In a city with a taste for the high life, it’s little wonder that fine dining has found a firm foothold. The food here can be just as luxurious as the shopping and the service, and Dubai’s culinary scene has developed apace to include renowned chains from Michelin-starred chefs such as Thomas Keller, the Galvin Brothers and Gordon Ramsay, plus celeb-backed haunts such as Nobu housed at Atlantis the Palm. Feasts fit for a king are served up all over the city with over-the-top brunches lasting until sundown and multi-course tasting menus common place.
Many of Dubai’s five-star hotels feature world-class restaurants serving gourmet cuisine from the four corners, and the emirate also has some superb places where you can tuck into authentic Middle Eastern meze. With so many top tables to choose from, location becomes that bit more important. And where better to enjoy a great meal than on the waterfront? From posh nosh with a stellar marina view to trendy food trucks by the beach, there’s a smorgasbord of places in Dubai to devour great plates while enjoying gorgeous coastal and creek-side vistas.
This place has been a Dubai institution for more than 25 years and when it comes to waterside dining it’s difficult to beat. Part of the plush Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, the eatery has a cosy terrace right beside Dubai Creek with incredible views of the city skyline at sunset. The Mediterranean inspired menu is seafood orientated, offering a delicious seafood platter, mouth-watering slow-cooked bouillabaisse and special Boardwalk fish and chips.
With a terrace directly on Dubai Marina, this smart eatery from renowned UK chef Jason Atherton specialises in serving dishes that are generally popular with the British, all given the five-star treatment. The menu includes slow-braised beef ribs, goat’s cheese churros and sour dough pizzas. Like many of Dubai’s best eateries, the restaurant is part of a hotel – in this case the InterContinental Dubai Marina.
Reem Al Bawadi
For authentic Arabian food down by the water, Reem Al Bawadi is one of Dubai’s finest. Go for a lunch of Middle Eastern meze and salad right beside Dubai Marina with a great view of its clustering superyachts and skyscrapers.
The Social House
On the edge of Dubai Mall, the Social House has a terrace and window tables with a prime position facing out onto the dancing Dubai Fountain. An enormous aquatic display, which starts at 20-minute intervals, the cascades reach up to 40 storeys high and are choreographed to music including local-sounding tunes, classical and even Lionel Richie.
This cleverly-named smart beach bar and restaurant is part of the luxurious One&Only Royal Mirage Resort in Dubai, but anyone can make a reservation. Set around the pool and between the palms of the beach, its dining decks appear to float on water and its Asian inspired cuisine is really top notch.
The Beach Bar and Grill
Another of One&Only Royal Mirage’s culinary creations, the Beach Bar and Grill serves up a fine feast of authentic fare on a romantic torch-lit seaside terrace including colourful salads, steaks lovingly rubbed with local spices, fresh grilled seafood, and oysters seemingly plucked straight from the ocean.
Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara
With a giant fish-filled aquarium as its centrepiece, this seafood restaurant at the iconic Burj Al Arab appears to be immersed in the ocean. Revamped last year by British Michelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw, you can tuck into a delicious fish dish while parked up next to an arching underwater reef.
This classic barefoot beach-side grill fronts onto a pristine ribbon of white sand and azure Arabian Gulf – the perfect place to while away a few blissful hours munching on freshly-caught seafood in comfy chairs beneath a wooden veranda or sipping on a sundowner as the sky shifts into night. Situated at The Walk in Jumeirah Beach Residence, it’s part of the Ritz Carlton Dubai Hotel and features a beckoning beach-side barbecue grill, buckets of tiger prawns, Omani lobsters, freshly shucked oysters and ceviche, as well as locally-spiced lamb meatballs, burgers and salads.
Dinner aboard a dhow
As night falls, a fleet of Arabian dhow boats decked out as restaurants sail out along Dubai Creek. The international buffet-style dinners and belly dancing shows aside, cruising in a traditional wooden boat with views out across the water to the twinkling lights of Dubai makes booking a voyage well worthwhile. Al Mansour Dhow offers one of the more popular cruises with local music and magical views from the upper deck.
JA Bateaux Dubai
But if you can forgo the traditional dhow experience, JA Bateaux offers the best dinner cruise along the Creek on a luxurious glass-walled and roofed liner with relaxing viewing decks, soft music, fabulous service and decent food.
For a beach snack, head to the boutique kiosks around Kite Beach that serve everything from healthy smoothies and salads to burgers and delicious slices of pizza. The recently-opened La Mer beach district also boasts gourmet food trucks by the sand, as well as casual diners on the waterfront – at Zou Zou you can graze on delicious Turkish meze and sip mint tea in full view of the sea. Another great spot for breakfast, brunch and lunch is hipster café Pots, Pans and Boards from British chef Tom Aikens, set back from the water on the Beach Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence.