Every Friday afternoon, Dubai’s top restaurants serve a four-hour feast of incredible food and free-flowing drinks in the city’s most spectacular locations. Dubai expat Hazel Plush reveals which ones to splash out on.
1. Best for… foodies
Venue: Crescendo restaurant
Setting: A visit to Dubai isn’t complete without a trip to The Palm – and this lovely hotel sits on its outer crescent – so you get great views of the city skyline and turquoise Arabian Gulf Sea.
What makes it special: This brunch boasts cuisine from all over the world – and it’s big on both quality and quantity. I’d recommend perusing the live cooking stations first – every dish here is cooked from scratch, often right in front of you, so you can even ask the chefs to tweak it to your tastes. Take your pick from grilled steaks, Indian curries, Middle Eastern mezze, Mexican tacos, Asian noodles – even roast dinner – but make sure you leave room for dessert. In the pudding section you’ll find huge cakes, mousses, tarts and ice cream, as well as a vast chocolate fountain.
2. Best for… making a day of it
Venue: Maya restaurant
Setting: Le Royal Meridien is a lavish hotel at the end of JBR Beach, overlooking Skydive Dubai and the Palm.
What makes it special: Viva Mexico! Mas Mas Maya is famed for its unlimited sharing platters of Mexican food: think tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, fajitas, and heaps of nachos laden with fresh guacamole and sour cream. Sure, they’re sharing platters, but I’d happily hog one to myself. Better yet, with this brunch you get free all-day access to the hotel’s pool and private beach, so turn up early to bathe in luxury. And after brunch, there’s a happy hour in Maya – so if you want to keep partying, there’s no need to move an inch. And trust me: after you’ve tackled those sharing platters, you probably won’t be able to…
3. Best for… incredible views
Venue: Alta Badia restaurant
Setting: On the 50th floor of Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Alta Badia is one of the city’s highest dining spots.
What makes it special: If you’re nervous about heights, the trick to scaling Dubai’s skyscrapers is to ensure there’s an incentive at the top – and believe me, you won’t want to miss Alta Badia. Up here, you’re treated to views of downtown Jumeirah, the beach, and the glittering Gulf; whether this is your first time in Dubai or your fiftieth, you won’t tire of that panorama. This is a more laid back brunch than most, and the focus is on authentic, delicious Italian food. A set menu of six courses is served at your white linen-topped table, with Italian wines to match, and there’s live music too. A rather romantic setting – and a great place to watch the sun set.
4. Best for… party animals
Venue: Saffron restaurant
Setting: As if dining in one of Dubai’s most iconic restaurants wasn’t enough, this vast restaurant is transformed into a foodie paradise – with gorgeous views out to sea.
What makes it special: Cocktails served in coconuts, mini bottles of Champagne (with straws), prime steak cooked just the way you like it… Saffron’s Friday Brunch is, quite simply, heaven on a plate. And when you’ve gorged on its live cooking stations and mountains of food (the dessert trolley is divine), head to the dancefloor to burn it all off with some wild moves. This was my first (and all-time favourite) Dubai brunch, and it’s always a popular spot with expats. After brunch ends, get a taxi to Voda Bar in Jumeirah Zabeel Saray to sip happy hour cocktails and watch the sun set over the sea.
5. Best for… unrivalled luxury
Venue: Al Qasr ground floor restaurant
Setting: In a city of top-notch hotels, Al Qasr Jumeirah stands out for its Middle Eastern take on luxury: this is a frankincense-scented masterpiece. Think Arabian Nights in Italian marble.
What makes it special: This ludicrously lavish hotel is in the Madinat Jumeirah complex – three fabulous hotels with great restaurants, bars, and even a mini souk. It’s so big that you can take a golf buggy around – or ride one of the little ‘abra’ boats (yes, actual boats) along the waterways that link up the hotels and eateries. The Friday Brunch at Al Qasr is as opulent as you’d expect: you’ll be feasting on just-caught seafood, Argentinian steak (yes, it’s flown in specially), and Middle Eastern specialities (hummus never tasted so good) – all washed down with Champagne, cocktails and incredibly quaffable wines.
6. Best for… families
Venue: Flow Kitchen restaurant
Setting: Gorgeous sandy beach? Tick. Views of that iconic skyline? Tick. This is one spectacular spot from which to soak up the city.
What makes it special: If you love breakfast, this brunch is for you: it’s a four and a half hour homage to everyone’s favourite meal of the day, stuffed with Danish pastries, eggs benedict, whopping great fry ups – and everything in between. I haven’t found a better spot for breakfast in Dubai, and there’s a Champage package too if you fancy a boozy start to the day. If you’re travelling with children, this is a great option: the little ones get half-price entry into the Fairmont Falcon Juniors Club. Here they can scamper up climbing walls, wallow in the splash park and get messy with arts and crafts. This brunch is fun for all the family – and you get to put your feet up with a well-deserved glass of champers.
7. Best for… sightseeing while you eat
Venue: Zeta restaurant
Setting: The only thing that could overshadow this menu are the views of Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Fountain. Jaw-dropping.
What makes it special: Once you’ve stopped Instagramming those iconic Dubai views, take a moment to soak up the a la carte menu. Jumbo prawns, wagyu beef striploin, sushi galore – and much more! The plates of five-star Asian-fusion dishes just keep on coming. There’s a cracking cocktail list to boot, and from October to March (the ‘coolest’ months), you can bask in the sunshine on the vast restaurant terrace. If you only choose one brunch, make it this one: with its fantastic food and location, it’s a real taste of the Dubai high life.
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