18 of the best family-friendly restaurants

Top choices for little appetites

18 of the best family-friendly restaurants

Abu Dhabi
Café MaNdarina

Stopping here is a must if you or your children have been for a horse riding lesson at Mandara Equestrian Club, but it’s also worth a trip out just to go to this cute and kitsch café. There’s an awesome rooftop terrace where you can watch the horses working in the school, and the beverages include child-sized hot chocolates, juices made from fruits picked straight from the Mandara organic farms and amazing milkshakes. The food is made with very evident passion too, with a wide choice of wraps and sandwiches to suit all tastes.
Mandara Equestrian Club, Rahba Farm, Al Shahama (05 689 05776).

Dino’s Bistro Italiano
With a vintage bicycle filled with flowers by the door and an American diner-style ‘Dino’s’ sign up on the wall, this modern Italian restaurant has a cool and casual vibe. The staff are super-friendly, and kids (and parents) are encouraged to scribble away on the tablecloths with the chunky crayons provided. It’s excellent fun and the fresh pizzas and top-notch sundaes will please even the pickiest of eaters.
Pearl Rotana Capital Centre, Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street (02 307 5591).

Leen’s Casual to Gourmet

Formerly known as The Surf Café, this fresh and funky restaurant has a chilled-out Cailfornia vibe and a varied menu that boasts fresh salads, sushi platters, healthy breakfast bowls, burgers and vegan-friendly options including poke bowls, soups and mushroom tacos. The healthy, nutritious freshly-squeezed juices are also just the thing to get you all through a day of shopping at the mall.
The Mall at the World Trade Center, Abu Dhabi (02 632 5980). Also Dubai: Jumeirah Beach Road (04 346 6292).

Jim’s Kitchen Table
The cool café is hidden away in Masdar City, and it’s one of those places that everyone in the UAE capital raves about. The fresh cakes and muffins are sensational, and the kids’ menu includes creative dishes like teddy bear toast and Nutella and banana sushi (actually pancakes). With comfy sofas and a spacious dining area, it’s the perfect place to make yourself at home and escape the heat for a few hours.
The Incubator Building, Masdar City (02 491 9401).

Sanderson’s

When it’s cool outside, kids’ will love running wild on the playground located right next to this very stylish café, but it has loads to offer in the summer too. The dishes are all homemade and full of goodness, and whether you want breakfast, lunch or dinner you’ll find loads of options. The summer pool pass deal gets kids access to the pool at Al Seef Resort (behind the café), a kids’ meal and juice for Dhs90.
The Walk at Al Seef Resorts & Spa by Andalus, Khalifa Park area (02 222 1142).

Sugar Factory
With a name like Sugar Factory, you know what you’re going to get with ths one. And with a legion of celebrity fans such as Britney Spears and Kylie and Kendall Jenner, sweets have never been as cool as they are at the Sugar Factory. But as well as selling the famous Couture Pops, the American-style eatery also serves up classic dishes such as eggs benedict, burgers, pizzas, steaks and pastas. Among the decadent sweet treats are also elaborate sundaes, huge stacks of pancakes, and waffles loaded with toppings. Eating here is a real treat
The Mall at the World Trade Center, Abu Dhabi (02 491 4123). Also Dubai: Dubai Festival City Mall, La Mer and City Walk, www.sugarfactory.com.

Tashas

With a gorgeous spot at Al Bateen marina, there’s often a bit of a wait for a table at this popular café. There’s a no reservation policy but you can keep your little ones entertained by taking them for a walk to look at the gorgeous waters and boats that surround the café. The food is worth waiting for as well, with everything from huge bowls of pasta, sandwiches, ramen bowls and a huge range of international dishes, there’s something to satisfy every member of the family.
Al Marsa, Al Bateen (02 445 0890). Also Dubai: Jumeirah Beach Road (04 385 5500) and Dubai Marina Mall (04 458 5611).

Dubai
We bring you the nominees from the Best Family Restaurant/Café shortlist for the Time Out Dubai Kids Awards 2019

Brambles                                       
This healthy spot in Barsha Heights caters for a range of diets and tastes, including for vegans, coeliacs and little diners. There’s a special menu with dishes including pasta, chicken and peanut butter and banana toast, ensuring your kids don’t binge on junk food. The setting is cute and welcoming.
Auris Metro Central Hotel, Barsha Heights (04 452 9529).

Bystro
This spacious café on Sheikh Zayed Road is a top place to grab a lazy weekend breakfast with the family. Dig into eggs, pastries and more, and catch up with your tribe. There’s a dedicated kids’ menu and play area, too.
Sheikh Zayed Road (04 336 8056).

Carluccio’s

Who doesn’t love pizza and pasta? A world-famous chain from late chef Antonio Carluccio, this is a popular option for families, especially when mid-shop. There’s loads to choose from for little eaters with mini versions of pasta on offer.
Various locations including Dubai Marina Mall and The Dubai Mall, www.carlucciosme.com.

Couqley French Bistro
The children’s menu at this cute French café in JLT is brimming with healthy, hearty options from burgers to grilled chicken, which is a welcome change from what’s often found on the menu. There’s also a kids’ area.
Cluster A, JLT (04 514 9339).

Jones the Grocer
This Aussie chain is popular across the UAE, thanks in part to its top deal where kids eat free with every two adult meals bought (see page 36). But it’s also a family fave due to its special kids’ menu, friendly service and chilled-out vibe. Plus, you can buy goodies to take away to enjoy when you get home.
Various locations including The Dubai Mall and Emirates Golf Club, www.jonesthegrocer.com.

LOWE
This relatively new restaurant in Al Barari has fast become a big hit with families. And even if you don’t live in the area, you should certainly venture there. Everything about this contemporary dining spot is absolutely bang on, and you should get to KOA Canvas right now to experience it yourself. Dishes have adventurous flavour combinations and creative presentation, and the restaurant has a warm and homely vibe. There’s no kids’ menu, but that doesn’t matter, as staff are happy to whip up dishes for little diners on demand.
KOA Canvas Community, Al Barari (04 320 1890).

Maison Mathis
This European spot is a popular hangout with families in Arabian Ranches thanks to its warm and friendly vibe. Dishes are simple and done well, with everything from salads to pastas, grills and sandwiches on the menu meaning there’s everything to suit a range of tastes. Breakfasts are decent, too. There’s also space for kids to run around, plus an outdoor play area to keep everyone happy and entertained when you dine out.
Arabian Ranches Golf Club (04 450 1313).

PizzaExpress

A globally popular chain, part of the appeal with PizzaExpress is in that you always know what you’re going to get. Mountains of piping hot dough balls? Check. Family-friendly service with a smile? Check. Tasty, freshly-cooked pizzas with toppings that suit even the fussiest of eaters? Check. This is a classic with good reason, and families around the UAE can’t get enough.
Various locations including Ibn Battuta Mall and Jumeirah, www.pizzaexpress.ae.

Reform Social & Grill

This popular pub in The Lakes is perfect for the whole gang. It’s on the pricey side, but there’s a family-friendly vibe and on weekends you’ll be surrounded by other high chairs. There’s a special kids’ menu, and whether you’re after a roast, British pub grub specials or breakfast with the gang there’s plenty to dig into here. Décor inside is classic, while in winter there’s a sprawling pub garden, with a kids’ play area, that will have them running off all that energy for hours.
The Lakes (04 454 2638).

The Cheesecake Factory
This world-famous chain is a top spot to head to with kids on treat days, as there’s a huge range of tasty, kid-friendly food. Nachos, burgers, pastas and more are all served up here, and portions are big enough to share. There’s also a range of “skinnylicious” dishes for when you’re being more calorie conscious. And for when you’re not there are always those must-try cheesecakes…
Various locations including The Dubai Mall and JBR, www.thecheesecakefactory.com.

Dubai’s new Kid-centric dining
We all know the importance of trying to teach our little ones about nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle, because, let’s be realistic – if it was up to them they’d be living off of ice cream and playing on their iPads all day. Well, parents are in luck as the UAE’s first children-focused restaurant is now open in Dubai.



White and the Bear, in Jumeirah, not only serves up healthy grub but it also teaches little ones about nutrition and cooking.
The restaurant is a collaboration between founder and super-mum Hana Al Mulla and celebrity chef and best-selling author Annabel Karmel. The latter was even awarded an MBE for her work in the field of child nutrition, and she’s developed the majority of dishes on the menu.

“I am very particular about giving my children healthy food, and it was frustrating for us as parents to go out and not be able to find a variety of healthy food choices for our children,” said Al Mulla.

“White and the Bear is exactly the stress-free solution that so many parents in Dubai need. A place where your child will only be exposed to healthy, fun food choices.”

The entire restaurant has been designed with little ones in mind – from the healthy food which is served up in fun and creative ways, to the miniature seating areas and other fixtures.

Highlights on the kid-centric food menu include no-sugar energy balls, burgers made using apples and carrots, a spaghetti Bolognese packed full of hidden vegetables and nice cream, an alternative to ice cream made using frozen fruit, so you can be sure they’re eating healthily.
Jumeirah 2 (04 339 5911).

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