Get your feet nicely under the table at these communal hangouts
You don’t have to be Dorothy Gale to fully appreciate there’s no place like home. While moving to Dubai can be slightly daunting at first, you’ll soon realise you’re in the same boat as a whole crew of like-minded folk. This city is full of convivial community-centred hangouts. Here are some of the best...
1 George & Dragon A long-lasting lynchpin of the Bur Dubai scene, the George & Dragon offers its neighbours an unfussy, unvetted taste of the old days, without having to kowtow to the pressures of modernity. Cosy charm is the order of the day here, but if you fancy something cool to go with your darts and pool, once a month it hosts the Dubai Soul Club for all your Motown, Philly and northern soul needs. Open daily noon-3am. Ambassador Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 393 9444).
2 Jebel Ali Club Due to its transitive nature, Dubai strives to keep its heritage at heart. Few places hark back to the old days more succinctly than this outpost, original in so many ways, even post-revamp. If ever the phrase “hidden gem” could be attributed to one of the city’s bars, The Jebel Ali Club runs with it, largely because of its admirable lack of self-advertising. Locals will find an unpretentious charm here, akin to a British working men’s club (before the hipsters tried to conquer them). Open daily 10am-midnight. Jebel Ali Village (04 549 5100).
3 Kickers Sports City is undoubtedly one of the up-and-coming communities in Dubai, even for those who think the offside rule is a method for carving beef. Even if you’re not the sporty type, the friendly staff and welcoming atmosphere will make this one sports centre you won’t have palpitations about visiting. Open Sun-Thu 3pm-2am, Fri-Sun 12.30pm-3.30pm. Dubai Sports City (04 448 1001).
4 Loca It might have an alter-amigo Downtown but for us, the original is still the best. With an island bar where you can bore the staff with your latest “saga”, a terrace upon which to chew the cud with compadres and hops tables that let you pour your own, this Jumeirah locale will always be caliente to us. And once you try the guac, you’ll surely come back. Open daily noon-2am. Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah (04 346 1111).
5 Nola While the McGettigan’s is an obvious (and fundamentally fair) choice as your local in JLT, this New Orleans-inspired joint is undoubtedly worth a notable mention. The bar staff are tireless, the food faultless, and if you don’t enjoy a night at Nola, we’d find you frankly humourless. Open daily noon-3am, Armada BlueBay Hotel, Cluster P, JLT (04 399 8155).
6 Reform Social & Grill Step one foot in this sprawling space and you’ll be hard pushed not to fall instantly in love with it. From its vibrant verandah to its gorgeous garden overlooking The Lakes, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by (and welcomed) to Reform. The list of attractions is almost endless, with cinematics, curries and country lunches among the many reasons why so many call this their local. Open daily 8am–midnight. The Lakes, Emirates Living (04 454 2638).
7 The Eloquent Elephant Business Bay is swiftly also becoming a bay of leisure and with plenty of the upwardly mobile Dubaians now living here, it’s crying out for a hub (or pub). Sophistication is at the Elephant’s core, with filament lightbulbs, craft hops, muted décor and a posh bar snack menu. All in all, there’s enough in its trunk for a pleasure-packed evening for arrivals both new and old. Open Sun-Thu noon-2am; Fri-Sat 11am-3am. The Taj Dubai, Business Bay (04 438 3100).
8 The Huddle Sports Bar & Grill Barsha has many plus points, not least its reasonable rent and proximity to a certain mall. And if you’re drawn to live here by its obvious allure, you could do far worse than frequent The Huddle. Mainly a hub for sports fans, it offers the ideal amount of Soccer Saturday-style banter you’d find back home. And its prices are unbelievable. Open daily noon-3am. Citymax Hotels Al Barsha (04 409 8018).
9 The Irish Village It was always going to be a tough choice between this place and The Dubliner’s as to where you should regularly set your roots down in Garhoud. But given its almost permanent vibrancy, sense of history and the impressive live acts it regularly pulls in, we’ll gladly take a punt on The IV. The pub grub here is rarely bettered, and if your team loses, you can always make a sharp exit to the airport, no questions asked. Open Sat-Wed 11am-1am; Thu-Fri 11am-2am. 31 A Street, Garhoud (04 239 5000).