Take a culinary road trip around the world (in Tecom)
If you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary culinary experience, TECOM may not be the first place you’d think of visiting. Yet to our surprise, hidden away amid the tower blocks and hotels of the district are a wide range of dining venues, spanning the length and breadth of the atlas in terms of the cooking concepts and/or the cuisine-inspired theme nights they offer. Take the opportunity (and a short taxi ride) to discover Asia, Europe, the Americas and beyond.
America Rock Bottom Café isn’t exactly the most sophisticated showcase of American cuisine. Even so, this much-maligned, yet still much-frequented venue has become iconic to the point of cult status here in Dubai. The kitschy, Americana-crammed, reproduction road-sign-adorned decor screams deep South diner and steakhouse. The menu isn’t exceptional, but it fulfils its purpose, offering an international selection that includes steaks, pizzas and fajitas on sizzling hotplates that let off an enticing aroma. Slip into one of the dimly lit booths under the glow of the gigantic stained-glass screens and enjoy the focal point here: the hell-raising covers band that performs on a regular basis. Open daily noon-3am. Ramee Rose Hotel, TECOM (04 450 0111).
Belgium The Belgian Beer Café in the Grand Millennium Hotel is one of three Belgian beer hall-inspired haunts in Dubai, and the TECOM branch is no exception both in terms of what it offers and its popularity. Typical Flemish flair is evident in the decor: the walls are clad in the same dark wood as the tables and chairs, creating a quintessentially Northern European look. There’s a decent selection of Belgian hop-based beverages available on the extensive drinks menu, including unusual fruit brews and the like. The menu mainly comprises bar snacks, but there are also several Belgian favourites available, including mussels and frites, with special weekly themed evenings offering deals on cheese and steak. Open daily noon-1am. Grand Millennium Dubai, TECOM (04 429 9999).
England If it’s the laid-back vibe of a traditional English pub you’re after, TECOM is a great spot, offering two decent venues to choose from. First up, the Crown and Lion in the Byblos Hotel is nothing special in terms of decor, but it could just about pass for a watering hole in English suburbia. As such, you can expect sport on the TV, pub games such as darts and pool, and a menu full of classic, hearty and simple pub grub. The kitchen also dishes up a mean fry-up – one of our favourite in the city. Nelson’s, another English-themed pub, this time at the Media Rotana, is inspired by the grand yet cosy aesthetics of a Victoria pub, with high-backed leather chairs and an ambiance worthy of old-school private members’ clubs. Nelson’s also has a decent breakfast offering, which is served all day on Saturdays. Or if you fancy a traditional Sunday roast, head here on, erm, Fridays to tuck into carved meats and massive Yorkshire puddings. Crown and Lion, open daily 11am-3am. Byblos Hotel, TECOM (04 448 8000). Nelson’s, open daily noon-3am. Media Rotana, TECOM (04 435 0000).
Italy It’s never particularly hard to find Italian food in Dubai, so it’s hardly surprising to learn that TECOM is no exception to this rule: Italophiles can head to Prego’s in the Media Rotana for reliable eats. The menu is extensive and covers the whole gamut of the expected Italian bases: risotto, pasta, pizza, meat and fish main courses, and the ubiquitous tiramisu for dessert. The pizzas are made in a traditional-style wood-fired oven, and there’s also a bar and a deli counter serving some good charcuterie. Meanwhile, Dante’s at the Grand Millennium offers a standard selection of Italian dishes in a grandiose setting, complete with frescoes on the walls and towering Roman columns to add to the ‘authentic’ atmosphere. Entertainment is provided courtesy of an Italian singer and pianist. Prego’s, open daily noon-3.30pm, 6pm-11.30pm. Media Rotana, TECOM (04 435 0000). Dante’s, open daily noon-11.30pm. Grand Millennium Dubai, TECOM (04 429 9999).
Japan Uncomplicated pan-Asian joint Toshi is housed in a sleek, swanky-looking space that offers impressive views of the coastline. While the menu darts back and forth to offer standard fare from all over Asia, the restaurant also hosts a variety of regular Asian food-themed evening deals. Japanese explorers should check out the sushi night on Tuesdays, or the teppanyaki and tempura night on Sundays. Open daily 7pm-11.30pm. Grand Millennium Hotel, TECOM (04 429 9999).
Mexico International dining venue Channels at the Media Rotana keeps most palates happy with a wide-ranging buffet of generic international eats. You can even undertake a mini tour of the globe with the variety of themed evenings on offer throughout the week: options include Mediterranean, English, Asian and sushi (see page 55 for more details). Tuesday night is Mexican night: fans of Latin flavours will enjoy the feast on offer, which includes live cooking stations serving tacos, nachos and fajitas. Besides this, there are also plenty of other classic dishes and specialities to dig into, such as chicken in banana leaves with achiote paste, chilli con carne, Mexican green rice salad and pickled heart of palm with guava and citrus dressing. Open daily 6.30am-10.30am, noon-3.30pm, 7pm-10.30pm. Media Rotana, TECOM (04 435 0000).
Late-night TECOM This neighbourhood is a hotspot for late-night dining options. Head to 24-hour café La Gaufrette and you’ll be treated to a surprisingly varied choice for a venue this size. Food spans the usual café fare, with good pastries and ice-cream. Try one of the gigantic chicken-crammed sandwiches, before relaxing on the terrace. Open 24 hours. Cayan Building, TECOM (04 457 2327).
Saj and Crêpe Café This little late-night café is pretty self-explanatory, serving decent bread-based snacks including crêpes and manakish until late into the evening. Open daily 8.30am-1.30am. Warsan Building, TECOM (04 454 8430).
…and beyond! If this TECOM- based trail around the world still isn’t enough to satisfy your wanderlust, you can head even further afield: into space. Apparently TECOM’s residents are so desperate to explore the unknown that Astro Coffee felt the need to step into the breach. Owned by the company behind Space World Arabia, this space flight-themed café boasts its own brand of Brazilian coffee, a TV area showing sports, stock market monitors, and free internet and laptop hire. Thankfully the food doesn’t continue the space theme (no vacuum-packed, freeze-dried delicacies to contend with here), but neither is the menu particularly out of this world. Among all the usual café standards you’d expect (pasta, crêpes, muffins and the like), there are also several American and Latin dishes on the menu, such as corn and cheese dogs, pumpkin pie, burritos and quesadillas. Open Sun-Thu 7am-11pm. Fri 10am-10pm. Tameem House, TECOM (04 450 8850).