Pool halls, sports bars, even trendy spots in the Financial District. Here are the essential places for an awesome night out, while saving a few dirhams.
We know. You slave away, week after week, but somehow, inexplicably, you get to the end of the month and your bank account is suspiciously empty (weekly brunches will do that to you). But don’t despair. Nights out don’t need to be all about exclusive clubs with mammoth bar bills attached to them and swanky bars that have jaw-dropping views alongside eye-popping prices. Keep things low-key and head out to these 30 spots where you can get a beverage for Dhs35 or less.
Barrels Sports Pub An old pub with a slightly Wild West vibe thanks to its tables made of wooden barrels – though, mostly, this looks like your average sports bar. It’s ideal for a quiet drink or two, though match days and weekends do see the place get pretty packed. Which is exactly what you would expect when grape and pints start at Dhs35 and bottles of hops at Dhs33. Open daily noon-3am. Majestic Hotel Tower, Mankhool Road, Bur Dubai (04 359 8888).
Cactus Jack’s Think kitsch, bright décor featuring fake cacti, ceramic tiles and hearty Mexican fare, plus a storming dancefloor and a live DJ. The laid-back party vibes mean this place has never really stopped being popular, and a night here is best described as cheesy fun. Short drinks start from Dhs33, while bottles of hops and mixed beverages start from Dhs35. Open daily 6pm-3am. Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai, Casablanca Street (04 702 8855).
Casa Latina Bottled hops are Dhs32 at this tiny Cuban-style bar nestled at the back of Ibis Al Barsha. Mixed beverages here also all come in at under Dhs35, including Mexican beverages and more. But this is also one of the city’s best party spots – home to two of the best nights out in the city. Bad House Party (head down to the next one from 9pm-3am on Thu May 4) with its eclectic line-up of the coolest artists in genres from indie and punk to some genres that we genuinely don’t know how to describe, and Bassworx – a monthly event featuring the best in drum and bass, UK garage and jungle (head to www.facebook.com/Bassworx.DXB for details of the next event). There is usually a range of deals on these nights, too, such as five bottles of hops for Dhs100. Open daily 6pm-3am. Ibis Hotel Al Barsha, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 399 6699).
Champion’s There’s plenty to entertain you at this casual sports bar, from the pool table to the TV screens showing big matches to the lively pop band who belt out crowd-pleasing tunes, nightly. This isn’t the cheapest place around, but bottles of hops start from Dhs35 and selected beverages start from Dhs25 between 5pm and 9pm every day. Open daily 6pm-3am. JW Marriott Dubai, Abu Baker Al Siddique Road, Deira (04 607 7977).
Chelsea Arms A Dubai institution, we couldn’t possibly overlook the Chelsea Arms for this list, not just for its prices but because it’s one of the city’s oldest pubs (it opened back in 1978). It’s been revamped since, and while you’ll find livelier places for a drink, it’s worth a visit – if only to check out a piece of the city’s nightlife history. Mixed beverages and hops start from Dhs35, so doing so is pretty bargainous anyway. Open daily noon-2am. Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers, Baniyas Road, Deira (04 207 1721).
George & Dragon Pool tables, dart boards and a cosy ambience are just a few of the things that add to the allure of this old British Pub, which has been a stalwart of Bur Dubai’s bar scene for years. Bottles of hops come in at as little as Dhs24, while most pints won’t set you back more than Dhs31. Once a month, it’s also home to Dubai Soul Club – a night of northern soul, motown, sixties and seventies soul, Philly and classic disco from 8.30pm (for updates on events, search Dubai Soul Club on Facebook). Open daily noon-3am. Ambassador Hotel, Al Falah Street, Bur Dubai (04 393 9444).
Jebel Ali Club This place has been around since the ’70s. It’s one of those “if you know, you know” spots, and the vibe is more old British social club than bar thanks to the wood-panelled walls and patterned carpets indoors and a sparse, patio-style courtyard outside. Still, that’s what makes the place so endearing – it feels like it has some history to it – and there’s an army of regulars who will still head out of the way to have a pint here (at Dhs32 a pop, who can blame them), watch a bit of live sports or catch the live band that plays each night from Sunday to Friday. Open daily 6am-midnight. Jebel Ali Village (04 459 5100).
Stryker Sports Bar We won’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of this new sports bar, which can be found on the outskirts of Bur Dubai. It won’t win any prizes for creative décor, but virtually everything on the menu here is under Dhs30 (including hops, Scottish short drinks, Russian beverages and juniper-based beverages) with hops and beverages with a mixer starting from Dhs25, plus a happy hour that lasts nine-and-a-half hours. Open daily noon-3am; happy hour daily noon-9.30pm. Palm Beach Hotel, Khalid Bin Waleed Road, Mankhool (04 393 1999).
The Huddle Sports Bar & Grill Both outlets of this casual sports bar are popular for good reason. You’ll find groups of regulars hanging around the pool tables and at the Bur Dubai spot there’s invariably an upbeat crowd getting down to the live band six nights a week (Tue-Sun 10pm-2.30am). It’s a little rough around the edges, but, in our opinion, all the better for it. Drinks start from Dhs35 for house grape, Dhs32 for shorts and Dhs33 for selected bottles of hops. Open Sun-Sat noon-3am. Citymax Hotel, corner of Mankhool Street and Kuwait Street, Bur Dubai (04 407 8000). Other location: Citymax Al Barsha (04 409 8000).
The Locker Room While we perhaps wouldn’t recommend you take a date along to this sports bar, as a casual hangout for the residents of Barsha Heights, The Locker Room does the trick. There are plenty of sports screens and there are nightly offers on different ranges of selected hops that usually start at Dhs30. Open daily 1pm-2am. Golden Tulip Al Barsha, Al Barsha (04 341 7750).
The Viceroy Pub One of the most upscale pubs in the old end of town, The Viceroy is all cosy wooden panelling, leather seats, exposed brick and chalk boards. There are old-fashioned touches to the décor, but not so much that things slip into being clichéd. It’s reminiscent of the kind of place you’d find tucked down a cobbled lane in a country village – with prices to match. Grape starts from Dhs30 a glass, while special offers on hops come in at Dhs32. Open daily noon-2am. Four Points by Sheraton, Bur Dubai (04 397 7444).
Time Café This huge sports bar is one of the biggest in the city. It has several pool tables and countless screens – so you don’t have to jostle for a good view of all the sporting action – though the live music, dancefloor and affordable prices (from Dhs30 for a pint) bring in a lively crowd, too. Open daily noon-3am. Ramee Royal Hotel, Al Karama (04 334 4088).
Kicker’s One of the few bars livening up the Arabian Ranches/Motor City/Sports City side of town, Kicker’s is bright and spacious in the day and filled with regulars in the evening, and if there’s a match on, it’s especially worth going out of the way for thanks to the abundance of flat screen TVs. Glasses of grape start from Dhs35, while a wide range of bottles and cans of hops are on offer from Dhs34. Open Sun-Wed 3pm-2am, Thu-Sat 12.30pm-3.30am. Sports Village, Dubai Sports City (04 448 1001).
The Irish Village Okay, so a pint here is just over our Dhs35 threshold, coming in at Dhs36, but that extra dirham is absolutely worth it. And so it should be at our Pub of the Year 2017. The huge, lush garden is second to none, there’s a near-constant line-up of live acts and an invariably buzzing atmosphere. What more do you need? Open Sat-Wed 11am-1am; Thu-Fri 11am-2am. Garhoud (04 282 4750).
Brunswick Sports Club We’re sometimes sceptical about calling this a sports bar, so little does it feel like one. This isn’t a bad thing, though, and it’s refreshing to find somewhere so cool and casual. There’s a nightly happy hour, too, when glasses of house grape are Dhs20, mixed beverages are Dhs25 and selected hops are Dhs35. Happy hour daily 4pm-7pm. Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates Hotel, Al Barsha (056 404 0685).
Caramel A slick, modern lounge in the financial centre, Caramel isn’t the sort of place you would expect to have Dhs19 beverages, but somehow this classy bar has one of the best happy hour deals in town. It’s usually filled with sharply dressed workers who trickle in from the office, but there’s a good vibe and the terrace offers lovely views of Downtown. Happy hour Sun-Thu 4pm-9pm. Gate Precinct Building 3, DIFC (04 425 6677).
Copper Dog It’s cosy, there’s live music, there’s excellent pub grub – Copper Dog has hit the nail on the head when it comes to creating the kind of pub that you’ll want to go back to time and time again. We suggest you do so during its happy hour, which runs weeknights from 6pm-8pm, when hops, grape and mixed beverages are priced at Dhs30. Even better, head down on a Monday night when the all-day happy hour runs from noon until midnight. Happy hour Sun-Thu 6pm-8pm. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel – Jumeirah Beach, JBR (04 5595 355).
Fibber Magee’s We think this is one of the best pubs in town, and not least because it offers an excellent value happy hour deal when pints are Dhs28. It scooped a highly commended accolade for Best Pub at the Time Out Dubai Music & Nightlife Awards because, after all these years, we’re still big fans of the cosy ambience, raucous Friday night crowd and traditional Irish entertainment. Happy hour daily 4pm-7pm. Saeed Tower One, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 332 2400).
folly by Nick and Scott The sundowners menu at this much-talked-about new restaurant is surprisingly good value – everything on it is priced at Dhs25. The short, revolving list changes on a daily basis but includes mixed beverages (featuring ingredients such as carrot juice) and glasses of bubbles complete with a raspberry sorbet ice lolly. The upstairs terrace offers panoramic views of the Madinat’s waterways and the beach beyond. Great for a chilled-out evening. Happy hour daily 5pm-7pm. Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 430 8535).
Girders The main bar at Girders might be small but we love the little courtyard terrace that’s surrounded by views of JBR’s towers and the upstairs garden where brunch takes place. Entertainment comes in the form of hops pong tables – plus there’s a pub quiz every Monday – but to get the best value for money head down between 4pm and 8pm when house beverages start from Dhs25 and pints from Dhs28. On a Wednesday this deal runs all day from 4pm until 3am. Happy hour daily 4pm-8pm. JA Ocean View Hotel, JBR The Walk (04 814 5590).
Grapeskin You can wander into this stylish grape bar straight off the bustling “streets” of City Walk, making it a rather atmospheric spot for an evening drink. They pair grape to mood here, so no-one need pretend to be a connoisseur. Whether you’re stressed, relaxed, under the weather or ready to party, there’s a list of hand-picked varieties for you to choose from. During happy hour, glasses of grape and hops start from Dhs25, while there are a few grape-based mixed beverages on offer for between Dhs20 and Dhs30. Happy hour 6pm-8pm. La Ville Hotel & Suites, City Walk (054 309 5948).
McGettigan’s Madinat Jumeirah What’s happier than happy hour? Happy six hours, that’s what. This newest branch of the popular Irish pub has a daily promotion from 2pm to 8pm where house beverages are all Dhs29. Kick back and watch some sport or take in the views of the Madinat waterways and Burj Al Arab for a holiday feel without damaging your wallet. Happy hour daily 2pm-8pm. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 447 0219).
Oeno This simple, modern hangout over the road from Media City is, in our opinion, one of the three best grape bars in the city. It has a bevy of offers throughout the week, including Dhs195 for unlimited grape, cheese, cold cuts and bites on a Wednesday, and two-for-one bubbles on a Friday. Its happy hour, however, runs every day and you can get bottles of grape for Dhs100 (by our calculations, that works out to roughly Dhs20 a glass). There are plenty of varieties to choose from, too. Happy hour daily 5pm-8pm. The Westin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina (04 511 7373).
Perry & Blackwelder’s If you’re in the mood for a laid-back sundowner, or have a hankering for spicy wings (or both), this casual American bar is your place. Think barbecue brisket sliders, sports screens, and a hugely Southern theme. Head here during the daily happy hour when prices start from Dhs29, while the deal runs all day on a Saturday. Happy hour Sun-Fri 5pm-8pm, Sat noon-2am. Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 6197).
Ubk – urban bar & kitchen You can already get a few beverages on the menu here for Dhs25, but happy hour knocks another Dhs6 off that price, so you can buy beverages for Dhs19. On a Friday, happy hour more than trebles to offer seven hours of discounts. Admittedly, there are perhaps more exciting spots, but ubk does have a decent-sized terrace, pool tables, live music, a pub quiz every Monday, and it gets packed out with a lively post-brunch crowd at weekends. (And did we mention it serves a metre-long hot dog?). Happy hour Sat-Thu 8.30pm-10.30pm, Fri 3.30pm-10.30pm. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers, JLT (04 438 0000).
Simply Italian This quaint, trattoria-style restaurant and bar feels like the kind of cosy, family-run establishment you’d find in Europe. Should you get peckish, there’s a menu of home-style food (including Sardinian gnocchi with lamb), while the happy hour deal means you can top it off with a glass of grape for Dhs24. Or just take a seat on the comfy lounge chairs out on the terrace and relish the sea views. Happy hour Sun-Thu 4pm-8pm. Club Vista Mare, Shoreline apartments 10, Palm Jumeirah (04 558 8354).
Sherlock Holmes Everyone loves a Victorian detective-themed bar (don’t they?) but this has the added benefit of being extremely pocket friendly. Bottles of beer are reduced from Dhs34 to Dhs20 during the nightly happy hour, when you can also get house grape for Dhs20, and the house Russian beverage for Dhs16. Ideal for rounding off a mosey around Old Dubai. Happy hour daily 8pm-2am. Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa, Al Fahidi Street (04 351 9111).
The Eloquent Elephant This gastropub-style establishment offers some fantastic grub (we went so far as to give it the gong for Best Bar Food at our 2017 Restaurant Awards), but, more than that, it’s just a great place to catch up with friends. It’s lovely, modern-colonial interiors are just the half of it. If you can duck out of the office early, happy hour is seven hours long every Thursday, with beverages priced at Dhs30 and some live acoustic music. Happy hour Thu noon-7pm. Taj Dubai, Business Bay (04 438 3100).
The Social Room We love Jason Atherton’s trendy Marina venue and you will too, especially during the daily happy hour. Not only will you get 50 percent off a decent range of drinks (including some interesting mixed beverages that therefore come in at just Dhs27.50), the bar bites are half price, too, so it’s a great way to sample some of Marina Social’s excellent cuisine. The goat’s cheese churros drizzled with truffle honey are famous for a reason (that being they’re really good), but if you’re after something more substantial you shouldn’t miss the sourdough pizzas. Happy hour Sat-Thu 6pm-8pm, Fri 4pm-8pm. InterContinental Dubai Marina (04 446 6664).
The Stables A thoroughbred veteran of the Dubai bar scene, this equine-themed pub is a little rough and ready – but therein lies it charm. Set on multiple tiers, horse racing memorabilia adorns the walls while a big screen and a number of other TVs make it popular with all types of runners and riders. The hops prices (from Dhs35 and 50 percent off during happy hour) mean the going will be soft on your wallet, while Friday evenings offer free pink bubbles to ladies. If you’re feeling particularly bullish, head upstairs and show off your skills in Rodeo Drive. Happy hour: daily 4pm-8pm. Sheikh Zayed Road, near Radisson Royal Hotel (04 342 5571).