Go al fresco at our favourite eateries on The Walk
Finally, the weather is becoming bearable. Once October arrives and the humidity drops, it’s time to get outside, eat al fresco and go for a constitutional stroll. Where, we wondered, can you do all three? The answer is in one of the most pedestrian-friendly restaurant hotspots in Dubai: it’s time to walk The Walk at JBR.
This area of New Dubai houses a plethora of restaurant and café options, spanning numerous cuisines, on a single road. And with all the tables and chairs littering the pavements, not to mention glittering view of the sea (if it isn’t blocked by the construction for the new mall), this place is positively continental.
While the first thing to hit you on The Walk may be the oodles of noodle shops, fast-food fixes and bland chains, we’ve scoured the area for places with unique character and charm (with a few healthier options for good measure). We’ve walked The Walk so you know where to find them.
AOC French Brasserie Sure, this French eatery may look like a lifeless hotel lobby, but if you can get past that, the food isn’t bad at all, and the restaurant hosts several theme nights serving decent French classics. You can also dine al fresco in the wonderful outdoor area, with great views out to sea. If you’re after an aperitif and/or digestif, you won’t have to walk very far to get to neighbouring Plantation, a spacious lounge bar with touches of colonial chic, offering the same impressive views from outside as AOC. Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach (04 448 4870).
Bazerkan Hidden upstairs, this vast and atmospheric Levantine venue comes complete with what look like sandwashed stone walls and arches. The USP here is the bijou balcony, with beautiful views of the coast. Service is slick and friendly, and the extensive menu offers Arabic fare (think mezze, saj and grills) that’s both affordable and authentic. We particularly like the meat-stuffed manakish. Amwaj 5, plaza level (04 424 3838).
BiCE This high-end Italian eatery is set in a slick, modern space, designed with swirling dark wood, high ceilings and plenty of light. Service is swift and formal and waiters display a good knowledge of the menu, which is just as well, because sometimes we just don’t know where to start with the extensive list of dishes. The best bet is the seafood pasta options, which tend to be excellent. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah (04 399 1111).
Bo House Café It’s all very cool, kitsch and colourful here: the setting may strike you as a cross between a swimming pool and a teenage girl’s bedroom. Even so, the ‘mohemian’ (modern bohemian, we’re told) venue is the perfect place to chill out and while away an afternoon. The menu of modern café favourites offers a fairly international selection: the enticing-looking gelato counter is certainly worth a mention, as the product is made in house and has won awards in Italy. Near Hilton Dubai Jumeirah (04 429 8655).
Bob’s Easy Diner This Disneyland of a retro diner is littered with not-so-subtle statements on ’50s Stateside culture. Amid the Americana memorabilia on the walls is an equally all-American burger joint menu, offering sandwiches, salads and desserts such as Philadelphia beef sandwich and devil’s cake. Bob’s is open until 1am, and is a characterful late-night dining spot. Amwaj 7, near Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach (04 439 3710).
Butcher Shop and Grill This South African-inspired steakhouse serves a meaty selection of choice cuts from the kitchen, as well as high-end raw meat to take away from the butcher’s counter. As well as South African specialities such as frikkadels, biltong and boerewors (the curious can try a free taster that comes with the pre-meal bread), there are also a variety of steaks, including a wagyu that, while not exceptional, is exceptionally cheap. Those with a hearty appetite can try the ‘giant beef kebab’, a 400g monstrosity of meat. Rimal 5 (04 428 1375).
Cone Street This (almost) hole-in-the-wall gelato stand offers a small but good selection of rich gelato in modern flavours such as cookies and cream and mango. You can buy from the kiosk downstairs and sit out in the sunshine to lick your way through the ice cream, or head up to the small hidden indoor café upstairs, which also serves a wider selection of juices and drinks. Rimal, plaza level (04 448 6401).
Frankie’s Marco Pierre White’s name may still be up in bright lights outside, but his ship has long since sailed, leaving the menu in the hands of others. Nevertheless, this Las Vegas vision of an Italian restaurant, founded by jockey Frankie Dettori, comes complete with live piano music, serves good pasta dishes (the pizza is ambitious but patchy) and continues to be an entertaining place to spend an evening. Oasis Beach Tower (04 399 4311).
Kosebasi While the indoor area is much like a minuscule tile-clad tavern, the outside area at Kosebasi really heats up at this time of year. When the weather is cool enough, the outdoor area seems to be permanently heaving with customers tucking into tasty, authentic Turkish fare. We have a particular peccadillo for the not-too-healthy, but oh-so-satisfying breakfast of fried eggs, Turkish sausages and flatbread. The kebabs, mezze and ‘Turkish pizza’ are also good. Rimal 5 (04 439 3788).
Make Business Hub Not quite on The Walk, but certainly worth a detour. This ‘workspace’ café deserves cult status in Dubai for setting up – and making a success of – a concept that, for our city, is still quite niche and original. You can tuck into a simple European menu of eggy breakfast dishes, salads and flatbreads while setting up your laptop in a library-like setting – you can even rent the pod-like booths for a meeting. We’re particularly enamoured with the cool ceramic espresso cups, which look like crushed, disposable plastic numbers. Al Fattan House, behind Al Fattan Towers (04 392 9216).
Napoletana Billing itself as a little slice of Italy here in Dubai, this tiny neighbourhood pizzeria is charmingly designed: the decor is bright and breezy like the seaside, yet with a handful of quirky and colourful touches. Equally diverting to the eye is the pizza dough-pounding acrobatics that can sometimes be spied in the corner. Rimal 5 (04 439 3708).
Pulp Juice Bar We’re always a little disconcerted by a healthy juice bar that features a colourfully dark nightclub vibe, where techno mixes of Lady Gaga are played at rip-roaring volumes. Nevertheless, it’s precisely the al-fresco vibe that is the beauty of The Walk, so simply take your shot of wheatgrass, freshly squeezed juice or fruity smoothie outside. Sadaf promenade, opposite Hilton Dubai Jumeirah (04 436 4192).
Rococo A surrealist palette of green and purple meets a touch of rococo-modernism for a restaurant that is staggeringly imposing for its size. Luckily, the menu of Italian cooking is equally experimental, and just as pleasing to the palate – the desserts are particularly tasty. Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach (04 448 4848).
Saladicious Part café, part gourmet deli, with shelves of interesting, imported ingredients at the entrance, this venue continues to be one of Dubai’s most popular spots for those salad and a cappuccino moments. Despite the name, we’re particularly keen on the sandwiches (try the chicken melt or New Delhi wrap), which come with a side of home-made coleslaw. Sadaf sector (04 345 5822).
Sukh Sagar Something of a rarity outside Old Dubai, but this affordable Indian restaurant’s greatest USP amid the other venues on The Walk is that it offers an entirely vegetarian menu. While veggies tend to be pretty badly catered for in Dubai, here they can tuck in (with ease) to a selection of vegetable and paneer-based curries, with a particular emphasis on Punjabi cooking. Rimal 2, opposite Hilton Dubai Jumeirah (04 437 0188).
Vision Café There’s no indoor area at this kiosk-café, and the food doesn’t look like it would cause much excitement. However, it serves decent Illy coffee until 3am, and the clientele spill out onto the street on quirky and elaborately styled chairs, covered in inspirational quotes from the likes of Mother Teresa. It’s a street café vibe worthy of continental pavements – think Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam – and it’s about as close as Dubai gets to this European ideal. Opposite Hilton Dubai Jumeirah (056 734 49676.