In case you haven’t noticed, the weather’s pretty nice right now, which means it’s prime time to take a table outdoors. www.timeoutdubai.com lists a whopping 475 restaurants that are suitable for al-fresco dining, so to help you on your way we’ve whittled that list down to 51, taking into account the vibe, the food and the view, and categorising them by area, so wherever you are in town you’ll know where to go.
Deira, Garhoud, Oud Metha and Festival City Le Méridien Village Terrace Vibe: A buzzing spot for evening brunches, lit by candles and miniature lanterns, there’s a stage and dancefloor in the centre from which the sounds of live music emanate.
Food: A barbecue station takes centre stage, while numerous other hot dishes and a varied salad bar provide decent support acts. The food may not be the best in town, but it’s a great-value night out.
Views: There’s no panoramic skyline, but the setup itself, with fairy lights in the trees and plenty of greenery, is still enjoyable. Le Méridien Dubai, Garhoud (04 702 2449).
Legends Steakhouse Vibe: This sleek steakhouse looks fantastic inside, but the sizeable terrace shouldn’t be overlooked at this time of year. It also features a special floating VIP table, set upon a serene pool.
Food: Steak, obviously. And good steak at that.
Views: Legends boasts fantastic views of Dubai Creek – you can even see as far as Garhoud in the distance. Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Deira (04 295 6000).
Nomad Vibe: This relaxed, all-day restaurant takes up much of what used to be The Aviation Club (remember The Cellar?). As well as requisite outdoor seating, there’s a grassy area where guests have the option of dining from a picnic hamper (for up to four people), and there’s a barbecue at the restaurant’s forthcoming brunch. Keep an eye on Time Out for details.
Food: Nomad serves mainly Asian cuisine, and also features a New York-style 24-hour deli and separate grape bar.
Views: You can gaze over the duck pond towards The Irish Village and tennis stadium. Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, Garhoud (04 230 8571).
Thai Kitchen Vibe: Considering the high-end environs of The Park Hyatt, Thai Kitchen is surprisingly inexpensive and relaxed – a feeling summed up by the picturesque terrace.
Food: Have your pick of green and red curry, as well as pad Thai and spicy mango salad.
Views: There are partial views of the creek, and the ivory-white yachts moored there, though much of the terrace is enclosed by evergreen trees, lending an air of escapism to the dining experience. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).
Also try… The Boardwalk Another creekside restaurant, offering gorgeous sunset views and a sizeable menu. Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Deira (04 295 6000).
The Irish Village The closest thing to a hop garden you’re likely to find in Dubai. Sit at pub-style tables or stretch out with a pint on the grass. The Aviation Cub, Garhoud (04 282 4750).
Traiteur Next door to Thai Kitchen, Traiteur offers a range of classy French fare. It’s fitting sustenance as you gaze at the yachts gently bobbing on the creek nearby. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).
DIFC, The Dubai Mall and Downtown Dubai Asado Vibe: This award-winning Argentinian restaurant attracts well-heeled Downtown-dwelling Dubaians. Terrace seating options are limited so advance booking is a must – romantics can book a special table for two right by the waterside.
Food: Aside from the views, the restaurant is renowned for good steak and (nearly as good) ceviche dishes.
Views: Whereas most Souk Al Bahar venues offer requisite Dubai Fountain views, Asado’s terrace instead offers a perfectly framed and unforgettable view of the Burj Khalifa. The Palace, The Old Town, Downtown Dubai (04 428 7888).
Hakkasan Vibe: The serene, wooden outdoor deck is a far cry from Hakkasan’s chic, moody interior. Yet the design is very much in keeping with the contemporary Chinese aesthetic, and the zen-like atmosphere is fuelled by carefully manicured Chinese gardens and water features.
Food: Try Hakkasan’s Friday brunch (more of a dim sum lunch, really), which offers ten types of dim sum from Dhs199, and a premium bubbly option for Dhs500.
Views: Look up and you can marvel at Emirates Towers soaring above you. The Boulevard, Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 384 8484).
Karma Kafé Vibe: This hip restaurant’s terrace is subject to great demand (your dining experience may be limited to two hours during busy times). For fountain views and tables full of beautiful people, you can’t beat Karma.
Food: Think American-styled sushi rolls, as well as a few other artfully constructed Asian favourites.
Views: Three words: The Dubai Fountain. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better ringside seat. Souk Al Bahar (04 423 0909).
Mango Tree Vibe: There are few things more relaxing in Dubai than eating a light lunch on the Mango Tree terrace with a crisp glass of white.
Food: The weekend lunch option, features unlimited food and drink for Dhs295 (best enjoyed outside, obviously).
Views: While there’s a convivial family feel to the restaurant, the daytime views of The Dubai Mall, the Burj Khalifa and (of course) those big, brash fountains are a perfect reminder of why we love this city. Souk Al Bahar (04 426 7313).
Urbano Vibe: An affordable stop for shoppers to catch fountain views. It borders on trendy, but the eclectic menu and lower prices mean it isn’t intimidatingly edgy.
Food: There’s a range of Italian cuisine on offer. We recommend the chicken escalope – and the chocolate cake.
Views: It’s an excellent spot to catch the Dubai Fountain (and the crowds watching it). Warning: after 6pm the music will interrupt your conversation every half an hour. Souk Al Bahar (04 435 5777).
Also try… 1762 Grab a seat on the terrace to enjoy quality sandwiches, wraps and salads at this DIFC lunch hotspot. DIFC (800 1762).
Armani/Hashi Step outside onto the sizeable terrace – not only can you enjoy marvellous views of Souk Al Bahar, but look up and you’ll appreciate the magnificence of the Burj Khalifa. Armani Hotel Dubai, Downtown Dubai (04 888 3444).
Boulevard Café This quaint little café, situated on one side of Al Manzil Hotel, offers a nice street-side vantage point of Emaar Boulevard and the impressive Palace hotel complex. Al Manzil Hotel, Emaar Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 428 5888).
More Café, The Dubai Mall More’s outdoor terrace is a great place to escape the retail-fuelled frenzy inside. It’s right at the foot of the Burj, and the al-fresco experience is made all the sweeter by the speedy service. The Dubai Mall (04 339 8934).
Rivington Grill, Souk Al Bahar This perennial favourite offers a great outdoor terrace with fountain views, plus tasty British gastropub food. Souk Al Bahar (04 423 0303).
Roberto’s Italian restaurant Roberto’s technically features three al-fresco areas – our favourite being the ‘smoking area’, just behind the incongruous tree in the middle of the room. DIFC (04 386 0066).
Palm Jumeirah, Madinat Jumeirah and Jumeriah Beach Road 101 dining lounge & bar Vibe: Effortlessly stylish and achingly romantic, this venue on the tip of the Palm Jumeirah will make you seriously consider buying a speedboat so you can visit any time you want. Failing that, catch the boat from One&Only Royal Mirage, which runs daily 1pm until midnight.
Food: Simple and ambitious Niçoise fare.
Views: Take a waterside seat and gaze back at the Marina skyline – it’ll evoke one of those Dubai ‘wow’ moments. One&Only The Palm, West Crescent, Palm Jumeirah (04 440 1010).
Majlis al Bahar Vibe: This place attracts tourists, romancers and anyone after a classy barbecue on the beach, without forking out the money required at the other restaurants in the Burj Al Arab. Pizzas and pasta start from Dhs95.
Food: Barbecued seafood is the name of the game here.
Views: You couldn’t be better placed in terms of beachside views of the Burj. Burj Al Arab (04 301 7600).
Nobu’s Japanese Garden Vibe: Nobu has a reputation for being too cool for school, so it’s no surprise that this small, Japanese-style garden has an air of exclusivity to it. We prefer it out here to sitting inside.
Food: A heady, luxurious mix of Peruvian and Japanese fare.
Views: The garden is surrounded by artfully manicured shrubbery so there isn’t much of a view to speak of – the real draw is dining on Nobu’s exquisite fare under the stars. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 0760).
Rivington Grill, Madinat Jumeirah Vibe: The Rivington somehow manages to cater for all occasions – dinner with friends, a date, entertaining clients, or post-theatre drinks. As such, expect an eclectic crowd and good atmosphere, inside and out.
Food: Everything British – from Scotch eggs and Welsh rarebit to hearty pies.
Views: The terrace itself is a decent size (bigger than the one at Souk Al Bahar), and has great views of the faux wind towers of the surrounding Madinat, as well as the Burj Al Arab. The upstairs bar also has a sizeable terrace. Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 423 0903).
Sho Cho Vibe: The outdoor area here is fantastic, although book early if you want to eat without being swarmed by revellers preparing for ladies’ night at nearby Boudoir.
Food: The Japanese fare is decent, but stick to the simple dishes.
Views: The terrace is perched on the edge of the Dubai Marine Resort & Spa’s beach, providing great sea vistas, as well as pleasant views of the resort. Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 346 1111).
Also try… Al Hambra Head outside onto the balcony and you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a restaurant in Spain – as long as you can ignore the Burj Al Arab looming in the background. Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730).
Al Nafoorah Forgo the opulent interior and head to the terrace for Lebanese fare and ocean views. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, West Crescent, Palm Jumeirah (04 453 0444).
Riva Beach Club This restaurant is located right on the water and has a wonderful pool area, framed nicely by the Burj Al Arab in the distance. Shoreline Building 8, Palm Jumeirah (04 430 9466).
Pierchic Take a seat on the balcony of this iconic seafood restaurant and enjoy views of turquoise seas and the Burj Al Arab. Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 8888).
Pai Thai Make an entrance as you arrive by abra along the Madinat waterways, before alighting to tuck into Thai cuisine on a candlelit terrace. Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730).
Dubai Marina, JLT and Media City Bussola Pizza Terrace Vibe: Though the upstairs deck – the pizzeria element – of this restaurant has a covered roof, its open sides ensure it still constitutes an al-fresco venue. Somehow Bussola manages to lend itself to casual dining as well as big occasions.
Food: The award-winning pizzas are wood-fired and prepared the classic Italian way.
Views: The immediate view is the Westin’s winding pool network, and beyond this the private beach leading to the waters of the Arabian Gulf. The silhouettes of Atlantis and the other hotels dotting the crescent of the Palm Jumeirah crown the skyline. Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh (04 511 7136).
Eauzone Vibe: Quiet, secluded and romantic, the outdoor portion of this restaurant features tables scattered across decking that is surrounded by water.
Food: There’s plenty of variety, with dishes plucked from a number of different parts of the world.
View: You’ll be surrounded by the lush, tropical gardens of the hotel grounds, and if you listen carefully you might even hear the sea in the background. One&Only Royal Mirage (04 399 9999).
Rosso Vibe: Thanks to its sizeable terrace, which is illuminated by pretty fairy lights at night, Rosso comes alive at this time of year (especially in the evening). There also seem to be enough tables outside for guests to turn up unannounced and still bag a seat, though it’s worth booking in advance to avoid disappointment.
Food: Rosso’s fare is at times inconsistent, but stick with basic pasta and pizza dishes and you can’t go far wrong.
View: It’s not so much the view as the al-fresco atmosphere and romantic lighting that makes this place. Crane your neck to stare up the sheer size of the wall of the Amwaj Rotana and you’re likely to be impressed. Amwaj Rotana JBR (04 428 3088).
The Grand Grill Vibe: A lively steakhouse with gregarious staff and an open kitchen, this restaurant attracts groups large and small.
Food: Expect great steaks cooked to perfection, as well as a number of fish and vegetarian options. The desserts are also well worth saving room for.
View: Your view is confined to the terrace itself, unless you look skywards to the stars, but the comfortable seating and cosiness of the surrounding area give this venue an outdoor living-room feel. The Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (04 399 4221).
Also try… AOC French Brasserie This otherwise generic hotel restaurant is given a new lease of life as you step out into the terrace – even the current construction on The Walk at JBR can’t undermine this quaint little spot. Head here for the barbecue nights on Tuesday evenings at 7pm. Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach (04 448 4870).
Baker & Spice The outdoor area boasts plenty of tables, and its proximity to the promenade by the water makes it a great place to sit and watch the world wake up and yachts bob about. Marina Promenade, Dubai Marina (04 362 4686).
Bateel Café Overlooking the yachts moored in Dubai Marina, this café is a great spot right in the middle of all the action at Marina Walk. It’s perfect for people-watching over a morning coffee as you nibble on the fantastic date and nut bread. Al Mesk Tower, Dubai Marina (04 368 4696).
Luciano’s Its food may not be particularly memorable, but its setting amid the Habtoor’s gardens (complete with peacocks) makes it worth a visit. The Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa (04 408 4202).
McGettigan’s Though the cast iron-framed sofas aren’t particularly comfortable, daytime Friday fun on McGettigan’s large outdoor terrace should not be overlooked. Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 356 0560).
Reem Al Bawadi The newest branch of the Lebanese chain is slightly elevated compared with the rest of the strip’s eateries, meaning it offers a great vantage point for people-watching. Marina Walk, Dubai Marina (04 452 2525).
Wavebreaker There’s something ‘old school’ about this beachside bar and restaurant – whether it’s the batik-wearing staff or the sunburned patrons wandering around in their swimwear. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, JBR (04 399 1111).
Other Al-fresco haunts Barsha and Tecom Al Dente This generic Italian restaurant, tucked away at the back of the Byblos Hotel, has a small, enclosed terrace that warrants a mention if only because there are so few al-fresco venues in this part of town. Byblos Hotel, TECOM (04 448 8000).
Belgian Beer Café The long, thin outdoor terrace is lined with booths and partially covered by a canopy. Grand Millennium, TECOM (04 423 4111).
Sanabel This terrace boasts a terrific vista of Sheikh Zayed Road from on high, offering views all the way to Downtown. Pullman Dubai, Mall of the Emirates (04 377 2000).
Satwa, Bur Dubai and Karama Bait Al Wakeel A great place to absorb the bustle of the textile souk area. You get the best of busy Dubai Creek – watch dhows and water taxis cruise past as you eat. Bur Dubai, near textile souk and Bait Al Wakeel office building (04 353 0530).
Max’s Restaurant Expect authentic Filipino food served on a sizeable, buzzing terrace on Bank Street. It’s a great place to watch the hubbub of Old Dubai. Trade Centre Road, Bur Dubai (04 325 7797).
Basta Art Café The leafy outdoor area is an ideal spot for a healthy breakfast – we recommend every Dubaian visit this place at least once. Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai (04 353 5071).
Ravi Restaurant Ravi doesn’t have any ‘terrace’ to speak of, just tables and plastic stools where you can sit, order tasty budget Pakistani fare and take in the best of Satwa. Satwa Roundabout (04 331 5353).
Out of town Al Hadeerah Try a Middle-Easten-themed show in the desert, utilising a nearby sand dune. Bab Al Shams (04 809 6194).
Blue Marlin DJs blare out music in the afternoon, while beautiful people bask in the sun. The European food is good, but not cheap. Golden Tulip Al Jazira, Ghantoot (056 113 3400).
Farriers Hold off visiting here until the horse-racing season starts again on Thursday November 8. The restaurant will then introduce packages especially for the occasion, meaning you can eat, drink and be merry while enjoying views of the Meydan racetrack. The Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba (04 381 3111).
Nineteen Overlooking the rolling greens of the Montgomerie golf course, Nineteen is a lovely spot to dine al-fresco. The Address Montgomerie, Emirates Hills (04 390 5600).
Rare A well as views of the lush, softly lit polo field, the outdoor terrace also boasts a panorama of Sheikh Zayed Road’s distant skyscrapers. Desert Palm, Al Awir Road, past International City and Dragon Mart (04 323 8888).