Dubai's oldest restaurants, bars and things to do

Time Out Dubai might be older than a lot of places in the city – and some districts, too – but there are a lot of venues that have been around even longer.

It’s hard to believe, but things still happened here before Time Out was around to write about them. Some places have been and gone, but we’re here to celebrate the survivors. They’re loved by the people that live here, who keep going back, and have become institutions in their own right, from malls and restaurants to pubs and bookshops. And they would be…
Dubai's oldest restaurants, bars and things to do

Time Out profiles some of Dubai's oldest restaurants, bars and things to do, including legendary bars, restaurants and shopping malls

Time Out Dubai might be older than a lot of places in the city – and some districts, too – but there are a lot of venues that have been around even longer.

It’s hard to believe, but things still happened here before Time Out was around to write about them. Some places have been and gone, but we’re here to celebrate the survivors. They’re loved by the people that live here, who keep going back, and have become institutions in their own right, from malls and restaurants to pubs and bookshops. And they would be…

04 239 5000 Garhoud

If you’re looking for a laid-back pub with a friendly vibe and a spacious garden, look no further than Time Out Dubai’s 2018 Pub of the Year, The Irish Village.

The traditional pub at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium has been a longstanding Dubai institution for many a year – it turns 22 in 2018, in fact.

And its appeal is as enduring as it ever was. Despite a slew of young upstarts putting up fierce competition, this established Garhoud watering hole has firmly stood its ground.

With its rustic, dark wood interiors and sprawling patioed (and pet-friendly) garden, punters continue to pour in week after week for great-value pints of the black stuff and classic pub grub, from Irish stews, fish and chips and fry-ups, to hot and tasty toasties in a variety of forms.

Service is spot-on, and many of the staff have been familiar faces to regular drinkers and diners at the pub for several years. You’ll always get a warm welcome and you’re sure to stay longer than you expected, too.

With a front designed to look like an authentic village and a lush green lawn, it’s hard to beat this spot for a lazy afternoon in the sunshine. Don’t miss a trip to The Irish Village.

If you know it, you’ll love it.

The bottom line
A perfect place for a pint.

04 305 6399 Sheikh Zayed Road

Globally famous for its Tiki décor, Polynesian mixed drinks and tasty fusion dishes, there’s a reason Trader Vic’s has been hugely popular the world over for the best part of a century. And that rings true here in Dubai.

Created by Vic “The Trader” Bergeron in 1934, there are now multiple locations around the world, from London to San Francisco and Munich.

And there will soon be three in Dubai, with one in Souk Madinat Jumeirah and a brand-new branch to open at Hilton Dubai Jumeirah (in JBR) in March. And, of course, there’s the ever-popular, long-standing Sheikh Zayed Road branch.

This might be the oldest and, inevitably, the least touristy, of the lot but it still packs a punch when it comes to all things Polynesian. Although we can’t see a huge amount of change since it’s “revamp” last year – the bar boasts all the classic dark wood carvings and questionably patterned furnishings – it has the same old vibe, which is not a bad thing. It’s laid-back, fun and the drinks are as tropical as ever.

Don’t miss the bar bites either, we can’t get enough of the jalapeño cheese balls, which are gloriously gooey and fiery.

Plus with live music and a Wednesday ladies’ night, you’d do worse than drop into this tiki bar on an casual evening out.

The bottom line

An oldie, but still a goodie.

Pakistani 04 331 5353 Satwa

Ask most long-term Dubai residents and they’ll tell you that Indian-Pakistani Ravi Restaurant is somewhat of an institution here. There’s nothing fancy about it all – there are plastic tablecloths, polystyrene cups and a basic menu spanning classics from the cuisines – but that’s its charm. A very mixed crowd make the journey to Satwa to sit outside on the garden-style furniture and relax with some friends in such a casual, laid-back setting. You can tell many of the punters head there often – the super-friendly staff greet them like old friends. As for new customers, waiters are armed with great suggestions of what to order. We recommend the dhal fry – it’s expertly spiced and extremely moreish, especially when scooped up with the naan. The mutton peshwari is also a Time Out Dubai favourite; spicy and a sweet, with tender meat and a rich, complex sauce. Oh, and it’s very reasonably priced, too.

Wild Wadi will be closed for refurbishment from January 13-February 9 2018.

So, what’s this Wild Wadi? Is it out in the desert somewhere?
No. It’s on Jumeirah Beach Road, between the Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Hotel. If you really haven’t heard of it, it’s one of the biggest waterparks in Dubai and was named as one of the top 25 in the world by TripAdvisor this year.

It sounds like the name of a nature documentary.
Well, it’s a real place. Wild Wadi Waterpark opened in 1999, so it’s been around a while. It might even have been here longer than you have. You might recognise it from reality TV gameshow The Amazing Race. The park is loosely based on the story of Juha, a character from Arab folklore, who is friends with the slightly-more-famous character, Sinbad. No wildlife here…

What’s in there, then? I’m guessing there’s a lot of water.
Good guess. Since it’s a wadi (well, not literally, of course) there are occasional floods. The 18-metre waterfall near the entrance of the park pours torrents of water every few minutes. There are three swimming pools in the park, as well as more than 30 rides, some of which are the first of their kind in the region.

Sounds like a good place to cool off.
It is. When the park opened, it was home to one of the tallest and fastest waterslides in the world, outside of North America – the Jumeirah Sceirah. The original ride disappeared in 2012, though, to make way for a new one, made up of two slides. Although not as tall as the first one, the new Jumeirah Sceirah slides are lengthier – they’re 120 metres long, and you can reach speeds of up to 80 kilometres an hour.

Going on all those rides seems pretty tiring, though.
Well, you don’t have to go on the slides. You can lie around on the sun loungers all day. Or you can refuel and grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants or cafés in the park. They serve everything from burgers and kebabs to smoothies and fresh fruit. But you might have to wait a few minutes before you hop on the Burj Surj for another go.
Dhs275 (1.1 metres tall and above), Dhs230 (below 1.1 metres tall). Open daily 10am-5.30pm. Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim, www.wildwadi.com.

Only at Wild Wadi Waterpark
Flowriding

Wild Wadi Waterpark has two Flowrider attractions – Wipeout and Riptide. These are surfing simulators that shoot out jets of water to create man-made waves. They provide you with all the fun of going surfing without you having to get into the ocean. You can hop on a bodyboard and try your hand at not flying off straight away, or just hang around and watch the experts do their thing.
www.wildwadi.com.

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