Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2020: winners and highly commended

These are the very best restaurants in Dubai

Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2020: winners and highly commended

The Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2020, in association with Dubai Food Festival took place on Wednesday February 19. Here are the very best restaurants in Dubai, by category. For the full shortlists, click here.

ASIAN

WINNER:
3 Fils

This cool Asian seafood spot at Jumeirah Fishing Harbour launched with a bang in 2017 and has only got better. It’s a cosy restaurant that gets busy, so arrive in good time to sample spectacular sushi. Staff are friendly, while the food is top-notch and creative.
Open Mon-Sat, noon-midnight. Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, www.3fils.com (056 273 0030).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
BB Social Dining
Bao, bites, bowls and barbecue – this place is all about the B. And we love it. Dishes are inventive and fun, from super-green hummus to soft shell crab bao. Plus don’t miss the desserts, they’re lip-smackingly delicious. B ready to go there.
Open Sun-Thu noon-midnight, Fri 1pm-1am, Sat noon-1am. DIFC, www.thisisbb.com (04 407 4444).

Vietnamese Foodies
There’s nothing we don’t love about this cool, home-grown café-restaurant in JLT. There’s outdoor seating by the lake and a petite indoor area, too. It gets packed out at lunchtimes and dishes are simple and authentic. The pho is fantastic, laced with spices and flavour, while the spring rolls, dim sum and salads are also excellent. A must-try.
Open Sun-Thu 11am-10.30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Cluster D, JLT, www.vietnamesefoodies.com (04 565 6088).

Chinese

WINNER:
Chuan

A fine-dining Chinese restaurant overlooking the waters of the Palm? Yes please. There are no westernised dishes on the menu – come to here to try authentic Chinese food with modern presentation. With brilliant views and a waterfront lounge, it’s a prime spot for sundowners with a basket of dim sum.
Open daily 12.30pm-11pm. The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah, www.chuanseafood.com (04 564 3888).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Royal China
A buzzing Chinese restaurant that repeatedly features in Time Out Dubai’s Best Chinese category – and for good reason. It remains a solid choice for an excellent Chinese meal, with a menu that offers inventive cuisine while not compromising on the wide range of classic dishes.
Open daily 11.30am-midnight. Building 4, DIFC, www.royalchinadubai.com (04 354 5543).

Zheng He’s
Late in 2019 this swish spot underwent a revamp and revealed a fresh new look and menu which was designed by chef Lai Min Wei (formerly of global chain Hakkasan). The food here is utterly delicious and beautifully presented – if you have a hankering for classic Chinese cuisine with a modern twist, you won’t be disappointed. Plus the views are superb. A hit with tourists and residents alike.
Open daily noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm. Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, Umm Suqeim, www.jumeirah.com (04 432 3232).

EUROPEAN

WINNER:
folly by Nick & Scott

Everything about this popular Souk Madinat restaurant from famed chefs Nick Alvis and Scott Price is stellar. Creativity with classic ingredients are what this culinary duo not only do, but do exceptionally well to create outstanding contemporary European food. The Devon crab and smoked quail are stand-outs, and the views from the terrace over the waterways aren’t half bad either.
Open daily noon-midnight. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, www.folly.ae (04 430 8535).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
carine

This popular spot from chef Izu Ani has a lovely setting and a Mediterranean menu of dishes that include foie gras salad, grilled harissa prawns and perfectly executed rib-eye steak. When the weather allows, a table on the terrace overlooking the exceptionally well- manicured fairways is a must.
Open Sun-Wed noon-3pm, 7pm-10.30pm, Thu noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 8.30am-3pm and 7pm-11pm. Emirates Golf Club, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.carine.ae (04 417 9885).

Hell’s Kitchen
This Gordon Ramsay restaurant at Bluewaters Dubai is a sister of the British chef’s famed Las Vegas outpost – and a spin-off from the TV show of the same name. Expect top-notch British food – including the famous chef’s world-renowned beef Wellington – as well as a lively Friday brunch.
Open daily 7am-10.30am, noon-3.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm. Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai (04 556 6466).

French

WINNER:
LPM Restaurant & Bar

A worldwide name (formerly La Petite Maison) this popular French restaurant is always packed. Staff are slick and there’s always a lively buzz – especially post-work when the DIFC crowd also come in for drinks at the bar. We’ve long waxed lyrical about the lamb cutlets, which are some of the best around, and should definitely be paired with rich, indulgent dauphinoise potatoes.
Open daily noon-3.30pm, 7pm-1am. DIFC, www.lpmlondon.co.uk/dubai (04 439 0505).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Bistrot Bagatelle

If you love a lively night out, this is for you. Don’t even think about turning up to this restaurant early as the vibe only increases as the night goes on. It’s a cracking night out with pumping music and a lively atmosphere to go alongside your dinner. But it’s not just about the party, food more than holds its own such as classics like Burgundy snails with beef pancetta, whole truffle roasted chicken and a lip-smacking lobster pasta dish.
Open Sat-Wed 8pm-2am, Thu-Fri 8pm-3am. Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.bagatelledubai.com (04 354 5035).

La Cantine du Faubourg
Hailing from Paris, this trendy French restaurant is a top spot whether for a date or with mates. Dishes are excellent and the vibe is fun and upbeat. There’s a cool bar area, too, plus a cute outdoor terrace. It’s arty, it’s fun – it’s the whole package.
Open Sun-Wed noon-2am, Thu-Fri noon-3am, Sat noon-6pm, 8pm-2am. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.lacantine.ae (04 352 7105).

Greek

WINNER:
Mythos Kouzina & Grill

Mythos is a permanently busy taverna found in JLT. The food, atmosphere and décor of this cool spot are all outstanding and the restaurant offers superb value for money. Try the lamb keftedes, feta dip, saganaki, marinated grilled octopus and more, all at once.
Open daily 12.30pm-5pm, 7pm-11.30pm. Armada BlueBay Hotel, Cluster P, JLT, www.mythoskouzina.com (04 399 816).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
GAIA

A super-swanky, bright and sophisticated restaurant that’s befitting of its central DIFC location. Get your hands on a hugely satisfying cheese and truffle pie, which is reminiscent of pide/khachapuri, as well as an insanely moreish feta saganaki, in addition to a raw bar, salads and a selection of meats and grilled items.
Open Sun-Thu noon-1am, Fri-Sat 12.30pm-1am. Gate Village 4, DIFC, www.gaia.com (04 241 4242).

OPA
A previous winner of Time Out Dubai’s Best Fine Dining Newcomer award, this eatery at Fairmont Dubai is a hit with the city’s well-heeled and glamorous foodie crew. A range of special mixed drinks supplement a huge range of mixed cold and hot starters, salads, grills and even Greek pizzas – kalispera indeed. There’s a lively, fun, vibe too – expect Zorba dancing and plate smashing aplenty.
Open Sat-Wed 7pm-1am, Thu-Fri 7pm-2am. Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.opadubai.com (04 357 0557).

Indian

WINNER:
Indya by Vineet

Expect to find Indian-style tapas at this incredibly lively, funky Indian restaurant in JBR. It’s run by the eponymous Indian chef, who was the first to receive a Michelin star for one of his restaurants, and boasts more than 70 dishes grouped into four sections: from the earth, from the land, from the sea and sweets.
Open daily 12.30pm-3.30pm, 7pm-midnight. Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina, www.indya-dubai.com (04 316 5550).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Carnival by Trèsind
A year in, year out favourite found in DIFC that never fails to disappoint. Head along late in the week for a really lively time, with some extravagant mixed drinks and a very modern take on Indian cuisine. The desserts are spectacular, but all of the food here goes down a storm (usually in a cloud of dry ice).
Open daily noon-3.30pm, 7pm-11.30pm. Burj Daman, DIFC, www.carnivalbytresind.com (052 242 4262).

Masti
A previous winner of this category, this seaside hotspot is a cracking place for a late-night bite and party vibes on the weekend. Fine-dining meets fusion here, where you’ll often find live music, top-notch mixed drinks and dishes that verge on the weird and wonderful (but always brilliant).
Open Sat-Wed 1pm-1am, Thu-Fri 1pm-2am. La Mer South, Jumeirah 1, www.mastidubai.com (800 62784).

Italian

WINNER:
Il Borro Tuscan Bistro

Il Borro ticks all the boxes. The Italian eatery nestled on the banks of Jumeirah Al Naseem’s serene turtle lagoon whips up consistently good food, delivered with a flourish of excellent service and the setting is thoroughly charming. It’s twice won Time Out Dubai’s Restaurant of the Year award and you can’t go wrong here, whether it’s for a family lunch or anniversary dinner.
Open daily noon-3.30pm, 7pm-1am. Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel, Umm Suqeim, www.ilborrotuscanbistro.ae (04 275 2555).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Marea
A gastronomic delight all the way from New York (where it has a Michelin star), Marea is a stand-out Italian seafood restaurant in a city awash with Italian cuisine. Expect flawless service and dishes that are delicately and artistically plated, not to mention delicious. Don’t miss the salty, squidgy grilled octopus with brilliantly bouncy fregola, or the lightly coated fritto misto.
Open daily noon-4pm, 7pm-1am. Gate Village 7, DIFC, www.marearestaurant.com (04 583 6366).

Social by Heinz Beck
It doesn’t get much fancier or elegant than Social by Heinz Beck and a meal here is fine dining at its very best. The menu is a concise list of salads, appetisers, pastas, mains and sides and everything is top-notch in quality, taste and presentation, while desserts, in particular, are stunning.
Open Mon-Sat 6.30pm-11pm. Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, waldorfastoria3.hilton.com (04 818 2222).

Japanese

WINNER:
Zuma

Having been one of the most successful restaurants in the city – not just in the Japanese sphere – for more than a decade now, it’s safe to say Zuma is doing one or two things right. From business lunches to romantic dinners, Friday brunches or just a post-work drink at the bar, Zuma has it all
and then some.
Open Sun-Thu noon-3.30pm, 7pm-midnight, Fri 12.30pm-4pm, 7pm-1am, Sat 12.30pm-4pm, 7pm-midnight. Gate Village 6, DIFC, www.zumarestaurant.com (04 425 5660).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Akira Back

This restaurant is cool, sophisticated and slick. It was also the first in the UAE from professional snowboarder-turned-Michelin starred-chef Akira Back, and it has his stamp all over. The dishes are split into hot and cold plates, sushi rolls, a robata grill and some salads and sharing options and feature famous signature dishes including the tuna pizza, plus a dedicated vegan menu. The food is impressive and you’ll – without a doubt – be Back for more.
Open daily 7pm-midnight. W Dubai - The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.akirabackdubai.com (04 245 5800).

Fujiya Japanese Restaurant
This traditional izakaya-style restaurant in Garhoud is as authentic as they come. Slurp up ramen, dig into a hot pot, try the sushi and enjoy tasty Japanese dishes. The interiors are pared back and low-key and the vibe is lively. A top addition to the Japanese dining scene.
Open 24-hours. Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai, Garhoud, www.fujiyarestaurantuae.com (04 702 8846).

Latin American

WINNER:
COYA

Since opening in 2015, this restaurant has continued to wow us, racking up awards year on year. Spanish, Japanese and Chinese twists are added to Peruvian dishes with real skill, and we can’t get enough of the tacos and the tableside guac.
Open Mon-Wed 12.30pm-1.30am, Thu-Sat 12.30pm-2am, Sun noon-1.30pm. Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah, www.coyarestaurant.com (04 316 9600).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
LIMA Dubai

Another global chain, LIMA Dubai is a Peruvian restaurant that serves the freshest and simplest ingredients that will leave you talking about your meal for weeks after. The dishes are adventurous and absolutely scrumptious. We recommend you try the ceviches, particularly the quirky sautéed avocado version.
Open daily noon-midnight. City Walk, Al Safa Street, www.limadubai.com (056 500 4571).

Mama Zonia
One of the most popular spots in Pier 7, Mama Zonia is uber-cool and always packed to the rafters. The views outside are gorgeous, as expected with the Marina location, but the delicious food (the ceviche especially) and the foliage-filled interior, is exactly why we love this Amazonian-themed restaurant.
Open Sat-Mon noon-1am, Tue-Fri noon-2am. Pier 7, Dubai Marina, www.pier7.ae (04 240 4747).

Lebanese

WINNER:
Ibn AlBahr

This restaurant’s tagline is ‘run by fishermen’, and you won’t want to miss out on the fresh seafood here. There’s a fish market where you can pick your own to be freshly prepared, and the rest of the menu is a hit with seafood-lovers, too. Mezze-wise the hummus and vine leaves are top picks.
Open daily noon-midnight. Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah, www.ibnalbahr.me (04 553 9575).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Al Safadi
There are four Al Safadis dotted about Dubai, and we can see why this chain has proven to be so successful. You’ll get to wolf down moreish, authentic Lebanese food in a casual setting and you’ll be back time and again.
Daily 8am-2am. Umm Al Sheif (04 343 5333).

Babel
La Mer’s dining scene is certainly booming, and Babel is undoubtedly one of the highlights. Pop in for delicious seafood right next to the beach. The fresh catch is simple and delicious, the garlickly prawns are moreish and the views are superb.
Open daily noon-midnight. La Mer, Jumeirah 1 (04 419 0220).

MENA

WINNER:
RÜYA

This Turkish spot from chef Colin Clague serves up consistently excellent food, whether you’re looking for casual snacks (pide et al) or delicious grills. There’s loads of choice and it’s all marvellous. The venue is cool too, with a gorgeous terrace and fun bar.
Open Sat-Wed 6pm-1am, Thu 6pm-2am, Fri 7pm-2am. Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina, www.ruyadubai.com (04 399 9123).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Günaydin

Perfectly cooked steak, a tombik döner that puts any vertical rotisserie to shame, a magnificent Fountain-side setting – Günaydin is the authentic (and relaxed) Turkish dining experience you’re looking for. This Downtown Turkish spot is friendly and cheerful, yet undeniably sophisticated, and the team know their meats – we can vouch for that.
Open Sun-Thu noon-1am, Fri-Sat 9am-1am. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai, www.gunaydindubai.com (04 554 0700).

Sah El Nom
Pulling off delicious budget-friendly dishes with a twist is a challenge in its own right, but Syrian spot Sah El Nom achieves this. If you’re after classics opt for the cheese kebab with minced lamb mixed with cheese and ouzi lamb chops – you’ll understand why Sah El Nom has a loyal following with families.
Open Sun-Thu 9am-2am, Fri-Sat 9am-3am. Bluewaters Dubai, www.sahelnom.com (04 587 7096).

North American & Caribbean

WINNER:
Bull & Bear

It may have roots in the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, but that doesn’t mean Dubai’s branch is just a sleek spot for business (although, it does that well, too). A sophisticated vibe, snazzy interior designs and excellent, classy dishes is one for all occasions. There are stunning views, a chic vibe and the food is delicious as well as being expertly presented.
Open daily 6am-10.30am, noon-4pm and 7pm-midnight. Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre, Burj Daman, DIFC (04 515 9888).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Miss Lily’s

If there was ever a place in the city that gives us a taste of what the night scene in Jamaica is all about, this lively spot shows it. The island’s most famous dishes are all present, no less, with everything from its famous Jerk chicken (which, by all accounts, is a no-brainer to get) and staple Jamaican sides to its more tasty seafood dishes and comfort food.
Open Sat-Tue 7pm-1am, Wed-Fri 7pm-3am. Sheraton Grand Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.misslilys.com (04 356 2900).

The MAINE Oyster Bar & Grill
Of course The MAINE’s signature oysters are an absolute delight, but throw in its fresh fish, steaks, chops, pot roasts, steamers and of course, raw bar serving fresh seafood towers, and this spot becomes more than a standard seaside brasserie. There’s a lively, fun, East Coast vibe at this popular spot, too.
Open Sat-Tue noon-11.30pm, Wed-Fri noon-12.30am. Doubletree by Hilton Dubai – Jumeirah Beach, The Walk, JBR, www.themaine.ae (04 457 6719).

Thai

WINNER:
Café Isan

For laid-back Thai dining, Café Isan is a must-visit. In 2019 it relocated to Cluster B in JLT and now has a petite indoor area and a space on the terrace for outdoor dining. Service is fantastic and friendly, the food is consistently delicious and it’s a top spot for a casual meal. The flavours are fresh and lighter than typical Thai dishes, as they are in Isan in north eastern Thailand – if you like your food spicy you’re in for a treat – these pack a real punch.
Open Sun-Wed 11.30am-10pm, Thu 11.30am-11pm, Fri-Sat noon-11pm. Cluster B, JLT (04 557 9778).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
The Thai Kitchen

Overlooking Dubai Creek and the Yacht Club, this longstanding Thai restaurant at Park Hyatt Dubai is always a reliable choice. Sit outside when the weather allows for excellent views and a holiday vibe. Meanwhile inside the open kitchens make for a fun, lively setting. Dishes are packed with flavour with top choices being the zingy soups and creamy authentic Thai curries.
Open Sat-Thu 7pm-midnight, Fri 12.30pm-4pm, 7pm-midnight. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira, www.hyattrestaurants.com (04 602 1814).

Thiptara
This stunning restaurant has a wonderful terrace set out into Burj Lake with front row seats to Burj Khalifa. Dishes are super-tasty, with classic dishes done well – especially the green curry and delicious satay.
Open Sat-Thu 6pm-11.30pm, Fri 12.30pm-4pm, 6pm-11.30pm. Palace Downtown Dubai, www.addresshotels.com (04 888 3444).

THEMED

AFTERNOON TEA

WINNER:
Al Fayrooz Lounge

This is a top spot for visitors thanks to the stunning views of Burj Al Arab. Indulge in a traditional tea in this elegant lounge and sample classics such as Victoria sponge, fruit cake, tea cakes, sandwiches and scones.
Dhs235 per person (Arabesque Afternoon Tea), Dhs335 including a glass of bubbly (Royal Afternoon Tea). Daily 2pm-6pm. Jumeirah Al Qasr, Umm Suqeim, www.jumeirah.com (04 432 3232)

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Al Bayt

This tea at Palace Downtown is a suitably regal affair. Choose from a traditional English or Arabic afternoon tea, where the Arabic tray offers shawarma and kofta concoctions, scones flavoured with saffron and cardamom, and camel milk crème brûlée.
Dhs170 per person. Daily 2pm-6pm. Palace Downtown, Downtown Dubai, www.addresshotels.com (04 888 3444).

Raffles Salon
This is a delightful tea at a longstanding spot in Oud Metha. Amid a warm and homely setting, this is an excellent place to relax and enjoy some wonderful teatime snacks.
Dhs160 (tea and coffee), Dhs225 (one glass of bubbly). Daily 2pm-7pm.Raffles Hotel, Oud Metha (04 324 8888).

Bar food

WINNER:
A Cappella

A relative newcomer on the bar food scene, this spot at The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah comes from the team behind Trèsind and Carnival by Trèsind, so if you’ve been to either of those two quirky Indian restaurants you’ll know what to expect. If you haven’t, get ready for some utterly fantastic and totally innovative dishes. The tapas-style menu features dishes from eight different nations, from Japan to the US, all given an Indian twist.
Open daily 5pm-2am. The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah, www.acapelladxb.com (058 971 9542).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Loca

We have just two words for you. Jalapeño. Poppers. If you are yet to try them at Loca, get ready for some serious spice and oodles of melted cheese. Not a cheese fan? Try the guacamole – it’s fresh, zingy and delicious (and one of your five a day). This cool Mexican restaurant is a staple in Jumeirah for its mixed drinks and tasty bar bites, don’t miss it.
Open daily noon-2am. Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah, www.locaae.com (04 346 1111).

Lock, Stock & Barrel
If you’re looking for comfort food with a side of live music, then this one is for you. With regular entertainment this is a popular spot in Barsha Heights and if you’re heading here for a drink it’s worth loading up on bar snacks too. Mac ’n’ cheese balls, Buffalo chicken flatbread, Angus beef sliders and spicy wings adorn the menu, but the mighty loaded nachos are the highlight.
Open Mon-Thu 4pm-3am, Fri 1pm-3am, Sat-Sun 2pm-3am. Grand Millennium Dubai, Barsha Heights, www.lsbdubai.com (04 514 9195).

Breakfasts

WINNER:
Stomping Grounds

Options at this cool, popular café in Jumeirah are vast, but a huge bowl of cold porridge (stay with us) is a winner. Made up of a quinoa and oat base featuring zingy orange zest and crunchy green apple and hazelnuts, topped with a rainbow of fresh fruits, you’ll be well on your way to five a day.
Open Sat-Wed 7.30am-11.30pm, Thu-Fri 7.30pm-midnight. Jumeirah 1, www.stompingrounds.ae (04 344 4451).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Bounty Beets

This place is a treat for Instagram fans, kitted out in pretty pastels and snap-tastic décor. There’s also a lovely terrace to spend a lazy weekend morning. Dishes on the (puntastic) breakfast menu include “I yam what I yam” (caramelised bananas and sweet potato pancakes) and “you’re all I avo wanted” (avo toast with poached eggs). Everything is fresh, tasty and healthy – plus there are loads of vegan and gluten-free options too.
Open daily 8am-midnight. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh (04 399 3333).

Kaftan
This cool spot in Umm Suqeim is popular at all times of day and night, but it also does a cracking breakfast. Dishes include tasty Turkish-style scrambled eggs with peppers and tomatoes, an authentic Turkish omelette with goat’s cheese and spinach and eggs with Turkish pastrami. Sweet tooth in the morning? Don’t miss the bee honeycomb served with thick Turkish cream for an indulgent start to your day. We didn’t say that was healthy, mind, but we guarantee you will enjoy it.
Open daily 9am-1am. Umm Suqeim (04 338 9688).

Brunch – Buffet

WINNER:
Brasserie 2.0

A grown-up, sophisticated buffet brunch, this has everything from curries to tacos. Don’t miss the amazing seafood display, plus there’s a top choice of grills outside too. With live music and a chic terrace this is a fantastic choice – visitors or not. See our review on page 41.
Dhs450 (soft drinks), Dhs595 (house beverages), Dhs795 (bubbly). Fri 1.30pm-4.30pm. Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (04 316 5550).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Bubbalicious

The famous Bubbalicious brunch has more than 100 types of cheese as well as almost any dish you can think of. The buffet is spread across three restaurants and there’s a terrace that’s a top spot in winter. It’s family-friendly, there’s a huge dessert room and live entertainment too. A bucket-list brunch.
Dhs480 (soft drinks), Dhs580 (sparkling), Dhs680 (bubbly), free (kids under 12). Fri 1pm-4pm. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh (04 511 7139).

Jumeirah Al Qasr
One of the biggest and most popular brunches in Dubai, this is well-known with residents and visitors alike. Ideal for big groups and fussy eaters, you’ll never be short of choice here. Dishes come from kitchens including The Hide, Al Hambra and Arboretum and the dessert display is outstanding.
Dhs480 (soft drinks), Dhs577 (house beverages), Dhs674 (bubbly), free (kids under four). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 432 3232).

Brunch – À la carte

WINNER:
Zuma

This world-famous restaurant’s Friday brunch is always packed, so book early. Enjoy a buffet of sushi, dim sum and robata while your choice of main course is brought to the table. The black cod and grilled lobster are both fantastic if you love seafood.
Dhs473 (soft drinks), Dhs625 (house beverages), Dhs688 (bubbly), Dhs236 (kids aged four-12), free (kids under four) plus 7 percent DIFC fee. Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Gate Village 6, DIFC (04 425 5660).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Hell’s Kitchen

Dig into a mix of buffet and à la carte dishes at this brunch from British chef Gordon Ramsay. There’s a huge cheese table, plus that famous beef Wellington. Don’t miss the competitive Eton mess contest at the end of brunch too. With live music and a buzzing vibe this is a fun-loving Friday feast.
Dhs350 (soft drinks), Dhs450 (house beverages), Dhs600 (bubbly). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Caesars Palace, Bluewaters Dubai (04 556 6466).

Marina Social
Jason Atherton’s Dubai Marina restaurant has a gorgeous terrace and boasts a lively Friday brunch. You won’t go home hungry, it’s all of top quality too. Expect sharing starters including beef tartare and salads as well as sourdough pizzas before a main of your choice. Desserts are traditional British puds, plus a drinks trolley does the rounds.
Dhs290 (soft drinks), Dhs435 (house beverages), Dhs485 (bubbly). 1pm-4pm. InterContinental Dubai Marina (04 446 6664).

Budget

WINNER:
Vietnamese Foodies

This brilliant budget restaurant in JLT is an excellent choice if you’re after pocket-friendly, delicious Vietnamese food. Service is swift and friendly, the food is awesome – especially the zesty salads, fresh and crunchy summer rolls and smooth pho – and it’s an excellent spot for a quick lunch or budget date night.
Open Sun-Thu 11am-10.30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Cluster D, JLT, www.vietnamesefoodies.com (04 565 6088).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
High Joint

One of the tiniest restaurant in Dubai, this Jumeirah eatery has room for only nine diners inside (at a push). Freshly prepared burgers include the High Jamz, a smashed beef patty topped with caramelised onions, beef bacon and more. Elsewhere the Katsu Halloumi burger is exactly as you’d imagine – and an absolute delight. For sides, get the cauliflower Buffalo wings – they’re beyond amazing.
Open Sun-Wed 11.30am-midnight, Thu 11.30am-2am, Fri 1pm-2am, Sat noon-1am. Al Safa (04 268 1586).

Project Chaiwala
We’ve long waxed lyrical about Project Chaiwala’s chilli-cheese toast but there’s so much more to love about this cute spot in Al Quoz. The home-grown tea shop, tucked away in independent film hub Cinema Akil in Dubai’s artsy area Alserkal Avenue, uses ethically-sourced ingredients from organic tea gardens, and its menu draws inspiration from around the world – from karak spots in Bur Dubai to the spices in Delhi markets. And the food is scrummy – and pocket-friendly too.
Open Sat-Thu noon-10pm, Fri 1pm-10pm. Cinema Akil, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz , www.cinemaakil.com (04 223 1139).

Cafés

WINNER:
LOWE

An Aussie café that’s worth the drive for the top-notch flat whites alone. Everything about this contemporary dining spot is bang on. Dishes have adventurous flavour combinations and creative presentation, and the restaurant has a warm and homely vibe.
Open Sun-Thu 8am-11.30am, Fri-Sat 8am-12pm, 12.30pm-11pm. KOA Canvas, Wadi Al Safa 3, www.lowe-dubai.com (04 320 1890).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
21 Grams

A petit bistro serving up grand food. This quaint café dishes up big, bold Balkan meals that are rib-stickingly delicious. There are very few tables and the stacks of literature on the handful of tables make it genuinely feel like sitting down to breakfast in someone’s home. The hearty staples on the menu are synonymous with countries in south-eastern Europe, but for a taste of the whole region, the Balkan breakfast is a must-try.
Open daily 7.30am-11pm. Park Regis Boutique Hotel, Jumeirah Street, Umm Suqeim 3, www.21grams.me (050 841 5021).

Stomping Grounds
This cosy and homey Australian stalwart, in the heart of Jumeirah 1, is always buzzing. It could be down to the impressive range of breakfast dishes, or the tasty brunch options, or the sensational coffees. We think it’s a combination of them all.
Open Sat-Wed 7.30am-11pm, Fri-Sat 7.30am-midnight. Villa 98, 12D Street, Jumeirah, www.stompinggrounds.ae (04 344 4451).

Outdoor

WINNER:
NOÉPE

Inspired by the coastal splendour of Cape Cod, this charming space offers a panoramic vista of the Creek. The outdoor area is utterly glorious, set right on the water of the Marina, transporting you to the east coast of America – but with the striking Dubai skyline. By day soak up the sun and enjoy watching the yachts on the water while at night a fire pit gives a cosy feel. The food doesn’t play second fiddle either, it’s outstanding.
Open Sat-Thu 12.30pm-2am; Fri 5pm-2am. The Promenade, Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira, noepe.thepromenadedxb.com (04 602 1814).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Il Faro Trattoria & Lounge

This gorgeous building (the name means “lighthouse” in Italian) makes for a delightful place to while away a sunny afternoon. With views of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai Marina and Club Vista Mare, it’s a prime spot out on the water of the Palm, plus the pizzas are perfectly blistered and utterly unmissable.
Open daily 11am-midnight. Azure Residences, Palm Jumeirah (04 568 3137).

Shimmers
For front row views of the striking Burj Al Arab you can’t do better than Shimmers. A relaxed beach restaurant, Shimmers serves up modern Greek dishes, so dip into that tzatziki while enjoying the sunshine.
Open daily noon-11pm. Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, Umm Suqeim, www.jumeirah.com (04 432 3232).

Pub

WINNER:
Crown & Lion

Think of a British pub. What do you see? Snug booths? A darkly lit interior? Typical British pub grub? Crown & Lion does it – with epic portions to boot. We’ve worked our way through most of the menu, but our must-try is the belt-busting Cuban sandwich packed with traditional meats, mustard, pickles and melted cheese. A toasted triumph.
Open daily 11am-3am. Byblos Hotel Dubai, Barsha Heights, www.bybloshoteldubai.com (04 448 8000).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
The Duck Hook

Named after a shot that curves hard to the left, if you’re a right-handed golfer, The Duck Hook is not your ordinary 19th hole. And never less that than when you’re reclined outside, soaking up the views of Downtown Dubai, Burj Khalifa tickling the clouds in the distance. Fish and chips is a solid choice, the pies fully clothed in flaky pastry are marvellous and the roasts are as good as your Nan’s.
Open daily noon-midnight. Dubai Hills Golf Club (800 666 353).

The Irish Village Dubai Studio City
We love the classic dishes at The Irish Village and the new spot in Dubai’s Studio City serves them as well as the original. From toasted sarnies to sausage and mash,dig into massive, meaty cottage pie or a traditional carvery every Sunday.
Open Sat-Wed noon-1am, Thu-Fri noon-2am. Studio One Hotel, Dubai Studio City, www.theirishvillage.com (04 241 8444).

Romantic

WINNER:
Ossiano

Been there, done that when it comes to dates? Well if you haven’t dined in an aquarium – now you can. A regular on this list for its simply fantastic setting, you can’t fail to be wowed at this spot in Atlantis The Palm. Don’t be surprised to see a diver holding up a marriage proposal behind the glass.
Open Sun-Thu 6.30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 12.30pm-2.30pm; 6.30pm-10pm. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.atlantis.com/dubai (04 426 2626).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
carine

Chef Izu Ani is at the helm of this romantic restaurant at Emirates Golf Club. Named after his wife (what’s more romantic than that?) the charming spot serves a tasty European menu. It’s more low-key than some on this list, but is a top choice for a special occasion. Don’t miss the tarte tatin for a showstopping dessert.
Open Sun-Wed noon-3pm and 7pm-10.30pm, Thu noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 8.30am-3pm, 7pm-11pm. Emirates Golf Club, Dubai, www.carine.ae (04 417 9885).

Pierchic
Slurp up oysters and twirl seafood spaghetti with your loved one (just don’t splash them with the sauce) at this longstanding restaurant. Housed at the end of a jetty out to sea with prime views of Burj Al Arab, it’s a top pick for pushing the boat out.
Open Sun-Thu noon-3pm, 6.30pm-11pm; Fri-Sat 12.30pm-4pm, 6.30pm-11pm. Jumeirah Al Qasr, Umm Suqeim, www.jumeirah.com (800 666353).

Seafood

WINNER:
Alici

Translating as “anchovies”, Alici serves up plenty of dishes containing the star ingredient – marinated, fried, in pasta – and there’s loads more seafood on the menu, too, which is shipped in daily from Italy. With Amalfi coast vibes, you could almost be on holiday at this cute Italian seafood spot.
Open daily noon-3.30pm, 7pm-midnight. Bluewaters Dubai, www.alici.com (04 275 2577).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Ibn AlBahr

This buzzy Lebanese joint is beachside dining at its very best – unfussy, great value for money, accessible and most importantly, consistently tasty. Top tip: skip the main course menu and take your pick from the display of freshly caught local fish, prawns, crab and lobster that’s waiting to be cooked to order.
Open daily noon-midnight. Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah, www.ibnalbahr.me (04 553 9575).

Ossiano
Ossiano is a bit of a Dubai institution – and with good reason. Excellent service, swish surroundings – and a massive fish tank to get you in the mood for all of the seafood you’re about to, ahem, eat. The swish setting isn’t let down by the food, with the majority of the menu being super-fresh and super-exquisite seafood. One for a special occasion.
Open Sun-Thu 6.30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 12.30pm-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10pm. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.atlantis.com/dubai (04 426 2626)

Steakhouse

WINNER:
STK JBR

With an upbeat and upmarket vibe, STK JBR is one to dress up for. It may be pricey, but when it comes to the steaks, there’s plenty of top choices well worth your dirhams, especially it’s perfectly cooked fillet and sirloin – tender and bursting with flavour. Cool and moodily lit (and party central once brunch comes along), there are numerous reasons to head here.
Open Sun-Wed 7pm-1am, Thu-Sat 8pm-1am, Fri 1pm-1am. Rixos Premium Dubai, The Walk, JBR, www.stksteakhouse.com (04 323 0061).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Baba

Sometimes, a revamp can go a long way, and no other restaurant says that more than Baba. With Turkish vibes, scattered with Anatolian dishes, everything from its seafood dishes and Turkish meatballs, to the butter-soft New Zealand tenderloin (which may be one of the best-value steaks in the city) is a must. Meat-lover? Try it.
Open Sun-Wed 6pm-11pm, Thu 6pm-midnight, Fri 1pm-4pm and 7pm-midnight, Sat 6.30am-11pm. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Dubai Marina (04 511 7373).

Prime68
Prime68 is more than just a place to say “I’ve been to the highest steakhouse in Dubai”, it’s a gastronomic pleasure thanks to its huge, thickly cut meats that definitely don’t suffer in taste because of their size. Quality dishes, brilliant service and an oh-so-very-delicious selection of steak.
Open daily 6pm-midnight. JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Business Bay, www.jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com (04 414 3000).

NEWCOMER CASUAL

WINNER:
Reif Japanese Kushiyaki

Othman started his culinary journey in Dubai with six years at Zuma, before moving on to be the launch chef at PLAY, followed by a brief stint at Flavio Briatore’s Billionaire Mansion. It’s been a while coming, but he’s now finally in his own digs, albeit in the curious location of Dar Wasl Mall. And it’s worth the wait. The menu is superb. Silky soft ramen, zingy fish dishes, wagyu sandos. Truly, deeply immense.
Open Sun-Wed noon-11pm, Thu noon-midnight, Fri-Sat 9am-midnight. Dar Wasl Mall, Jumeirah, www.reifkushiyaki.com (04 345 0761).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
BRD BY SLAB

Fried chicken? You heard right – this is worth a visit. From chicken wings to fried chicken pieces and chicken burgers, poultry fans are more than catered for at this cool spot in Dar Wasl Mall. It’s cool, fun and should be on your list if you’re after quick, tasty, casual dining.
Open daily 1pm-10pm. Dar Wasl Mall, Jumeirah (058 507 5722).

Motorino Pizzeria
Despite being low-key, the chef behind it is suitably well-known. Michelin-starred French-trained chef Mathieu Palombino of Motorino New York provides the menu, and the famed US pizzas, which are featured in the Bib Gourmand Michelin Guide, are made with dough that has a traditional two-day rising process to make a bubbly yet crispy crust. There’s a list of white and red pizzas with a variety of toppings, but don’t miss the global bestseller, the soppressata piccante (beef pepperoni), which is wonderful.
Open daily noon-midnight. JA Ocean View Hotel, JBR, www.motorinopizza.com (04 814 5590).

NEWCOMER FINE DINING

WINNER:
Indochine

The French-Vietnamese restaurant opened in New York in 1984, and has now set up shop in Dubai’s DIFC. With tropical décor and chic interior design the cool spot also offers up an interesting menu with signature dishes including Vietnamese ravioli, made with rice noodles, chicken, shrimp and shiitake mushrooms, alongside new additions such as lamb char siu and steamed sea bream in banana leaf with coconut lemongrass custard, chilli sauce, scallions and ginger. There’s also an inventive range of mixed drinks at this super-cool new spot.. One to watch.
Open Sat-Tue noon-1am, Wed-Fri noon-3am. DIFC, www.indochinedxb.com (02 208 9333).

HIGHLY COMMENDED:
Kinara by Vikas Khanna

From the famed Indian TV chef and popular name Vikas Khanna, this is a fun, youthful restaurant at the new JA Lake View Hotel. If you’re not staying in the area it’s well worth making the trip across though, as dishes are excellent and innovative. Highlights on the menu include paneer with a green mango reduction and a kumquat-ginger marmalade, sesame-crusted scallops with a coconut-mango sauce and brown butter and tandoori lamp chop with sweet potato mash and green papaya chutney. Service is spot-on, too.
Open daily 6pm-11pm. JA Lake View Hotel, Jebel Ali, www.jaresortshotels.com (04 814 5555).

Shanghai Me
This home-grown restaurant is one of several excellent newcomers to DIFC. Expect a blend of Asian flavours in a super-cool setting. Dishes include everything from sushi to dim sum, stir-fries and salads. Our advice? The dumplings are fantastic. Fast becoming a popular spot after work and at weekends, book ahead as you won’t secure a table at this glamourous new powerhouse otherwise.
Open daily noon-2am. Gate Village 11, DIFC, www.shanghaime-restaurant.com (04 564 0505).

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