Boxpark restaurants

From local cheeses to liquorice sorbets, there are all kinds of unique
eats along this 1.2km strip. Holly Sands picks 12 top scoffing spots

With 39 shops, restaurants and entertainment centres now up and running and only five left to open, BoxPark has come a long way in just a few months. Spread over little more than a kilometre on Al Wasl Road, the al fresco leisure strip is about to go into its first winter, and like others before it (The Walk, The Beach, Citywalk) finally come into its own. Before you visit, get to know the area’s most intriguing eats.

04 343 0181 Jumeirah

This is a lovely place to sit outside and enjoy a bite to eat. With juices so fresh they zing and great choices for kids, there are clean plates all around. We love the bagel with peanut butter and banana (jam on the side), which is a great start to the day. The gluten-free porridge is beautifully served with dates, cinnamon and honey and fills up tiny tummies. The simple bagel is bursting with cream cheese and a lovely sized portion of salad leaves. Staff are great, too.

Egyptian 04 385 5883 Jumeirah

There’s a simple and brilliant way to get your meal started at Studio Masr. Take all the indecision out of ordering by asking for the combo appetiser. A mezze platter featuring dishes such as beef liver, tabbouleh, sambousek and hummus, plus never-ending baskets of fresh, hot bread, quickly arrives. Tuck into this Egyptian-inspired taste of the region to whet your taste buds at this bustling BoxPark eatery. It’s not a big place, but groups of friends and families pack it out most nights, spilling out onto the pavement during the cooler months. There are some interesting dishes that you won’t find in the city’s ubiquitous Lebanese restaurants, such as the freekoto tagen of wheat grain and chicken topped with cheese, and the molokhya chicken, which is poached in a broth served with rice. But for sharing, the stylishly presented shawaya grills offer the best value. Chicken, mixed grill and seafood selections are served on an intricate box with hot coals at the base. It’s an impressive result considering the low price. Service goes a bit awry at times, but not enough to distract from the very good food.

Lebanese 04 342 1221 Jumeirah

This miniscule and angular little joint is fun, colourful and lively-looking; primary tones of red and sky blue appear everywhere in little leitmotifs. In the Lebanese nouvelle vague style of street food menu, this one is designed on a fake newspaper, where every section is interspersed with pictures of Beirut looking deliciously eccentric and lively. It contains pretty much all manner of dishes characteristic of low-key Lebanese dining, including mezze and salads, wraps, shawarmas, manakish and kebab and meat platters. The standard of food is generally good, but nothing is above or beyond average. The tabbouleh is a faithful rendition, while the mixed plate of fatayer, sambousek and kibbeh is well prepared. While the staff are friendly, service can be a bit overbearing at times. Having said that, this is a fun and young-looking little spot that’s decent for a bite of Beiruti food. Plus, since the venue is open 24 hours, it’s absolutely worth dropping by if nothing else is open and you’re hungry come witching hour.

04 345 5300 Jumeirah

Bianca Mozzarella is as cute as it is small. There’s a tiny indoor area, a tiny conservatory-esque box (air-conditioned), and a tiny ring of outdoor seating around this on cosy and comfy looking sofas. As for the menu, there is no pizza (something you might expect for an Italian eatery); however, there are plenty of other options, and in particular, plenty of cheese. The first page of the list is a selection of fresh mozzarella, burrata and cheeseboards. The burrata is lovely: a fresh and classic salad of extremely creamy cheese, fresh baby spinach and chunks of cherry tomato, served quirkily and attractively in a glass jar. The truffle-scented tagliatelle is also pleasant, and good value for a large plateful that is easily enough for two. The pasta it uncomplicated and rather homely, with a very rich cream sauce, interspersed with little chunks of sautéed mushrooms. Bianca Mozzarella is one of the very few low-key, independent and affordable Italian restaurants in Dubai that does justice to a cuisine which, at its best, really doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive.

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