It’s no secret that 2020 was a tough year on us all, with its ups & downs and probably more downs than ups, I definitely wanted to end my year with a memorable UP! So my friends and I planned a quick last minute trip to Dubai, which we were lucky to have it go through without any issues related to the travel restrictions these days. We booked our tickets, got our PCRs (did 3 in 1 week) and flew to Dubai to spend New Year’s there.
I don’t think I’ve ever traveled anywhere for New Year’s, in fact, I don’t even like going out that night and would rather have a small gathering with friends/family, eat & watch movies. Which is kind of what we did for New Year’s Eve, our Dubai resident friend took us to for fun night camping in the desert. We camped in Al Qudra desert (apparently known for camping), brought our food, snacks & camping gear and set up a few hours before midnight. The best part of the spot we set camp in is that we could literally see the entire Dubai skyline, and all the fireworks that take place when that clock hits zero. Not only was it an absolute chill experience, we got to see the fireworks at different areas in Dubai, as oppose to one place (like Burj Khalifa).
Another fun day for us was at Motion Gate, a theme park about 30-40 minutes from Dubai Marina. It was divided into different areas with different themes. Each area was under a big film studio’s name (Columbia, Lionsgate & Dream Works). Dream Works was definitely my favorite, I loved the rooms’ designs, so much effort is put into each section, for each movie with fun games as well.
Other than that, our only other activity was walking around, shopping and hanging out with friends, and of course EATING! If you’ve been to Dubai before, then you probably already know that the food there is INSANE! Substantial & consistent quality in most restaurants I’ve been to, always using fresh ingredients and the service is always great and welcoming.
As a breakfast geek, I made sure I had as many good & different ones that my time & bank account could endure. So I started a little research on Instagram, checking all the places I wanted to try, made a little plan by location (it makes a difference because transportation can be a bit pricy if you’re not renting a car).
My first breakfast was at Brunch & Cake, I ordered the pulled beef benedict. Drenched in delicious gravy served on an English muffin, topped with a swirl of avocado slices, a perfectly poached egg & proper hollandaise sauce. And let’s just establish that all the eggs I’ve had this trip (4 to be exact) were cooked to perfection, with a nice runny orange-yellow yolk.
Another place that’s been on my list for quite some time was Tom & Serg. A friend has recommended it every time I went to Dubai, and never got to it, but glad I did this time. They have a lot of healthy & all-natural alternatives on their menu, plus a variety of power-boosting smoothies & treats. My friend ordered their ‘Lean bean shake’ that had peanut butter, vanilla whey protein, almond milk, espresso & bananas + mushroom & cheese scrambled eggs. I ordered the smoked salmon crumpet, which had a sourdough base, topped with smoked salmon, pickled onions, fennel, lemon creme fraiche & herbs! It was the perfect balance of flavors.
Next up is a place I honestly only went to because it was recommended by SO MANY people. A Turkish place called Kaftan at La Mer. I was never really the biggest fan of Turkish food (don’t know why) but this place was definitely worth trying. I had the Sef’in simiti (aka semeet) stuffed with an egg, Turkish sojouk, kashkaval cheese & sesame seeds. The dough was heavenly, perfectly toasted and their bread too. I also ordered their labneh with a mix of sesame seeds, thyme, walnuts & olive oil. The food was super light and fresh, I’m glad I went and thanks to everyone who recommended it.
This next breakfast was a healthier start to the day, at a place called 1762 at JTL (Jumeriah Lake Towers). You place your order at the counter inside, where you also see their super fresh bakery; then they bring you the food at your table. I went with the portobello mushroom benedict with sautéed spinach & hollandaise. Had a side of their smoothie protein bowl, made with bananas, strawberries, raw cacao, almond milk, chocolate protein powder, pumpkin seeds & coconut.
Last on the breakfast list is Q6 Bistro (Quartier Sixième), a cozy French place at Media City. This time I went with an egg-less breakfast 🙂 Salmon avocado sandwich, a simple yet deliciously filling dish! They basically peeled the avocado and used its flesh as the bun for the sandwich, topped with sesame seeds and also had cream cheese, caper berries, baby spinach & a lemon oil dressing.
Another place I would definitely recommend for breakfast is Cocoa Room. I went a few times during previous trips, but did not this time. They have a whole section for egg benedicts, with super creative twists and toppings; and it’s always superb! Plus their cutlery is super fancy & Instagrammable 🙂 Make sure you go early, because there can be a waiting list on busy days.
This is a collection of places to grab a quick snack on the go, there are endless options for that, but here are the places I had on my list and definitely recommend each of them.
I try not to go to the same place twice, so that I can try as many new places every time I visit Dubai. But honestly, this next place is so close to my heart that I actually went twice this trip alone. The place is Salt, they make these classic little sliders with wagyu beef that I could seriously have any time of the day. I love that they serve their sliders in twos (single or double), they also make nice & crispy sweet potato fries and their milkshakes are NOT to be missed. You definitely don’t want to miss out on that.
I think pizza is one of those things that everyone loves, you can’t debate whether to have pizza or not. I honestly can’t remember ever having pizza in Dubai, at least one that special enough to be remembered over the years. What I do know is that I will absolutely remember this pizzeria, and surely visit again when I’m back in town. The place is called Motorino, located at JBR. It’s a nice cozy restaurant, that makes THE BEST Neapolitan pizzas. I ordered their Don Dom pizza, which was topped with a flavorful tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, parmesan, basil and I only added the soppressata (which is kind of like a mix between pepperoni & salami but with more natural meat flavor. The crust was toasty & chewy in all the ways you want it to be. The pizza itself was HUGE, so would definitely be sharing it next time 🙂
Instagram was a huge help for me planning my food ventures for this trip, which can be a bit tricky sometimes when I’m choosing mostly off of a photo, and not based on recommendations or personal experience. Pickl was one of the places on the list that I chose based off that alone. Located at JLT, specialized in fried chicken sandwiches. I ordered their classic chicken sando, where you get to choose how spicy you want the chicken to be (5 levels of hotness). I’m not the biggest fan of super hot/spicy food, so I went with the Medium (level 2). The sandwich was incredible, perfect bite of crispy fried chicken that’s well seasoned, not greasy or drippy, just the right amount of sauce and their signature dill pickles; all in a fresh potato bun.
As you may notice from this list or my Instagram feed in general, I’m not really into desserts or have the sweetest of teeth. I mean do crave the occasional cookie or ice cream, and can have dark chocolate any day, but would rather have fries over cake any day. However, sometimes, some very little times I would obsess over a dessert and just keep telling the whole world about. This dessert is the Lotus Drama from Parker’s, located at La Mer. It’s quite simple, yet put a smile on our face for the rest of the day. It’s basically a Lotus crumble cake, served with a warm & crunchy Lotus sauce, vanilla soft serve ice cream. The combination of everything together was MAGIC. Cake was amazing on itself too btw.
With all the food we had for breakfast, lunch and whatever we munched on in between, we didn’t really have that many proper dinners throughout our trip. But here’s a few that I was so happy to visit this time. These next two restaurants were nice enough to invite me over, which is always nice, especially when the food is great too. First invitation was at Mr. Crab (next to Mall of the Emirates), this is my second time eating there. They have a variety of delicious appetizers, tacos and their specialty is the bucket of seafood treats cooked in their own buttery cajun sauce. We ordered the crab meat tacos, fried shrimp tacos (A MUST), baked mussels with SO MUCH cheese and the crab-o-nanza bucket that had shrimp, mussels, baby potatoes, sweet corn & obviously CRABS!
Next up on the dinner list is a place called Bait Maryam, a Palestinian restaurant at JLT. I’ve never really had Middle Eastern food when I visited Dubai in the past, just because I eat a lot of it back home. But this place was also recommended by a friend, and I loved how homey it looked like in the pictures on their Instagram. The restaurant is a run by Chef Salam, who created the place in memory of her mother. I was happy to sit & chat with her & her daughter a little, in what felt like a living room (which I loved). Besides their beautiful outdoor area overlooking skyscrapers & a lake, the indoor part of their restaurant looks & feels like a home. I fell in love with the place, and that was before I tried their delicious food.
Honorable mentions, especially for first time Dubai travelers 🙂 Cheesecake factory, their salted caramel cheesecake is a must-try. Shrimp dynamite from PF Changs, they are literally everywhere around town. Five Guys, choose your own burger toppings, don’t forget the fries & milkshake too! Also went for dinner at The Maine, had the lobster roll at their ‘The Double tree by Hilton’ branch. The lobster was amazing, the bread was buttered & toasted the way I like it.
For those who made it this far, I hope you enjoyed this read, and that it helps you when you plan your next trip to Dubai!
Happy New Year 🙂