Inside Dubai’s Eclectic (and Luxurious) Restaurant Scene

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Inside Dubai’s Eclectic (and Luxurious) Restaurant Scene
Impossible to pin down, constantly reinventing itself, and as diverse as its inhabitants, Dubai’s restaurant scene is a wild card—but also one of the city’s major keys to success. No feature of the dining experience here is more quintessentially Dubai than Friday brunch, a boozy social event that elevates the normal palatial buffets to a whole new level. With no limit on extravagance in the quest for prestige, Michelin-starred chefs are flocking to Dubai and opening fine-dining concepts to rival anywhere else in the world. The breadth and depth of the culinary landscape make it just as easy to find good-quality restaurants serving affordable local fare. Whether you’re enjoying a halal kebab or shelling out a small fortune for fresh lobster by the beach (spoiler alert: It’s worth it), the founding principle of top-quality service endures. 

All photos by Nile Cappello
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    Chival
    With its white marble countertops, crystal-infused water, and “I can’t even” chalkboard artwork, Chival would seem perfectly at home in L.A.’s Abbot Kinney. But—unlike many hip, ultra-Instagrammable venues in the United States—the quality of food at this hotel restaurant matches that of its decor. Try the acai bowls, cheese plates, and ful mudammas (a spiced fava bean dish), among other decadent buffet options.
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    Graze Gastro Grill
    Under a magnificent ceiling mural, Graze Gastro Grill patrons choose cuts of steak served with specialty sauces (think: blue cheese or mushrooms and sauteed onions), various types of fish cooked in different ways, and shared plates. Start the meal with an aperitif cocktail, amuse bouche, and baked oysters, and finish up with dessert, house chocolates, and an after-meal cold brew coffee cocktail.
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    STAY by Yannick Alléno
    Three-Michelin-star French Chef Yannick Alléno is behind this fine-dining concept at the luxurious One&Only The Palm resort, a natural addition to the resume of a chef know as “Prince of the Palaces.” STAY by Yannick Alléno’s striking design, one-of-a-kind “pastry library,” and signature lobster cassoulet helped earn it a place on Diner’s Club International’s list of 50 best restaurants in the world.
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    Zest
    Chef Yannick Alléno oversees two additional restaurants at One&Only’s resort on The Palm: Zest and 101. Zest is a breakfast, brunch, and lunch spot with a selection of everything from fresh sashimi to passion fruit eclairs—with additional menu items (supplements to the already extensive buffet) available cooked to order. On days with mild temperatures, be sure to request a table on the terrace, overlooking the main pool and private beach in the distance.
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    101
    101 is an overwater Mediterranean concept jutting out into the Persian Gulf, between The Palm Jumeirah and the mainland beach. The popular happy hour and weekend spot offers yacht-to-door service from the dock and private marina and draws a bougie crowd looking to pop bottles and indulge in tapas with a view.
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    Jetty Lounge
    As far as the Media City beachfront goes, the best spot to watch a sunset, grab a drink, or share some tapas on a warm night is at Jetty Lounge. Snag one of the canopied couch tables on the beach and take down some frozen cocktails—all within view of the Jumeirah Lakes Towers and The Palm Jumeirah.
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    Zuma
    A locally beloved hot spot within the Financial Centre, this multi-story restaurant offers some killer cocktails and small plates, and the best sushi west of Japan. Surrounded by art galleries and often racking up a 200-person (yes, 200) waitlist on weekend nights, Zuma is more than just its expertly executed food and craft cocktails—it’s also a social hub of the local expat community. At its core, it’s this ability to be many things simultaneously that makes it so popular with those in the know: It’s a bustling bar, private dining space, club, date spot, sushi bar, and robata grill.
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    Al Falamanki
    An off-the-beaten-path Lebanese restaurant in Jumeirah City (west of the downtown area), Al Falamanki is a welcome dose of local culture in a city that is often criticized for its overwhelmingly Western influence. Relax in one of the restaurant’s indoor and outdoor lounge-like seating areas, each filled with vintage-inspired couches, oversized chairs, and patrons enjoying shisha alongside fattoush salad, grilled kebabs, and varieties of house-baked saj (a traditional Middle Eastern bread).
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    Gold on 27
    The OG Dubai property, often called “the world’s only seven-star hotel,” is an exercise in decadence at every turn—including that which leads into Gold on 27, a 27th-floor bar decorated almost exclusively in (you guessed it!) gold. The pro bartenders create specialty cocktails around changing themes, alongside a list of house recipes—be sure to try Scent of the Souk, made with local spices and complemented by an aromatic oil lamp straight out of Aladdin, and the Sabkha, which comes on a salt block.
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