Often considered the Italian answer to happy hour, aperitivo is all about preparing you for the dinner that lies ahead – with a few drinks and a bite to eat, of course. Coming from the word aperire, Latin to open, the idea is “open” your appetite with a little snack, and the occasion usually runs from 6pm until 8pm traditionally.
We’ll preface our list of some of the best deals around by noting that Dubai’s own offerings aren’t exclusively Italian – but they are all an excellent prelude to dinner.
Read on, and tuck in.
Whet your appetite for a spot of dinner by heading to this Arabic mezze bar during the post-work aperitivo hour. Since the Italian tradition is to have a light snack to go alongside your beverage, you’ll be able to get 25 percent off of selected food (as well as drinks) at this beautiful restaurant found at the rooftop of Jumeirah Al Naseem. You’ll be able to choose from a range of dishes including sambousek, kibbeh, falafel, fatayer and more, to stave off those hunger pangs.
Prices vary. Daily 5pm-8pm. Jumeirah Al Naseem, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 432 3232).
BASTA! By David Myers
The appropriately named “aperitivo” deal at this trendy Italian restaurant from US Michelin-starred chef prides itself on doing things the right way. This is also total bargain of a deal, with BASTA! offering two drinks and an antipasti dish for just Dhs68. Held immediately after work, running from 5pm until 7pm, you can tuck into one of the restaurant’s antipasti dishes (think burrata, classic Roman meatballs and even tomato and walnut bruschetta). Delizioso
Dhs68. Daily 5pm-7pm. Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Business Bay (04 512 5522).
This one isn’t strictly an aperitivo (as it runs until 11pm), but if you’re after a platter of seafood and a drink to kick off some end of the week proceedings, head to this Dubai Festival City branch of the popular Belgian bar chain on a Saturday. As well as a pint of hops (of your choosing), you’ll get tiger prawns, scallops, salmon, squid, oysters and more. We’re not sure about pre-dinner, but we say yes to post-IKEA shopping marathon.
Dhs165 per person. Sat 6pm-11pm. Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City (04 701 1127).
Bistro des Arts
Les Happy Hour (not strictly a direct translation) offers up a two-hour window where, every weekday, you can head along to this Dubai Marina spot for a très bon deal. From 5.30pm until 7.30pm you’ll get selected drinks for just Dhs25. And not only that, your drink will be accompanied by a free gourmet board, which includes some pissaladière (dough topped with olives, caramelised onions and anchovies), tapenade, cod croquettes and more. Mais oui.
Dhs25. Sat-Thu 5.30pm-7.30pm. Marina Promenade, Dubai Marina (04 551 1576).
The winner of our Best Outdoor Restaurant 2018 serves up a couple of top-notch deals here for aperitivo fans, depending on what you’re after. This lovely Creek-side spot has a great weekend offer, where Fridays and Saturdays will see you get your hands on a specially selected seafood platter, dished up alongside a bottle of sparkling grape for just Dhs200. Perfect for sharing, if you ask us. If you really want to push the boat out, get your hands on six Normandie oysters and a bottle of premium bubbly for Dhs730.
From Dhs200. Daily noon-midnight. Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Deira (04 380 1234).
There aren’t many better ways to see out the weekend than by enjoying the post-summer weather long into the evening on the fringes of the Arabian Gulf. So, grab your date and head over to this charming Italian eatery, where Bussola has recently launched a fortnightly aperitivo deal. It’s worthwhile calling ahead to book, and when you arrive you won’t regret it as you can get free Italian nibbles alongside selected drinks for Dhs32. There’s also a live DJ to keep the mood up.
From Dhs32. Sat 4pm-7pm. Fortnightly. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina Al Sufouh (04 511 7373).
This Spanish restaurant has just launched a cracking new deal, if you love a snack to go with your drinks. You’ll get three signature Spanish mixed drinks, with a free plate of Spanish fritters, olives and cheese for just Dhs135 every Wednesday.
Dhs135. Wed 6pm-midnight. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh (04 399 7700).
Is it even possible to find a more Miami-chic way of tucking in on some Italian aperitivos than by heading to Key West at Nikki Beach Resort & Spa? Over on the Pearl Jumeira, you’ll able to drift away at this dreamy, whitewashed restaurant, and for Dhs99 you can even get your hands on two hops as well as a selection of tacos. This place is super-chilled out, so kick back and enjoy, especially as this deal runs until 11pm every day.
Dhs99. Daily noon-11pm. Nikki Beach Resort & Spa, Pearl Jumeira (04 376 6290).
One of the reasons why we fell in love with Lucky Voice is because of its “buy one, take one” offer on house drinks and pizzas every day from 5pm until 8pm. So if you’re looking for a more substantial pre-dinner snack, this one’s for you. There are also a range of deals on karaoke pods sessions to enjoy throughout the week.
Daily 5pm-8pm. Grand Millennium Hotel, Barsha Heights (800 58259).
Luna Sky Bar
Should you find yourself in DIFC after a busy day at work and you’re after a serving of aperitivo action. Where do you turn? Well, there’s the aforementioned Crazy Fish, and all its oyster glory, or there’s Luna Sky Bar at the Four Seasons. For Dhs60 you can get your hands on a whole bunch of different mixed drinks, or for Dhs85 there are even more bubbly-based mixed drinks. The good news is that each of your drinks come with a range of antipasti, for free. There might not be such a thing as a free lunch, but there is such a thing as a free pre-dinner. A wow-worthy date, at prices that won’t make your eyes pop (the views might, though).
From Dhs60. Daily 5pm-8pm. Four Seasons Hotel Dubai DIFC (04 506 0000).
You’ll be livin’ la vida Loca (see what we did there?) if you head along to Antojitos night every Monday. Down on the coast of the Arabian Gulf you can tuck into a whole bunch of antojitos plates to try (antojitos literally translates to “little craving). For just Dhs185, you’ll get a range of sample dishes from the antojitos tasting menu, plus unlimited grape or hops, as well as live music.
Dhs185 per person. Mon 7pm-11.30pm. Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 346 1111).
Matto tells us that aperitivo is one of the “best food rituals in the universe”, and we’re inclined to agree. The beauty, it adds, is that “you’ve socialised, relaxed and had some nibbles, all before 8pm”. And in honour of the tradition the team runs Aperitivo del Matto, where you can get some pre-dinner delights. For Dhs35 you’ll get a drinks and what the restaurant calls a “salty snack” from the antipasti menu. Now that’s some strong aperitivo game we can firmly get behind. After all, who are we to argue with tradition?
Dhs35. Daily 5pm-8pm. The Oberoi, Business Bay (04 444 1335).
This is a trendy, art-conscious eatery in the trendy, art-conscious district of d3. Molecule excels at putting together some high-quality cuisine with a European edge and the daily tapas menu is a cracking way of grabbing a post-work light bite. Dishes start from Dhs30, and you can add a hops or glass of grape for just Dhs25. If you’re rounding off your working day and killing time before dinner, this is surely a no-brainer.
From Dhs30. Daily, 3pm-2am. d3 (04 245 4700).
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
The Sizzle, Swizzle, Swirl happy hour, which runs from 4pm until 8pm at this wonderful Dubai Marina steakhouse, puts forward a brilliant daily offer, which makes its bar bites menu wildly accessible. Nibble on oysters, aji tuna, smoked salmon and even a tenderloin and wild mushroom flatbread for just Dhs50 each. Drinks are available for Dhs35 to go alongside, so tuck in.
From Dhs35. Daily 4pm-8pm. Address Dubai Marina (04 454 9538).
The Artisan by Enoteca Pinchiorri
If you want aperitivo the traditional way, head to this fine-dining Italian eatery in DIFC. Every day from 5pm until 8pm you can sample a range of small bites and drinks from the dedicated aperitivo menu, including pizzas, bruschetta, calamari and pâté. With prices at a flat Dhs45 for food, and mixed drinks starting from Dhs30, this is one classy way of getting a pre-dinner nibble, and one that won’t break the bank, either.
From Dhs30. Sun-Thu 5pm-8pm. Burj Daman Building, DIFC (04 338 8133).
Taking aperitivo to the Caribbean is this Jamaican joint at the Souk Al Manzil in Downtown Dubai. This place is cracking for a spot of classic street food, and you can head along every day from 5pm until 8pm for a brilliant deal. Get your hands on a range of selected drinks, and tuck in to a few dishes off the menu, for just Dhs30 each.
Dhs30. Daily 5pm-8pm. Souk Al Manzil, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 557 5601).
Have you been pounding the walkways of the Mall of the Emirates all day, and just need to drop your bags, take a seat and refuel? Make a beeline for Sheraton Mall of the Emirates, because this lofty bar has some cracking views up to the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah to accompany your aperitivo, where you’ll get a range of bites from the menu, plus a glass (or bottle) of bubbly for Dhs75 (or Dhs150). It’s also a classier spot to watch the big match on a big screen.
From Dhs75. Daily 11am-2am. Sheraton Mall of the Emirates Hotel, Al Barsha (04 377 2356).
Vista Bar + Terrace
You can enjoy some simply magnificent views of Downtown Dubai from this spot in Dubai Festival City. You might not have considered heading here for a sundowner but if you’ve been scouring the aisles of IKEA and need to rest your all-interior-decorated-out legs then head to this terrace bar for unlimited tapas every Wednesday from 6pm until 8pm and get drinks and snacks for Dhs99.
Dhs99. Wed 6pm-8pm. InterContinental Dubai Festival City (04 701 1127).