These restaurants are located at the heart of business hubs in Dubai and are the perfect spots for some downtime – in the middle of the day or after-work too.
Mayta injects some much-needed life into a previously reserved—and let’s face it, sometimes stuffy—corner of DIFC. Taking over the third floor of the Capital Club, the colonial atmosphere gives way to sexy dark wood panelling, Aztec wall hangings and hip Latin American beats.
Leave any formality at the door. The Peruvian eaterie, with native Jaime Pesaque at the helm, encourages you to get the party started at the cosy bar with an extensive range of pisco-based cocktails, from traditional sours to a delicious passion fruit variation.
The menu meanders through a range of sharing plates, starting with ceviches and tiraditos and expanding to marinated and grilled cuts in anticuchos, brasas and ‘big shares’—if you make it that far.
Slivers of seabass artfully tossed with shavings of ginger and plantain and given a coriander twist in a tangy ceviche are so meltingly light, they leave plenty of room for the steak tataki spiked with daikon radish, soy and ginger and mariscos, a delightful medley of squid, potatoes and green beans, smothered in spicy aji chimichurri. Surprisingly traditional dishes are given a modern spin with carefully orchestrated presentation while the Peruvian love of marinades, herbs and spices lifts every dish from the ordinary to the sublime.
Desserts are a revelation, from dulce de leche paired with meringue, custard and lime sorbet, which enliven every tastebud, sweet and sour, to gooseberry pannacotta and a stickily indulgent and citrusy quinoa bread pudding.
Mayta Dubai, Capital Club, Dubai International Financial Centre; +971 4 514 8774
With its sprawling rooftop terrace providing marina views, The Croft is the perfect after-work casual hangout while the weather is still pleasant. During the summer, kick back on plush leather sofas and soak up the retro British surroundings with a craft beer in hand from a drinks selection as impressive as the food.
The fare is quintessential British pub grub with an added dollop of finesse provided by chef patron Darren Velvick, a protege of both Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing.
While The Croft is British-inspired, Velvick prefers to offer good quality local produce with Mediterranean and Asian influences. Start with a citrus-dressed summer salad of oily local mackerel on top of raw apple, radish and shredded carrots. A classic is the local organic roast chicken stuffed with foie gras and truffle—or if that is too rich for your palate, keep it simple with homemade leek and cheddar sausages and tangy mustard mash. For dessert, Eton mess is given a grown-up spin with a gin jelly and elderflower cream in a dish called Neat and Tidy.
Dubai Marriot Harbour Hotel, Dubai Marina; +971 4 319 4794
Cocktail Kitchen marries hyper-trendy New York style with laidback Catalonian. The neighbourhood hangout in JLT has a distinct underground feel with a ridiculously long bar, concrete floors, leather apron-clad bartenders and DJs spinning vinyl records. The Mediterranean influence shines through in a daily aperitivo from 5-8pm where vermouth plays a starring role in the cocktails, alongside elaborate Italian canapes such as olive ascolane, fried green olives stuffed with spicy minced meat and grilled bruschetta with figs and melted blue cheese.
The venue offers several spaces for diners to get a front-row view of the high-octane mixology, tasting tables where they can witness the bartenders’ artistic flair up close or a back room where larger groups can get a private masterclass.
While the venue is seductive, the real reason to come back is the quality of ingredients in both the cocktails and gastronomy. Friday brunch is a chilled affair, a world away from the hectic buffet brunches in Dubai. The a la carte menu is reflective of the restaurant’s easygoing vibe. Must-tries are the beef carpaccio with caper berries, baby beetroot chips drizzled with a balsamic emulsion and the Bloody Mary short ribs, all served at your table in a well-lit enclosed terrace. For the pick of the cocktails, Stop-Wine-ing is a favourite, a refreshing blend of Lacuesta blanco, Qcumber soda, basil and cucumber topped with sparkling wine.
Armada Bluebay Hotel, Cluster P, JLT; +971 56 828 0727