We visit the eateries where kiddie chaos is encouraged
Summer’s here and school’s out. While many people have deserted the city until September, there are still plenty of families in Dubai hunting for kid-friendly entertainment to keep the brood occupied until the start of the school term. Need advice? We’ve scouted out the city’s top 10 family-friendly eateries on account of their location, the amiable staff and general ambience, as well as the little details that only mums and dads notice – a warm, welcoming place where you can relax, have a great meal and not worry about the little ones.
Kid-friendly activities: It’s strange that an Italian restaurant that features no special entertainment to speak of should be so popular with families. We put this down to the laid-back, convivial atmosphere.
The menu: The kids’ menu is affordable and healthy: it also comes with fun games to keep hungry terrors at bay. The pasta dishes are easy on all taste buds and pizza will be added to the menu soon.
The staff: Bubbly beyond belief: they find kiddie shenanigans more amusing than annoying.
Nearby distractions: There’s an old-school carousel and pedal buggies just outside the Marina Mall location, and the restaurant in The Dubai Mall is right below the wonderland of Kidzania (04 448 5222).
Capacity for kiddie chaos: Moderate. Carluccio’s still retains a modicum of sophistication, so perhaps not a place for more destructive darlings. Dubai Marina Mall (04 399 7884); The Dubai Mall (04 434 1320).
Kid-friendly activities: Colouring sheets, crayons, stickers, badges and high chairs.
The menu: There are seven different kids meals, which all come with a healthy side salad and unlimited cordial. Yum.
The staff: As you’d expect from a restaurant bearing the name of cheeky-chappy Jamie Oliver, the staff are full of energy.
Nearby distractions: Festival Centre, true to its name, invariably has funfair activities (think parades and the like) at weekends. Capacity for kiddie chaos: Moderate. While Jamie’s caters for kids, it isn’t ruled by them. Marina Promenade, Dubai Festival City (04 232 9969).
Kid-friendly activities: The ’50s theme makes Johnny Rockets an instant hit with kids, and the jukeboxes provide distraction.
The menu: The milkshakes, fries and onion rings are highlights.
The staff: They perform regular song and dance routines – what more can you ask for?
Nearby distractions: Brave parents will take kids to the Mall of the Emirates venue, which is slap-bang in the middle of Magic Planet, but we recommend Dubai Marina or Jumeirah Beach Road for a more laid-back experience.
Capacity for kiddie chaos: High. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 344 7859); Mall of the Emirates (04 341 2380); Marina Walk South Side (04 368 2339); The Dubai Mall (04 434 1526).
Kid-friendly activities: In addition to high-chairs and colouring sheets, they host kiddie cooking and birthday parties.
The menu: The design-your-own-pizza is a winner with culinary-oriented kids.
The staff: On a good day they’ll be great with your brood, though if you arrive late when the restaurant’s empty, they may begrudge the extra work.
Nearby distractions: The bowling alley in Al Quoz is an option (04 339 1010), but the DIFC Gate complex is a pretty cool place for kids to run off some steam. Capacity for kiddie-chaos: Providing it’s a special party – limitless. DIFC, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 425 0326).
Kid-friendly activities: Colouring sheets and high-chairs are available, but the highlight are the spontaneous staff singalongs – traditional tribal songs and dances that you can’t help but be enamoured by.
The menu: The kids’ menu features mini steaks, burgers, and nuggets; for Dhs45 kids get ice cream and soft drinks thrown in.
The staff: Other than possessing great vocal chords and being dressed in colourful tribal garb, the staff are also endowed with a refreshingly cheeky sense of humour and genuine warmth.
Nearby distractions: Take your pick from Magic Planet, Ski Dubai or the cinema.
Capacity for kiddie-chaos: Moderate, although the vibrant and noisy atmosphere encourages, and disguises, high jinks. Mall of the Emirates (04 395 0663).