Combining both Bedouin heritage with an ultra-modern style that is uniquely its own, Dubai really has an immense amount to offer. From the world’s tallest building, to an impressive 16 lane motorway that will give even the most inexperienced driver the taste of Lewis Hamilton’s life – Dubai is definitely not shy of doing things on a grand scale. Dubai has a piece of our heart because it’s home to one of our very own: Roshni, who made the move from London in 2015, and opened our second office outside of the UK. Thus, this very guide contains the perfect mix of the vibey spots you’ll have heard about already, as well as the undiscovered treasures only known to the people WHO KNOW.
We hope you love it,
K, R & D x
WHERE TO GO:
D3 is your go-to area when you’re in the mood for something more unique and versatile that Dubai has to offer. D3 stands for Dubai Design District. It’s an outdoor space which is home to many art galleries, boutiques and streets filled with quirky art installations and provide a community with a creative ecosystem that surpasses the expectations of a typical creative neighbourhood. It’s best frequented in the winter months when you can actually take your time to walk around and enjoy what the area has to offer. We recommend visiting D3 during Design Week. Start off at The Lighthouse for brunch, make an appointment to see the latest in contemporary art at the Sconci Gallery and head to Closet Case (menswear boutique from London) to fill your wardrobe with the trendiest pieces that you’re unlikely to find elsewhere in Dubai. It’s a very easy way to spend an afternoon.
As we’re from London, walking around is essential to our day – something that is often pretty difficult in Dubai given both the heat and the city’s lack of pedestrianised roads. However, City Walk is a whole outdoor / indoor space where people can roam about freely. It is a concept brought to life by some of the world’s best designers with an array of shops, restaurants and activities to choose from. From street art, to the Roxy Cinema, to The Green Planet, to Box Park, to a cycling studio – this is just a small selection of how much City Walk has to offer. And best of all, it’s super family friendly too. For those with Kids - The Green Planet is a must, as is Mattel - a play area with over 10 different character areas and short 5 minute live shows (from a Barney floor, to a Fire Man Sam section, a train section - the list goes on - it really is the ultimate kids spot).
WHERE TO STAY:
Situated on the manmade Jumeirah Bay, an island carved into the shape of a seahorse made home to the Bulgari Hotel. This private island retreat, just off the Dubai coast, is the antidote to the city’s ubiquitous skyscraper hotels with its low-rise, Mediterranean-style design. Featuring the world’s first Bulgari Marina and Yacht Club, Milan-based architectural firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel spearheaded the design on the hotel, which has been created with the same level of craftsmanship and precision as a Bulgari jewellery piece. Hoseki, the 9 seater Japanese restaurant located inside the hotel does a fine job of transporting its diners to Japan for the night, and this is merely just one of the hotel’s many attractions. It also has a very beautiful pool area - one of our favourites in Dubai, where we often do many pool days.
Home to some of Dubai’s best and funnest restaurants (Nammos, Coya, Nusret and Coya), the Four Seasons offers the perfect amount of indulgent dining and ultimate relaxation. It is pretty hard to go wrong with a Four Seasons Hotel, and this one does not disappoint. Definitely book a beach lunch at Nammos, and spend the rest of the afternoon lazing on the beach.
WHERE TO EAT:
Gate Village 06, Podium Level - Happiness St - Dubai | +971 4 425 5660
Almost everyone who comes to Dubai has Zuma at the top of their list. Although it is cliché to add this, it is very hard to go wrong with Zuma - it is consistent, delicious and has a great atmosphere. Zuma is located in the heart of Dubai in the international financial centre and we would say that the food at Zuma Dubai is better than all of its other sister franchises in the world. Following the Japanese izakaya style of dining, food is served to share and its extensive menu offers a wide variety of choice. Despite the fierce competition amongst the other restaurants competing for space in DIFC, Zuma has managed to stay open for 10 years, which is a testament to how consistently good the food, service and sake list are. Must-order dishes are: the Seabass Carpaccio, the Sliced Tuna with garlic chips, the Spinach Salad, the Calamari with jalapeno, the Spicy Tuna rolls and the Tartare. For mains, get the Chilean Seabass.
This spot that many of the local Dubai-aites are in the know of. As the name suggests, Raju Omlet is all about eggs - in all forms. It’s a quriky little Indian joint, with a diverse menu that offers much more than just eggs. The food is fast, delicious and super well-priced. It’s a great breakfast or lunch spot and exteremly casual, offering up some of the most delicious Indian food we’ve had. The must-order dishes are the Chef’s Special gravy omlette, the Eggs Lazeez, the Keema and the Buttered Rice, all washed down with a condensed milk-enriched adrak chai. Fun fact: Raju Omlet is so good that it recently featured as a case study in the Harvard Business Review. We love you, Raju, whoever you are!
Gate Village No, 8, Dubai International Financial Center - Dubai | +971 4 439 0505
Similar to Zuma in terms of both location and consistently excellent food, LPM is one of the flagbearers of Dubai’s dining scene. The ingredients are incredibly fresh and the dishes are classic. Our go-to favourites are the Burrata, the Octopus Carpaccio, the Escargots (hands-down the best in Dubai), the Lentil Salad, the Truffle pasta and the delicious Pain Perdu for dessert. You can never go wrong with LPM, no matter where in the world you are.
Tasha’s Al Jalila
Funnily enough, I write this whilst sitting in Tasha’s. Any Dubai person will tell you, Tasha’s is a perfect go-to, casual restaurant - with beautiful interiors and easy dishes, a warm and friendly ambiance, you don’t ever have to make a reservation - it’s always reasonably busy but there is always space. It’s a great meeting place, with some of the most delicious easy dishes - our favourites are: The Creamy Pesto Pasta, The Chicken Burger, The Texas Salad, and The Chicken Preggo. Save room for desert, because the Cheesecake is definitely one of the best in Dubai - for anyone who has tried the Grosvenor House Cheesecake in London - this is the most similar comparison - I imagine to be exactly like that cheesecake in that episode from friends we all know. PS. if anyone has a birthday, do tell the waiters beforehand, they do an amazing choir-style Happy Birthday, singing at top-volume.
Emirates Golf Club - Dubai | +971 4 417 9885
Tucked away beside the rolling green hills of the Emirates Golf Club you will find Carine. One foot inside the restaurant and you can’t help but draw comparisons between this eatery and Chef Izu’s previous ventures – La Serre and The Lighthouse (mentioned as a place to check out in D3). FYI for those of you who don’t know, Chef Izu is ex LPM and if you do decide to check out any of his restaurants, you’ll find similar LPM style touches amongst each spot. There is an elegant feeling throughout the restaurant – albeit, a relaxed and casual one and this vibe resonates with the menu which is sophisticated yet approachable. The menu features a tempting array of dishes inspired by French and Mediterranean cuisines and everything is created to be shared – another Izu signature. Our favourite time to frequent Carine is for Saturday brunch (bonus: they’re family friendly) and our menu staples are the Grilled Harissa Prawns, the Tuna Carpaccio, the lentil salad and the Tarte Tatin for dessert.
Level 1, Gate Precinct Building 3, DIFC, Dubai | +971 4 208 9333
The ambience of French-Vietnamese restaurant Indochine immediately differentiates it from its other DIFC counterparts, with its refined cool generated from a melange of its exquisite decor, clientele and soul/funk playlist. It’s an intimate space, which is a welcome change from some of Dubai’s overly extravagant and large dining spots, featuring a quaint bar at the back centre of the restaurant, which hides a beautiful private room - one of our favourites in Dubai. On the menu you will find signature dishes such as the famous duck salad and Vietnamese ravioli as well as new creations made especially for Dubai. Our must-order dishes are: the Sea Bream Carpaccio, the Vietnamese Ravioli, the Wok Tossed Rice Noodles, Morning Glory (it’s a side-dish but utterly delicious) and the Souffle desert. It’s been brought to Dubai by VKD Hospitality (aka the people behind Miss Lily’s, Dubai) so you know it’s going to promise a night of fun.
Happiness Street, Gate Village 8, Dubai | +971 4 407 4444
Tucked away in a dark corner of DIFC, and concealed beneath a wall of foliage with no obvious signage, it’s almost like BB Social Dining doesn’t want to be found. The restaurant sits in a space that used to house an art gallery (which immediately ups the cool factor) and is spread across three levels, which are connected by a spiral staircase. It feels like a trendy little townhouse with a very Soho House London feel, and there are plenty of cosy nooks and crannies which make it the perfect spot for date night. The Cauliflower Popcorn, the Salmon Carpaccio, and the Crispy Sprouts are incredible, despite how healthy they sound, the Crispy Duck Bao and the Habibti Bao are our favourites on the menu and the fries definitely need to be ordered, as well as the Avocado Hummus.
Pickl is a relatively new burger place and has recently kicked off a few of our other previously burger places from this list. Their burgers are delicious, as well as their sauces - an order is not complete without an order of their Secret Sauce. Go-to burgers are their Plant Burger (beyond meat) - delicious and the perfect size, as well as the Chicken Sando. If you are close to the area, they also deliver incredibly well, no easy feat for a burger joint.
Al Wasl 51 Mall, Block E, Dubai | +971 4 342 9333
Holy Mother of all things glorious – Butter Dessert Salon is home to the Nutella Sea Salt Cookies regularly features on our Instagram. Anyone and everyone reading this MUST GO if you want your life to change. Warning: you’ll never be able to eat a regular cookie again. Fun Fact: the owner used to take orders via. Whatsapp, delivering through a driver who would meet you at a close by petrol station to drop-off the cookie (sounds shady we know, but we’ll do anything for a good cookie). She did so incredibly well, that fast forward a few years she now has a stand-alone restaurant. There’s nothing greater than a fully local business.
DO NOT JUDGE. But we are chicken wing lovers. And we are nacho lovers. And Cheesecake Factory does a pretty fine job of making both of those things. And they do an insane ‘Skinny Chicken Caesars’ salad too, which I’m pretty sure is the least skinny thing on the planet, but I don’t even care because it tastes so good. We like to keep things real and our love for Cheesecake Factory is oh so real. We’re not sorry if you disagree.
If you like ramen - then this place in an absolute must. It’s unusual to find a non-pork broth ramen that tastes as good and as authentic as its pork counterpart, but this chicken based broth is everything we could dream of and more - it’s creamy, spicy, hearty and comforting - I’m talking specifically about the Spicy Miso ramen on the menu. For any tantanmen lover, this ramen is delicious. Order it with extra chicken char-sui and extra garlic and chili oil. It’s a tiny little place with seats for around 20, offering a nice cozy atmosphere hard to find in Dubai. It’s quick and easy, and a great comfort meal. Also get the chicken bao.
Jumeirah Fishing Harbour
This is hands down one of our favourite spots in Dubai. For anyone who likes Asian comfort food, with a cozy yet bustling atmosphere and dishes that combine experiential dining with a super laid back vibe, with the tastiest food - this place is going to be your favourite place in Dubai. You can’t book and it tends to be pretty packed on a daily basis, mainly full of regulars who all chit chat with chef Akmal who is usually at the sushi counters working away. The sushi at this place is pretty great although if you’re more after sushi, go only on a Wednesday when the fresh fish is flown in from Japan, and if you sit at the bar, Akmal will serve you the best off-menu nigiri and sushi rolls (our favourites are the o-toro nigiri with sea urchin and toro with fois gras). Must-have dishes are the Seaweed Salad, Lamb Ribs, Salmon Carpaccio, Spicy Tuna Rolls and the Volcano Roll.
WHERE TO PLAY:
Dubai Design District, Dubai | +971 4 587 6333
Beirut’s iconic Skybar made its way to Dubai. Located in D3, this open air club with a capacity of 2500 is not just a club, it’s a super club. And it is so much fun. The varies night to night, so be sure to check out what’s going on before you make a plan to go there. Dubai being Dubai, Skybar does everything on a big scale. Get a group together and go have some fun that you probably won’t remember.
Sheikh Zayed Road، 5th Floor,Sheraton Grand Hotel - Dubai | +971 4 356 2900
Our go-to spot in Dubai when we want a night of good food, strong drinks and insane hip hop. The New York-born Jamaican eatery fast becomes a favourite in Dubai since the food and atmosphere is consistently good. They go all out if it’s your birthday too, which is a bonus and our favourite night to go is Thursday.
DIFC Pavilion - Dubai | +971 4 571 3999
The jungle-themed restaurant Amazonico has now opened in DIFC. We had high expectations seeing as the OG Amazonico in Madrid has also popped up in London too. Luckily, we weren’t disappointed. The interiors are wild yet refined and, perfectly matching the décor, the food draws inspiration and focuses on bold and vibrant flavours. Our dining spot at choice is in the open-air, Copacabana inspired rooftop.
Queen Elisabeth 2 - Dubai - United Arab Emirates | +971 52 811 9900
When you think about an underground nightclub, you might imagine it located on a backstreet, but The Hatch is unique. Located on Dubai’s prestigious floating hotel, Queen Elizabeth 2, The Hatch is found in the engine room, seven metres underwater, deep inside the ship. Although we’re Hip Hop lovers, we enjoy the selection of house music that Hatch has to offer. Pro-tip: you have to pre-book to get in, so don’t forget.