I've been here on and off for 10 years, amazing changes and great meals.
By far the best Lebanese meals ever are at the Emirates Palace Restaurant: Diwan L'Auberge
NOT CHEAP! Try the Lebanese red wine Kisara (about 250 AED)
Beach Rotana Hotel
Ok there's a Trader Vics AND Benihana's, but the Italian place, Prego's, has good outdoor seating a ok pizzas
Several hole-in-the-wall SE Asian places line the jetty but the Golden Cafeteria is my favorite. Handmade everything and a fisherman's lunch for a few USD.
Pretty good no alcohol local place. Has a small gift shop inside with amusing hand-made trinkets.
Just ate at Zuma and Nobu to compare. Terribly expensive both but Zuma, at the DFIC, wins hands down. I know there's a lot of debate on sashimi but, caution and morality to the wind, the tuna tartare with caviar in a shallw bamboo tray was over the top. Soft shell crab, kobe beef negimaki etc etc. Plus the martinis at Zuma are as good as at the Royalton in NYC. +- 600 AED per person with drinks.
Asado, at the Palace Old Towne near Burj Dubai, is a very welcoming place with an Argentinian spin on meat and fish. Last spring there were tango lessons to boot. Very good wine list. 200-300 AED per person with drinks.
Buddah Bar at the Grosvenor House has decent Japanese food in a really spectacular space
Sho Chos is a rippin' joint on the water at Dubai Marine Club, Asian fusion, plenty of party beat , and ladies of the night hanging out.
Bab el Chams is a kitchy desert affair almost an hour outside of town. It's faux souk-ness is compensated for by good, fresh grilled meat and fish. A variety of stews are cooked in caldrons over wood fires that are supposedly like the native's ate before 1970.
Low end food is pretty well noted in other posts but I love Biblos on SZR near City Tower 2. Also check out little places in the Gold Suq. A no name vegetaria place had an all you can eat for 15AED. They had a window filled with unusual snack combinations like spiced potato strings with white rasins and peanuts.
Also to be tried are the shopping centersin the Al Quz neighborhood. This is where the factories and warehouses are and the low-end malls offer incredible bargains on clothes and electronics (1MB memory card for 20 AED or $7USD) and good local eateries of every nationality. Lunch can easily be had for 10 to 20 AED.
Happy eating, going to Barusti tonight if Ramadan ends!