Just about any cuisine you fancy is on offer in Dubai. As the sun goes down, when the air is cooler and the long work day done – this is a hardworking population – the locals love to relax over a meal. It’s a favourite pastime. Weekend brunch is huge in Dubai, with many international hotels turning on lavish buffets and several-course feasts. And in recent years, celebrity chefs have flocked to this great international crossroads, attracted by spectacular restaurant spaces in the big hotels and a moneyed clientele who not only appreciate good dining, but also love to splash out and impress.
As Dubai is the moderate Middle East, there’s a fabulous range of cocktail bars on offer, such as Buddha Bar in Grosvenor House Dubai, and the stunning waterfront outdoor lounge 360° at Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Unsurprisingly, plenty take similar advantage of Dubai’s dry warm nights. Hit Azure Bleu for al fresco chilled tunes and Barasti for its dance floor on the beach.
Our top picks
Atlantis, The Palm, Crescent Road
While you can get world-class dining across virtually every cuisine in Dubai, this is the Middle East, after all. Levantine serves Lebanese cuisine in a beautiful setting. Enter via the grand staircase and choose low, traditional seating if you like, standard tables, or the romance of the terrace bar. Nightly belly dancing, live music and colourful waiters make this a fun choice for families and groups of adults alike. Shisha after dinner, anyone?
One&Only Royal Mirage, Al Sufouh Road, Jumeirah Beach Road
The perfect blend of Arabian ambience and modern Dubai attitude, the Jetty Lounge at the One&Only Royal Mirage has been a consistent award winner since it opened. It’s a fabulous beachside bar with an amazing view of the Dubai skyline, the perfect accompaniment to an Aperol spritz or two as the sun sets. After dark by soft candlelight, settle in with a mezzeh plate and friends and enjoy the laidback beats, sophisticated crowd, great drinks list and a Mykonos-like vibe.
Eat like a local
Al Barari Village, Emirates Road
The Farm is a slice of Bali in the desert. It features multiple rooms with ultra-stylish and relaxed white sofas, swing chairs and cane furniture, a shaded terrace and a jaw-dropping tropical (yes, tropical) setting. The Farm serves up suitably fresh and often organic dishes. It’s also a chance to get a glimpse into life in one of Dubai’s most exclusive enclaves, Al Barari, a leafy, lush and secluded haven.
La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard
The likes of Janet Jackson have been spotted in La Serre’s discreet corners. This French Mediterranean bistro is hot with visiting celebs and Dubai’s hip young things. Located in the cool and cute Vida Downtown Boutique Hotel, La Serre is a great place for people watching, especially if you get a table near the huge windows overlooking the busy boulevard below.
The Lime Tree Cafe & Kitchen
Jumeirah 1, Al Quoz 1 and Sheikh Zayed Road
With the Lime Tree created by two New Zealanders, you can be sure of getting a proper coffee at any one of its three branches. The business is one of the longest-running of its kind in Dubai – set up in 2001. With delicious cakes, sandwiches and wholesome light bites, locals come to the Lime Tree for quick sit-down or on-the-go lunches.