From Indian to Italian, via some seafood and sushi, Time Out checks out what the Downtown Dubai market has to offer
If you’re in Dubai, chances are, you’ve taken a trip to The Dubai Mall. But if you’re peckish after wandering around six-million-square-feet of shops (or just have neck ache from admiring the Burj Khalifa), pop across to Souk Al Bahar for a wealth of dining options to refuel, whether you’re in the mood for Mexican or have a hankering for some sushi. It’s not the cheapest of areas for a bite to eat, but the setting makes it more than worth it.
Baker & Spice As if we needed another excuse to eat breakfast at Baker & Spice, the Souk Al Bahar branch just won the gong for Best Breakfast in the city at the recent Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards. Don’t miss the excellent (and prettily presented) avocado and poached eggs on toast. If you can exit without stopping off at the pastry store, we applaud you. Open daily 8am-11pm (04 425 2240).
This all-American crab shack has a cool US vibe, exposed brick walls and plenty of crustacean on the menu. It’s laid-back and unpretentious, and the portions of seafood are mammoth. Crab is what it’s all about here. And if you’re really hungry, tackle the beast. If you can finish off the 2.3kg monster (not forgetting a belt-busting serving of sides), you’ll get it free. If you don’t, it’ll set you back Dhs295. Either way, it’s enough to make your bathroom scales fear for their future. Open daily 5pm-2am (04 432 2300).
Head to this modern Mexican restaurant for its cool lounge bar and tasty Latin American food. We love the ceviche and quesadillas, while the fajitas are not to be missed, either. The menu is extensive, and you’re sure to find something to pique your interest. Open daily noon-1am (04 449 0977).
Gunaydin Turkish cuisine is all the rage in this city, and we love it. If you’re a fan of Anatolian food, pair it with prime views of the Burj Khalifa and you’ll be one happy diner. Ideal for the more carnivorous out there, juicy burgers and meat cuts are on the menu. Tuck into a range of mezzes, make sure you don’t pass up on the pide, and then dig into your steak. Open daily noon-midnight (04 554 0700).
This is one trendy nightspot that’s as good for drinks as it is a romantic dinner – the décor and atmosphere is vibrant yet laid-back. All the usual culinary suspects are here, but the sushi is where it’s at, artfully presented and tasty, too. Feeling adventurous? Try the “duck and dragon” (duck confit and barbecued eel). Open Sun-Thu noon-2am; Fri-Sat noon-2am (04 423 0909).
The younger sibling of the Mexican joint at Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Loca 2.0 is an equally popular spot. You’ll have heard about the guac (if you haven’t already tried it). Simple, tasty Mexican fare at a happening nightspot. Open Sun-Thu noon-2am; Fri-Sat noon-2am (04 449 4455).
Patiala Headed by Kunal Kapur, who has hosted and been a judge on MasterChef in India, this Northern Indian restaurant, named after a city in the south eastern Punjab, is not half bad. Try the sweet potato chaat for a perfectly balanced veggie dish, or tuck into a meaty grilled kebab. Open Sun-Thu noon-4pm, 6pm-2am; Fri-Sat noon-4pm, 6pm-2am (04 451 9151).
Serafina This Italian restaurant arrived in Dubai by way of New York, and now has branches all over the world. Always a safe option to take visitors to (who doesn’t like pizza and pasta?) it has superb views of The Dubai Fountain from its terrace. The urban Manhattan-esque vibe inside is also cool, with massive artwork, which makes for a fun place to eat all year round. It’s on the pricey side for what’s fairly standard Italian cuisine, but it’s worth a visit nonetheless. Open Sun-Thu noon-midnight; Fri-Sat noon-1am (04 363 8447).
Siraj As the first Emirati-Levantine fusion restaurant to open in the complex, Siraj is popular with a local crowd, as well as the residents and tourists who frequent Souk Al Bahar. Chic, slightly stark interiors add to an upmarket vibe. There’s a mix of Levantine classics and dishes native to the UAE that you may be less familiar with. There’s plenty of camel meat on the menu, too. Try it grilled or perhaps atop some silky hummus. Open daily noon-1am (04 513 6207).
Opening fairly recently to much hype, we’re pleased to report that The Atlantic doesn’t disappoint. With clean, bright décor and stunning views across Burj Lake this is definitely somewhere for a dinner date. And even if you’re a long-standing Dubai resident, we defy you to be less than impressed by the beautiful vista. It doesn’t come cheap, but the fresh shellfish, delicate salads and perfectly cooked fish is worth it. Word of advice, don’t miss the chocolate and hazelnut tart. Calories don’t count after 4pm (or at weekends). Open Sun-Thu 4pm-1am; Fri-Sat noon-1am. (04 442 5662).
This upmarket restaurant and grape bar has a Parisian feel, with some southern French twists. There’s simple interiors, think wooden tables and steel chairs, a lively feel and an interesting menu. Duck rilletes, foie gras tagliatelle, snails and crab cakes adorn the list, but there’s also gratin de macaroni aux trois fromage. In essence, a posh mac ’n’ cheese. Yum. Open daily noon-midnight (04 453 9220).
Also in the area
Armani hotel Dubai If you’re after a luxury spa treatment, a business lunch of afternoon tea with your pals, you’ll find it at this chic designer hotel. Plus, it’s the gateway to At.mosphere, where you’ll travel in a super-quick lift, before you sip on a glass of bubbly and take in the bird’s-eye view from the lounge on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa. Armani Hotel Dubai, Burj Khalifa (04 888 3888).
Dubai Opera The much-anticapted Dubai Opera opened last year, and is located just across Burj Lake. It has hosted ballets, opera singers and musicians since launching. Last year the world’s longest-running musical Les Misérables, was in town. Upcoming performances include the BBC Proms, the Blue Man Group and Raiders of the Lost Ark in concert. www.dubaopera.com.
The DUbai Mall The world’s largest shopping mall is handily located right next to the world’s tallest building. With hundreds of shops from designer to high street we’re not sure we’ve ever left empty handed. Don’t say we didn’t warn your wallets. Even if you don’t like shopping there’s plenty of places to eat. Or you could ice skate. www.thedubaimall.com.