various condiments stacked on shelves.

Salam shares her love for giving and generosity with her guests, and makes sure they always leave with a smile. “I didn’t open a restaurant, but a place brimming with love and care for each person walking into our eatery, whatever their background may be. When they come in, they feel that they’re home. They’re treated as if they were my own children, regardless of their age. I always check up on my guests and chat or even sit with whoever welcomes my company. That’s how I try to break the ice between us so that they don’t think that they’re in a restaurant,” Salam says.


Orfali Bros

Orfali Bros

$$ · Contemporary, Middle Eastern
One MICHELIN Star: High quality cooking, worth a stop!
Wasl 51 Mall, Jumeirah 1, Dubai

Three brothers from the Syrian city of Aleppo – Mohammad, Wassim and Omar Orfali – made their dream come true by opening Orfali Bros in 2021. Located in Jumeirah’s Wasl 51, the homegrown bistro defies cultural borders by serving dishes inspired by international flavours, capturing the cosmopolitan and avant-gardist essence of Dubai while paying homage to the brothers’ hometown.

The Orfali brothers - Omar, Mohammad and Wassim
The Orfali brothers - Omar, Mohammad and Wassim
Orfali Bros Restaurant Interior - Two-storey Kitchen - MICHELIN Guide Dubai.jpg

As you enter, you are welcomed by a two-storey open kitchen, merging both pastry and food preparation, intentionally designed to allow diners to appreciate the aromas. “We wanted diners to be seated facing the kitchen and have a sense of dining inside it. At Orfali Bros, we have a transparent culture between us, as chefs and team, and our customers. We also wanted the guests to feel relaxed, so we installed warm lights across the whole restaurant, just to make sure that the ambience is homey,” Mohammad says.

The Orfali brothers consider the staff members of their big family, where everyone is happy and spreads this cheerfulness to the guests. “We f all wear the same shirt and apron, so you can’t differentiate between the chef, the manager and the steward. We’re all the same. We want people to absorb this happy energy and dine in our kitchen rather than in a restaurant,” he adds.

Shabestan

$$ · Middle Eastern
Bib Gourmand • Inspectors’ favourites for good value
Baniyas Road, Deira Creek, Dubai
Chef Abol Fazl with Chef Haider Shirazi - Family-Run Restaurants - MICHELIN Guide Dubai.jpg

Everything revolves around the family spirit at Shabestan, the oldest Persian restaurant in Dubai. Ever since its inception in 1984, this heritage restaurant, set in the heart of Deira at the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek, has maintained the authenticity and standard of its cuisine and hospitality. This is all thanks to chef Haider Shirazi, who led the kitchen team before his son, Abolfazl took the helm. The restaurant has been run by three generations over the past four decades, and Abolfazl has continued his father’s vision to keep the restaurant’s service and authentic experience consistent over the years.

The interiors of Shabestan
The interiors of Shabestan

Abolfazl learnt the art of cooking from his father at a very young age. Loyal guests who have seen him grow up at Shabestan, still frequent the restaurant to relive their memories and enjoy the same delightful taste.

Likewise, many staff members at Shabestan have been working at the restaurant for over 30 years. They know regulars by name, as well as their favourite dishes and spots in the restaurant. “It’s important to greet and welcome the guests, then help them choose a seating area, talk to them, and explain to them the story of Shabestan. This is what bridges the gap between them and the staff and helps build a relationship based on trust. The goal is to make sure guests come back,” says Abolfazl, who hopes that his son, too, will take over the reins in the kitchen one day.

From the restaurant’s large communal tables and comfortable chairs to the friendly service, every element has been designed to make diners feel right at home. “I sometimes talk to the guests to explain our dishes and the stories behind them. People come here not only to enjoy food, but each other’s company. On holidays, families gather here on one table to celebrate and stay at the restaurant for hours, just eating, chatting, and sharing platters and laughter. It’s an ideal place for family feasts, as well as to slow down a little, spend time with family and friends, or blow off some steam. It’s all about having quality time, whilst enjoying the captivating view and eating fantastic food,” Abolfazl adds.

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