What's On Awards 2015 Dubai: The 50 winners
The votes are in. These are the city’s 50 best spas, restaurants, bars and concerts, as chosen by you. In fact, if you need to decide where to go over the next year, bookmark this: it’s your essential list…
THE BIG WINNERS
This category is selected by the What’s On team – while the others are voted for by you…
1. Best Restaurant: La Serre
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. One of the city’s most beautiful restaurants, the food never fails to live up to its surroundings. While plenty of restaurants have signature dishes that keep diners coming back for more, at this French inspired bistro, everything on the menu stands out. This is thanks in no small part to the team in the kitchen, whose dedication and passion saw the restaurant become the first in Dubai to be given the seal of approval by the Slow Food Movement earlier this year. Our Restaurant of the Year is La Serre.
Vida Downtown, Qamardeen District, Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai. Tel: (04) 4286969 Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. laserredubai.ae
2. Best Chef: Colin Clague
Anyone who has had the privilege of meeting our Chef of the Year knows his personality is just as winning as his dishes. After making his mark on contemporary middle eastern spot Qbara, he recently shifted his attention to the new Jean-Georges fine-dining spot at the Four Seasons village, which has received rave reviews since it opened earlier this year. He has proved yet again that he is a master of all gastronomic styles and all cuisines. This year’s Chef of the Year is Colin Clague.
Four Seasons Resort, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai, daily 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 3436118. Taxi: Four Seasons. jean-georges-dubai.com
3. Best Newcomer: Coya
It felt like this restaurant instantly became a major player on Dubai’s dining scene when it arrived this year, 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, suggests the buzz surrounding our Newcomer of the Year is here to stay. Our newcomer of the year is Coya.
Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah, Dubai, Sat 1pm to 4pm, Dhs282. Tel: (04) 3169600. Taxi: Four Seasons Resort Dubai. coyarestaurant.com
4. Best Indie Restaurant: Creekside
Nestled in the heart of old Dubai, this café offers visitors food for thought as well as for breakfast, lunch or dinner. A contemporary cultural space, our indie hotspot offers workshops, film screenings and more in addition to its menu of Emirati-inspired dishes. With tables overlooking the waters of the creek, this place never fails to charm. Our Indie Restaurant of the Year is Creekside.
Dubai Creek, daily 9am to 9pm. Tel: (04) 3599220. Taxi: Close to Al Fahidi Historical District. creeksidedubai.me
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 British Restaurant: The Scene
A relative newcomer to the city, The Scene has quickly become a go-to for the expat in search for a slap-up Sunday roast (served on a Saturday, of course). A hipster interpretation of the classic British pub, think cocktails in jam jars, puns on chalkboards, and some of the best chunky chips in Dubai.
Pier 7, Dubai Marina, daily 8am to 2am. Tel: (04) 4222328. Metro: Damac Properties. thescenedubai.com
6. Favourite Chinese Restaurant: Hakkasan
A favourite among Dubai foodies in search of top-notch Chinese cuisine, slick service and a spectacular setting, Hakkasan’s crispy duck salad alone has had fans hooked since 2011.
Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sat to Thur 7pm to 1am, Fri noon to 1am. Tel: (04) 3848484. Metro: Emirates Towers. hakkasandubai.com
7. Favourite French Restaurant: La Petite Maison
We’ve never been disappointed by a meal at La Petite. The Nicoise spot basically brought burrata to the UAE. It also elevated French toast with the moreish pain perdu. The service is slick and just snooty enough, the atmosphere is always lively – and, well, it’s just a classic.
Gate Village 08, DIFC, Dubai. 12pm to 3.30pm and 7pm to 11.30pm daily. Tel: (04) 4390505. Taxi: Gate Village (opposite Sky Gardens). lpmlondon.co.uk/dubai.
8. Favourite Indian Restaurant: Indego by Vineet
Inventive, consistent, luxurious – Vineet Bhatia’s Grosvenor House restaurant won What’s On Awards in 2011, 2013 and 2014, and it deserves its accolades. The service is excellent, and the food takes Indian spices and ingredients and turns them into something completely different through inventive textures, combinations and techniques.
Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina, Dubai, Sun to Wed 12.30pm to 3pm and 7pm to midnight, Thur 12.30pm to 3pm and 7pm to 1am, Fri and Sat 12.30pm to 4pm and 7pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 3998888. Metro: Dubai Marina. grosvenorhouse-dubai.com
9. Favourite International Restaurant: Kitchen 6
It’s a hat trick for Kitchen 6, as the sensational international spot wins for the third year in a row. You’ll find six fabulous open kitchens preparing the finest Asian, Arabic, European and Indian fare.
JW Marriott Marquis, Business Bay, Dubai, daily 6am to 11am, 12.30pm to 3.30 and 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 414 0000. Metro: Business Bay. jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com/dining/kitchen6
10. Favourite Italian Restaurant: Roberto’s
Roberto’s is always busy, thanks to its simple menu of Italian classics created with fresh, quality ingredients. Book a table on the terrace during the cooler months for a casual pizza or a more formal dinner. Oh, and do not miss out on the raw bar (which serves dishes like Sicilian cuttlefish tagliatelle with nori seaweed pesto & puffed quinoa).
DIFC, Gate Village 1, Dubai, daily noon to 3pm and 7pm to midnight, bar daily noon to 2am. Tel: (04) 3860066. Metro: Financial Centre. robertos.ae
11. Favourite Japanese Restaurant: Okku
You’ll certainly eat well for your money at Okku, which offers innovative twists on Japanese favourites in a mega-glam environment. Doubling up as a cocktail bar ensures that this hotspot is busy every night of the week. A firm favourite of ours is the Truffle edamame – fusion that doesn’t disappoint.
The H Hotel, 1 Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Sun to Thur noon to 3pm, daily 7pm to 12.30am. Tel: (04) 5018777. Metro: World Trade Centre. okku.com
12. Favourite Middle Eastern Restaurant: Qbara Restaurant & Lounge
Exquisite Middle Eastern food with a contemporary twist, this is Qbara’s second successive win and we’re not one bit surprised. Since opening last year this stylish restaurant has continued to wow with every bite. That lobster kibbeh with avocado labneh, in particular, is the stuff of dreams.
Wafi Fort Complex, next to Raffles Hotel, Dubai, Sat to Wed 6pm to 2am, Thur and Fri 6pm to 3am. Tel: (04) 7092500. Taxi: Raffles Hotel. qbara.ae
13. Favourite Modern European Restaurant: El Sur
Book a table on the terrace at this Spanish restaurant and pretend you’re on holiday in the Med. The seafood is excellent, as are the sharing plates of classic dishes such as patatas bravas, burrata and octopus. Brava.
The Westin, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai, Sun to Weds 6pm to midnight, Thur 6pm to midnight, Fri and Sat 12.30pm to 3.30pm and 6pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 3997700. Metro: Nakheel. facebook.com/elsurdubai.
14. Favourite Pan-Asian Restaurant: Karma Kafe
The combination of cool décor, prime views of the Dubai Fountain, and a menu of Pan-Asian favourites with a sprinkling of adventurous options (Japanese tuna pizza anyone?) makes Karma Kafe a great choice for a night out.
Karma Kafé, Souk Al Bahar, Downtown, Dubai, 3pm to 2am Sunday to Thursday, 12pm to 2am Friday and Saturday. Metro: Dubai Mall. Tel: (04) 4230909. karma-kafe.com.
15. Favourite Seafood Restaurant: Catch New York
This Manhattan import was an immediate hit with team What’s On thanks to the cool décor, great service, and frankly mind-blowing Korean fried chicken. The punching bag in the ladies’ bathroom is also perfect for releasing any pent-up fury during a bad date.
Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, daily 7pm until late. Tel: (04) 3325555. Metro: World Trade Centre. catch.ae
16. Favourite Steakhouse: CUT by Wolfgang Puck
Steaks come with a side order of education at Puck’s Dubai eatery as staff present a selection beforehand and explain the difference in colouration and marbling in sirloin, ribeye and fillet. Very fine dining but without the stuffiness.
The Address, Downtown, Dubai, 5pm to midnight daily and 12pm to 4pm on Friday. Tel: (04) 8883828. Metro: Dubai Mall. Taxi: Address Downtown. theaddress.com.
17. Favourite Thai Restaurant: Mango Tree
Solid Thai cuisine and a prime view of the Dubai Fountains means this is a firm fan favourite. Book a table outside and definitely order the Duck curry or the Penang lamb shank – yum.
Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai. 12.30pm to 11.30pm, daily. Tel: (04) 4267313. soukalbahar.ae.
18. Favourite The Americas Restaurant: Spirito Lounge & Kitchen
A recent addition to Media One Hotel, Spirito offers on-trend Latin flavours at a reasonable price. Dishes like beetroot risotto and mango salad are a riot of colour.
Level 9, Media One Hotel, Media City, daily noon to 4pm and 6pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 4212679. Metro: Nakheel. spirito.ae
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
Since it opened in 2013, Physique 57 has transformed Dubai’s fitness scene. Loyal barre devotees love the 57-minute sweat session, the infectiously 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: Tips & Toes
As one of the region’s most established spa chains, Tips and Toes is a one-stop shop for all of your beauty needs. From threading to eyelash extensions, you can guarantee you are in good hands with the highly trained staff who tailor each experience to you. Their mani-pedis and facials are particularly good, and the prices won’t break the bank.
Umm Suqiem Road, Al Barsha, Dubai, daily 9am to 10pm. Tel: (04) 3412020. Taxi: Next to Creative Minds. tipsandtoes.com. Other locations: Arabian Ranches, Business Bay, The Greens, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Palm Jumeirah, Media City.
21. Favourite Nail Bar: The Nail Spa
Mani-pedi emergencies will be well taken care of at this popular spot. We particularly love their attention to detail, the comfy chairs and the polish selection (they always have fresh hues).
The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, 10am to 10pm daily. Tel: (600) 544001. thenailspa.com. Other locations: Mercato, The Aviation Club, Ibn Battuta, Meadows Town Centre, Arabian Ranches Golf Club.
22. Favourite Hair Salon: Beauty Connection Spa
Not only is the space at Beauty Connection Spa pretty impressive (30,000 sq ft to be precise), the range of treatments on offer that aim to whip your locks into shape is mighty lengthy. Let the experts assess your hair type and recommend the right treatment for it and you should walk out feeling like a new woman.
2nd floor, Eiffel 2 Building, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, Sat to Thurs 10.30am to 8pm. Tel: (04) 3212888. Taxi: Facing Oasis Mall. beautyconnectionspa.com
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.
23. Favourite British Restaurant: London Fish & Chips
With over a dozen branches across the city, this reliable fish and chips chain serves grills, battered options and more. We’re particularly fond of the King’s Cross combo – cajun tiger shrimps and fries. Yum.
Various locations including Motor City, Ibn Battuta, Tecom, Mirdif, Media City, Sharjah, Greens. Tel: (800) 566366. londonfish-chips.com.
24. Favourite Middle Eastern Restaurant: Reem Al Bawadi
This is arguably the UAE’s most iconic shisha and mezze spot – particularly the Jumeirah Beach Road branch (there are seven stores in the UAE). The décor is OTT, the service is fast, the grills are juicy and the people-watching is first class.
Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Manara, Dubai, 6am to 3am daily. Tel: (04) 3306663. Taxi: Opposite Times Square. reemalbawadi.com. Also: Jumeirah Beach Road, (04) 3947444; Dubai Marina, (04) 4522525; Downtown, (04) 4439690; and Ramada Deira, (04) 2596111.
25. Favourite Chinese Restaurant: Rauchi Asian Fusion Dining
A relaxed yet licensed spot that serves food from China and beyond: it’s perfect for when you fancy Mongolian, your friend wants Thai food but you’re both really craving dumplings.
Level 1, Ramee Rose Hotel, Tecom, Dubai, 12pm to 3pm & 6pm to midnight, daily. Tel: (04) 5509183. rameerosehotel.com.
26. Favourite French Restaurant: Crumbs Elysee
Embrace the twee furnishings and kitsch decor and tuck into some excellent French food at this delightful bistro and café: don’t leave without taking home a freshly baked loaf.
Indigo Central, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, daily 6am to midnight. Tel: (04) 346 8899. Taxi: Indigo Central. crumbselysee.com
27. Favourite Indian Restaurant: Biryani Pot
This contemporary Indian restaurant has been delighting customers since it opened earlier last year. Be sure to try the vegetarian quinoa biryani, served in a terracotta claypot that arrives with a warm breaded lid. It’s lovely soul food that’s free from gluten and cholesterol.
Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim 1, Dubai, Sat to Wed 11am to midnight, Thur and Fri 11am to 2am. Tel: (04) 3382277. Taxi: Opposite SAGA World. biryanipot.ae.
28. Favourite International Restaurant: Shores Restaurant
This all-day dining restaurant serves a classic international buffet, as well as a la carte food. It also features a terrace with water views.
Ramada Plaza, JBR, 6.30am to 10.30am, 12.30pm to 3pm, 7pm to 10.30pm, daily. Tel: (04) 4398888. ramadaplazajbr.com.
29. Favourite Italian Restaurant: Sapori Di BiCE
This place is about more than just pizza and pasta, although both are superb at Sapori Di BiCE. Everything from the stunning pastries on display and the award-winning gelato to the rotisserie and excellent service make this restaurant truly special.
City Walk, Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 8am to 11pm. Tel: (04) 3442550. Taxi: City Walk. saporidibice.com
30. Favourite Japanese Restaurant: Benihana
Teppanaki is the order of the day at Benihana. The theatrical cooking style puts each chef centre stage as they prepare your meal in front of you. Be sure to try the steak and prawns fried in slabs of butter.
Amwaj Rotana, JBR, Dubai, daily 12.30pm to 12.30am. Tel: (04) 4283089. Taxi: JBR The Walk. rotana.com
31. Favourite Modern European Restaurant: RIVA Ristorante
With its serene location overlooking the ocean at RIVA Beach Club, RIVA Ristorante is the perfect place to soak up some sun and tuck into some tasty Mediterranean food. The salads and the seafood are wonderfully fresh, but we love the simple yet delicious margarita pizza.
Shoreline Apartment 7-8, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, daily noon to midnight. Tel: (04) 4309466. riva-beach.com.
32. Favourite Pakistani Restaurant: RAVI
A true Dubai institution – the apple-green coloured Satwa branch of this Pakistani chain has become accidentally famous and caters to every type of expat, and plenty of tourists too. While the butter chicken is an obvious choice, the bihari kebab (Dhs18) and the too-spicy-for-some chicken handi (Dhs22) are our obligatory, every-single-time orders.
Shop 245, Opposite Union Cooperative Society, Near Satwa Roundabout, Satwa, Dubai, daily 5am to 2am. Taxi: Satwa Roundabout.
33. Favourite Pan-Asian Restaurant: Shanghai Chic
Fantastic dumplings, succulent Peking duck and a dessert called the Shanghai Snickers that tastes as good as it sounds. This is a solid option up the Jebel Ali end of town.
The Gardens, Mövenpick Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel, Dubai, daily 7pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 4440000. Metro: Ibn Battuta. movenpick.com.
34. Favourite Seafood Restaurant: Aprons & Hammers
This licensed restaurant aboard an old wooden ship isn’t just bonkers, it’s brilliant. Tuck into buckets of mussels, clams and prawns throw on your aprons and get cracking.
Dubai International Marine Club, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 12.30pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (04) 4547097. Taxi: Dubai International Marine Club. apronsandhammers.com
35. Favourite Steakhouse Restaurant: Butcha Steakhouse & Grill
You’ll not miss Butcha at The Beach Opposite JBR – it’s the one with all the people in it tucking into ribs. This lip-smacking Turkish spot has made a name for itself for serving some of the tastiest cuts in town, thanks to the meticulous dry-aging process its meat goes through.
The Beach, JBR, Dubai, Sat to Wed 11am to midnight, Thur and Fri 11am to 1am. Tel: (04) 5530684. Metro: JLT. facebook.com/butchadubai
36. Favourite The Americas Restaurant: Wingstop
What could make the humble chicken wing tastier than it already is? Serve them with one of 11 different seasonings is a good start. Wingstop may be the newest kid on the block but they’ve impressed the city with their finger-licking flavours.
Jumeirah Centre, Jumeirah 1, Dubai. Tel: (800) 94647867. Taxi: Opposite Village Mall. wingstop.ae.
37. Favourite Thai Restaurant: Royal Orchid
This friendly restaurant has a loyal following of Thai food lovers across the city. We can’t decide what we love more: the authentic flavours at Royal Orchid, or the competitive price tag.
Various locations including Marina Walk, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily noon to 11.30pm Tel: (04) 3674040. Metro: Damac.
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.
38. Favourite Bar: Q43
It’s only been open for a year, but the queue snaking through the lobby of the Media One Hotel is testament to how popular it is. The industrial décor, views over Dubai Marina, slick pool tables and tasty beverage menu make it a hard bar to leave.
Q43, Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City, Dubai, daily noon to 3pm and 5pm to 3am . Tel: (04) 4435403. Metro: Nakheel. q43dubai.com
39. Favourite Day Out: The Beach
As if from nowhere, The Beach Opposite JBR appeared like a mirage, stunning residents and tourists with its slick design. Now one of the busiest districts in town, it has a charming waterfront lined with an ever-growing number of top-notch restaurants and an eclectic selection of shops.
The Beach, opposite JBR. Tel: (800) 637227. Taxi: JBR, The Walk.
40. Favourite Concert: Ed Sheeran
Man of the moment Ed Sheeran’s show at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre earlier this year may have involved just him and his guitar, but that didn’t stop 11,000 music lovers craving for more. Utilising his trademark loop station to mesmerising effect Sheeran’s incredible performance is still talked about today.
41. Favourite Ladies’ Night: Q43
It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when it comes to Ladies Nights, but Q43 manages to do so effortlessly, thanks to its relaxed yet stylish vibe, great music and gorgeous views of Dubai Marina and the Palm Jumeirah.
43rd floor, Office Tower, Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City, Dubai, Tuesday 6pm to 1am. Tel: (04) 4435403. Metro: Nakheel. q43dubai.com
42. Favourite Festival: Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival
Ticking practically every box wanted from a laidback music festival, this year’s Dubai Jazz Festival had something for everyone – from the dulcet tones of Sting and James Blunt to the enigmatic crooner John Legend. Okay, so the artists might not scream jazz, but who even cares when the line-up is this good.
Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai Media City. Tel: (04) 3911196. Metro: Nakheel. dubaijazzfest.com
43. Favourite Nightclub: Rock Bottom Cafe
This beloved Dubai dive bar-cum-club is the absolute stuff of legend. Those who dare can grab a glass of their famous ‘Bull Frog’ cocktail before hitting the verging-on-a-mosh-pit dance floor.
Ramee Rose Hotel, Tecom, Dubai, 5pm to 3am, daily. Tel: (04) 450 0111. Metro: Dubai Internet City. rameehotels.com
44. Favourite Sporting Event: Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens
For much of Dubai’s expat community, the word “rugby” may still be something of a sore point after last month’s World Cup. At the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7s you’ll find all of the fun, but none of the potential heartbreak and humiliation… unless you get stuck with a really bad fancy dress costume.
The Sevens Stadium, Al Ain Road, December 3 to 5, tickets from Dhs300. More info on website.
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.
45. Favourite Brunch: Bubbalicious
If you haven’t tried this brunch, you’re probably brand new to Dubai. Bubbalicious has hit on the perfect combination of sophistication and guaranteed party atmosphere. The themed food and drink stations will delight out-of-towners and long-term Dubai dwellers alike.
Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, Friday 1pm to 4pm, Dhs680. Tel: (04) 399 4141. Metro: Damac Properties. westinminaseyahi.com
46. Favourite Business Lunch: Zuma Dubai
The Ebisu lunch at one of Dubai’s most elegant Japanese haunts comes in at Dhs130 (with an express option only Dhs72) and it never disappoints. Last time we were there we munched on perfectly seared beef with a tangy lime dressing. Delicious.
Gate Village 06, DIFC, Dubai, business lunch 12.30pm to 3.30pm Sunday to Thursday. Tel: (04) 4255660. Taxi: 312th Road, opposite Sky Gardens. zumarestaurant.com.
47. Favourite Cafe: Sum of Us
Ah sourdough, we love thee, and we adore Sum of Us for baking such a quality loaf. The second café in Tom & Serg’s trifecta, The Sum Of Us offers solid baking, inventive food and good coffee (we love the magic, which is basically a flat white but less milky).
Burj Al Salam building, behind the Sheraton, 6th Street, Trade Centre (and Sheikh Zayed Road), 8am to 10pm daily. Tel: (056) 4457526. Metro: Trade Centre. thesumofusdubai.com
48. Favourite Healthy Restaurant: Comptoir 102
Dubai’s veggies breathed out a collective sigh of relief when 102 opened on Jumeirah Beach Road. A pioneer of the city’s now thriving health food scene, this pretty café serves up food that is sustainable, nutritious, and unfailingly delicious.
Comptoir 102, Villa 102 Jumeirah Beach Road, daily 7.30am to 9pm. Tel: (04) 3854555. Taxi: Comptoir 102. comptoir102.com.
49. Favourite Pub Grub: McGettigan’s
No matter where you are in the world, you will always find a rowdy Irish pub. In Dubai, it’s McGettigan’s. The World Trade Centre branch is a sister to the JLT original, offering the fail-safe combo of live music, pub grub and good craic.
Dubai World Trade Centre, daily noon to 2am. Tel: (800) 6247. Metro: World Trade Centre. mcgettigans.com
50. Favourite Food Truck: Salt
Eating delicious mini burgers with the sand between your toes? Dream scenario. This social media behemoth is now parked permanently on Kite Beach and so is firmly on our take-all-visitors roster (it’s right by the running track – so you can see exercisers while you scoff). Don’t leave without trying the Lotus softie ice cream.
Kite Beach, Street 2d, Umm Suqeim, Dubai, 12pm to 2am daily. Follow them on Instagram for more.