Five-star steals to all-you-can-eat bargains, Dubai’s teeming with cheap fare.
Glasshouse Cost: Dhs100-285
What you get: If you order two courses, all your drinks are Dhs1
Is it any good?: Glasshouse is a rare thing in Dubai – a quality midrange restaurant. Verre’s executive chef Matt Pickop watches over the menu, and while the menu’s more basic than its neighbour’s, it’s also reliable. Of course, the food isn’t the most exciting thing about this deal. It’s a great way to spend a cheap night out with friends. Hilton Dubai Creek (04 212 7551). Deal runs Mon and Wed from 7pm-11pm.
Epicure Cost: Dhs30 and up
What you get: A towel, popcorn, access to two movies and the Desert Palm pool, as part of their Movies & Munchies night.
Is it any good?: This isn’t your classic meal deal, mainly because it’s not served in a restaurant. Instead there are hearty snacks (namely, burgers for Dhs65 and hotdogs for Dhs35), and you can buy a bucket of beer for Dhs99. There’s also a lot to be said for chilling in the open air with some friends, a drink and Will Smith for company.
Desert Palm (04 323 8888). Deal runs Wed from 7pm.
More Café Cost: Dhs48
What you get: A homemade pie (choice of lamb, chicken or salmon), a side salad, your choice of soup and a side of bread.
Is it any good?: This is a deal that could probably stretch over two meals. We tried it as a pair, and we both left the charming café utterly stuffed.
Garhoud (04 283 0224). Other locations: Gold & Diamond Park (04 323 4350), Al Murooj Rotana (04 343 3779), The Dubai Mall (04 339 8934). Runs daily.
Oscar’s Vine Society Cost: Dhs99
What you get: A different all-you-can-eat deal every single night.
Is it any good?: Saturday it’s moules frites. Thursday, Friday and Tuesday it’s cold cuts and cheese. Monday it’s cheese with potato and pork bacon. Wednesday it’s braised lamb shank. Sunday it’s Duck Confit with pork sausages and white beans. It’s pretty random, but the food’s actually pretty good, too. Crowne Plaza Sheikh Zayed Road (04 331 1111). Deal runs daily from 7.30pm-2am.
Steam Sum Dim Sum Cost: Dhs100
What you get: Unlimited dim sum, noodles and desserts
Is it any good?: We’d say that Dhs100 for all-you-can eat is a decent deal, except we’ve ordered enough à la carte in the past to stuff us silly, and it came to little more than Dhs120. Giant appetites may find it a bargain, but otherwise, stick to the à la carte.
Dubai Festival City (800 78326). Deal runs daily 11am-7pm.
Frankie’s Cost: Dhs105-Dhs205
What you get: A starter, pizza and soft drink (Dhs105) or with a bottle of house wine between two (Dhs205)
Is it any good?: For some good-quality Italian grub in a buzzing, tasteful setting, you can’t beat Frankie’s. The starter, a trio of bruschetta (the only option), is enormous, with hunks of bread, cheese, onion chutney and cured meats vying for space on the heaving platter. The pizzas, meanwhile, come out big, crisp and on mini-Lazy Susans. Tip:the vegetariana is a winner.
The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence (04 399 4311). Deal runs Mon 5.30pm-11.45pm.
Fareast Seafood Market Cost: Dhs111
What you get: Unlimited seafood
Is it any good?: Nightly, this unassuming Bur Dubai haunt puts out buckets of tender tiger prawns, schools of fresh barracuda and red snapper, mounds of succulent clams and ice-fresh layers of squeaky clean calamari. Cooked in an arsenal of SE Asian sauces – the best being the zesty oyster and chilli – it could be the best meal deal in the city. But at such good value, the question is this: why is no one else here? Regent Palace Hotel (04 396 3888). Deal runs daily 7pm-midnight.
Masala Craft Cost: Dhs130 and up
What you get: Half-off your bill
Is it any good?: Smart décor and the odd table of rowdy customers give Masala Craft some atmosphere, and the menu is varied without being overwhelming. Though not the best curry in town, it’s reliable, and at half price, inexpensive too.
Century Village, Garhoud, next to the tennis stadium (04 282 9626). Deal runs daily noon-7pm.
Blue Elephant Cost: Dhs149
What you get: Unlimited food and drink
Is it any good?: The plush, leafy décor is truly evocative of Thailand – a nice touch for a Thai chain. As is the weekly Thai buffet, complete with live stir-fry stations. While the food isn’t the best in town, the place remains a bargain, especially when you factor in the free drinks. Al Bustan Rotana , Garhoud (04 282 0000). Deal runs Sat and Tue 7.30pm-11.30pm.
Palermo Cost: Dhs150
What you get: A three-course traditional Argentinean menu
Is it any good?: This place doesn’t tend to get much traffic, which is a shame, because the service is jovial and the Argentinean set menu is imaginative as well cheap (although the lamb is a little dry). With rolling polo fields and a live grill stationed outside, inside the décor is similar to that of a grand drawing room. Go there for decent food – and the clandestine setting. Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club (04 361 8111). Deal runs Sat 7.30pm-10.30pm.
Vista Cost: Dhs150 per couple, Dhs295 for four
What you get: A starter and a roast chicken with all the fixings
Is it any good?: To be fair, Dhs75 per person is a bit steep for a roast dinner. For an extra Dhs50, though, you can tack on free-flowing house wine, which sweetens things considerably. Still, the communal aspect of the meal is a nice touch, and the views of Sheikh Zayed Road are pretty spectacular.
Holiday Inn Express, Internet City (04 427 5500). Deal runs Sat 6.30pm-11.40pm.
Spectrum On One Cost: Approximately Dhs150
What you get: 41 per cent off (food only)
Spectrum On One’s international menu provides plenty of variety; sadly, the quality is equally variable, ranging from excellent (Szechwan veggies) to sub-par (chewy dim sum). If the menu wasn’t overpriced to begin with, this would be a great deal. Fairmont Hotel , Sheikh Zayed Road (04 332 5555). Runs daily, 6.30pm-8.30pm.
Exchange Grill Cost: Dhs250-345
What you get: Three courses and a glass of wine. Couples can pay Dhs345 each for three courses and a bottle of wine.
Is it any good?: Sensuously soft steaks and superior-without-being-snooty service make this steakhouse worth a visit anyhow, but catch the early bird menu and you’ve got yourself a seriously sweet deal, especially as Exchange Grill serves some of the best steaks in town. The Fairmont (04 332 5555). Deal runs daily 7pm-8.30pm.
Az.u.r. Cost: Dhs290
What you get: Unlimited food and drinks
Is it any good?: One of Dubai’s few venues to serve organic fare, az.u.r. (pronounced ‘as you are’) has some strong dishes, especially in the red meat department. Diners can pick from regular dishes and the fancy à la carte menu that changes regularly.
Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites, formerly the Harbour Hotel & Residence (04 319 4000). Deal runs daily 7pm-11pm.
Verre Cost: Dhs350, Dhs675 with alcohol
What you get: Five courses
Is it any good?: If you’re willing to eat past 9pm, Verre’s ‘fashionably late’ menu is a fine dining bargain. Where else can you expect to pay so little for a Gordon Ramsay feast? The only issue is that the staff would prefer you not know about the deal. When we visited, we had to ask for the promotional menu. If you don’t mind drawing attention to your bargain-hunting self, though, it’s well worth it. Hilton Dubai Creek (04 212 7551). Deal runs Sun-Fri 9.30pm-midnight.
Chimes Cost: Dhs38
What you get: Three-courses and a soda
Is it any good?: You don’t go into Chimes expecting fine dining. Moreover, it’s a low-key, neighbourhood joint. However, for the hordes working around Al Barsha, their lunch deal is excellent. While the menu changes daily, expect your typical Pan-Asian staples. Seven Sands Hotel Apartments , Barsha (04 323 4211). Deal runs Sun-Thu 11.30am-2pm.
Miyako Cost: Dhs75
What you get: Three courses
Is it any good?: Long helmed as one of Dubai’s best Japanese restaurants, this authentic, no-frills spot has a reasonably-priced lunch deal. Choose between two starters, two mains and two desserts. It’s definitely a healthy way to do business. Hyatt Regency Dubai (04 317 2222). Deal runs daily 12.30pm-3pm.
China Club Cost: Dhs95
What you get: All-you-can-eat dim sum
Is it any good?: We wouldn’t be surprised if the China Club’s yum cha was Dubai’s first meal deal, it’s been around for so long. But you know the old adage about fixing and breaking. While it’s not dirt cheap, you do get enough food to make you painfully full. While the deal is daily, Fridays are the most convivial time to come. Radisson Blu Dubai , Deira Creek (04 205 7333). Deal runs daily noon-3pm.
Reflets Par Pierre Gagnaire Cost: Dhs230
What you get: A five-star three-course lunch
Is it any good?: At face value, Dhs230’s a lot of money. But for a meal at Reflets, it’s the deal of the century (we’ve paid Dhs1,200 at dinner before). The lunch is a truncated version of dinner, but no less excellent.
What you get: Three Creole-themed courses and a Sasserack cocktail
Is it any good?: This venerable steakhouse could easily fit into an episode of Mad Men. The stereo blasts Sinatra croons and greasy haired waiters crack jokes while diners clink man-size glasses of the house cocktail – three fingers of premium rye mixed with Angostura Bitter. Ruth’s Chris is usually pricey, so this deal is comparatively good. Although on our visit they did overcook the steak. Still, it’s got a great vibe. The Monarch (04 501 8666). Deal runs Wed 8.30pm-11.30pm,
Glasshouse Cost: Dhs59
What you get: A salad, starter, main, dessert and a water.
Is it any good? The food here’s reliable and has no frills, but if you’re willing to go to Deira for lunch, you actually get a lot for the money you spend. Hilton Dubai Creek (04 212 7551). Sun-Thu 12.30pm-3.30pm.
Okku Cost: Dhs59, Dhs79 or Dhs99
What you get: Either one, two or three courses of Japanese food.
Is it any good? The range of dishes is extensive, including black cod and beef karubi – so they haven’t removed all your choices just because it’s a bargain. Monarch Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 501 8777). Deal runs Sun-Thu noon-3pm.
Rostang Cost: Dhs275
What you get: Fine wines paired with a three-course dinner menu.
Is it any good? If you love food and wine, you’ll won’t get tired of this. Every month Michelin-starred chef Michel Rostang opens his brasserie up to a different wine region, and tailors the French food to match. Formidable! Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 0750). Deal runs monthly, next date Thu October 29
Wagamama Cost: Dhs45-55
What you get: A bento box with a main, edamame, salad, three gyoza and a soft drink.
Is it any good? We can’t help but find this lunch deal, only available for takeaway and delivery, a bit steep. We prefer to find lunches for less than Dhs30. For nearly Dhs50, we feel we should get a bit more for our money. But hey – if it wasn’t for the Bento deal – you’d be paying Dhs80-90 for exactly the same food. Crowne Plaza Sheikh Zayed Road (04 305 6060). Other locations: Al Fattan Towers (04 399 5900), The Greens (04 361 5757). Deal runs daily