Before it REALLY is too hot get outside and dine al fresco
Penelope Walsh visits 12 eateries to bring you the top places to dine outdoors before the summer heat kicks in.
Whether you’re a Dubai newbie or long-time resident, when asked what you think are the best and worst things about our city, your answer to both questions may well be the weather. Soon (but not quite yet) summer will be upon us and with it, unfathomable shirt-drenching heat and humidity – not ideal weather for a lunch outside. So we’ve suggested some top last chance outdoor dining options to help you make the most of the cooler weather while you still can. But we’ve also included some options for those of you fool hardy enough to brave the desert heat in the midst of August to keep you happy throughout the summer too.
101 Dining Bar and Lounge Dubai’s best European restaurant charms with its sparkling outdoor seating. Its laid-back waterside location, on a jetty jutting off the very edge of the Palm, makes this bar and lounge one of the more atmospheric spots the city has to offer. Open all summer except Ramadan. One&Only The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 440 1010).
Al Nafoorah The atmospheric outdoor area at Al Nafoorah in Jumeirah Emirates Towers is getting set to become summer-proof this week. The Lebanese restaurant is launching an air-conditioned conservatory area on the terrace, which will remain open until October. Al Nafoorah at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray also offers a pleasant outdoor space, which currently will stay open until at least the end of June. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 319 8088). Other location: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah (04 453 0444).
Armani/Amal Dubai’s best Indian restaurant offers a stylish terrace that boasts great views of the Dubai Fountain, Downtown and beyond. Guests can also head around the corner to Japanese restaurant Armani/Hashi, where the terrace offers music from the DJ. The terraces are currently only planned to remain open until the end of May, so head down while you still have the chance. Armani Hotel Dubai, Downtown Dubai (04 888 3444).
Boardwalk The terrace at this dining spot is its major draw. Boardwalk’s outdoor space boasts three wooden decks built directly over the creek and the setting offers spectacular waterside views. And with an international café-style menu, the restaurant makes for a great spot for breakfast. Open until the end of May. Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Deira (04 295 6000).
Bussola This two tier Italian eatery offers fine dining downstairs with a knock-out pizzeria upstairs. Alongside this pizzeria is also a great outdoor dining space that comes complete with a relaxed, family-friendly vibe. The terrace at Bussola is currently expected to close in mid June when the warm weather is expected to hit, making this a great last chance option to visit now. Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Umm Suqeim (04 511 7136).
More Café At the Al Murooj Rotana branch of this popular café chain, guests can tuck into the internationally-inspired menu in the courtyard garden. It’s an accessible and affordable al-fresco spot and the little patio garden has a nice ambience, as if tucked away from the hustle and bustle outside, with plenty of trees offering shade in hotter months. Open until the end of May. Al Murooj Rotana, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 343 3779). Other locations: DIFC, Gold & Diamond Park, Mall of the Emirates, Mirdif City Centre, The Dubai Mall.
Nomad Part of this extensive, multi-faceted bar-restaurant-café space, is a pleasant outdoor area. Designed with a combination of Asian and art-fuelled touches, the wood-clad terrace area gives way to an open, green space around the pond. For those happy to brave the heat, the outdoor space will stay open during the summer, where guests can make use of the DIY barbecue tables. You can also wander across the pond to the nearby Irish Village and visit another al-fresco stalwart in the area. Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, Garhoud (04 230 8571).
Plaj Outdoor dining venue Plaj has recently undergone a revamp. The changes include a makeover of the terrace, located near the pool and now stretching all the way down to the beach. The menu has also seen some tweaks and a new dedicated pizza oven creates the well made Italian classics now gracing the list, while a lobster tank parades live specimens, of which daily specials are available. Open all summer. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah (04 453 0444).
Rosso Italian eatery and bar Rosso boasts a large, laid-back terrace with plenty of cosy seating and great views of the sea. The venue plans to keep this area open, even during the hotter months, with the addition of fans to keep diners comfortable when the temperature begins to creep up. Amwaj Rotana, The Walk at JBR, Dubai Marina (04 428 2000).
SoHo Bar and Grill SoHo Bar and Grill is the newest eatery in al-fresco paradise Century Village (all the restaurants here have popular outdoor seating areas). The New York-inspired steakhouse offers a greedy, meaty menu of steaks and burgers, but the food is excellent quality and affordable too. Century Village, Garhoud (04 286 8520).
The Sunken Garden Opened earlier this year, the Sunken Garden is a hidden, Arabesque gem. The al-fresco café is an ambient, Middle Eastern-inspired spot, featuring a water fountain and palm trees. Guests can tuck into light sharing plates (dubbed ‘French tapas’) such as oysters, gratinated mussels and a charcuterie platter, or while away an evening over shisha and mixed drinks. The venue has also introduced a French-inspired afternoon tea menu. Ritz-Carlton, DIFC (04 372 2323).
TOMO Dubai’s best new restaurant of 2013 will woo you with its stylish setting and authentic Japanese cooking. Situated (nearly) at the top of the Raffles Dubai pyramid, TOMO’s terrace boasts great views. For a truly unique al-fresco experience, diners can choose to eat at the new tatami terrace, where the outdoor tables are laid out in traditional tatami dining room style. The terrace is due to remain open until the end of May. Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha (04 357 7888).
Cool escapes If you feel the temperature outside is already far from comfortable, try this cheats’ pick of places to cool down in.
Poseidon Café When you’re feeling hot and bothered, we’ll warrant that the first thing you might fantasise about doing is taking a long, cooling dip in the ocean. Yet we’re not advocates of cramp inducing swimming while eating, so the next best thing has to be a bite to eat at Poseidon Café in Atlantis The Palm. Not as budget-testing as sister seafood eatery Ossiano in the same hotel, the clean, casual café offers a cooling, icy white and blue space set in front of the impressive aquarium, home to over 65,000 marine animals, which stretches the length and breadth of the facing wall (and beyond). Tuck into a vanilla, chocolate or strawberry ice cream cup to really cool down. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Roberto’s Make a bee-line for the raw bar. The unique looking corner of this popular Italian restaurant has been devised to look like a gigantic, neon lit block of ice. Resting on the top is a selection of raw seafood and fish delicacies. According to Chinese food philosophy, which distinguishes between cooling and hot foods, oysters are a ‘cooling’ food, making a dabble in the selection at Roberto’s raw bar a chilling double whammy. DIFC, Sheikh Zayed Road, Gate Village (04 386 0066).
St. Moritz Overcoming the heat, one could argue, is simply a question of mind over matter. So transport yourself to the sensation of snuggling up against the winter cold in snowy Switzerland at St. Moritz. The fun, themed café is nestled in the foothills of Dubai’s very own fake mountain range at Ski Dubai, with great views of the skiers. It offers a whimsical portrayal of winter in a Swiss mountain lodge, with vintage posters, a fake fire place and signatures on the menu such as cheese fondue. Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 409 4131).