Time Out Dubai guide to Al Barsha and Mall Of The Emirates restaurants; places to eat in Mall Of The Emirates and Al Barsha, with reviews, hours and deals.
Mall of the Emirates put Al Barsha on the map when it opened in 2005 with the Middle East’s first ski resort, and a plethora of dining and entertainment options. But there’s so much more to the neighbourhood than a giant mall. If you come to the district for the mall then stay for the eclectic range of cafés and hotels, all tucked away in the surrounding low-rise community, waiting for you to explore. Need food for thought? How about quite possibly the longest pizza you’ve ever eaten, one of the cheapest Friday brunches on this side of the city and most importantly some extremely tasty dishes being served up at authentic international restaurants.
A casual American restaurant serving up pretty average grub is the best way to describe this restaurant. The menu features all your Tex-Mex favourites, but there are very few features in the restaurant to make it standout. The food is mostly uninspiring and the venue has the generic feeling of an international all-day dining destination. With the creative name and fun branding outside, you’d hope the restaurant would have some personality, but it’s sorely missing from the dining area. And all of this adds up to a quiet venue. A live band livens it up on occasion, but the restaurant seems to be living off the custom provided by hotel guests who visit on a one-off basis. One good point is the cost, with the final bill coming in at a low price.
If you’re hankering after Thai food in Al Barsha, then look no further than The Royal Buddha. You’ll find the classic Thai tastes here, from sticky rice to peanut sauce, and everything meets expectations. With slightly jarring music and a big Buddha in the centre of the room, this Holiday Inn restaurant has the feel of an exotic outpost in a remote, rural town. But the well-meaning staff make this an inviting destination. Dubai’s Thai dining scene is particularly strong, so The Royal Buddha may struggle to stand out when considered in comparison to the city-wide options. But in this part of town, it’s worth a visit.
Reliably busy whenever there’s a Premier League football match on, this busy British-themed pub attracts a predominantly male crowd. With its smoky atmosphere, deafening live sports screenings and pricey drinks and food, it wouldn’t be the first port of call in every neighbourhood, but as the residents of the surrounding TECOM and The Greens neighbourhoods aren’t spoilt for choice, it does well. While the menu may be overpriced, it’s hard to argue with the gargantuan portions placed before you. There are also regualr food deals and a happy hour to take advantage off if you're around at the right time. Load up on classics such as boulder-sized home-made pies next to mountains of mashed potato, crisp battered fish atop a collapsed Jenga-esque rubble of chips and cheese toasties the size of small cars. Service can be unhelpful at times, but the venue itself still manages to remain laidback and fun – and if you’re in the neighbourhood, hungry, and fancy watching a match, it’s perhaps the best option you’ve got.
Set out over two levels, Bertin offers something a bit different to its many neighbours in Al Manara. Downstairs is the bistro, which serves food from the Alsace region of France, while upstairs is the Spanish and Moroccan restaurant with an outdoor terrace. There are different menus depending on where you sit, with the bistro a white and airy space, compared to the darker, more intimate area upstairs. Choosing to sit upstairs means you can order some dishes from downstairs, although you will also have to put up with shisha smoke. Try one of the Alsace signatures, the flammekueche, which is a cross between a pizza and a cracker, coated in cream cheese, diced veal bacon and sweet caramelised onions – a simple, deceptively hearty and pleasant dish. There’s plenty of variety among the Spanish-Moroccan tapas dishes and the standard is generally good. In particular the chicken pastille, which is a perfect little pie of ultra-flaky pastry, shredded chicken stuffing and the traditional sweet-savoury twist of a dusting of cinnamon and sugar on the top. The staff are all also uniformly enthusiastic, welcoming and helpful, making this a decent stop-off for a bite to eat.
Serving organic, gluten-free and vegan options, with a genuine effort to use responsibly-sourced and unprocessed ingredients, the food at this sustainability/eco store is a welcome addition to Dubai’s bloated casual dining scene. High ceilings, generous space and a light colour palette create a pleasant environment, although the location next to Sheikh Zayed Road means you’ll likely only venture here if you’ve also got some shopping to do. The decent breakfast range (served until noon on weekdays and 1pm on weekends) encompasses everything from granola and porridge to pancakes, eggs and more, while afternoon choices include interesting salads that venture away from the norm, hearty sandwiches made with bread that’s been baked on the premises, plus quiche, pie, pizza, pasta, grills and various other mains. While portions aren’t the biggest, everything tastes fresh and home-made – even the ice cream for dessert is from The Taste Initiative’s own gelateria. If only more places adopted the same approach.
‘Gharana’ means family, and you’re certainly made to feel welcome at this warm and friendly restaurant. With a rich, vibrant decor of saffron and gold coloured walls, to the live music played by a five-piece house band, everything about this restaurant embraces diners. The ambience is overwhelmingly of a family gathering, as diners sing along with the band while enjoying their meals. There is an extensive selection of curry, rice and vegetable dishes available here, and the friendly staff are happy to guide diners through the menu. Cuisine from across India is represented on the menu, making this a good place to mix and match dishes from different regions. Gharana is situated on the ground floor of the Holiday Inn, so there are no views to speak of, but this restaurant is more about a fun evening out with quality food.
Venture slightly off the beaten track in Al Barsha to discover this surprisingly good Indian restaurant in the Ramada Chelsea. Upon first impressions, though, you might have second thoughts. A lack of diners means the atmosphere is often lacking, and the stage often sits empty. But when it comes to the food, you’ll be able to put the less than inspiring setting to one side. Simple popadoms come with a lovely papaya chutney, and the tangy, gingery okra is a delightful starter. But save space for the juicy lamb chops, which are put through the tandoor oven on massive skewers and served piping hot to the table – you won’t regret ordering them. If seafood is more your thing, check out the jumbo prawns marinated in cheese and yoghurt or the fish tikka. Further exploration of the menu will reveal choices for vegetarians, too, including aloo gobi potatoes with cauliflower and the creamy dahl tadka with cumin, all perfect to be soaked up with a variety of breads.
Hidden away on a back street behind Al Barsha’s Novotel is this tiny restaurant. It’s hardly the most scenic area of town and you’d be unlikely to stumble across it on a stroll, but that’s where Time Out comes in – letting you know about great places that are otherwise under the radar. Serena’s seats about 30 people, with some seats on the pavement outside, and has light nautical-themed decor inside. It’s basic and focuses on food rather than flashy extras. There’s a fish counter – choose what you want, how you want it cooked, and what seasoning and spicing you would like. Staff will recommend the best way to cook each fish and the flavours that complement them best. Always on the menu are boom boom shrimp and calamari. Try the perfect calamari, that arrives as lightly floured rings covered in a spicy sauce. Other than that, go with the flow as it’s all fresh, tasty and well-cooked. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the bill too, this is fresh food at great prices.