• LOCATION 1 | On the road to Etihad: From street art to sweet treats

    Welcome at Ravi Restaurant

    Marhaba, and welcome to Al Satwa – or simply Satwa. This is one of Dubai’s oldest and most distinctive neighbourhoods.

    This little slice of the city comes alive in the evenings. Its neon lights advertise affordable restaurants serving cuisines that reflect the cultural diversity of Satwa’s residents. I’ll guide you through this rich street life, on a walk that takes us down Second of December Street to the Etihad Museum. Etihad is the Arabic word for union, by the way, and the Etihad Museum is where the United Arab Emirates or UAE was officially established in 1971. But more on that later.

    Our walk today starts at a restaurant called Ravi. In fact, you should be standing outside Ravi right now. It’s one of the city’s best loved and oldest eateries.

    The original restaurant was opened 40 years ago by Chaudary Abdul Hameed, a Pakistani man who came to the UAE in 1971. He worked in the construction industry at first, before borrowing money from his brother to set up the restaurant in 1978.

    In the 40 years since it opened, Ravi has become a popular street food spot in Dubai and has appeared in Lonely Planet’s guidebooks, on the BBC and in the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s travel documentaries.

    “You don’t come for the decor, you come for the food.”

    That’s what Bourdain said, at least, when he stopped by in 2010 – and this remains true today. Ravi may look simple from the outside, but the food speaks for itself.

    Hameed prides himself on his restaurant’s accessibility. Their prices have stayed famously low for decades, and by dinnertime, it’ll be bustling with hungry diners. On any given night, it wouldn't be unusual to rub shoulders with visitors from all around the world, while the television in the corner broadcasts a cricket game or the nightly news. Ravi is a melting pot, just like the Satwa.

    What should you try here? Well, their chicken tikka and chicken biryani are bestsellers. So is the dal fry, made of spiced lentils, and mutton peshawari, a tender, flavourful curry named after the Pakistani city. In the morning, channa-roti or keema are both cheap and cheerful breakfasts. And no matter the time of day, order a cup or two of spiced chai – or as we call it in Dubai, karak.

    But you’ll need to come back later because right now, we're going to walk. It’s a flat, easy, 45-minute stroll. But please keep in mind that this is a lively area, particularly during the evenings. Do pay attention and don’t let my voice distract you from taking extra care crossing roads.

    Along the route, you’ll find that some shopkeepers like to keep their glass doors opened out into the street – right where you’ll be walking. They’re basically invisible to an unsuspecting pedestrian, so keep an eye out!

    Are you ready to get started?

    Face Ravi Restaurant, then turn right, and walk straight down Satwa Street.

    Let me tell you a little bit about how VoiceMap works while you walk. The app uses your location to play audio automatically, at the right time and place. There may be a few silences along the way, especially if you’re walking slowly, but don’t worry – we’ll let you know if you wander off track, and you can always refer back to the map on your screen.

    If you want to stop somewhere for a while, you can end the tour and then resume it from the same place.

    Keep walking straight. You’ll hear from me again in a minute.

On the road to Etihad: From street art to sweet treats