Time Out Dubai has a complete Dubai bars and pubs guide. Find out about British pubs, Irish pubs and American pubs in Dubai Marina, Downtown and more
Sometimes it’s hard moving to a new city. Becoming just another face, another somebody nobody even notices. But what if there was a place you could go? A place where everybody knows your name…?
Okay, they’ll soon know your business, your foibles, and remind you if you stayed for a half hour too long the other Wednesday. But maybe that’s what you miss. People to chastise you for your minor wrongdoings. A barmaid you can bore with the details of your latest faux pas.
A landlord who will put aside his better judgment to reassure you that, yes, your boys will win the title this year, despite the fact that your main striker wouldn’t know the way to goal if you showed him a map, your speedy, Jonah Lomu-style winger is allergic to whitewash or your opening batsman is seemingly aiming for a collection of ducks larger than all the wood-chipped walls of 1970s Britain.
If a friendly face, a knowing nod or some simple cud-chewing session is what you crave then welcome to your new local…
We’re not really fans of “quirky”, but it’s probably the best way to describe Biggles. As you might have guessed from its name (if you’re of a certain age) it’s aviation/fictional airborne adventurer-themed. That theme takes in the décor – someone (Biggles himself, presumably) hangs from the ceiling as if parachuting in, and aeroplanes dangle above your head – to the staff, who are dressed in pilot uniforms. The bar has a wide range of hops and the staff will stand and chat if you’re sitting at it. Otherwise, take a seat, every table has either its own TV or view of a big screen.
One of the least pretentious venues you’re likely to come across, The Boston knows what it does best and does it very well. Modelled on the Cheers bar, once you head down the steps to the main area, you’ll be forgiven for hoping Woody Harrelson will rock up and say hi. Sport and music are kings in equal measure, with several screens for the “jocks” and a jukebox for the rockers. As the likeable bar staff point out, no one team dominates the action here, and if you stay long enough to stop being confused by the fake mirror behind the island bar, we’re sure you’ll feel right at home, so no need for a stint on Frasier’s couch.
A Time Out Dubai favourite for a long time, D&A is now a light and good-looking gastropub with tables aplenty both inside and out. But if, like us, you’re not always that sociable, pull up a seat at the bar, grab a drink, and chat to the staff. Bar manager Arthur is great company, and if you’re about when the football’s on, take part in the “Beat the Boss” competition – if the team he thinks will win ends up losing, the round is on him, for the entire bar.
The city just wouldn’t be the same without Fibber’s. Its all-day breakfast is legendary, its take on brunch is exceptional and its pricing is one-of-a-kind in Dubai. The pub (which stands alone behind Sheikh Zayed Road’s towers, baffling most people), has had regulars filling it for years, and if you don’t know anyone the first time you go in, you will by the time you leave. When you first step in, you’ll probably gasp at how much it resembles an actual pub – you know, like the ones back home. It’s a million miles away from the polished lounge bars you find across the city, and that’s exactly why we love it.
Despite its name, this is just one pub, not a whole village of pubs – which has confused many a newcomer to the city. While it absolutely sprawls, it still manages to retain a level of familiarity that will allow it to become your new favourite haunt. The all-Irish bar staff are some of the friendliest you’ll encounter – they make you feel welcome, remembering your face and your order, and always having a chat. You’ll soon come to recognise the regulars since you’ll become one yourself. The live events are also a huge draw and there are plenty of nooks to claim as your own. A classic home away from home.
A modern British pub that serves a good selection of drinks and nice food, it’s the best (albeit, only) pub in Business Bay. If you live in the area, it’s the perfect place to call a local. You’ll be remembered by staff and you might be able to claim one of the bar stools as your own. If you do, bag a space at the bar, it’s a fine place to be since there are always people around to chat to, as well as the staff. With live music throughout the week, happy hours and good screens for sports, Eloquent Elephant is a cracking place to hang out.
This Sheikh Zayed Road institution is one of the most unpretentious spots in the city. It’s the place to come to catch the big game and feel like you’re in your local back in Blighty. It’s easy to find a spot at the bar (since it’s the longest in the city), or simply stand and chill by one of the big screens to cheer on your team. It also has one of the longest happy hours you’re likely to come across (from noon until 12.30am on Wednesdays), which also makes this a thumpingly popular midweek haunt.
For an authentic taste of Blighty, this gem in TECOM surely has it all. If you wander in on a match day, you’ll be greeted by a bunch of happy Hammers eagerly awaiting their next shock away win, but if the sound of an east London rub-a-dub doesn’t seem appealing, head into the main bar area, which has enough room to seat two football teams at the ramp and is so spacious you’ll not fail to find a cosy cove for a chinwag. An extensive choice of hops is topped by a menu full of old favourites, including chip butties, shepherd’s pies and toad in the hole. The service is spot on and some decent banter is never far away.
Decorated to resemble London’s Tube, happily, the bar itself actually feels underground. With booths, plenty of screens showing all kinds of sports, a pool table and regular live music, it’s a bar that puts the customers' enjoyment first. With happy hours between 8pm and 11pm every day (Dhs25 drinks), a Dhs215 brunch and men’s day every Sunday (with drinks deals and pool and darts competitions) it’s also exceptional value. Staff are friendly to boot.
Dark, smoky and a little moody-looking, this JBR hangout might not sound appealing, but if it’s a proper bar you’re after, you can’t go far wrong here. Modelled on the 1920s prohibition era underground dives it takes its name from, Speakeasy’s walls are adorned with images of those bygone days. With big screens dotted around, including one in the dining area, you won’t miss a kick while the staff, who actually seem to enjoy what they do, will make sure you feel like they care, even when your team doesn't.
If ever there was a venue where a man (or woman, of course) could sit and ponder the day’s events it is The Huddle (we might have tried it a few times). Staff remember regulars, but will treat you as one even if you’re not, and there’s always a genial barman to chat to if you’re that way inclined. If you prefer to keep your own company, and forgot to buy a newspaper on your way, there’ll be a game showing to occupy your time.
A swish gastropub, with leather booths and an impressive long bar, The Gramercy is a great venue to meet friends and enjoy some of the regular live entertainment. It is equally good to go alone, pull up a stool at the bar, order one of the large selection of craft hops and amuse yourself, watch football or talk to the bar staff. They all know their stuff about the drinks and are decent conversationalists, even if you’re most often not.
This double bill of Irish pubs is fantastically popular, even with the good folk of The Old Country. The JLT incarnation is truly cavernous, but when the weekend comes along, you’ll be lucky to find a seat, especially if there’s a live band on at The Baggot. Its World Trade Centre sister is certainly not poky in comparison and also works brilliantly as a gig venue, given you can crane your neck for long enough to watch the action on the stage above the bar. While each has its differences, both have a gang of loyal patrons, and with regular events, plus all the major sports, it’s not hard to see why they draw in the punters.
This Irish-inspired watering hole has the closest you’ll find to good old public and saloon bars. Huddle together in the former and you’ll be treated to a solid attempt at recreating one of the endless array of locals you’ll find across Dublin. However, step into the expansive, airy and stable-like saloon and you’ll feel like you’ve walked into another world. If a snug corner away from the hustle and bustle outside is all you want, stick to the old-school side where both the knick-knacks and the craic are plentiful.
A Bur Dubai stalwart, the G&D has been a popular pub among the city's expats and visiting seamen for decades. A popular place and point of reference for long-time residents and visitors who like to hark back to Dubai's "good old days", grab a seat at the bar to hear the regulars tell you all about the days when Sheikh Zayed Road was "the Abu Dhabi road" and had just two lanes, and the Trade Centre was the tallest building in the city. The pub's greatest appeal, however, is its authentic interiors and reasonable drinks, with happy hour prices starting from just Dhs18. The bargain Indian snacks and classic meat pies on offer are a savoury cherry on top.
Dubai Investment Park might not seem like a hotspot for revellers, but this recent addition to the pub scene should definitely not be overlooked. As you walk in, you are welcomed by a clean, uncluttered layout, with screens above the bar for sports fans and a separate dining area for couples and families. There are plenty of food deals to be had if you fancy settling in, while the hops and grape offerings are pretty solid. Perhaps Mr Toad’s USP is the fact that you cannot smoke indoors (a fact that will delight many and annoy others). Wednesday night is quiz night – it’s a no brainer…
Formerly American-inspired, but now pitched as pinching its influence from London's East End, grab a seat anywhere around the bar in the centre of the room and feel like a well-known face, as bar staff cheerily greet you and get your favourite drink. They’ll keep chatting as long as you’re there, and the spot is excellent for people watching (especially if you face the door). With great tunes, good food and a cracking atmosphere (we love it when it’s less full, though we’re sure the management disagree) there are few better places to sit after a long day at work.
We guarantee you have not been to a place in Dubai like this. You probably haven't been to a place like this in England since 1987. This has the look and feel of a real working men's club, and that's because it pretty much is. The club is a bit of a timewarp. Step into the bar and it's likely you'll be there for a while. It is a no-nonsense venue serving only the basic food and drinks, but it is absolutely a place to savour in a town filled with sparkler-enhanced, high-price-point tables and chintz.