We dine our way down Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard (Emaar Boulevard)
Penelope Walsh takes a saunter down Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard to scout out the best eating options on the street.
It’s not only the name change that reflects this Dubai street’s hunger for all things new, because on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard (formerly Emaar Boulevard) there is rarely an end in sight to the new launches popping up. This month, to mark Ramadan, the boulevard has welcomed the opening of a dedicated iftar pop-up called the Downtown Tent, as well as the rebranded Vida Downtown Dubai (formerly the Qamardeen Hotel). This week, we’ve diligently sought out new places to eat, the hidden gems and existing favourites in the area for you to try.
Fournil de Pierre Designed in the dark tones of an old-school Parisian coffee stop, Fournil de Pierre’s showpiece is the enticing patisserie counter, serving bread, pastries, croissants and tarts all baked fresh daily, including a staggering 20 varieties of bread. (04 420 3070).
Gahwet Mezze Within Mezze House (a Lebanese eatery also worth checking out in the area) is the newly launched Gahwet Mezze. Inspired by the traditional Arabian ‘gahwet’ or coffeehouse, this venue offers a colourful and young update with specially designed furniture from local designer Tamer Khalifa brightening up the space. (04 420 5444).
Hollywood Burger Within the supremely colourful (and merchandising-adorned) walls of this American concept, you can munch on items such as the VIP Burger (with double patties) or the sunset strips (aka chicken nuggets). (600 567 774).
I love F Café Brought to you by those style mavens at Fashion TV, the café is a separate concept from the recently launched Studio F. Like the stiffly cut diamond motif dotted around the space, the setting appears to be just as icy and shiny. (04 421 1486).
Iran Zamin This large and impressive looking Iranian restaurant has additional branches in Dubai Marina and Deira. In Downtown, the menu is crammed with saffron-scented rice, kebabs and mixed grills. At Iran Zamin, there are also regular live performances of Iranian music over dinner. (04 447 6655).
Ketchup Still in something of an ad hoc soft launch (we wandered in on the day it opened), the restaurant is due to launch fully in mid-August. The American franchise will cook up steakhouse plates, such as hickory-smoked lamb rack and the Oxford Blue burger with blue cheese. (04 363 8595).
Koffeecake Corner At this fun-sized new café, try an extensive list of hot beverages, including imaginative sweet options such as a dulce de leche coffee and a sea salt caramel hot chocolate. (04 432 1835).
Kris Kros Taking its inspiration from ‘kris-krossing’ around the globe, the new restaurant is yet to open, but promises an international menu with dishes from Latin American to Asia, plus a bold, colourful design. (No number).
La Serre Due to open at the beginning of August, this two-tier venue will boast a French-style bakery downstairs and a Mediterranean-inspired bistro upstairs. Vida Downtown Dubai (formerly Qarmadeen Hotel). (04 428 6888).
Le Maison du Café Najjar At this Lebanese style restaurant, the staff are friendly and the menu offers a lengthy range of classics – we like the look of the soups, which are served in a loaf of bread. The café also sells coffee varieties from the around the world (including a Dubai and Beirut blend). (04 449 1177).
Loui’s The outdoor courtyard at Burj Plaza is a real hidden gem for eager sightseers. Not only does it sit within a perfect view of the Burj Khalifa, but it also offers clear views of the fountains, without vying with others for space. Within the Burj Plaza is Loui’s, a restaurant with glitzy and nightspot-worthy decor – we’re quite taken with the giant golden hands that appear to be keeping the ceiling aloft. The menu features an unusual mix of Lebanese and sushi. Burj Plaza (04 457 2411).
Maison Bagatelle While French in concept, the newly opened bistro comes to Dubai from New York’s trendy Meat Packing District. The venue teams clean, cream interiors (think La Petite Maison goes café-casual) with a menu of elevated bistro dishes such as truffle mac and cheese and croque madame, alongside freshly baked breads and pastries. (04 420 3442).
Mizu This new Japanese restaurant is one of the more attractive eateries on the Boulevard, with an understated design, a full-looking sushi counter and unique private dining areas, set inside slatted wooden frames. In addition to sushi and sashimi, the menu offers classic donburi, bento and noodle options. (04 454 2706).
Pappa Roti With branches across Dubai, Pappa Roti is an excellent option for Singapore’s answer to afternoon tea. The combination of crunchy coffee buns are severed with your choice from a lengthy list of coffee and tea options. (050 940 6849).
Pavilion Something of a dream for arty types and freelancing creatives alike, the workspace-café offers not only desk space and food, but a visually arresting setting and a programme of regular cultural events including art exhibitions as well as film screenings. (04 447 7025).
Pizza Pino This chain from Paris is a French vision of Italian dining. While the food is suitably Italian in theme, with plenty of pasta variations on offer, this continental crossover is evident in the kitsch yet pleasant decor – a sort of faux Italian trattoria adorned with vintage photos of Paris at its black and white best. (04 421 6312).
Reem al Bawadi One of the city’s best-known Levantine options, Reem al Bawadi’s Downtown branch offers the same atmospheric experience and traditional menu. (04 443 9690).
Steaky Here the menu is just as ‘steaky’ as you might expect but within a casual and affordable environment. The American-style selection of burgers and steaks also offers items such as Philadelphia steak sandwich, banana split, as well as a soup and salad buffet for Dhs19 with which to start your meal. (04 454 8998).
The Palace Café With an elegant, marble-lined indoor space, and a lively outdoor terrace, The Palace Café is an existing favourite in the area for laid back Lebanese-style eating. Crucially, however, the menu offers little twists such as lobster in the falafel and lemongrass in the chicken shawarma. (04 428 7890).
Tiramisu Café At this Italian-inspired spot, the friendly staff can guide you through the menu of breakfast combinations, salads, pasta and paninis. Among other desserts, the café’s USP, however, is a variety of different flavoured tiramisu, each named after places in Italy, such as the Roma (with strawberries) and even Sicilia (with pistachio). (04 454 7795).
Vi Lounge The new Arabian spot on the boulevard is a laid-back venue, where you can tuck into an international selection of café standards and enjoy a spot of backgammon too. The decor is particularly intriguing, with slats in purple perspex and pine running up and down the walls like a giant version of the game Jenga. (04 451 9404).
Also coming soon! Yet more eateries due to open soon on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard.
Al Hallab The popular Lebanese eatery is set to open a vast new branch on the boulevard.
Chocolate Bar The indulgent café-meets-chocolate- boutique concept is originally from New York.
IV Quattro The restaurant promises a reinvigorated vision of European dining, including Spanish tapas and Portuguese churrasco.
Royal Orchid The Thai restaurant (with branches in Dubai Marina and Festival City) is to open a third branch.
Wagamama The international pan-Asian canteen launches its fourth Dubai outlet in July.