El Secreto Brunch at La Carnita

Probably the best new party brunch in Dubai

El Secreto Brunch at La Carnita

We really mean it when we say that this brand-new brunch on the Dubai Marina circuit is one of the biggest party brunches on the block, and to quote the often-overquoted Will Ferrell, it escalates quickly.

Found at the InterContinental Dubai Marina, La Carnita arrived in the place of grape bar Ynot towards the end of last year, and it’s proving to be an exponentially better use of the cavernous space it inherited.

Previously, its Friday brunch ambled along just fine, that is until famed party brand Secret Parties got their hands on it, added in a splash of sparklers, confetti cannons and live DJs, gave it a good old shake and served it up to the brunch-faring public of Dubai on the rocks.

You know from the moment you arrive (having already first wandered past the perpetual queue that stands outside the upstairs WeBrunch), that this place is on the verge of kicking off. Photographers wait at the entrance queue to take those slightly over-filtered pictures that make everyone inexplicably beautiful, and fanciful Mexican-themed props are on standby – namely sombreros and maracas.

By the time we arrive, at about ten minutes past starting, the party is already teetering on the edge of exploding – but there remains an early air of caution as brunchers take their time before bursting into full-on partygoers (that happens, fireworks and bongo players aplenty, roughly between 3.30pm and 4pm).

You’ll start by taking your pick of as many starters as you fancy – chips and dips, huevos rancheros, and the Cali salad – a delicious, flavoursome combination of corn, beans, tomato, avocado and more.

Feel free to keep hitting the metaphorical “repeat order” button, because you can fill your boots on starters, and on the tacos for your second course.

There are five separate tacos to choose from, and there are two per person. Take your pick from spicy grilled chicken with pineapple, chorizo with habanero mayo, a pinto bean taco with a sunny-side up egg (is it breakfast again?) and a spicy, crispy cauliflower taco that has the satisfying crispy crunch of some freshly dunked fried chicken.

You’ll also get your choice of four main courses, whether it’s chicken, lamb, sea bass or a mushroom quesadilla. But by this point, the party is heaving and the food becomes a peripheral figure, longingly staring in from the outside, palm firmly placed upon the steamed-up window of the raging party inside that’s gone so far off the hook that said hook is a mere speck somewhere off in the distance.

Until you get to the dessert, that is. Because the paletas are a show-stopper (not literally, in fact the party very much carries on upstairs in Cartel for hours afterwards, thanks to three free drinks tokens you’re handed). We’re talking about a key lime pie ice cream on a stick – or alternatively what is basically a frozen Oreo ice cream – each covered in biscuit crumb, and one of the single-most moreish desserts we’ve tried in decades.

A special mention has to be reserved for the utterly fantastic staff, who are personable, helpful and more than ready to keep the party going. And it does keep going. On, and on, and on.
Dhs299 (soft), Dhs399 (house drinks), Dhs499 (sparkling grape). Fri 1pm-5pm. InterContinental Dubai Marina (04 425 4030).

Probably the best new party brunch in Dubai

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