Time Out Dubai guide to Jumeirah restaurants and cafes; best places to eat in Jumeirah by price and cuisine, with reviews, contact info, hours and deals.
Iconic for its views of the Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah is home to restaurants that have something for everyone. Feel like your floating on water while eating seafood at one of the most romantic places in the city, or avoid the huge hotel outlets and experience the other side of the Jumeirah with a more casual experience at a café somewhere along Jumeirah Road. Serene spots for al fresco dining include the beautiful Madinat Jumeirah and the lesser known Jumeirah Fishing Harbour which isn’t as frequented by tourists compared to other parts of Jumeirah.
You might expect more seafood dishes seeing as though Cherrie Blossom is situated at the Fishing Harbour. But look closely enough and you’ll find options featuring prawns, squid and mussels, plus an oddly placed battered fish and chips dish. Those not keen on seafood will be able to enjoy chicken, beef and veggie creations instead. Must-tries include the black pepper prawns; a messy dish that you won’t regret getting your hands dirty to crack into. The venue, formerly known as Charms, probably isn’t as popular as it should be, but take advantage of the peaceful location and dine outdoors on the small terrace when the weather is cool. Facing out to the new Jumeirah Bay Island and beachfront, it’s the ideal place to relax lapping up the sounds of the waves and breathing in the fresh air. Although the chilled-out atmosphere is great in some respects, perhaps it is a little too laid-back when it comes to service. Staff in this two-storey venue are rarely seen, pretty much leaving guests to their own devices.
As any old school Dubaian will tell you, Smiling BKK is a bona fide piece of the emirate's dining history. But times have changed. Known for kooky framed pictures, ripped magazine pages and Thai tourist T-shirts lining every inch of wall, this is no longer the only independent eatery spouting Western-tinged irony with reckless abandon. Some of the venue's natural charm and relaxed vibe has been necessarily curbed. Still, such complacency thankfully hasn't crept into the kitchen – the food is still decent. The classic red curry and tom yum are both hard to fault. Yet while the wares remain up to scratch, for most the food was only half of the story to this once-unique spot.
This family-friendly café gets so much right, thanks to a well-thought out menu that caters for all tastes. Tasty treats include tiny baguette sandwiches with flavour-packed fillings such as chicken satay and cream cheese and miniature bagels with salmon. Kids love the cute little glass milk bottles topped with a crumbly chocolate chip cookie, too. You can choose from a wide variety of wholesome main courses, including Mexican omelettes, ricotta pancakes and the creamiest mac ’n’ cheese we’ve tried.
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Housed inside a stylish boutique, Comptoir 102 is what happens when healthy eating meets Parisian taste. It’s a laid-back place, with a bamboo-lined conservatory at the back of the café that’s perfect for a relaxing break. The café specialises in organic food and local produce, and recipes are primarily vegan, raw and gluten-free. Just double check before ordering if you adhere strictly to one of these diets. Although there is an à la carte selection of juices, salads and sandwiches, the main draw is the set menu, which changes every day. If you visit late in the day, you may find that they’ve run out of all the specials. But there’s usually a good reason for this: Comptoir 102 doesn’t want to waste or freeze food, so everything is made fresh to be eaten every day. But even if the specials are unavailable, you’ll be able to enjoy superfood dishes, all fresh, generously sized and flavoursome. For guilt-free dining, look no further than Comptoir 102.
Arguably a mall eatery like no other in Dubai, Taste Kitchen is a casual dining café concept created (on behalf of Spinneys) by chef duo Nick Alvis and Scott Price. Located in a central courtyard space on the ground floor of Mercato Mall, the set-up of Taste Kitchen is not actually enclosed. Instead, dividing pillars and faux-windows are artfully used to denote the demarcations of the café’s boundaries, achieving a bright, open airiness as a result. Service is perfectly perfunctory for a casual, mall-based café. Staff are friendly, they know what is on the menu and food arrives on time – although perhaps a little too quickly, one after the other. The menu offers breakfast, lunch and dinner plates, which spans soups, ‘jars and toast’, salads, pizzas and main courses from fish and chips through to baby chicken with root vegetables. Considering the setting, the food is generally more interesting than average café fare, especially in the case of the beef short rib. Taste Kitchen is a great new home-grown concept.
Taking its name from the iconic and exclusive peninsula getaway in New York State, The Hamptons Café is one of the latest additions to Jumeirah Beach Road. Located in a very residential-looking white villa, the café shares more than just its name with The Hamptons. Inside, the space feels exceptionally, pleasantly domestic, more like a stylish home than a restaurant, while there is also a roof terrace. It’s a bit pokey inside, and therefore often feels busy, but service is slick. Menus are presented on iPads, and the selection is a posh, internationally-inspired café list that ranges from buttermilk fried chicken and East Hampton fish pie through to Moroccan lamb tagine and Thai beef noodle salad. The Hamptons Café serves pretty good food, though not quite perfect, but has the potential to get a lot better. It is also a pleasant, attractive and popular spot that’s worth a try.
Given its name, The Surf Café is suitably chilled out. Floors and walls are covered in a washed, smooth concrete, and to one side of the dining room there is a little bar counter where juices and coffees are made. To the other side of the room is a large tank of fresh seafood, which makes up the primary character of the menu. The staff are friendly, and helpful when it comes to answering questions about the menu. There’s a breakfast menu if you get here early enough, while for dinner it’s primarily seafood dishes that are available. A starter of tuna ceviche arrives in a small earthenware pot, filled to the brim with citrus-cured chunks of fish, with plenty of fresh ingredients lending crisp bites of texture. The fillet of salmon main is served on a banana leaf and has a beautifully crisp skin, with the slight dryness of the flesh countered by a vibrant chimichurri dressing. While a little pricey for the average café experience, The Surf Café is pleasant enough to justify the extra dirhams.
One of the many restaurants in Madinat Jumeirah’s sprawling five-star complex, Al Hambra wins instant points for its romantic abra access route down the hotel’s seafront waterway. A seat on the terrace, with great views of the Burj Al Arab, also adds to the sense of relaxation and promises great things. Which are then lived up to, with caveats. Your experience begins with some tasty tomato potato bread, served with a punchy aioli on the side, as well as some top class olives. What follows is generally similarly impressive. There are some genuine highlights on the menu, such as a portion of outrageously good Spanish anchovies, patatas bravas with a perfectly crisp exterior, must-try beef cheeks and melt-in-the-mouth stewed octopus. In fact, the only let-down in our opinion is the trio of gazpachos, which though pretty in presentation are drab – way more style than substance. Service can be shaky at times, but it’s a rustic and atmospheric venue, if a little on the pricey side.
Created by the same people behind upmarket Japanese restaurant Sho Cho, this casual, playful eatery, which also offers takeaway and home delivery, specialises in sushi, sashimi and maki rolls. Chez Sushi’s USP is its ‘Let’s Roll’ option, where diners choose the ingredients (including white or brown rice), garnish and dressing for their makis, and then watch as the skilful chefs get to work. If you’d rather order from the normal menu, go for the signature spider maki – a delicious mix of textures and flavours courtesy of the rock shrimp, cucumber, wasabi mayo and sesame seeds. The seared tuna tataki is another standout, with the novel nori chips adding extra crunch to your meal. Chez Sushi may not look like much – a plastic-y interior with lime greens and cushions in the form of sushi and edamame soy beans (if you take a shine to these, you can buy them) – but the food surprises and delights, and the bill at the end will ensure you leave with your smile intact.
New Moroccan eatery Kif Kif (meaning ‘same same’ in Moroccan slang), recently opened on Jumeirah Beach Road next to Kitsch Counter. With a tiny indoor door dining space and plenty of tables and chairs outside on an olive-tree encased patio, this little spot is throbbing with energy, and feels very ‘un-Dubai’, as diners sit cheek-by-jowl in what feels like a Mediterranean street café. Even the sky blue ethnic outfits that staff wear set the tone while staying just on the right side of clichéd. Staff are also friendly and welcoming. The food is mixed between fairly classic and expected styles of Moroccan dishes (such as couscous, tagine and grills) along with sandwiches and even burgers with Moroccan-inspired fillings. The restaurant serves pleasant, authentic comfort food made to a good standard, and it’s very good value, too – a great venture for casual North African dining in Dubai.
For casual beachside fare, you can’t get much better than Dubai institution Bu Qtair. Set along Jumeirah Beach Road, it’s not fine dining but we neither expect nor want it to be. You’ll find plastic seating outside and you can’t reserve a table at this fuss-free seafood spot. There’s no menu, either. What you’ll get is the catch of the day, or prawns, in a curry sauce. Simple, fresh and delicious. Service is friendly and fast too. There are no fancy touches but the food is so tasty you won’t notice.