The MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 list has been revealed

The MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 list has been revealed

The second edition of the Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, recently brought together the culinary elite of the restaurant industry in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The capital played host to the event for the second time in two years, following the release of the first MENA list by the World’s 50 Best group last February.

The evening, hosted by Egyptian-Australian presenter and entrepreneur Shereen Mitwalli, had regional and international chefs, restaurateurs, food critics and other culinary experts raising a glass to the best in the business at the glittering event. Held at the Conrad Abu Dhabi, Etihad Towers, restaurants from 14 Middle Eastern and North African cities were named as the 50 best dining establishments in the region.

The event was held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi and culminated in the announcement of the region’s top restaurant, Orfali Bros Bistro (No.1), which is located in Dubai’s buzzing contemporary Wasl 51 neighborhood. The concept was founded in 2021 by three brothers, Mohammad, Wassim and Omar Orfali, who are from Syria. The menu features dishes with a core Middle Eastern theme, paying homage to the brothers’ Aleppine roots while capturing the multiculturalism and avant-garde spirit of Dubai.

William Drew, director of content for Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants, said: “It’s a great honor to announce that Orfali Bros Bistro has made it to the top spot at the second edition of Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. It is a masterfully executed independent restaurant, loved by local residents and visitors alike. There is no doubt that it sets a new standard in creativity, innovation and food presentation, coupled with an intimate service style, and we are thrilled to celebrate its brilliance. Additionally, we are excited to see restaurants from 14 different cities represented on this year’s list, showcasing the rich diversity of cuisines across this region.”

Second place was awarded to the fine -dining Indian restaurant Trèsind Studio on The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, which is run by chef Himanshu Saini. The Best Restaurant in Bahrain, Fusions by Tala in Manama, came in at third place and received the Highest Climber Award 2023, while Ossiano in Dubai was named fourth and received the Highest New Entry award from Aspire Lifestyles. 3 Fils, which won top honors in the previous list, came in at fifth this year.

Riyadh’s Myazu (No.18) won the Best Restaurant in Saudi Arabia title. Morocco was also well-represented with four restaurants featured in the ranking, including La Grande Table Marocaine (No.27), making it The Best Restaurant in Morocco. Lebanon was also mentioned in the top 20, with Baron (No.16) in Beirut named The Best Restaurant in Lebanon.

Tunis’ La Closerie (No.34) claimed the title of Best Restaurant in Tunisia, while the anime-inspired Japanese eatery White Robata in Kuwait City came in at 42, making it the Best Restaurant in Kuwait.

Chef Moustafa Elrefaey, executive chef and co-founder of falafel specialist Zooba, was honored with the Estrella Damm N.A. Chefs’ Choice Award. Designed to give recognition to a chef who has had a positive impact on the regional culinary community, the award is peer-voted by chefs of the restaurants on the MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Elrefaey’s passion for unearthing Egypt’s culinary history and using it to bring back ancient recipes has earned him a range of accolades, culminating in this prestigious award.

The Sustainable Restaurant Award, sponsored by Arla Pro, pays tribute to the establishment with the highest sustainability rating. This year, the accolade was presented to OCD Restaurant (No.14).

Recognizing excellence in restaurant service and dining experiences, the Art of Hospitality Award was presented to Beirut’s Em Sherif (No.20). The restaurant was honored for its personalized style where the guest’s experience is tailored to their individual preferences, all while embodying the spirit of Lebanese generosity.

Artisan pastry chef Karim Bourgi, the founder of Boutique De Gourmandises, took home the MENA’s Best Pastry Chef Award, sponsored by Valrhona.

Other pre-announced award winners who accepted their trophies on stage included Salam Dakkak, chef-owner of Bait Maryam in Dubai, as the winner of the Middle East & North Africa’s Best Female Chef Award, sponsored by Nespresso Professional; Anissa Helou, acclaimed food author and chef, as the winner of the Foodics Icon Award for her relentless efforts in documenting historical culinary traditions; and vegetable-forward kitchen Opa, which picked up the One To Watch Award, presented to its founder and head chef, Shirel Berger.

The Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants event program, including the awards ceremony and unveiling of the list, provided a unique opportunity for chefs, gourmets and food and travel media from all over the region to gather and celebrate food and hospitality while also promoting the culinary strength and diversity of the region to a global audience.

Click here for the full list


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Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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