If you’ve been reading my Dubai Diaries of late, you’ll know that the city has treated me all too well.
From redefining my concept of weekend brunch (courtesy Jumeirah Al Qasr’ famous Friday extravaganza) to living la dolce vita at Palazzo Versace, it’s been one incredibly indulgent week in this cosmopolitan and culinary hub.
Between it all, I also made sure to experience Dubai’s vibrant café culture, visiting a number of its more casual eateries, perfect for a relaxed meal or coffee…
Starting with Tom & Serg.
“Forget Jerry, Tom should stick to chasing Serg”, were the exact words of my wise friend Shruuti, when she recommended this Dubai gem to me. She wasn’t the only to sing its paeans, with both locals and friends holidaying in Dubai, swearing by the brunch and coffee here. Having been, I can definitely see why they do.
Housed in a split-level open-plan warehouse in Al Quoz, this Melbourne-style café exudes a nonchalant air of industrial cool. Service is a bit too laid back, but it suits the vibe.
There isn’t all that much choice either (especially for vegetarians), but the fresh and wholesome dishes are packed with a whole lot of interesting flavours and rich textures, such as with the gado pictured below – a mega-salad fashioned after the Indonesian staple, with a fried egg, quinoa, zucchini, eggplant, cauliflower, silken tofu and steamed pak choy in an earthy gado dressing!
Tom & Serg, Al Joud Center, 15 A Street, Al Quoz, Dubai
The mighty duo are also behind the recently opened Common Grounds in the Mall of the Emirates, which centres on a similar, deliciously nutritious menu.
I smoothly balanced my hearty dose of grains and greens here (a kick of Moroccan spice added much piquancy) with a salted caramel milkshake – it lent just the burst of energy needed to battle through the weekend crowds, as I attacked my last minute shopping!
Common Grounds, near VOX Cinemas, Level 2 Expansion, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai
I’m not sure about your thoughts on the matter but I actually find the plethora of dining options in Dubai’s expansive malls a tad overwhelming… especially in Dubai Mall, which likely attracts foodies as much (if not more?) for the food as the shopping.
From New York’s famous Magnolia bakery to Angelina’s and Galleries Lafayette, you can find anything and everything here.
But for me, my visit is never complete without a pitstop at Papparoti for their signature espresso-infused buns, glazed with a crispy outer layer that cocoons the softest, melt-in-your-mouth buttery centre! Best had fresh out of the oven, with a piping hot caramel macchiato… it’s always spot on!
Another firm favourite in the Dubai Mall, is Wafi Gourmet, for its beautiful displays of Lebanese eats, sweets and pastries, alongside mountains of fresh olives, cheese and spices! I sadly didn’t have time to sit outdoors and enjoy the spread whilst looking out onto those stunning fountains, but nonetheless packed up a veritable feast to go!
Stepping away slightly from the malls, the sumptuous hotels and fine dining establishments, a friend and I also popped by at the über-trendy Box Park. Running a long length along Al Wasl Road, this is a bright strip of shops, eateries and kitsch street-art installations that’s been inspired by the eponymous area in London!
Wandering down at our own pace, we made a multitude of stops at the various kiosks that caught our eye, including one for a matcha milk bubble tea with oodles of tapioca and lychee jelly.
And then set upon finding a place for dinner, using the crowd outside as an indicator of how good the restaurant was likely to be… A wise strategy, that led us to Logma (Arabic for ‘mouthful’ or ‘small bites’), a casual but buzzing spot serving up Emirati and Khaleeji cuisines!
Speaking of Middle Eastern delights, I was also really pleased to have found time for a quick fix breakfast at Bateel café overlooking the Dubai Marina, before racing to the airport on the last morning of my holiday.
Known the world-over for its quality dates (among other items), the gourmet brand recently launched a series of cafés, that include a boutique and in-house bakery, whipping up a signature date bread alongside other French-inspired treats.
Spread over 7,000 square feet, their flagship outlet is situated in the Walk JBR… But I loved this small and cosy outpost on the Marina Promenade too, indulging in a spot of yacht watching as I sat out in the cool shade, sipping the most deliciously layered caramel latte – served with Bateel’s famous dates on the side of course!
So which are your favourite cafes in Dubai? Do share your recommendations, I’ll be sure to cover then on my next visit!