Explore the wave of new openings in this downtown hub
Café Habana This Cuban/Mexican nightspot brings a sense of unpretentious and casual cheer to Dubai. With mismatched chairs, weathered-looking tiles and a relaxed vibe, it may not be the world’s most authentic take on recreating a well-worn, homely meeting place, but it’s a great spot for the evening. Make sure you sit in the Frank Sinatra booth (named after the crooner’s favourite seat in the New York original Café Habana) and with a DJ, you’ll find a good buzz and an ever-so slight whiff of backstreet charm. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 422 2620).
Claw This unashamedly novelty-ridden bar is Dubai’s answer to a Deep South crabshack and grill. With decor that wouldn’t look out of place in a Tarantino movie, there are pseudo cool, ironically naff gingham table cloths, daft trinkets and oversized glasses for your drinks. Oh, and did we mention the rodeo bull ride? Yes, it may be silly, but it’s also pure, unadulterated fun and as the number of people that are currently heading there in the evening will attest, there’s not much wrong with that. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 432 2300).
Fuego Although it’s a Mexican, you won’t find a plastic cactus or a sombrero in Fuego’s bar. What you will find is a sense of urban cool and some incredibly well-made mixed drinks. We’re not wholly convinced by the slight SoHo vibe that’s created by the mood lighting but we are convinced by the outstanding service and also the fact that the free bar snacks are some of the best nachos and salsa we’ve tried in town. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 449 0977).
Kanpai This ever-so-faintly wacky nightspot is a place that’s a little tricky to pin down. There’s a variety of Manga films being shown on the screens, a DJ booth in the corner for ramping things up when it gets late and some amusing touches, such as a Japanese mask with lights for eyes forming a centrepiece to the rear of the venue. The mixed drinks are pretty good though and despite the leftfield touches, the bar maintains a slick, sophisticated ambience and the staff are great here too. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 441 9262).
Sake No Hanna This Japanese-themed place is certainly big. It may be a bar and a restaurant on different levels but what it mostly feels like is a club (with tables). And that would explain a few things as the owners are the same people behind People by Crystal. Yet with a sleek interior and equally sleek service, it’s more than good enough to stand toe to toe with some of the city’s more established Lounge concepts. If you’re a fashionable type and you prefer a drink in a refined environment, you’ll find yourself fitting right in. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 432 7808).