One of my absolute favourite things to do while in Dubai, is scout for Instagram-worthy, cute, quirky, different, fun dining experiences, be it just for tea or for a light meal. The one thing I am always on the hunt for is a good Matcha Latte, and Muhammara with flat bread. I also can’t resist a good cup of hot Moroccan Mint Tea (For some reason, even in the desert, be it 40 degrees or more, I crave hot Mint Tea – luckily you can get it around every corner).
One thing I have struggled to find was restaurants offering a good variety of vegetarian dishes, so I struggled a lot with that, hence why I often ordered dips and flatbread (like hummus and muhammara). I promise I will find a bunch of restaurants and create a guide of Vegan / Vegetarian restaurants in Dubai soon.
The following list of restaurants are places which I thought were very cool, unique and offered an overall good experience, great photo opportunities, and places to work on your laptop, grab a coffee or quick bite solo or with a group of friends, or great date spots too.
1) Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa
This is one of my absolute favourite “not-so-hidden” gems. Al Sarab Rooftop Lounge is a rooftop terrace in the Bab-Al-Shams Desert Resort and Spa which is a 45 minute drive out from the Dubai Marina. The rooftop lounge overlooks the stunning Dubai desert landscapes, and is surrounded with palm trees which turn golden during sunset. In the evenings, there is live music to add to the ambience, while smoking a shisha (if that is your thing). The lighting is dimly illuminated from authentic lamps around the terrace.
Must Have: The Moroccan Mint Tea is served in the most gorgeous and authentic looking tea pot, served with dates, on a tray, which makes you feel like you are living an Arabian Nights Dream.
The service at the entire resort was extremely good, and we were well tended to the entire evening. For bookings you can call +971 4 809 6194.
Address: Al Qudra Road, Opposite Endurance City – Dubai – Dubai – United Arab Emirates.
2) Joe’s Cafe, The Dubai Mall
If you’re looking for the best place to watch the Dubai Fountain Show at twilight then look no further, this is it! This restaurant is overlooking the entire fountain, has wonderful views of the Burj Khalifa, and offers the most perfect views of the skyscrapers in the back. At sunset, you have the golden glow of the sun touching all the buildings while the evening lights start to flicker.
When trying to watch the fountain show at ground level, we struggled to find a spot overlooking the show, but couldn’t even get close to the balustrade because of the massive number of crowds that flood the area. People start queuing from before 5h30 to try and get a spot. The fountain show is still really pretty and amazing, but if you want the best views, visit one of the restaurants with a balcony that overlooks the fountains, at least you will be seated, away from crowds, and have snacks and drinks.
The first show is at 6pm, so I would try and get a table outside around 5/5h30 pm, and order meals and drinks so you can get a table closest to the fountain and have it ready by the time the show starts. My favourite show is the 7pm show as the sky is slightly darker, and most of the sky scrapers are lit up like below!
Once the show starts, it is magical, the fountains are truly spectacular, and change shows every 30 minutes. The atmosphere is filled with beautiful traditional music to accompany the dancing fountains.
We did not make a reservation, we kind of just stumbled across this restaurant in Fashion Avenue and were lucky enough to get a good table. If you are worried, try calling and seeing if they take reservations on +971 4434 1439. You can find them on the First Floor, in Fashion Avenue, at the Dubai Mall. https://thedubaimall.com/en/shop/joes-cafe
3) Gazebo, Palazzo Versace Dubai
If you’re looking for a pool day filled with opulence while still being “relaxed” then the Palazzo Versace is the place to go to. The palace itself is dripping in Versace everything. It is luxury personified. We only went to the poolside cafe in the afternoon, but if you wish you can also go to one of the main restaurants for dinner in the evening for a luxury or fine dining experience as well. (The Gazebo falls under the Giardinio Restaurant – and when walking out we saw the buffet display which looked immaculate, and I would definitely return for that.)
The staff at Giardinio Restaurant itself which were servicing the Gazebo were superb and very attentive. You can have shisha if you do smoke it, or you can just order light meals and drinks. I had the Moroccan Mint Tea (once again) – and they also serve it in a beautiful middle-eastern tea pot.
I think being at the cafe was more exciting because of the novelty of it being versace, however we were the only people dining at the time (another couple joined in the evening) – and the pool was filled with families and kids. It was quite a different atmosphere to restaurants at the Palm Jumeirah or JBR.
The food is a selection of Turkish, Moroccan and Lebanese food, and I ordered (you guessed it) Muhammara and Hummus with flatbread. I loved the fact that it was so casual in such an opulent resort, so you could go there with a beach kimono like I did, and not feel under dressed.
For the menu’s, operating hours and more information you can give their website a visit. Find their link here: https://www.palazzoversace.ae/en/restaurants/gazebo.html
4) El Chiringuito
This little slice of paradise is located at the Rixos Palm Dubai Resort. It is gorgeous and makes you feel like you are in the Mediterranean. But – plot twist, I didn’t actually dine in El Chiringuito. Spoiler Alert: It was closed! I have no idea why it was closed, because on the website it showed that they were opened (it was a Thursday and a few weeks ago), so it was completely abandoned when we got there – which is why I had no problem taking such a people-free picture here! We did try and call before hand but didn’t have much luck.
I did look at the menu online before hand and was extremely excited to try the mushroom risotto – I definitely will go back to try it because this place just looked amazing. There were so many sunbeds on the beach and there was a gorgeous pool under a draping of gorgeous bougainvilleas. While I can’t recommend the food as I haven’t tried it, I’m going to recommend this place just because it was so stunning, and I know it is a favourite among many!
Don’t make the same mistake I did, always double check with any restaurant that they definitely are open. Call them or mail them on +971 4 277 9180 or firstname.lastname@example.org
5) Sultans Lounge, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray
The Zabeel Saray is a hotel on the Palm from the Jumeirah group. It is grand, opulent, luxurious and elegant. I had only been in the lobby area, as that is where the Sultans Lounge is situated. However we opted for a table outside on the terrace which is surrounded by palm trees.
The Sultans Lounge is actually a patisserie! I didn’t know that until we got there, and I can definitely vouch for it as the Salted Caramel dessert was delicious. Before that, I had the vegetarian dumplings which were amazing as well. I also had (yes, again) the Moroccan Mint Tea. If you want, you can also order shisha there. Overall it was a lovely summer evening, with a great vibe.
If you would like to see the menu or more information, visit https://www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/dubai/jumeirah-zabeel-saray/restaurants/sultans-lounge/
6) The Hamptons Cafe
I absolutely loved the location here, it was my first time at the Jumeirah Islands and it was beautiful. The thing I love about Dubai is that it’s so diverse and you can be transported around the world in a matter of minutes. The Restaurant is nestled between bougainvilleas aplenty and waterways with fountains.
I have read many good reviews about this cafe, and was extremely excited to visit it. The decor was gorgeous and very Hamptonian, it was very full and lively. Unfortunately we went in the middle of summer, so the outdoor seating was closed off due to it being so hot – otherwise I would have loved to sit there. We sat indoors and unfortunately sat under a bit of a ceiling leak, and instead of moving us to a new table we were just pushed a few centimeters down, so there was still some water dropping down.
I ordered a spinach risotto which had great flavours, but unfortunately was a little undercooked. My friend ordered the crumbed chicken (I think it was strips) and unfortunately it was under cooked, and sort of gooey (I don’t eat meat but I could see that it was very dark and gooey). It was slightly disappointing that we didn’t get the great service and experience that we were expecting but maybe we just came on a bad day. I would love to give the cafe another chance and think it has a lot of good potential. I know they have a good reputation so I would love to try it again.
From what I saw, the cafe is extremely busy so maybe make a reservation in advance, especially during peak times. Call them on +971 456 45 770.
7) The Surf Cafe
On my quest to find every matcha latte in the city, I came across the Surf Cafe. It is right across one of my other favourites – Tania’s Teahouse, and is in close walking distance to the beach. This cafe is really unique and cool and made me feel like I was in Bali. The decor is so quirky contemporary with surf boards and greenery, making you feel like you can walk outside and catch some waves.
I really enjoyed the vegetarian dumplings, and the matcha latte was great. It is one of the few places that offer coconut milk instead of almond milk, which makes it taste a little better in my opinion. My friend ordered a burger and apparently it tasted great too.
This is a really cool, vibey and quirky place to check out, especially if you’re a beach lover with a tropical heart like me! Find them at Jumeirah Beach Road, Al Soon St, 1st floor🌴.
8) Shimmers on the Beach
This is probably one of my absolute favourite places, not just in Dubai, but in the world, purely because of it’s location. It is absolutely beautiful. The restaurant is located in Madinat Jumeirah, right on the beach. It is called “Shimmers on the Beach” and the name could not be more fitting.
During the day, the sun glistens on the unbelievably blue water, which is one of the clearest, cleanest and bluest beaches I have seen in Dubai! You also have the amazing views of the Burj Al Arab while you enjoy your food, or shisha.
When I visited during the day, I sat in the restaurant section and ate the greek mushroom risotto dish. It wasn’t my favourite because I am a bigger fan of italian risotto. One evening I returned and was completely blown away by the sunset we chose to sit in the lounging area on the beach, and ordered tapas, breads and dips which was really nice, along with some freshly squeezed juices (which were good but a little small and quite warm).
In the evenings, golden hour is the absolute best – sunset makes everything turn gold, and it is the most beautiful spot to watch the day coming to a close. You also get to see the Burj Al Arab lit up.
9) Tania’s Teahouse
Tania’s Teahouse is my absolute absolute favourite spot in Dubail. If I’m in the UAE for a week, I will make sure I go there at least 4 times! There are even a few of the waiters and waitresses that knew me by name (and order), because I would go there so often, and sometimes sit for hours at a time.
I truly think that it deserves it’s own blog post so I promise to do that soon. For now all I’m saying, is that it is the girliest, prettiest, punniest cafe in Dubai. It is a blogger’s paradise, and you can get your favourite designer logo monogrammed on your latte!
I love all three variations of the Matcha Latte (Original, Turmeric and Chai), and although this wasn’t the first place I had matcha, it is what started my daily latte obsession. This cafe transports me to London, and is my favourite cafe in Dubai. It is filled with great photo opportunities, from the gorgeous rose gold decor, to the marble spiral staircase and the famouse pink door. I will write loads more about it, so keep an eye out!
Update: My post on Tania’s Teahouse is up! Read about it here: http://wanderlocks.co/tanias-teahouse/
10) Friends Avenue
This is a really cool vibrant little cafe in the JLT district. I had some time to kill so I went solo to this little spot for some breakfast.
It was quite full with a lot of brunch-ers and had really cute accents. It had a really enchanted feel – something that I personally thought they didn’t convey on their social media – but should! I loved the little lights hanging and the green floral installment on the main table.
This is the perfect spot to head to with friends or even by yourself with a laptop!
I ordered my absolute favourite thing in the world – a matcha latte, along with the French toast.
All I can say is WOW! From the picture you will be able to see how good it looks. The French toast was a thick slice of brioche, acccompanied BT delicious berries, a dulce de leche sauce, and ice cream. This was awesome value for money and I really enjoyed the food.
It can be hard to find if you’re new to JLT, but if you know what cluster to go to it makes it a lot easier so you won’t have to walk around in circles like I did, they are located at Fortune Executive Tower, Cluster T, Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT), Dubai.
In May I attended a conference at the Dubai World Trade Centre, and afterward, decided to try out the Parlour Cafe. I had come across it on Instagram before, they are famous for their gorgeous afternoon tea display which comes on a mini Eiffel Tower Stand – A Blogger’s dream! I didn’t though because I was alone and couldn’t possible have it all.
I found the menu quite limited and there was nothing for a vegetarian in terms of mains – so I had to order a side of potato bake. I ordered a Hot Chocolate as well. At the time I was still consuming dairy, but for a vegan it would be an impossible place to visit. Other than that you find a variety of french dishes.
The service was slightly below par, which was unfortunate for me. I think it was a great cafe to go to because I was in the area, but I am recommending it purely for its instagrammable space and cute picture potential. If you have no dietary restrictions like I do I am sure it would be a lot better as well!
Overall it was a very chic restaurant with marble, geometrics, dusty pinks and gold which made it gorgeous and contemporary for a coffee, or afternoon tea. Find them at One Central, World Trade Centre Dubai.
I know that there are a lot more awesome places in Dubai to check out and I will be sure to keep writing about them and updating as much as possible!
Have you been to any of these places? What is your opinion on them? Or do you have anywhere else that I must check out? Let me know in the comments below!