JLT cafes and restaurants
Time Out Dubai guide to JLT cafes and restaurants; best places to eat in JLT defined by price and cuisine, with reviews, contact info, hours and deals.
Pub grub, pizza and great breakfast spots spring to mind when thinking of food in Jumeirah Lakes Towers. Organised in 26 clusters (named as each letter of the alphabet), so many great JLT eateries may not be ones you easily stumble upon. But there’s plenty here worth travelling to specifically. Home to Bonnington, Oaks Liwa, Armada Bluebay, Movenpick and Pullman hotels, expect big food chains from across the globe as well as some smaller names, plus gorgeous waterfront views around the famous manmade ponds.
The people who work here are rather fantastic and very passionate about what they do. It’s a small place in JLT, quite quaint, with room for about 50 diners (it delivers, too), and the cooking is done in front of you. It’s clearly a labour of love for the owners.
You can feel the care and excitement that they have for their venture, which is extremely refreshing. Isan is in North Eastern Thailand, and the food there is lighter than you’ll usually find in more typical Thai restaurants.
Curries and soups are clear, rather than coconut-based, and it is all a touch more spicy. Spring rolls have plenty of vegetables and come with a lovely chilli sauce, crispy beef has a great chew and is accompanied by an excellent spicy sauce, while juicy stir-fried prawns with green beans, red onion and garlic-soy sauce are excellent, as is the sticky rice.
Tastes are clean and fresh, and spicy in that way that only South East Asian cuisines manage – simultaneously as hot as the sun and yet as refreshing as a glass of young coconut water.
The prices are keen, the service superb, and the food delicious.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Ayubowan is the amazing smell – scents of curry and fresh spices greet you as soon as you walk through the large wooden doors.
The restaurant is small, with only a handful of tables, of which all are empty when we arrive. However, this means our service is excellent.
Our waiter greets us like we’re old friends and talks us through the menu, advising us on which local Sri Lankan dishes he recommends. With curries starting from as little as Dhs20 you might think taste is compromised, but not in this restaurant.
The (admittedly slightly alarmingly neon yellow) potato mustard curry is a highlight for us. It’s spicy, yet sweet thanks to the coconut sauce, with a kick of mustard at the end. Order it with a portion of rice and you’ll be one happy diner. For meat lovers we recommend the string hoppers (circular noodle patties) with beef curry.
A whopping 15 hoppers arrive with a side of steaming spicy beef curry. We insist you add coconut paste to this dish, as although it’s brilliant without, it’s even better thanks to this addition.
Portions are on the large side, so arrive hungry and sit back for an excellent, traditional Sri Lankan meal.
This contemporary Irish bar is a no frills kind of place. It’s decked out in wood panelling with the food menu printed on paper tablemats. There’s also a garden area with palm trees and shaded cabanas. The bar is pretty minimalistic in comparison to traditional pubs you’d find on the emerald isle; there is no clutter or antiques lining the walls. But the draw at McGettigan’s is the comforting food such as Atlantic salmon, fish and chips, and freshly-prepared soups. Another popular choice is the buffalo chicken wrap with fries and ranch dressing; perfect for lovers of spicy food. Keep an eye out for the changing daily specials as well, which often feature Irish dishes with a modern twist. Service can be haphazard at times, especially during major sporting events or post-brunch, but it’s generally quite friendly. There’s also regular live music throughout the week, ensuring a great atmosphere at almost any time. And if it’s hearty, pub grub you’re after, you won’t be disappointed at McGettigan’s.
Hanoi is one of the many unlicensed cafés in JLT. And it’s one of the good ones. Very good in fact. One of the only places in Dubai to serve authentic Vietnamese cuisine. If you’re new to the game, the staff will help you order. What you end up with is a filling and satisfying meal, packed with punchy flavour. The summer rolls (think spring rolls but with healthier rice wraps instead of the deep-friend Chinese version) are big, and while the filling is a little dry, the accompanying spicy sauce livens things up. A side order of pak choi comes bathed in a salty soy sauce; it has crisp stalks and tasty leaves, and while nothing out of the ordinary, is a fine side dish. For a main course, try the hot and sour crab bun; flakes of sweet white crab meat are somewhat overpowered by the punchy broth, but it clings to the vermicelli noodles nicely and the fresh veg to drop into the soup and cook fills the dish out nicely. The rare steak pho is another winner; the spicy broth needs a little extra chilli (but you’ll find a good selection of condiments on the table) and the thinly-sliced beef is tender as well as tasty. A budget, authentic option. There’s not much wrong with Hanoi at all.
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