Dubai's best Friday feasts to enjoy in the open air
You don’t need us to tell you that summer is fast approaching. You only need to step outside to feel the heat (by the time you read this, temperatures should be hovering around the 33˚C mark), but you do need us to tell you where to head for your last chance to brunch outside.
On our last count there were just over 100 regular brunches taking place in Dubai, around a third of which offer outdoor seating. Of these, we’ve picked 21 that we consider to be the best and listed them by price, meaning there’s something for all budgets. We’ve even recommended a few choice foods for you to eat outdoors, which will help you stay cool (literally). See you outside.
Al Badia picnic brunch It’s your last chance to try this picnic brunch on the lawns at Al Badia – it takes place for the last time on Saturday April 21. Guests are given a picnic basket containing edible treats, and can sample food from live cooking stations including the ‘build your own burger’ area and a Candyland station (great for kids). Dhs225 (soft drinks), Dhs395 (selected house beverages), Dhs550 (premium bubbly), Dhs895 (premium rosé bubbly). Noon-4pm. Al Badia Golf Club, Dubai Festival City (04 701 1127).
Best for: A civilised end to the weekend (and start to the week).
Al Qasr The Al Qasr brunch is famed for its size (guests are handed a map on arrival), but it’s the huge terrace with views of the Madinat complex (not to mention the lively jazz band) that keeps us going back. Not only are the views great, but the terrace offers a fantastic strategic position so you can make the most of the brunch’s abundant offerings. Dhs425 (soft drinks), Dhs525 (selected house beverages), Dhs250 (children aged four to 12), free for kids under four. 12.30pm-4pm. Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730).
Best for: A sing-along in the sunshine.
Aquara The outdoor balcony of this seafood-themed brunch offers nautical views by way of the ivory-white yachts moored smugly in Dubai Marina. The balcony also provides plenty of shade from the midday sun. Dhs220 (soft drinks), Dhs350 (selected house beverages). Dhs400 (glass of bubbly and selected house beverages), Dhs110 (children aged six to 12), free for kids aged six and under. 12.30pm-3.30pm. Dubai Marina Yacht Club (04 362 7900).
Best for: Nautical-themed brunching.
Arabian Ranches Golf Club Plop yourself on the terrace at Ranches Restaurant and tuck into the new Friday family brunch. Other than the extensive international buffet offerings, there are great views of the ninth and 18th holes of the rolling green golf course. Dhs179 (soft drinks), Dhs279 (selected house beverages), Dhs79 (children aged six and above), free for children under six. Noon-3pm. Ranches Restaurant & Terrace, Arabian Ranches Golf Club (04 360 7935).
Best for: An early-morning round of golf before brunch on the terrace.
Belgian Beer Café, Madinat Jumeirah The new BBC brunch launched on Friday April 13 (lucky for some), which gives you just enough time to take a seat on the terrace and enjoy breakfast favourites such as eggs Benedict, as well as Belgian offerings such as steak tartare, mussels in white grape sauce and Flemish beef stew. The brunch also offers a jaw-dropping array of hop-based beverages. Dhs180 (soft drinks), Dhs269 (selected house beverages). 1pm-4pm. Madinat Jumeirah (04 447 0227).
Best for: Hops in the sun.
Bubbalicious at The Westin You can’t knock the Bubbalicious brunch for variety (for example, it offers more than 100 cheeses, not to mention Iberico ham – apparently the most expensive ham in the world). The interior is reminiscent of an echoing dinner hall, which is why we prefer a table outside, with views of the pool, the sea and the occasional acrobat. Alternatively, book a table on the terrace outside Hunters and enjoy a cooler, leafier setting. Dhs350 (soft drinks), Dhs490 (selected house beverages), Dhs590 (bubbly), Dhs190 (children aged six to 12), free for children aged five and under. 1pm-4pm. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi (04 399 4141).
Best for: Seaside views.
Double Decker Tables are squeezed into the small outdoor area, while inside the dark wood interior, lined with old London double-decker bus numbers, reverberates with the sound of raucous groups, bar banter and dance tracks. The draw of Double Ds lies not so much in the mainly British fare, including roast beef, pork sausages and giant Yorkshire puddings, as well as a decent dessert selection, but the affordable price, and the tomfoolery that takes place outside after the brunch itself. Dhs170 (selected house beverages). 12.30pm-4pm. Al Murooj Rotana, Al Doha Street (04 321 1111).
Best for: An al-fresco student union vibe.
Hakkasan Offering 10 types of Hakkasan’s finest dim sum (and some rather good bubbly to boot), Hakkasan is a great place to enjoy the weather while you can thanks to the fantastic outdoor terrace nestled at the foot of Jumeirah Emirates Towers. The Chinese dynasty-style design adds to that feeling of zen, as does the wonderfully landscaped garden. Dhs199 (soft drinks), Dhs500 (bubbly). Fri- Sat noon-3pm. Emirates Boulevard, Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 384 8484).
Best for: An oriental brunch experience.
Imperium The interior of Imperium is mightily impressive, and the same can be said of the views afforded by the terrace, particularly when dining on brasserie-style cuisine such as seafood, terrines and meat from the carvery. Dhs275 (soft drinks), Dhs395 (selected house beverages), Dhs550 (bubbly), half price for children aged four to 12, free for children under four. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, West Crescent, Palm Jumeirah (04 453 0444).
Best for: An al-fresco French experience and a great after-party (Voda Bar next door serves buy-one-get-one free drinks from 4pm to 9pm).
Le Méridien Village Terrace The Méridien offers themed al-fresco buffets on its terrace most nights throughout the cooler months, including Latino, Asian and even Bavarian events though we particularly like the barbecue on Thursdays. The atmosphere is laid-back, the setting is divine (with fairy lights illuminating the picturesque terrace), and the entertainment is, well, entertaining, with a live band belting out cover versions. Dhs209 (soft drinks), Dhs250 (selected house beverages). Daily 8pm-11pm. Le Méridien Dubai, Garhoud (04 702 2455).
Best for: ‘Nunching’ (night-brunching).
Legends Having been reopened after an extensive refurbishment, Legends steakhouse is offering all-you-can-eat salads, starters and desserts, and a choice of mains from the à la carte menu. The steaks are fantastic and the service is swift, while the two huge awnings on the extensive outdoor deck provide some shade for brunchers, who can enjoy great views of the creek while they eat. Dhs205 (soft drinks), Dhs370 (selected house beverages), Dhs495 (bubbly), free for kids aged 11 and under. Noon-3.30pm. Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Deira (04 295 6000).
Best for: An al-fresco meat feast.
McGettigan’s Not a normal brunch in the Dubai sense of the word, but a nice, budget alternative nonetheless. Guests can choose a meal from the brunch menu – from full-English fry-ups to pies to fish and chips – as well as three drinks. The courtyard has a nice convivial atmosphere, and there’s even a decent singer who rocks up at 3pm to provide post-meal entertainment. Dhs129 (three selected beverages). Noon-6pm. The Bonnington, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 356 0560).
Best for: An affordable, affable afternoon in the sun.
Mina A’Salam The 2012 winner of the Best Brunch award at the Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards is all about al-fresco dining. There are plenty of shady areas – our favourite being on the deck outside The Wharf, which features retractable blinds for when the sun is low and hot. Aside from the colourful array of cuisine, there’s also a mind-boggling array of drinks. Dhs365 (soft drinks), Dhs425 (selected house beverages), free for children under 12. 12.30pm-4pm. Mina A’Salam, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730).
Best for: Shady Madinat views.
Pullman Dubai Though the majority of this brunch takes place indoors, the terrace at Sanabel offers a pretty impressive vantage point over Sheikh Zayed Road, the sandy expanses of Al Barsha, the Burj Al Arab on the coast and (on a clear day) Downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa. Once you’ve had your fill of the views, make sure you check out the chocolate room. Dhs190 (soft drinks), Dhs275 (selected house beverages), Dhs390 (sparkling grape). 12.30pm-4pm. Pullman Dubai, Mall of the Emirates (04 377 2353). Best for: Panoramic city-based views.
Saffron Though the majority of this mind-boggling brunch (boasting more than 220 dishes) takes place indoors, there’s a nice outdoor terrace that offers a bit of respite from the rip-roaring raucousness inside. What’s more, there are some pleasant shaded areas – the area near the kids’ painting corner is a good bet. Dhs415 (selected house beverages). 12.30pm-4pm. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Best for: Getting fed and watered before partying on The Palm.
Splendido While the hotel’s expansion project means the sea views we’ve come to know and love aren’t quite the same (less sea, more construction), Splendido does its best by focusing on quality food and drink. There’s a lot to choose from, including an extensive salad and appetiser buffet, a range of international mains (dahl sits alongside bolognese and roasted veggies), as well as a sushi station, grills and even freshly cooked risotto. Though there’s a harpist inside, the atmosphere there can be a bit sterile, so sitting outside is a must. Dhs275 (soft drinks), Dhs375 (selected house beverages), Dhs695 (premium bubbly), Dhs135 (children aged five to 12). 12.30pm-3.30pm. The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, JBR (04 399 4000).
Best for: Al-fresco eating with obscure entertainment.
Thai Kitchen For those who can’t afford the Traiteur brunch (which takes place in the same hotel), Thai Kitchen offers an affordable alternative. While the terrace’s shrubbery partially obscures the views of the creek, it provides pleasant leafy environs in which you can make the most of the tasty Thai fare delivered straight to your table. Dhs210 (soft drinks), Dhs260 (selected house beverages), Dhs320 (selected premium beverages). 12.30pm-4pm. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).
Best for: Affordable creek-side dining.
The Talk Restaurant & Lounge The Jazz & Bubbles Friday brunch features musician Harry Austin playing jazz classics, as well as an eclectic array of international offerings, from sushi to tandoori and pizza to pasta. The surrounding JBR tower blocks ensure the outdoor terrace is nicely shaded and remains relatively cool, even when the weather begins to really heat up. Dhs222 (soft drinks), Dhs333 (selected house beverages), Dhs444 (bubbly), free for children aged 12 and under. 12.30pm-4pm. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach (04 449 8888).
Best for: JBR-based brunching.
Traiteur Pricey, yes, but this brunch is something that everyone should try at least once. This has much to do with the wonderful terrace, which is nestled next to the creek and the numerous yachts bobbing upon it. The weather is getting fairly toasty but you’ll be pleased to hear there are plenty of shaded areas, so you can still enjoy the view without dining under the full glare of the sun. As for the food, chef de cuisine Simon Wipf does a fine job creating some fantastic French fare. Dhs395 (soft drinks), Dhs495 (selected house beverages), Dhs595 (bubbly), Dhs1,998 (includes pick-up and drop-off in a limo, bubbly and a gift from the patisserie). 12.30pm-4pm. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).
Best for: A memorable al-fresco meal for a special occasion.
Vivaldi This Italian-themed brunch features more than 100 dishes from the buffet, though this century of brunch bites pales in comparison to the fantastic views of the creek from the al-fresco terrace. Dhs175 (soft drinks), Dhs225 (selected house beverages). 12.30pm-3.30pm. Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers, Deira (04 207 1717).
Best for: Italian food and creekside views.
XL Beach Brunch International cuisine is the order of the day at XL’s fancy-pants beach club. The brunch lends itself well to sun-seekers who don’t like dressing up to eat – the dress code means they’re at liberty to brunch in their swimwear. The venue also has outdoor cooling systems so the brunch can continue well into the summer. Dhs350 (selected house beverages). 1pm-4pm. Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (04 54 2927).