These are the city’s 50 best spas, restaurants, bars and concerts, as chosen by you in the What’s On Dubai Awards 2016.
The people of Dubai have spoken and we heard you loud and clear… Meet the winners of the 2016 What’s On Awards – the most prestigious hospitality awards in Dubai, as voted by you.
Basically, these are the 50 best places to hang out in the city (so bookmark this)…
THE BIG WINNERS
This category is selected by the What’s On team – while the others are voted for by you…
1. What’s On Restaurant of the Year: Coya
Given that it is such a stalwart of Dubai’s dining scene, it’s hard to believe our Restaurant of the Year opened its doors just two years ago. It felt like this restaurant instantly became a major player on Dubai’s dining scene when it opened, thanks to a menu of impeccably prepared dishes combining bold flavours with lots of creative flair. This, together with fabulous service from highly knowledgeable staff in a setting created with loving attention to detail, our restaurant of the year has proved that it is the spirit of South America in Dubai.
Restaurant Village, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 2, Dubai, daily 12.30pm to 3.30pm, Sat to Tue 7pm to 11:30pm, Wed to Fri 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 316 9600. Taxi: Restaurant Village, Four Seasons Hotel. coyarestaurant.com
2. What’s On Chef of the Year: Reif Othman, Play
When it came to Chef of the Year, this gentleman has certainly helped shape the dining scene here in Dubai. He was instrumental in transforming one of the city’s favourite Japanese restaurants, Zuma, into a world-class restaurant, and since March this year, his daring food and flair at his latest endeavour, Play, has caused a stir in the city and beyond. It’s the second time he will be accepting this award and once again, he’s a worthy winner indeed.
The H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Sat to Wed 7pm to 2am, Thur and Fri 7pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 3364444. Metro: Dubai World Trade Centre. facebook.com/PLAYRestaurants
3. What’s On Newcomer of the Year: The MAINE Oyster Bar & Grill
Our favourite newcomer this year loves a pun. At the entrance, hidden in the basement of a five-star car park, you’ll find a rather tongue in cheek sign – a nod perhaps to the fun and frivolous side to this hidden gem by the beach. Inside, you’ll find a cross between a fisherman’s warehouse and a stylish seafood brasserie. Since opening in December last year, this cool restaurant has become one of the busiest in the city, largely down the excellent cuisine, where their truffle pizza and lobster rolls have been the talk of the town. Perfect for a romantic dinner, a quick post-work hangout or a full-blown party, this spot is as versatile as it delicious.
DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel, JBR, Dubai, daily noon until midnight. Tel: (04) 4576719. Taxi: DoubleTree Hilton. themaine.ae
4. What’s On Indie Restaurant of the Year: La Taqueria DXB
Charming, honest, hard working, passionate and authentic in every way. These are the five pillars that our indie hotspot live and breathe by. Located in an unassuming spot in a quiet corner of Business Bay, this family-run passion project has impressed industry pros in the know with their unfailingly delicious Mexican food. Just one bite of their fish tacos and you’ll have tasted perfection.
Opal Tower, Business Bay, Dubai, Sun to Thur noon to 11pm, Fri and Sat 10am to Tel: (056) 1373268. Taxi: Opal Tower, Business Bay. facebook.com/lataqueriadxb
BEST RESTAURANTS (over Dhs400 for two)
This category is voted for by you (after a shortlist is selected through nominations). It rounds up the city’s best eateries where a meal for two would cost over Dhs400.
5. Favourite Chinese Restaurant: Yuan, Atlantis The Palm
From the in-house DJ spinning chill-out tunes in the bar to the glamorous private dining room, Yuan is a stylish setting for your Chinese food fix. Tuck into Dubai-style Szechuan cuisine including wagyu rib-eye, vegetable dumplings and deep-fried tiger prawns.
Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, Sat to Wed 7pm to 11.30pm, Thur and Fri 7pm to 12.30am. Tel: (04) 4262626. Taxi: Atlantis The Palm. Taxi: Atlantis. atlantisthepalm.com
6. Favourite French Restaurant : La Petite Maison
Award-winning French food that regularly makes it onto lists of the world’s best restaurants, La Petite Maison is a Dubai classic, perfect for celebrating a special occasion.
DIFC, Gate Village 8, Dubai, Sun to Fri noon to 3pm and 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 4390505. Metro: Financial Centre. lpmdubai.ae
7. Favourite Indian Restaurant: Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar
Atul Kocchar is known for his Michelin-starred London restaurant Benares, and his fine dining Indian restaurant is one of the culinary highlights in the world’s tallest hotel.
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, Dubai, Mon to Sat 6pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 4143000. Metro: Business Bay. marriott.com
8. Favourite International Restaurant: The Beach House, Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort
A visit here feels like a true escape from the city. Choose a table on the terrace, soak up the sunshine and tuck into pizza, tapas and seafood while you pretend you’re in the Mediterranean.
Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, East Crescent, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, daily noon to 4pm, 7pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 5678304. Taxi: Anantara the Palm. dubai-palm.anantara.com
9. Favourite Italian Restaurant: BiCE, Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort
A true Dubai classic and a great spot for date night, BiCE serves traditional and contemporary Italian dishes in an elegant setting. Plus, it’s just been revamped so a re-visit to the restaurant now feels fresh.
Hilton Dubai JBR, The Walk JBR, Dubai, daily 12.30pm to 3.30pm and 7pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 3182520. Metro: Damac Properties. 3hilton.com
10. Favourite Japanese Restaurant: Okku
From its legendary Disco Sushi Friday brunch to a chic and sassy ladies night, the award-winning Okku has cemented its place as a Dubai icon.
The H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Sun to Thur noon until 3pm, daily 7pm to 12.30am. Tel: (04) 5018777. Metro: World Trade Centre. okkudubai.com
11. Favourite Middle Eastern Restaurant: Al Nafoorah, Emirates Towers
Delicious Lebanese food, with a focus on traditional, Al Nafoorah is back on top as the city’s finest Middle Eastern restaurant. This is a firm favourite on our ‘take visitors for dinner’ list.
Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Sun to Thur 12.30pm to 4pm, Fri and Sat 1pm to 6pm, daily 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 3198088. Metro: Jumeirah Emirates Towers. jumeirah.com
12. Favourite Modern European Restaurant: Al Hambra
For fantastic tapas in a Mediterranean setting, Al Hambra knocks spots off the rest. The menu is full of old favourites (including juicy chorizo) and new innovations. The terrace is beautiful too.
Ground floor, Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, Sat to Thur 6pm to 11.30pm Fri 7pm to 11.3pm. Tel: (04) 3666731. Taxi: Al Qasr. jumeirah.com
13. Favourite Pan-Asian Restaurant: Asia Asia, Pier 7
The food at this Pier 7 gem is an ingenious fusion of Asian and Middle Eastern flavours – try the miso-marinated Persian black cod. Book a table on the terrace for gorgeous views of the marina.
Pier 7, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 4pm until late. Tel: (04) 2765900. Metro: Dubai Marina. asia-asia.com
14. Favourite Seafood Restaurant: Bice Mare
Dubai diners can’t get enough of Bice Mare’s succulent seafood dishes prepared with authentic Italian flair by friendly chefs.
Souk Al Bahar, Downtown, Dubai, daily noon to 4pm and 6pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 4230982. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. bicemare.com
15. Favourite Steakhouse: Bushman’s Restaurant & Bar
A true-blue Aussie restaurant with a totally relaxed vibe, they even serve kangaroo pie (and their steak is excellent).
Anantara The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 6.30pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 567 8312. dubai-palm.anantara.ae.
16. Favourite Thai Restaurant: Thiptara, The Palace Downtown
Authentic Thai cuisine inside one of the city’s most impressive dining rooms. The only thing that could top an evening inside is dinner on the terrace, overlooking Dubai Fountains with a mouthful of spring roll.
The Palace, Old Town, Dubai, daily 7pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 8883444. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. theaddress.com
17. Favourite The Americas Restaurant: Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen
There’s absolutely no denying that this authentic Mexican restaurant really stands out from Dubai’s many Tex-Mex pretenders. The décor is cool and sophisticated and that cheese fondue is a melting pot party.
Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort And Spa, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 3165550. Metro: Dubai Marina. maya-dubai.com
18. Favourite British Restaurant: The Scene
Celebrity British chef Simon Rimmer has come up trumps with his fantastic restaurant in Pier 7. The gastro pub-style food is fantastic, especially the chicken pies, mash potato and trifles.
Pier 7, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily noon to 11pm. Tel: (04) 4222328. Metro: JLT. facebook.com/TheSceneDubai
BEST HEALTH & BEAUTY SPOTS
This category is voted for by you (after a shortlist is selected through nominations). It rounds up the city’s best pampering and workout spots.
19. Favourite Fitness Club: Physique 57
Another big win for Physique 57 who’ve won this category for two consecutive years, and for good reason too. They have created a loyal barre following who love the positive energy of the instructors and the visible results.
Al Thanya Mall, Al Thanya Street, Dubai, daily (opening hours vary). Tel: (04) 3210577. Taxi: Al Thanya Mall. Other location: Citywalk. physique57.com/dubai
20. Favourite Spa: Armani/SPA, Armani Hotel Dubai
Slick, muted (yet clearly very swanky) interiors and the fact you’re inside the Burj Khalifa make this a once-in-a-lifetime spa experience.
Armani/SPA, Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa, Downtown, Dubai. Tel: (04) 8883888. Metro: Dubai Mall. dubai.armanihotels.com
21. Favourite Nail Bar: The Nail Spa
Excellent service and a friendly team make this one of the most reliable mani-pedi joints in town. The new branch in Mall of the Emirates is particularly gorgeous and well worth checking out.
Various locations including Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and Mercato. Tel: (600) 544 001. More info on website.
22. Favourite Hair Salon: Maria Dowling
Maria Dowling is a stalwart of the Dubai hairdressing scene – the woman herself is famous for her eye for colour, but the whole team at this salon are experts at their craft.
Al Meena Residence, Satwa, Dubai, 9am to 6.30pm Saturday to Thursday. Tel: (04) 345 4225. mariadowling.com.
BEST ENTERTAINMENT & EVENTS
This category is voted for by you (after a shortlist is selected through nominations). It rounds up the city’s best events, nightlife spots and days out.
23. Favourite Bar: Lock, Stock & Barrel
No night out in Tecom would be complete without a trip to Lock, Stock & Barrel. We love the New York-esque décor, well-stocked bars serving craft ales and cocktails, and the rocking house band.
Grand Millennium Hotel, Tecom, Dubai, Mon to Thur 6pm to 3am, Fri to Sun 2pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 5149195. Metro: Internet City. facebook.com/LockStockDubai
24. Favourite Day Out: RIVA Beach Club
Nothing beats a day in the Dubai sunshine at Riva, a family friendly spot where you can relax on a beach bed, cool off in the temperature-controlled pool or try your hand at a variety of watersports. The restaurant and bar serve up tasty Mediterranean bites.
Shoreline 7 & 8, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 7am to 7pm. Tel: (04) 4309466. Taxi: Shoreline 7. riva-beach.com
25. Favourite Concert: David Guetta
Mega-DJ and producer David Guetta brought us into 2016 in style when he played the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre on New Year’s Eve. The 47-year-old is known for his A-list collaborations with the likes of Rihanna, Sia and Nicki Minaj. We know he loves Dubai so we’re sure he’ll be back…
26. Favourite Ladies’ Night: China Grill
It looks like the ladies loved the Madam Butterfly nights at China Grill, where ladies get 50 per cent off Asian-inspired dishes along with complimentary drinks and free-flowing bubbly.
China Grill, The Westin Dubai, Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Tue 6.30pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 5117333. chinagrilldubai.com
27. Favourite Festival: Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
The Middle East’s biggest celebration of literature attracts some of the biggest names in the book world. This year saw Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, young adult novelist Jacqueline Wilson and Joe Wicks, aka, the Body Coach, joined the celebration. Next year will feature Lucy Hawking (daughter of Stephen), Jo Malone, Jon Ronson and Nadiya Hussein (of Great British Bake Off fame) on the roster.
28. Favourite Nightclub: Zero Gravity
With its huge outdoor stage, state-of-the-art sound system and capacity for entertaining over 3,000 people right next to the beach, it’s no wonder that Zero Gravity has cemented its place as one of the best nights out in Dubai; attracting a wealth of international DJ talent, including Paul van Dyke and Fatboy Slim.
Sky Dive Dubai Drop Zone, Dubai, Thur and Fri 10am to 3am. Tel: (04) 3990009. Taxi: Sky Dive Dubai Drop Zone. 0-gravity.ae
29. Favourite Sporting Event: Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens
It’s lucky number 14 for Dubai’s biggest – and best – sporting event of the year. Whether you’re in it for the sport, the family-friendly day out or the chance to break out the fancy dress, the Rugby Sevens is – and always will be a –a Dubai must-do (and it’s back on December 1).
BEST RESTAURANT EVENTS
This category is voted for by you (after a shortlist is selected through nominations). It rounds up the city’s best cafes and the finest regular offerings from its restaurants.
30. Favourite Brunch: Bubbalicious, The Westin
Whether you’re fresh off the plane or a Dubai brunch veteran, the Westin’s Bubbalicious brunch is always wow-worthy. Forget moderation and prepare for a party.
Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, Friday 1pm to 4pm, Dhs680. Tel: (04) 399 4141. Metro: Damac Properties. westinminaseyahi.com
31. Favourite Business Lunch: La Cantine du Faubourg
For French sophistication in your lunch hour, this très chic restaurant in DIFC delivers. Just Dhs105 per person will get you one starter and one main course, and includes vichyssoise, foie gras and grilled salmon.
Emirates Towers, DIFC, Dubai, Sat to Wed noon to 2am, Thur and Fri noon to 3am, Dhs90. Tel: (04) 3527105. Metro: Emirates Towers. lacantine.ae
BEST RESTAURANTS (below Dhs400 for two)
This category is voted for by you (after a shortlist is selected through nominations). It rounds up the city’s best eateries where a meal for two would cost under Dhs400.
32. Favourite Middle Eastern Restaurant: Seven Sands
JBR introduced some local flavour when Seven Sands opened at The Beach a year ago. Since then, it’s become the go-to for Emirati cuisine. Order the Emirati vegetable pie and prepare to be impressed.
The Walk opposite JBR, Dubai, Sun to Wed, noon to 1am, Thur noon to 2am, and Fri and Sat 9am to 1am. Tel: (04) 5516652, Taxi: JBR. sevensandsrestaurant.com
33. Favourite Chinese Restaurant: Soy Restaurant
When you’re craving wasabi prawns and dumplings, Soy is that dependable Chinese restaurant whose number you should have on speed dial. It’s cheap, cheerful, and always hits the spot.
Ibn Battuta, Sheikh Zayed Road, daily, noon to midnight. Tel: (04) 3685474. Metro: Ibn Battuta. soy.ae
34. Favourite French Restaurant: La Farine, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai
Freshly baked bread, crafted barista coffee as well as authentic French cuisine. If you’re in the mood for some escargot or a spot of crusted baked Camembert, you know where to look.
JW Marriott Marquis, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, 24 hours. Tel: (04) 4143000. jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com
35. Favourite Indian Restaurant: Gazebo
You can tell Gazebo is legitimate, as the crowd they serve is mainly Indian. When it comes to curries, their paneer jalfrezi hits the spot with its sweet and sour sauce.
Kuwait Street, Al Mankhool, Bur Dubai, Dubai, daily noon to 11.45pm Fri 1pm to 11.45pm. Tel: (04) 3598555. Taxi: near Majestic Hotel Tower Dubai. gazebo.ae
36. Favourite International Restaurant: Shores Restaurant
Two consecutive wins for the all-day dining restaurant, which stands out for its excellent take on the classic international buffet, plus a strong menu. The view from the terrace is lovely, too.
Ramada Plaza, JBR, daily 6.30am to 10.30am, 12.30pm to 3pm, 7pm to 10.30pm. Tel: (04) 4398888. Taxi: Ramada Plaza. ramadaplazajbr.com
37. Favourite Italian Restaurant: Eataly
We don’t know what we love more: The aisles and aisles of imported products from Europe, the cheese counter with house-made buffalo cheese balls, or the delicious bowls of pasta they serve.
Dubai Mall, daily 9am to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 3388899. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. eataly.ae
38. Favourite Japanese Restaurant: Atisuto
This place always seems to be bustling, and we reckon the chicken gyoza has something to do with it. The fresh, homemade dumplings are piping hot parcels of flavour. You won’t be disappointed with their bowls of ramen, either.
Galleria Mall, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah, Dubai, Sun to Wed 10am to 11pm, Thur to Sat 10am until midnight, Dhs39. Tel: (04) 3436303. Taxi: Galleria Mall. atisuto.ae
39. Favourite Modern European Restaurant: Boardwalk
Boardwalk’s waterside restaurant sits on a wooden-stilted jetty overlooking the Dubai Creek. If that doesn’t impress, the fresh seafood certainly will.
Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Baniyas, Sun to Thur noon to 1am, Fri and Sat 8am to 11am, and noon to 1am. Tel: (04) 2956000. Taxi: Dubai Creek dubaigolf.com
40. Favourite Pan-Asian Restaurant: Shanghai Chic, Movenpick Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel
A popular choice for years, its brunch really put Shanghai Chic on the map. You’ll find plump dumplings, Peking duck, as well as a dessert that’s called the Shanghai Snickers. Authentic? Perhaps not. Delicious. You bet.
The Gardens, Mövenpick Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel, Dubai, daily 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 4440000. Metro: Ibn Battuta. movenpick.com
41. Favourite Seafood Restaurant: Aprons & Hammers
Buckets of mussels, clams and prawns all aboard a wooden ship. Don your apron and get stuck in. Thousands have, and that’s why it’s your favourite seafood spot.
Dubai International Marine Club, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 12.30pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 4547097. Taxi: Next to Barasti. apronsandhammers.com
42. Favourite The Americas Restaurant: Perry and Blackwelder
Home of the hot dog and chicken wing, P&B is all about that classic deep South soul food with a side of sports thrown in for good measure.
Souk Madinat, Dubai, daily noon to 2am. Tel: (04) 3666197. Taxi: Souk Madinat. facebook.com/perryandblackwelder
43. Favourite Thai Restaurant: Benjarong, Dusit Thani Dubai
A Bangkok-born brand serving traditional Thai in an ornate setting. You’ll feel like you’re in the posh part of Bangkok, but you’re really just off the side of Sheikh Zayed Road.
Dusit Thani, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, daily noon to 3pm and 7pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 3433333. Taxi: Near Interchange 1. dusit.com
44. Favourite British Restaurant: Bread Street Kitchen
Classic British fare with a famous name behind the scenes, Gordon Ramsay’s new branch has left the city’s diners impressed. The food is thoughtful, the setting cosy, and the cuisine on point.
Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, daily 12.30pm to 4pm, 6pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 4262626. Taxi: Atlantis, The Palm. atlantisthepalm.com
45. Favourite Pakistani Restaurant: Barbecue Delights
A busy branch in JBR, Barbeque Delights has knocked off Ravi’s to claim the coveted title of best Pakistani restaurant. You’ll also find Afghani and North Indian cuisine on the menu, too.
The Walk at JBR, Dubai, daily noon to midnight. Tel: (04) 4230632. Taxi: Adjacent to Sofitel Hotel. barbecuedelights.com. ALSO: Oud Metha. barbecuedelights.com
46. Favourite Steakhouse: Butcher Shop & Grill
It looks just like a butcher shop with a few extra tables thrown in front for measure, but boy, is the meat at this legendary South African chain. Order the juicy burger, medium-rare, and it comes with crispy onions and chunky chips. You’ll be full and very happy.
Mall Of The Emirates, Al Barsha, Dubai, daily noon to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 3471167. Metro: Mall Of The Emirates. butchershoparabia.com
47. Favourite Café: The Sum of Us
A perfect spot for a long, lazy breakfast at the weekend, The Sum of Us does healthy (gluten-free porridge) and hearty (salted caramel French toast). The cafe also has its own roaster and bakes fresh sourdough loaves on site.
Burj Al Salam, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, daily 8am to midnight. Tel: 056 4457526. Metro: Dubai World Trade Centre. thesumofusdubai.com
48. Favourite Healthy Restaurant: Just Salad
On a health kick? Only fresh, local and organic ingredients are used to construct tasty salads, wraps and smoothies. You can even create your own, customising your greens, veggies, protein and dressing. It’s budget-friendly too, with nothing on the menu costing more than Dhs50.
Indigo Tower, Cluster D, JLT, daily 11am to midnight. Tel: (04) 3652222. Metro: Jumeirah Lakes Towers. dubai. justsalad.com
49. Favourite Pub Grub: The Irish Village
Pub grub is all about comfort food, and the award-winning Irish Village does it best. You can tuck into everything from Irish soda bread to toad in the hole, fish and chips, and proper bangers and mash.
31 A Street, Al Garhoud, Dubai, daily 11am to 1am. Tel: (04) 2824752. Metro: GGICO. irishvillage.com
50. Favourite Food Truck: Salt
Instantly recognisable thanks to its shiny exterior, Salt keeps beachgoers happy with tasty food like wagyu beef sliders and addictive French fries.
Kite Beach, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai, daily 11am to 2am. Taxi: Kite Beach. instagram.com/findsalt