Esquire Area Guide: Downtown Dubai
Omitting both Dubai Mall and Business Bay (both districts in their own right), here’s ten Esquire recommendations from the Downtown area to check out on your next visit.
1 | The Burger Fix: Clinton Street Baking Company
The burgers here (whether you opt for cheddar or Swiss cheese as your topping) are never less than excellent, while the chips they come with could well be the greatest around. Free Wi-Fi and pleasant staff round it off as one of our favourite places to while away an hour. It gets hectic at lunchtimes on weekends so try to avoid then, but this is a place worth visiting the area for in itself.
2 | The Vision of the Future: The model at the Pavillion
While we fully accept that not everyone is going to be such enthusiasts over architect’s models as we are, this one is well worth seeing. The grand plan for Downtown showing how it will all look once it’s finished, with opera house and walkways connecting buildings to each other, the mall and the Metro is really impressive. Emaar usually have models of other developments here as well so you can get a look at how big chunks of the city will look in five years’ time.
3 | The Hidden Gem: La Serre bakery
The restaurant is one of the best in the country and a fine way to spend an evening, but the downstairs bakery is a real gem of a place to get proper French croissants that are made on site. Actually, their whole range of pastries is brilliant and with decent coffee and reliably good eggs benedict this is one of our favourite early morning hangouts.
4 | The Takeaway: 800 Pizza
We all argue about where the best pizza can be found in Dubai, but this is certainly one of the contenders. Tucked in a cul-de-sac opposite the Al Manzil Hotel and near the Fitness First, this tiny Italian place does a Margarita con buffala that is as good as we’ve had anywhere.
5 | The Lunch Spot: TOKO
In the cooler parts of the year the outside area of this Japanese restaurant is one of the nicest places to have lunch. The food is rarely less than excellent and the front bar is a cool – if not cheap – place to visit in it’s own right. And we’ll never forget Will Smith turning up to the opening party and some overenthusiastic well-wisher trying to get into the Fresh Prince’s roped off area to meet him only to be thrown out “Jazz style” for his troubles.
6 | The Restaurant with a View: CUT Wolfgang Puck
One of the finest steakhouses in the country, here at the Address Hotel Downtown. One thing they do really well is their a la carte brunch. It’s a far more civilized way to spend a Friday than queueing up, plate in hand, with people who start a sentence by drunken bellowing “Oi oi geezer…” or screeching like a velociraptor in cheap lipstick.
7 | The Sports Bar: Nezesaussi
Recently renovated as part of the refurbished VIDA hotel, this sports bar (now only accessible through the little Souk) does some of the best bar food in the country – notably the burgers and boerewors. Somewhat annoyingly this (being an antipodean bar) likes to go big on showing rugby, so avoid at those times if the egg chasing annoys you, but at all other times it’s a prime spot for excellent pub food.
8 | The On-the-Go Eat: Food trucks
Food Trucks seem to appear and then vanish in the area, although we’re pretty sure that most will return in the cooler months. But if this truck concept is going to work anywhere then along the boulevard here (along with the walk at JBR) is the prime spot. One that appears to be permanently stationed in this vicinity however, is the VIDA food truck. The big silver trailer does some really good takeaway food with sliders that are well-worth seeking out.
9 | The Local Dish: Mezza House
The best Lebanese food in the city. Yeah, we know, it’s not as good as your mum’s cooking or your auntie Rima back in Beirut, or some other place in Dubai, yada yada yada, but frankly we’ve found what we consider to be the best place. And that includes fancy restaurants. A seat inside, but in the non-smoking room is the prime spot and everything is good on the menu so just go wild.
10 | Getting Around: Dubai Trolley
No, we don’t really get the point of it either. So it goes from near Dubai Mall, the long-way round down to The Metro Station at little more than walking pace. You know that Dubai Mall is already connected to the Metro by an air-conditioned walkway, right? Perhaps this is one for the tourists, we just hope it doesn’t have the same congesting effect on traffic as the tram has had in the Marina.