When it comes to eating out with your gang, Dubai isn’t all about Friday brunch. Gather your pals and head to Jumeirah 1, where coolest cafes and cosiest homespun eateries abound. We hit the streets around Mercato Mall, where you can sate your appetite and your Instagram feed.
Tucked away in Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, Silvena Rowe’s stunning cafe/restaurant offers up an eclectic mix of extremely tasty food in a waterside cafe that seems more Mediterranean than Arabic.
Arabic food, Mediterranean, fresh seafood, Rowe manages to pull off a delightfully tasty menu without any pretension or fuss. Enjoy her imaginative interpretations of local dishes, with an emphasis on organic, fresh ingredients and fusion flavours.
Hero dish: The desserts, but special merit goes to Silvena’s raspberry cheesecake (AED 39), which is probably the best you will taste in Dubai, yet is both sugar and gluten free!
Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, Jumeirah Beach Road. 04 343 7181. 9am-11pm (midnight Thursday and Friday).
Al Ijaza Cafeteria
A Jumeirah institution, Al Ijaza Cafe has a juice menu as long as the tailbacks on Sheikh Zayed Road, a comprehensive sandwich list including chicken, beef and vegetables in every variety imaginable, and around 30 different burgers.
A little rough around the edges, and only offers outdoor seating, but because it’s open until 3am, it’s a big hit with the late night Jumeirah crowd, is always busy, and even has its own traffic jam.
Hero dish: The shawarma plate (AED 30), Jumeirah Time sandwich (starting from AED 6) or perhaps the Expo 2020 fruit cocktail (from AED 8)….
Jumeirah Beach Road. 04 449 8504. 9am-3am (opens 11am Friday).
Head here for a quick noodle fix. This bright, cheerful roadside cafe does more delivery business than dine-in, but it’s a popular, inexpensive, authentic Asian experience. Try dimsums or spring rolls, then egg noodles with chicken or beef, or rice and green or red curry. If you manage to get a seat outside, it’s fascinating to watch the chefs toiling over the woks.
Hero dish: Go freestyle with your own choice (from AED 37).
Jumeirah Beach Road. 800 7729723. 11am-1am (3am Thursday, Friday and Saturday).
Another tiny hole-in-the-wall cafe, good for a quick Greek fix, this place has a menu almost as small as the premises, and while there are better places for a moussaka, this is tasty, fast street food. Try floudes, fried potato skins and yoghurt or the classics – gyros, donner, Greek kebab or souvlaki.
Hero dish: Grab a donner on the way home from a night out (from AED 20).
Jumeirah Road. 04 344 4816. 12pm-2am (3am Thursday and Friday).
This might be in the mall, but there’s a wonderful beachside vibe if you bag a seat on the ample outside terrace. Food is good, but the primary reason for coming here is to explore your artistic side by painting one of the unfired ceramic items on offer – from dog bowls to mugs. Enjoy freshly baked bagels and good international cuisine from breakfast to dinner, eggs to apple pie.
Hero dish: The one you just painted yourself (or try a bagel and fries, from AED 38).
Town Centre Mall, Street 75 B, Jumeirah 1. 04 344 7331. 9am-midnight.
A favourite haunt of Sheikh Mohammed himself, the Biker’s Cafe does indeed attract motorcyclists, but it also caters to the sophisticated local crowd with a great range of real Emirati food, served large, and a decent share of American classics, too. Busy at weekends, but try a leisurely weekday breakfast and watch the world pass by. Interestingly, parking is a bit of an issue here – unless you’re on two wheels.
Hero dish: The Royal Breakfast platter (AED 180 for two)?
Jumeirah Beach Road, Near Mercato Mall, Jumeirah 1. 04 349 3585. 7am-1am (2am Friday).
Classy, pricey Jumeirah cognoscenti hangout. Fantastic food, great breakfasts, superb salads and marvellous main courses, served in an elegant, yet relaxed atmosphere. Hit the outside seating while the weather’s still cool. Grade 9 Wagyu sirloin steak? Bring it on! That meat has probably been treated better than you. Try the ritzy lychee mocktail or lavender cappuccino and the matcha chocolate fondant for an afternoon treat.
Hero dish: Splash out at the weekend with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon (AED 55). Don’t leave without tasting the legendary milk cake (AED 55).
Villa 56, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1. 04 345 0023. 8am-11pm (midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday).
A true hidden gem, this coffee shop’s design gives more of a Thai feel than urban Dubai, with lots of natural wood and greenery. Great coffee, great food, but renowned for sub-zero A/C for some reason.
Healthy, bang-on-trend breakfast is served from 8am until 1pm, including quinoa in almond milk with berries, and a delicious and insta-worthy baked egg boat. For the rest of the day, you can opt for salads (Hawaiian chicken, watermelon and duck) or heartier fayre – with dishes such as salmon sous-vide, venison lasagne and beef and foie gras sliders elevating this joint above the usual coffee shop food. A treat in summer, but hit the outside area in winter for a real peaceful vibe.
Hero dish: Dig into a stack of pancakes (from AED 47), followed by a silky smooth Chemex (AED 48) and stay for a whole chilled afternoon.
Villa 98, Street 12 D, Corner 51 Street, Jumeirah 1. 04 344 4451. 7.30am-11pm (midnight Friday and Saturday).
This cosy villa-style dessert parlour is easy to find, with chocolate dripping off the roof. A favourite haunt for ladies who lunch, offering breakfasts on the sweeter side, a large selection of milkshakes, (go for the caramel sea salt, obv) and all-day trendy salads, including kale, quinoa and avocado. But the draw here is the chocolate, especially the drink, the pancake and the fondue – always fun to watch kids tucking in – and the afternoon tea – a fine selection of sandwiches, chocolates, truffles, brownies, tea and coffee. Enjoy the large outdoor terrace after a walk.
Hero dish: A large hot chocolate (AED 28.25). Go wild. Diet tomorrow.
Corner of 51st and 16D Street, Jumeirah 1. 04 338 9786. 9am-12am.
This converted villa is like a beautiful dream, from the luxurious gifts, textiles and furniture, to the super casual dining where you can take advantage of a superfood-littered menu. A small menu matches the portion sizes; we recommend heading here with snacking in mind, rather than a filling meal.
Sit at the back of the villa and bask in the sunlight, while enjoying vegan treats and powerfully refreshing juices. With a menu that’s largely sugar, gluten and preservative free, you can enjoy your food happy in the knowledge it’s doing you good.
Hero dish: The daily specials (mains from AED 45), and a coffee shake (AED 31.50).
102 Beach Road, Opposite Beach Centre, Jumeirah 1. 04 385 4555. 7.30am-9pm.