From restaurants to bars and even some al fresco yoga, here's the best of one of the city's most up-and-coming neighbourhoods
Much like Dubai’s rapidly changing face, Jumeirah Lakes Towers is unrecognisable from the small cluster of, well, clusters, here ten years ago. Apart from legendary Irish pub McGettigan’s (which opened in 2010), and a couple of takeaways, little else stood in the district in the early part of the decade.
Now, it’s a thriving hub, with a huge amount of dining, nightlife, leisure and fitness options. And there’s every indication that life in the Towers will continue to get better for the foreseeable future.
If you’re new to the area, a resident wanting to explore more of the district or thinking about a move to JLT, here are 38 brilliant places you might want to check out (and how much it might cost you to live here).
1762 Stripped The industrial-style interiors and huge glass windows make this a cool spot to grab breakfast or lunch. Don’t miss the inventive sandwiches (Yorkshire pudding wrap, anyone?), the fresh and healthy salad boxes and fruit-infused water. Open daily 8am-6pm. One JLT (04 341 9559).
800 Thali Thalis of course take centre stage at this cosy Indian eatery (and they are seriously good) but it would be remiss of you not to try out all the great flavours on the menu, from biryanis and curries to a wide range of vegetarian options. The home-style Indian cuisine is great value and will have you coming back for more. Open daily noon-11pm. Cluster B (04 365 9959).
Ayubowan Beautifully decked out in dark woods, this ambient Sri Lankan restaurant, with outdoor seating right by the lake, has an air of elegance and finesse to it, which defy the very affordable prices. Ayubowan is popular, so don’t be surprised if the most traditional of options aren’t available, but this is a seriously good value option where you’ll get truly great, authentic food. Open daily 8am-11pm. Lake Point Tower, Cluster N (4 452 1007).
Betawi Café Operating in Karama since 2007, Betawi has made a name for itself as a place to dine on authentic Indonesian dishes. Just as at the original, expect no-frills décor and low prices with food that is full of spice and flavour, at this newer JLT outpost. We suspect that like us, most people won’t be au fait with the particulars of Indonesian food, and while the menu isn’t huge, a few pointers from the staff can be very handy. Open daily noon-10pm. Lake Terrace Tower, Cluster D (04 454 2329).
Café Isan Winner of Time Out Dubai’s Best Budget title at the 2017 Restaurant Awards, this intimate eatery serves up some searingly authentic Thai eats from the Isan region of the kingdom. The tom yum goong soup bounces off every taste bud zone like a pinball machine, and we absolutely implore you to try the khao pad fried rice. Open daily noon-11pm. Cluster M (04 513 5289). Chimes Reliable, moreish Asian fusion grub – which includes Thai, Singaporean and Chinese dishes – Chimes has been on the JLT scene since 2007, when the neighbourhood was unrecognisable to how we know it nowadays. Obviously, such a stalwart is worth checking out, we recommend the Vietnamese rolls. Open Sun-Wed 11am-11pm; Thu-Sat 11.30am-11.30pm. Lake Shore Tower, Cluster Y (04 323 4211). Friends’ Avenue Café If you’re in the mood for some freshly cooked brekkie, there are few better places around JLT than Friends’ Avenue Café. Top-notch eggs, cracking avocado, freshly made granola and a chipotle chicken wrap that just hits the spot. It’s also worth having a look at the fresh fruit smoothies, too, which are well worth your dirhams. Open daily 8am-10pm. Cluster T (04 554 5813). Golositalia Seeking the best pastries in JLT? Get thee to Golositalia, and quickly. On weekends, this Italian café’s baked goods sell out fast, and for good reason. Large croissants, priced at just Dhs12, come stuffed with the likes of Chantilly cream (get a small one for Dhs7 if you’re watching the fils and the number on the bathroom scales), while the puff cannoli are things of Saturday morning dreams. Open daily 7am-11pm. Cluster C (04 443 4955).
Hanoi Naturally Vietnamese food done fast and effectively, this canteen-style eatery is great for a casual lunch or dinner. The classic pho (noodle soup) is the dish to come here for. No fuss, no frills, but great food. Open daily noon-10pm. Cluster C (04 431 3099). Kitchen Nation (Hippy Deli) This all-vegan takeaway spot is fast becoming our favourite go-to for lunch. The Jivamutki burger is the perfect guilt-free treat, with a sweet potato, wild rice and black-eyed pea patty, served in a wholewheat bun, complete with hippy salad on the side. Another dish well worth trying is the margherita avocado on toast with “moxarella” cheese. It’s the best avocado on toast we’ve tasted in Dubai, and there’s strong competition for that title. Open daily 9am-8pm. Cluster Y (050 328 0315).
Kulcha King If you’re yet to try kulcha, make your debut at the self-proclaimed king. Here, you’ll find the thin Indian bread stuffed with your pick from a huge range of meat and vegetables (which range from classic mutton keema to the more unusual beetroot or pumpkin), served with a chickpea chole – all for just Dhs12. Yes, Dhs12. Indecisive diners should try one of the thalis, with veg, non-veg and even “royal” options. They may not be the cheapest in JLT (starting from Dhs30), but they’re among the tastiest. Open daily noon-midnight. Cluster O (04 550 8314).
If it’s Greek you seek, you’re in luck in JLT. This light and bright restaurant has a homely charm and offers an extensive menu of authentic dishes that come in mighty portions that won’t break the bank. From classic Greek dips to kebabs, chicken skewers and refreshing salads, you won’t ever go hungry here. Open daily noon-11.30pm. Goldcrest Views 2, Cluster J (04 277 6926).
Moti Roti This Pakistani eatery serves up excellent authentic food. The rotis are, as expected, sensational (we recommend the Spicy Chick) but really all the street food-style dishes are worth trying. It’s a small space, so grab your meal and sit outside to eat it. Open daily 11am-11pm. J2 Tower, Cluster J (04 243 2943). Pineapple Express
This healthy Australian eatery boasts a range of diet-friendly dishes. Try the açai bowls for something bright and colourful, or stick to a smoothie. It’s handily located right next to Fidelity Fitness, too. Open Sat-Thu 8am-11pm; Fri 8am-8pm. Almas Tower, between Cluster C and Cluster I (054 402 4660). Pitfire This is the home of quite possibly the best pizza crust in the emirate, and whenever we treat ourselves to one of these brilliant slices, it always goes down a treat. The parlour’s range features some really original pizzas, and they are all excellent. Open daily 11am-11pm. Lake Terrace Tower, Cluster J (800 784 3473).
Star Lake It’s not easy to find good, authentic Chinese food in Dubai, so when we stumbled upon this little space at Cluster F, we were more than pleasantly surprised. When a place is this popular with Chinese expats, you know you’re onto a good thing. The sweet and sour chicken is fresh, light and not too sweet or rich, while the chilli fish has just the right kick. With an order of egg fried rice or fried vermicelli noodles, you’ve got yourself a winning meal. Open daily 11am-3pm, 5.30pm-10pm. HDS Tower, Cluster F (04 369 9928). Urth by Nabz&G Dishes of the day at this healthy eatery are etched on a chalkboard and the enthusiastic kitchen team will happily talk you through the mix of vegetarian, vegan and raw options available, as well as refreshing and replenishing juices and smoothies. We love the courgetti, but it’s all nutritious fare that is good for the soul – and will leave your stomach feeling equally content. Open Sat-Thu noon-10pm. Cluster J (04 276 7287).
This quaint little French eatery and bar (a Beirut import) has a distinct bistro theme. The menu is reliably French, from the steak and moules frites to escargot. Good service, good food, good drinks – what’s not to like? It has been said you can find the best steak in Dubai here. While we don’t exactly share the same view, a lot of what we’ve tried is excellent. Open daily noon-2am. Cluster A, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 514 9339). Jazz@Pizzaexpress Live jazz, the rattling of cutlery, the clinking of glasses, the buzz of Dubai residents laughing and frolicking, and insanely reliable, good-quality pizza. That’s almost exactly what PizzaExpress is all about, and nails at Jazz@Pizzaexpress in JLT. You know exactly what you’re going to get, and on Monday you get twice as much for your money, with a sizeable two-for-one menu from which to choose. Open Sat-Wed noon-1am; Thu-Fri noon-2am. Cluster A (04 441 6342).
Now this is a bar we absolutely love. It’s trendy, but not too trendy. It plays funky music. It shows sport, but not too much. And it has a lot of craft Belgian hops on offer. There’s a great two-for-one happy hour throughout the week, a free drink when heading over for every Premier League fixture, and a ladies’ night including bottomless drinks all night. It’s verging on modern-day perfection. Open Sun-Thu noon-2am; Fri-Sat 10am-2am. Pullman Dubai Jumeirah Lakes Towers – Hotel And Residence, Cluster T (04 242 7794).
McGettigan’s JLT Anywhere you can get a chip butty and onion rings after 11pm is fine by us. McGettigan’s JLT has the same no-frills Irish bar feel that we know and love from its other outposts in the city. Whether you’re in it for the live sports, the live music or just a slap-up Irish breakfast, this bar is an absolute pot of gold. Open Sun-Fri noon-3am; Sat 11am-3am. Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Cluster J (04 378 0800).
Mythos For a traditional taste of Greece, look no further than Mythos. Tucked away in the Armada BlueBay, the intimate restaurant resembles a whitewashed tavern and its selection of Greek favourites will transport you to another continent. There are no shortage of sizzling grills, salads, beautiful breads and even Greek-style burgers to enjoy during your culinary journey. Open daily 12.30pm-5pm, 7pm-11.30pm. Armada BlueBay Hotel, Cluster P (04 399 8166). Nola
You can almost guarantee a great night at Nola – just remember to book ahead. The daily happy hour, from 5pm to 8pm offering 50 percent off select beverages, is no secret, and every time we’ve been, it has been packed to the rafters. If you do manage to bag yourself a table, it would be a remiss not to get stuck into the Southern American-inspired menu. Try the hot spinach cheese dip – as decadent (and messy) as it sounds. Open daily noon-3am. Armada BlueBay Hotel, Cluster P (04 399 8155). Spice & Ice
This Indian molecular restaurant is totally on-trend with its science-based approach to food presentation. And it always has a brilliant offer of some sort at any given moment. Right now, it’s offering two hours of unlimited drinks when purchasing three courses from the à la carte menu. Great value for a good night out. Open Sun-Wed noon-1am; Thu-Fri noon-3am. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Cluster A (04 421 1356).
UBK Forget happy hours, it’s happy days at this cool and casual hangout. The venue serves up happy hour deals from opening time to last orders. Not only are there great offers to be had, but this is a top spot to catch a game or a live band with pals, enjoy decent-priced, hearty pub grub and soak up the sun from the spacious outdoor area. Open daily noon-3am. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Cluster A (04 438 0000).
Axe House Cocktail Kitchen might be conspicuous by its absence from this list, and that’s because the neighbour to Nola and Mythos in Cluster P is changing. From sleek mixed drinks bar to trendy hops, Axe House is promising craft brews, a den with pub sports, plus screens for sport, live music, and a best-of-British slant to what we’ve been promised is an original and interesting food menu. It’s just what JLT needs, and it’s due to open in October. Armada BlueBay Hotel, Cluster P.
Fitness Zone Its logo is a hand wielding a thunderbolt, so it must be good. This warehouse-looking gym recently installed a brand-new freestyle CrossFit area, consisting of rigs, racks, gymnastic rings and a squat stand – as well as its indoor studio for a range of classes. If you want a serious workout, look no further. Sat-Thu 6am-11pm; Fri 9am-9pm. Mag 214, Cluster R (04 451 0522).
Milan Pole Dance Studio It’s literally fitness classes based around poles. Pole Gym sessions focus on technical movements and offer the added advantages of strength training – its slogan is “the world is beautiful upside-down”. All classes are 60 minutes in length and follow a weekly schedule. Definitely an alternative workout that’s well worth checking out. Dhs125 per class. Sun-Thu 9am-10pm; Fri 10am-4pm; Sat 10am-5pm. Mazaya Business Avenue, Tower AA1, First Al Khail Street, opposite Cluster I (04 430 3693).
If you want to try out Pilates, this is a great place to start. With professional teaching and a range of classes from mat to reformer and more, there’s sure to be something to suit. The 1762 underneath is a great place to refuel, too. One JLT (04 458 5399). Yoga Ashram This spacious yoga studio offers up a range of classes for all levels. It’s set on a high floor in Cluster X, so there’s stunning views out across Emirates Living to enjoy while you practise, too. Cluster X, JLT (04 552 0048).
Yoga Joy Is there any better way of feeling totally zen than yoga in the great outdoors? Joy Yoga takes place on the lawns of Cluster P in JLT Park, and focuses on power vinyasa flow (strength, fitness, flexibility and meditation). It’s a relaxing, uplifting experience, and we can’t recommend it enough. What’s more, it’s only Dhs30 per session. Dhs30 per class. Sat 5.30pm-6.30pm; Tue 6.30pm-7.30pm. Cluster P (056 448 0814).
If you’ve got groom for improvement in your look (see what we did there?) this stylish outlet is a cut above the rest (sorry). You can leaf through glossy magazines and even play a bit of FIFA before sliding into the barbers’ chair. The team look sharp and will make sure you do, too. You’re also guaranteed good chat, along with a great cut at prices that won’t lead you to pull out your freshly clipped hair. Open Sat-Thu 10am-10pm; Fri 9am-7pm. Men only. Goldcrest Executive Tower, Cluster C (04 551 6192).
Epic Beauty Blurring the lines between premium and affordability is the epically named salon, tucked away in Cluster S. It serves both men and women, in separate halves of the store. It’s relaxed, it’s professional, the cuts are good and it’s totally reasonably priced. Men’s cuts start from Dhs50 and prices start from Dhs80 for ladies. They team will even chuck in a free coffee, too. Open daily 10am-10pm. Green Lake Towers S3, Cluster S (04 447 1815). Feldvoss This Scandinavian hairdressing spot prides itself on delivering glossy, natural looks to its clients from within its stylish, stripped-back salon. The team specialise in blonde hair, but can work with absolutely any scenario, and are a dab hand at transforming limp, sun- and chlorine-frazzled tresses. Haircuts from Dhs395. Open Sun-Mon 9am-8pm; Tue-Wed 10am-7pm; Thu 9am-6pm; Sat 9am-3pm; closed Fri. Ladies only. Cluster Y (056 254 3283). i Glow Beauty Lounge Need new eyelash extensions or fancy trying out a bold new hair colour? i Glow, also run by a Scandinavian team, is a reliable pick. You can book in for hair extensions, cuts, up-dos and facials, too. Full set of eyelash extensions Dhs450. Open Sat-Thu 10am-8pm; Fri noon-8pm. Cluster D (04 420 9667).
JLT Park and basketball courts Greenery always helps complete a neighbourhood, and Cluster O through to Cluster R has a lovely long bank of grass, which you’ll see filled with joggers in the morning, yoga enthusiasts in the evening and picnickers throughout the day during the winter months. There’s an always-busy basketball court behind Cluster O, too. Clusters O to R. Park N Shop Yes, it’s a supermarket, but it’s one that stocks some of the finest imported crisps, sweets and other goodies. If you’re a Western expat in Dubai, make this your local. Open daily 7am-11pm. Cluster E (04 447 1424).
Phobia Escape Rooms You’re either going to have an awesome bonding experience, or leave never wanting to speak to each other again. Gather up to five of your mates and head to Phobia. There are five different games, including a Harry Potter-themed one. Dhs110 per person. Jumeirah Bay X1, Cluster X and Red Diamond Building opposite Cluster Y (050 873 0445).
Rents in JLT
With so much happening in JLT, average rents across the neighbourhood have fallen over the six-month period between February and July 2017. Rents have dropped by an average of 10.4 percent across studio, one-bed, two-bed and three-bed apartments.
Average price for a studio Feb 17: Dhs69,379 Jul 17: Dhs60,433 Decline of 12.9 percent One-bedroom Feb 17: Dhs86,113 Jul 17: Dhs80,343 Decline of 6.7 percent Two-bedroom Feb 17: Dhs129,000 Jul 17: Dhs113,286 Decline of 12.2 percent Three-bedroom Feb 17: Dhs164,375 Jul 17: Dhs148,679 Decline of 9.6 percent Source: Property Monitor by Cavendish Maxwell