04 323 1833 DIFC

DIFC might not strike you as a relaxed place for an after-work drink where you can put the office and your day’s endeavours behind you (especially if you work in the area). But then you probably haven’t been to BOCA.

In this informal, yet high-end restaurant and bar, not only will you get a stunning bit of dinner inside you, you’ll also get to hang out in a lively bar. Yes, you’ll see plenty of suits (you’re in DIFC, after all), but the vibe and atmosphere is far removed from office-formal or stuffy. It’s a cool little hangout, which opens out to a terrace outside, making it feel big, bright and like the place you really want be in cooler weather.

With lots of seats around the bar, it feels like a welcoming spot to sink back in of an evening, but only if you’re lucky enough to be on one of them later in the night when it gets busy. And it does.

Prices are keen for the financial district, with drinks starting from Dhs37 for draughts and Dhs45 for grape. And you’ll pay from Dhs65 for a mixed drink. During the daily happy hour at 6pm to 8pm, a house beverage will set you back Dhs35. There’s a ladies’ night on Tuesdays, too, which offers a free mixed drink to women in the house between 6pm and 9pm and 20 percent off to ladies dining.

So put the office behind you and have a chilled one at BOCA.

The bottom line
Classy bar with decent prices for DIFC.

04 270 7804 Jumeirah 2

What a view. That’s the first thing you’ll think when you walk into the Four Seasons’ stunning rooftop lounge. (Well, maybe, if your first thought wasn’t “Why have a swing seat and stick a sign on it saying, ‘No swinging’?”).

Other thoughts are likely to include “Gosh, this grape is actually quite reasonably priced considering I’m staring right at the Burj Khalifa from the roof of a five-star beach resort” and “Please can I move in?”.

This is a truly beautiful spot, with a great open space for mingling while taking in the Dubai skyline, alongside cosier, more secluded seating areas that offer a little more privacy (and optional shisha).

Though Mercury tends to get busier later in the evening, don’t pass up the chance to soak up the scene early, particularly closer towards summer, when you’ll be able to watch the sunset reflected back at you from Sheikh Zayed Road’s skyscrapers.

A great spot for visitors (and anyone pretending to be one).

The bottom line
Stylish rooftop with super views.

04 362 7011 Downtown Dubai

When Claw first opened, the current trend for cool, casual bars hadn’t quite yet caught on – at least not to the extent that it has in the past year or two.

Back in 2013, the place felt excitingly different with its frat-style interiors, gargantuan buckets of crab and garish American flags. And that all still works. To an extent.

We don’t expect Claw to revolutionise its image and become a cookie-cutter version of all the “edgier” establishments dotted around the city. The décor is kitsch and fun, but perhaps piled on a little too thickly. The humorous signs on the walls, exposed brick and all-American sports flags are starting to seem a bit trite.

All that said, there’s still a place for what Claw does in Dubai’s, and certainly in Downtown’s, nightlife scene, and we’d make a beeline for it out of everywhere in Souk Al Bahar.

It’s both laid-back and unpretentious and we’re fans of the mammoth portions of seafood. It also has a cheerful atmosphere that makes it feel more like heading to your local than anywhere else in the area.

Claw doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s certainly something we don’t want to see change. But a bit of an update would do the place some good.

The bottom line
It keeps us coming back, but a revamp would go a long way.

04 314 9720 Oud Metha

If you’re dining at Solo and arrive a bit early, stopping off at the bar isn’t a bad shout.

Not exactly buzzing and absolutely sprawling, you can feel a bit like you’re floating in the space. And if you get there really early, you might have to go to some lengths to attract the attention of the nowhere-to-be-seen staff – we found ourselves calling out through the long, echoey space to catch someone’s attention.

The waiter on our visit seems a little nervous and confused, nevertheless orders are taken and our drinks soon arrive.

The menu features a nicely concise list of grape, short beverages, mixed drinks and hops by the bottle as well as an enticing selection of small bites to enjoy before a full meal.

If you’re not there to dine in the more formal setting of the restaurant, there’s a decent aperitivo deal offering a choice of two house beverages and an unlimited supply of antipasti for Dhs120 from 5pm until 8pm.

Solo’s bar is decent pre- or post-dinner stop-off rather a destination in its own right, but it looks the part and feels cool and contemporary. It’s just a little bit quiet.

The Bottom Line
A good stop-off for tasty aperitivo and a low-key drink.


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