Best of the Brunch: Dubai’s Top Friday Brunches

Having lived in Dubai for almost a decade and with my home city being one of my favourite blog topics, it would be amiss of me not to write a post about one of the city’s longest standing expat institutions – the infamous Friday brunch!

When I first arrived in Dubai, I was initiated into the culture of brunch pretty rapidly by my English friends, and in fact spent the majority of weekends celebrating some excuse or another at one of the city’s best restaurants. Nowadays it’s rare that I indulge – the whole concept of eating and drinking as much as you can over the course of three or four hours not sitting comfortably with my new healthier lifestyle (and the monumental champagne and cocktails hangovers getting harder to cope with as the years go by!) I did make an exception for my birthday a couple of weeks ago however, and as I am constantly asked about the best places to go on a Friday, I thought I would write this post to share my thoughts. Spoilt as we are in Dubai by such a wealth of top quality hotels and restaurants, it is hard to shortlist, but I’ve at least tried to group a few of the better ones by occasion:

For choice of food and drinks and overall ambience:

My ultimate favourite brunch destination is Al Qasr, I’ve tried a few of its rivals over the years to see if anyone can knock it off the hotspot, but it still reigns supreme in my eyes. Spread over three restaurants, you can even wander through parts of the open kitchen to grab food as it’s cooked. It’s sophisticated (mostly!) but fun with big groups on the larger tables, and lots of opportunity to chat to people at the live drinks stations where there are additional seating areas. The food is always great quality and I have never yet been disappointed here – a great place to take people new to the concept of brunch, or to celebrate a special occasion.

For quality of food:

Traiteur‘s brunch consistently wins awards for its offering, and when you visit, you can easily see why. The food is outstanding, and whilst there is nowhere near the same variety and choice as in other restaurants, the French fine dining restaurant remains focussed on its key strengths, serves some of the best lobster and foie gras I have ever tasted. It’s pricey but the food is well worth it, making it a great choice when you’re feeling flush or have visitors in town that you really want to impress.

For an impressive setting:

A new contender on the Dubai brunch scene, I only sampled the Imperium brunch very recently to celebrate my birthday, and we were very impressed. The restaurant is located inside the opulent and sophisticated Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel on Palm Jumeirah. The food choice and quality were both excellent, and out on the terrace the atmosphere was great too. Whilst not quite as social as sister brunch Al Qasr, it was equally good fun, and the funky Voda Bar next door made for an easy stop for post-brunch drinks and even a boogie in the afternoon!

For the drinkers:

Brunch is often as much about the drinks as it is the food, with some hotels going all out to provide drinks stations that are talking points all in themselves. One example of this is the Westin’s Bubbalicious brunch which also features a ‘laboratory’ setting where the scientist creates a variety of glow in the dark and radioactive looking concoctions in test tubes, as well as drinks made with bubbling liquid nitrogen, whilst outside you can get huge watermelons, filled with vodka and a handful of straws, and a number of other alcohol-filled fruits. Equally drinks-focussed, Saffron‘s brunch at Atlantis has drinks stations which include miniature bottles of bubbly served with straws, shots of sake served in pipettes, pina colada served in baby coconuts and mai thai served in baby pineapples. The food is also good at these brunches, and they are understandably social – best suited to those keen to make the most of the beverages!

For an all out party:

The Airport Meridien’s Yalumba brunch is one of the longest standing in Dubai, keeping expats dancing for a number of years, it has deservedly earned a reputation as THE party brunch in town. Innocuous enough when you arrive, the background music slowly increases in volume over the hours and turns from Balearic style chill out tunes to Cindy Lauper and YMCA without detection. Props such as hats, horns and whistles are provided on the tables and after eating has finished, people are quick to bust their moves on a newly created dance floor or up on the tables and chairs. This is not one to join if you are not drinking!

For a family friendly option:

Not having children myself, this is not normally a priority for me (in fact I prefer to stay away from those with large numbers of children normally!) However there are a couple of places that cater for children and in my mind would also stand out as places that are lovely for adults (with or without children) to visit to. One of these is Latitude at Jumeirah Beach Hotel – here, children have a whole host of exciting things to do from making their own food to playing with entertainers, all in a separate corner of the restaurant. The food choice and quality is excellent, as you would expect from a Jumeirah property, and there are great views of Burj Al Arab from the terrace. I have also been hearing rave reviews about the Mas Mas Maya brunch at the Ritz Carlton JBR, where you can spend the entire day at the pool, making use of the facilities before and after you eat.

Now that I am not doing brunch so often, I really appreciate it when I do, and whilst there are still a few on my hit list, I’d be keen to hear of other suggestions of places that I might have missed, so please shout through any more suggestions!