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…
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.
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.
Fun fact: Long’s Bar up at the Towers Rotana on Sheikh Zayed Road is officially the longest bar in Dubai. Given the name, you’d never have guessed would you?
While it certainly is long, Long’s Bar suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. But because of it’s jack-of-all-trades style, it manages to cater to a lot of tastes at once and is rewarded by drawing in a diverse crowd.
The fresh meat counter hosting an array of charcuterie makes it a decent restaurant, the bar itself, surrounded by flat-screen TVs is good for sports fans, then, for live music buffs, there’s a stage befitting a small village pub, upon which no more than two musicians fit – on our visit, a vocalist and saxophonist duo provided the entertainment with some singalong classics.
And when you’re done with all of the above, head over to the (slightly elbowed in) dancefloor for a bit of a boogie to the DJ before Long’s calls it a night.
Despite being a strange hybrid of restaurant, sports bar, smoking lounge, live music venue and club, it still feels comfortable. It has become somewhat of an institution in the city.
Its decent food and all-day happy hours on Mondays and Wednesdays offering Dhs25 drinks make Long’s worth a look. Head down for a bit of Dubai history.
The bottom line
Its cater-to-all style still pulls in the punters.
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.
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