An institution on Dubai’s manakish scene, Al Reef has been churning out these stuffed, folded Levantine flatbreads for decades, and they’re still among the very best in the city. Made to order, try the cheese with honey, or the spinach, packed with chopped onions and lemony zing, all best consumed piping hot, fresh from the hard-working oven. Open 24 hours, there are few better spots for a 3am feast. The smaller pastries are just as moreish – pick up a selection for easy party nibbles. Manakish from Dhs6. Other location: Al Wasl Road (04 394 5200).
This venue has various spots around town, but its prime location is the Souk Al Bahar branch, which overlooks The Dubai Fountain. The menu is pretty much all cooked from scratch every day and the kitchen prides itself on using fresh, local, organic and seasonal ingredients. So the buzzwords are all there, but is the food up to scratch? Thankfully, yes, the proof is indeed in the pudding. And bread. And pastries. And cakes. From Dhs12. Other locations: Town Centre, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 297 5797), Marina Promenade, Dubai Marina (04 362 4686).
This German joint in the Business Bay’s Steigenberger Hotel bakes its own Bavarian breads and giant pretzels. Great care and attention goes into following traditional methods and tastes, and the café is the only place in town you can get such delicacies. It serves plenty of other things as well, with some good breakfast options, salads and fresh juices also on the menu. From Dhs25.
This light and airy restaurant at the back of the InterContinental Dubai Festival City has great views over the Creek. As you walk in, you’ll pass the pastry and sweet counter, which is filled with delicate French goodies. The best way to experience it is by going all out and choosing the lavish afternoon tea – the savoury part is excellent, but the sweet section is one of the best we’ve had anywhere. From Dhs65 (cream tea).
The original branch of this cosy, welcoming venue is in New York, and the Downtown Dubai version has all the hallmarks of its Big Apple brother. There are some fantastic dishes on the menu, but we particularly love that the baking takes place right in front of you. Check out the brownies, blondies and cookies or the brilliant banana bread. From Dhs10.
Doughnuts, croissants and muffins are all available for breakfast in this café on the edge of the Marina. Mornings are busy with businessmen having a working breakfast, while later in the day cakes, cinnamon rolls and cookies, baked in house. are also available. We like the croissants best, which are buttery without being too greasy. From Dhs24.
Hankering for classic Sicilian cannoli? Look no further than this independent café in JLT. As well as the crunchy, cream-filled pastries, tuck into enormous croissants packed liberally with Nutella, jam or Chantilly cream, fresh brioche, saccottino, girella, apple puffs, ricotta puffs, krapfens and doughnuts. Service can be slow, but it’s a lot faster than hopping on a plane to satisfy your Italian pastry cravings. From Dhs5.
Freshly baked doughnuts are made every day in this JLT shop. It was its savoury Chips Oman and Emirates Pofaki creations that first caught our eye, but the full range is interesting, different and, most of all, tasty. Chocolate-lovers will struggle to choose between the Nutelicious and Oreology, while fruit fans will swoon over the passion fruit-glazed Tangerine and the Fruit of Forrest. And because they’re baked rather than deep-fried, they’re healthy. Well, healthier. From Dhs6.
Is it any wonder one of the best restaurants in town takes baking so seriously? The benefits of its daily ritual can be best be felt in the more casual bistro downstairs in the split-level Downtown eatery, especially at breakfast where organic eggs are served every which way on fresh breads. But as an accompaniment to your award-winning baked goods, head upstairs, where the range is equally as impressive. Prices vary.
This small Filipino bakery is perfect for light treats that we’re assured are the most traditional you’ll find in the city. The pandesal (salt bread) is a must, especially at breakfast with a fresh cup of coffee. From Dhs1. Other locations: Jafiliya (056 799 5722), Nahda (056 340 6642), Barsha (056 310 4595), Badaa (056 341 0425), Satwa (056 340 6643), Karamah (0501229658), Abu Baqer Metro Station (056 352 6031), Hamdan, Abu Dhabi (050 8377961).
There’s more to Korean cuisine than kimchi, and to get better acquainted with baked goods from the Asian nation, look no further than JLT’s Cluster C. Try white bean-filled flower bread, as well as green and red bean buns, along with the more familiar likes of cinnamon-dusted twisted doughnuts and a savoury roll with a hot dog baked into it. We’re particular fans of the raisin loaf. From Dhs5.
This handsome venue is one of our favourite cafés in the city. Based on a love of baked goods, it’s the perfect venue to include in this list. In fact, one of the things we love about the menu is the two slices of home-made bread for Dhs5. Choose from country loaf, rosemary and sea salt focaccia or a French butter brioche loaf. There are also some intricate pastries on offer. We recommend the raspberry and rose croissant. From Dhs5.
A café bursting with bar-like atmosphere, the second outlet from the team behind Tom&Serg cranked things up a notch by roasting its own coffee and baking its own doughy goodies on site at Burj Al Salam near World Trade Centre. The signature sourdough certainly wins the day, while there are plenty of cakes, muffins and more sweet treats to take with you after a long, lazy brekkie incorporating some of the breads whose scents waft their way through the vast space. Prices vary.