Time Outers share their favourite Friday feasts in the city
Brunch, the iconic Dubai pastime, is astoundingly popular, and the selection of food we consume each week is vast: at an average brunch, Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate gets through 320 bottles of water, 600 pieces of dim sum, 20kg of lobster and 32 cakes. We at Time Out Towers love brunch as much as you do, so we want to share our personal favourites for every occasion. So, whether you make a beeline for the sushi, the roast dinners or the bouncy castle (each to their own), we’ve found the very best Friday feasts in Dubai to suit all occasions. Get brunching!
À la carte BiCE Mare Unsurprisingly, considering the restaurant’s concept, the brunch dishes focus on seafood and Italian cooking. The meal includes starters, pastas, a mixed seafood grill and dessert. As good (and abundant) as the food here is, the whole lobster – just one element of the seafood grill – has to be the main event.
What to wear: To enjoy the fantastic balcony and Burj Khalifa views, something simple, light and cool is a must. Dhs190 (water only), Dhs290 (house beverages). Fri noon-4pm. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 423 0982).
Nobu Sit back in the stylised jungle-meets-lobster-cage interior as course upon course of beautifully presented modern Japanese cooking (with a fusion twist) are brought to the table. Stand-out delights include the exquisite and experimental dessert platter, featuring green tea macaroons and ice cream mochi. Premium bubbly is free-flowing, and the rice beverage is unusually smooth – among the best we’ve tasted.
What to wear: No open shoes, short trousers or bare shoulders. Dhs320 (soft drinks), Dhs490 (bubbly). Fri noon-3pm. Atlantis The Palm (04 426 2626).
Toro Toro The rodizio-style table service makes the ‘Hola Hola’ brunch particularly enjoyable. Latin American delights such as tortilla de papas and salmon flatbread are brought to the table until you say stop (using the red/green reversible drinks mats). Everything is good, but the tangy tuna ceviche with sweet potato and quinoa is exceptional.
What to wear: The glamorous setting affords an excuse to dress up. Dhs300 (soft drinks), Dhs400 (selected beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Grosvenor House, Tower 2, Dubai Marina (04 399 8888).
Bidi Bondi Not a traditional brunch, but still fun and affordable: choose one dish (think burgers, barbecue chicken wings and salads) accompanied by four house beverages. Aussie-themed venue Bidi Bondi boasts a vibrant atmosphere, great live music and wall-to-wall televisions, screening Euro 2012, Aussie rules and more. The burger comes complete with beetroot, but non-Australians shouldn’t be alarmed – the vibrant veg makes an excellent burger filling.
What to wear: Embrace your inner Aussie by donning boardies and flip-flops. Dhs99 (four drinks, one dish). Fri noon-5pm. Shoreline apartments 1-5, Palm Jumeirah (04 427 0515).
C.taste This Barsha gem is one of a handful of Dubai brunches clocking in under the Dhs100 mark. Expect a compact but satisfying selection of international fare, including decent meat and pasta, although there’s a bit of skimping on desserts at times. We’re impressed by the well-stocked salad bar, which takes up nearly half of the buffet’s space.
What to wear: At Centro, there’s no such thing as too causal. Dhs99 (soft drinks), Dhs139 (house beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Centro Barsha (04 704 0000).
Double Decker This is one of Dubai’s more affordable options, and great for a get-together with friends. It’s mainly British fare, with a good roast, giant Yorkshire puds and roast potatoes, as well as a few pasta and curry dishes, a salad bar and a generous dessert selection. The pork sausages are pretty tasty.
What to wear: The easy-going, slightly raucous atmosphere warrants casual dress. Dhs175 (house beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Al Murooj Rotana, Downtown Dubai (04 321 1111).
Dim sum China Club This venue is noted for its good-quality, authentic dim sum, and is also great value. Order from the dim sum classics on the menu, or opt for all-you-can-eat: little steamers of dumplings will be brought to you on a traditional dim sum cart. The Peking duck is highly recommended, and don’t miss the iced teas (the peach and lemon are fantastic).
What to wear: The venue is relaxed and unpretentious, so no worries over outfits here. Dhs99 (soup, dessert and soft drinks). Daily noon-3pm. Radisson Blu Deira Creek (04 205 7333).
Hakkasan This is one for yum cha aficionados. The bubbly package is a little pricey (you’ll finish the ten sets of dim sum long before the time limit for free-flowing beverages is over), but the scallop shu mai and the wonderfully wrought poached Peking dumplings (bathed in an ever-so-slightly spicy soup) are divine.
What to wear: Hakkasan is a sleek, sophisticated venue, so dress accordingly. Dhs199 (soft drinks and tea), Dhs500 (bubbly). Fri, Sat noon-3pm. Emirates Boulevard, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 384 8484).
Hukama This venue specialises in traditional Cantonese dim sum, and offers some of the best in Dubai. Served à la carte, it’s a tight menu, packed mainly with the well-known dumpling classics – rather than being spoiled for choice, you’ll find yourself deciding what to leave off your order. The sumptuous har gau (prawn dumplings) are sublime.
What to wear: Take your cues from the venue – swish, trendy and modern. Dhs145 (soft drinks), Dhs250 (house beverages). Fri noon-4pm. The Address Downtown Dubai (04 888 3444).
Entertainment Bubbalicious at The Westin The Chinese acrobats will catch your eye, but be careful – blink and you may miss them, so ask the waiter when and where to catch the intermittent skits. Bubbalicious is spread over three of The Westin’s restaurants: the Hunters section is the highlight for succulent steak.
What to wear: Guests tend to dress up, while others ignore convention (we saw one guest brunching in swimwear, but it’s not advisable). Dhs350 (soft drinks), Dhs490 (selected house beverages), Dhs590 (bubbly). Fri 1pm-4pm. The Westin, Mina Seyahi (04 399 4141).
Dusit Thani Dubai Brunch here kicks off with an innovative feature: authentic Thai dancing from the in-house duo, before a singer takes to the piano to croon classics such as Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla’. The main focus is the tasty Thai buffet, although you’ll also find British, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and a few Arabic options. Try the Thai fried corn: it looks strange but tastes great, and is good for nibbling throughout the afternoon.
What to wear: Most guests stick to smart-casual ensembles. Dhs185 (soft drinks), Dhs215 (selected beverages), Dhs265 (sparkling grape and spirits), Dhs465 (bubbly). Fri noon-4pm. Dusit Thai Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 317 4515).
The Gramercy Having built a new stage, the Gramercy introduces a new brunch with live entertainment. Featuring the jazz element for which this venue is renowned, it includes music from five-piece band Dahab, playing rock, jazz, blues, folk and much more. Food is available as a three-course à la carte meal that includes hot and cold sharing platters, plus a choice of roasts with all the trimmings.
What to wear: Jazz music and seated dining demands a little laid-back class. Dhs295 (house beverages and mixed drinks). Fri noon-4pm. DIFC (04 437 7511).
Family Beachcombers Besides being conveniently located a stone’s throw from Wild Wadi waterpark and having stunning views of the Burj Al Arab, this beachside brunch has a nice family vibe and offers a good Asian buffet. The spread includes Thai-style spicy minced chicken salads, dumplings (good for little appetites), seafood and noodle dishes. The Malaysian-style roti canai and chicken laksa are among our favourites.
What to wear: Skirts and flats for women; tailored shorts and shirts for men. Dhs250 (soft drinks), Dhs350 (house beverages), Dhs525 (bubbly). Fri,Sat 1pm-4pm. Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 406 8999).
Ibn Battuta Gate The brunch sees the hotel’s main hall filled with cooking stations and entertainment that’s perfect for kids. There’s even a magician and petting zoo, with snakes, parrots, rabbits and more. Yet most impressive is the sheer size of this brunch, with whole areas devoted to seafood, Italian, sushi, Arabic – and even a cooking station just to make eggs Benedict.
What to wear: Despite the glitz, it’s remarkably relaxed. Dhs295 (soft drinks), Dhs395 (house beverages), Dhs495 (bubbly). Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate (04 444 0000).
Mazina There’s plenty here to occupy and amuse younger members of the family (including the gigantic bouncy castle), and the children’s dishes are brought to the table complete with child-friendly cutlery. The cooking stations offer a varied selection of international dishes, with a particular emphasis on Asian food. The huge range of desserts gets our attention every time, with home-made ice cream and freshly made waffles and pancakes.
What to wear: Relaxed jeans and a T-shirt will do. Dhs195 (soft drinks), half price for children aged seven to 12, free for children under seven. Sat 12.30pm-3.30pm. The Address Dubai Marina (04 436 7777).
Fancy Imperium This grand space, worthy of a Rococo banqueting hall, impresses on first sight and sets the luxurious tone. The buffet offers all that’s expected, with a great carvery (including pork), salads and superb desserts; there’s also an impressive selection of cheese and an à la carte menu, which is distinctly European. The meat is particularly good and we love the beef Wellington.
What to wear: Anything less than elegant would seem a faux pas. Dhs275 (soft drinks), Dhs395 (house beverages), Dhs550 (bubbly), half price for children aged four to 12, free for children under four. Fri 1pm-4pm. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah (04 453 0444).
Traiteur This venue epitomises brunch sophistication. It’s now too hot to eat al-fresco, with views of the creek from the terrace, but the high-ceilinged, light-filled dining room provides a lovely setting. Classic French dishes are laid out on live cooking stations around the open kitchen – expect everything from snails and spit-roast to delicate tartare dishes. The escargots are still some of the best you’ll try in Dubai. What to wear: Something along the lines of elegant, European chic. Dhs395 (soft drinks), Dhs495 (selected beverages), Dhs595 (bubbly). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).
Zuma Ever-popular Japanese hangout Zuma wheels out the majority of its sushi, sashimi, maki and à la carte favourites for this showcase brunch. The atmosphere, meanwhile, can vary wildly depending on the crowd – at times bon-vivant, at others laid-back. It is, however, always effortlessly cool. Without wanting to sound too clichéd, the black miso cod is fantastic. And the best thing? You can have as much of it as you want at this brunch.
What to wear: Dress to impress – this is Zuma, after all. Dhs315 (soft drinks), Dhs425 (selected house beverages), Dhs550 (bubbly). Fri 12.30pm-3.30pm. DIFC (04 425 5660).
Non-alcoholic Almaz by Momo While away the weekend hours over shisha and tea. Although Almaz is located in a mall, it still manages to be stylish, atmospheric and full of character, with Arabian-inspired decor and comfy cushioned seating. Guests can choose from three brunch packages, each featuring different dishes, and all the food is brought to the table.
What to wear: Something stylish but laid-back that’s good for lounging. Dhs90 (soft drinks). Fri 11am-4pm. Mall of the Emirates (04 409 8877).
Iranian Club This is a uniquely Persian experience and a fantastic choice for those willing to explore other cultures. It’s a simple, canteen-style space, but the food is as authentically Persian as it gets. There are four buffet tables to choose from, with a selection of Iranian mezze dishes and others to try.
What to wear: Women must don a veil, so modesty is key. Dhs70 (soft drinks). Fri 1pm-4pm. Oud Metha (04 336 7700).
More Café Brunch at this Dutch-owned eatery is less a party and more a relaxed Friday hangout. Breakfast dishes (including fry-ups and pastries) are served à la carte, while the buffet stations change weekly: think salads, curry, meat, rice, veggies and potatoes. Try the scrambled eggs: staff will ask how you want them cooked (we love them deliciously wobbly and soft).
What to wear: Ditch the glam gear and opt for comfy jeans. Dhs95 (soft drinks); Dhs45 for kids under 12. Fri 11am-4pm. Dubai Festival City, www.morecafe.biz (04 232 6299). Other locations: Al Murooj Rotana (04 343 3779), Gold & Diamond Park (04 323 4350), Mirdif City Centre (04 284 3805).
Party Left Bank The lively party tunes fuel the atmosphere at Left Bank, as staff dish out huge shareable goldfish bowls of mixed drinks. There are unlimited à la carte sharing plates, with spring rolls, mini burgers, fish cakes, bangers and mash and more: the mini fish and chips are divine and dessert fans will love the sticky toffee pudding. There are also some generous post-brunch drinks deals if you want to continue the party.
What to wear: Go glam: you may feel silly dolled up at midday, but you’ll be glad you made the effort as the revelry continues. Dhs295 (including grape, hops, selected shorts and mixed drinks). Fri noon-4pm. Left Bank, Souk Al Bahar, www.emiratesleisureretail.com (04 368 4501).
Saffron Popular with large groups, the carefree party atmosphere (there’s a DJ and magician) will propel you through the afternoon. The food stations scattered around the spacious venue cater to all tastes – expect dim sum, a noodle station, Indian curries, British Sunday roast, a salad bar and a colourful array of desserts, including a gigantic chocolate fountain. The seafood selection, which includes lobster and oysters, is definitely worth a stop or two.
What to wear: Anything goes, from shorts and flip-flops to super-chic. Dhs415 (includes sparkling wine). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Warehouse This brunch dubs itself a ‘drunch’ (‘drinks brunch’) and certainly lives up to its name, with friendly staff who will ensure you have a good time. There’s an average selection of à la carte dishes and a small spread of buffet favourites, but both are outstripped by the choice of Cuban mixed drinks alone (try the cucumber or wasabi concoctions). With moody nightclub lighting, music that gets gradually louder and a young and party-ready crowd, most guests are building up to the post-brunch ’80s pop on the dancefloor.
What to wear: Heels and glam party gear are a must. Dhs299 (house beverages including mixed drinks and sparkling grape). Fri 1pm-4pm. Le Méridien Dubai, Garhoud (04 702 2455).
The post-brunch party If you’re not ready to call it a day come four o’clock, here’s where to head for the night.
Bahri Bar This colonial-tinged lounge is a sophisticated spot for a post-brunch tipple. After-Brunch Beats plays chilled grooves amid the striking decor and Madinat views. After-Brunch Beats Fri 4pm-7pm. Mina A’Salam, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730).
The Stables This racing-themed gastropub is the post-brunch destination of choice in Downtown, with free mixed drinks for ladies on Friday afternoons. If you’re still standing at 9pm, the cheese-tastic DJ gives way to beatboxing talent Shero for pop and rock covers. Fri noon-midnight. Above Fibber Magee’s, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 342 5571).
Step On On the first Friday of the month, notorious DJ Rude Larry spins a wealth of indie and electro nuggets to an increasingly weathered crowd at this pleasingly chaotic post-brunch party. First Fri of the month, 6pm-10pm. Catwalk, Golden Tulip Al Barsha (04 341 7750).
The Underground For a no-frills party vibe, this London transport-themed pub offers bucket deals on hops and a pumping live band churning out popular tunes. Warning: it can get rowdy. Fri noon-2.30am. The Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (04 399 5000).