The Dubai restaurants we said hello and goodbye to in 2020
The city never stops…
At the end of each year, we take the opportunity to reflect on what has come and gone in the city. While 2020 brought us many unexpected surprises (new face accessories being one of them), Dubai’s ever-changing restaurant landscape continued to evolve. We lost some great eateries along the way, but were presented with more than a few innovative new concepts. Here are our most notable new openings, and most disheartening closures of 2020…
Cé La Vi
Firmly positioned as the first big opening of the year, this Singapore export was met with much hype when it launched in Address Sky View. With unbeatable Burj Khalifa views, an inventive menu and sophisticated evening vibe, Cé La Vi has gone from strength to strength over the last 12 months. We’re excited to see what the restaurant will bring in 2021.
Zuma founder, Reiner Becker’s second Dubai project launched in March this year. Roka offers a more casual take on Japanese cuisine, using the same methods as its sibling concept, with more affordable ingredients. The open-plan space offers bright lunches and atmospheric dinners, complemented by a cosy outdoor terrace with Burj Khalifa views.
Maine Land Brasserie
Opening just as the city emerged out of lockdown couldn’t have been easy for Maine founder, Joey Ghazal, but miraculously he pulled it out the bag. We challenge you to try and get a table last minute (spoiler: it won’t happen). The beautiful venue offers a grand, luxurious yet comfortable space, perfectly suited to its home in The Opus by Zaha Hadid.
Bali-inspired beach restaurant KoKo Bay opened to much fanfare this September. The first restaurant to open on Palm West Beach offers incredible sunset views, and you’ll be lucky to get a table to see them as it gets booked up way in advance. The menu serves up a variety of cuisines, from Pan-Asian to barbecue, along with an extensive cocktail list.
Bursting onto the scene as a playground for grown-ups, Brass Monkey has a 12-lane bowling alley and huge arcade area. The venue is also home to two restaurants; a contemporary Asian and a cool American hangout. Whether hanging out with colleagues or catching up with friends, Brass Monkey is the ideal spot for fun-loving groups.
This two-floor destination can be found nestled deep within The Els Club, a community spot with plenty of lush greenery. On the ground floor is a bistro eatery with innovative, hearty dishes. Upstairs is the newly opened bar and terrace with plenty of outdoor seating, a barbecue and unique cocktail menu.
L’Atelier by Joel Rubuchon
With a whopping 31 Michelin Stars across his restaurants, Joel Rubuchon lent his name to a Dubai restaurant for the first time, with his protégé heading up the kitchen. The fine-dining spot is as fancy as you’d expect, found within DIFC. While the competition of the area may be tough, only time will tell if the brand new restaurant can stand out amongst the rest.
Beautiful sunshine spot Sal opened on the terrace, and overlooking the pool of, coveted seven-star hotel Burj Al Arab. The Mediterranean restaurant is designed with crisp white furniture and Balaeric blue accents, transporting guests straight to Santorini. The Italian-inspired menu includes sea bream, sea salt-crusted sea bass, and succulent king crab with homemade trenette pasta.
Barbary Deli & Cocktail Club
Making it to almost three years in Dubai, this unexpectedly sophisticated Tecom bar was a favourite amongst many. The venue closed as per government guidelines in March, however it never reopened and will be now replaced by Spanish tapas restaurant, Lola’s Taberna.
Popular DoubleTree by Hilton JBR hotspot Ramusake sadly closed its doors earlier this year. The bar was regularly packed on a Wednesday thanks to its stellar ladies’ night deal. Ramusake also had a stunning outdoor terrace which was perfect for dinner and drinks on a winter evening.
Neighbouring Scottish bar and pub, Copper Dog, fell under the same management as Ramusake. Word on the grapevine states that they have plans for the two venues to merge and reopen at a later date, so we’ll have to watch this space…
Authentic Spanish restaurant Al Hambra was a popular spot for tourists and residents in Jumeirah Al Qasr. It offered a variety of Andalusian cuisine, including a variety of paella dishes, but closed earlier this year and didn’t reopen again.
Turkish spot Ruya was popular thanks to its extensive food menu, weekly brunch and tempting ladies’ night deals. The Grosvenor House restaurant also offered brilliant views of Dubai Marina, until it closed its doors in May.
Dubai Opera’s neighbour and Instagrammable pre-show dinner spot, Kizmet Dubai, has been labelled at temporarily closed since March. We’re still holding out hope that the spot will reopen, as we loved Kizmet’s stylish interiors and creative cocktail menu.
Burger & Lobster
You can still get your Burger & Lobster fix on Deliveroo, but their physical DIFC spot has closed its doors. The restaurant has hinted at a relocation though, but the new venue remains a mystery for now.
When the city reopened for business in September, sadly popular Japanese restaurant Morimoto didn’t follow suit. A new concept did take its spot though, Asian/Peruvian spot Mami Umami now occupies the space in Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai.