We've already begun the slow steady march towards summer, so before we are totally engulfed by the sun, heat and humidity, let’s make the most of Dubai's eclectic collection of al fresco restaurants. Make one last stand on the terraces before we head back inside to the loving embrace of the nation's glorious air-conditioners.
Whether it’s Middle Eastern, meaty grills, vegan thrills, modern Mediterranean, Asian or international cuisines, there's culinary depth in the city’s outstanding outdoor destinations. We've included luxury terraces, beach front bars, venues with stunning skylines views or waterway vistas for discerning sisters and misters.
The lack of rain in Dubai gives a strong incentive for venues to provide exterior space, which is why we see a great variety of types and locations of al fresco options. Our list includes soiree spots, Instagram-friendly hang-outs, hidden gems, tourist traps and trendy bars for the budget conscious, all over town.
And with new options opening up every month it can be difficult to stay on top of what's on offer. This is our pick of April's most stunning al fresco setups.
Named after a star, ZETA, at Address Downtown shines as an al fresco destination. It has breathtaking close-up views of the iconic Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Fountain. Perched on an expansive terrace, it serves quality Californian and Asian cuisine against a humbling backdrop. The lounge seating transforms into the ultimate sundowner venue after dusk.
Zheng He’s is a contemporary Chinese restaurant located within Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, Dubai. Inspired by the historical Chinese explorer Zheng He, it offers an authentic Chinese-style menu with sea-food as a focal point. With both outdoor and indoor seating, it offers panoramic views of the Mina A’Salam lagoon and Burj Al Arab. Zheng He’s is a family-friendly venue with a smart-casual dress code. The venue is fully licensed and open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Thiptara At Palace Downtown
The contemporary Thai restaurant Thiptara is one of the most popular al fresco Asian dining spots in Dubai. Located along the edge of The Dubai Fountain, it offers enchanting views of the Burj Khalifa and with the fountain's hourly performances, you're afforded dinner and a show. The menu includes authentic Thai cuisine and Bangkok-style seafood. Highlights include Thai green curry, spicy roasted red duck and classics like pad Thai, tom yum and zesty salads. It is a strong favourite for date night.
Stop by for sundowners, dinner or a nightcap and enjoy a premium view plus signature al fresco Italian hospitality on the Armani/Ristorante terrace. Open from 5pm to 1am daily, make an evening of it and relax in Armani Casa-designed comfort while sampling award-winning cuisine against a backdrop of exclusive fountain views. Menu includes a selection of risotto, soups, platter faves such as burrata, and authentic Italian mains and appetizers.
Cielo Sky Lounge, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club
Cielo Sky Lounge is a rooftop bar located at the Dubai Creek Yacht Club overlooking the Creek and offering mesmeric skyline vistas. It's a great al fresco option to unwind amidst a soothing verdant space. At sunset the venue transforms into a late-lounge destination. Banging tunes and a menu which includes chipotle chicken, dynamite shrimp, bbq and a seafood mixed grill.
Fish Beach Taverna
Fish Beach Taverna Dubai at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi is a beach-side al fresco restaurant with only a few tables at the entrance covered with a roof. There is also an option to opt for tables on the sand which are set just steps away from the sea. Painted in white, blue and turquoise hues, this restaurant deliberately echoes a quaint Greek taverna. This place is a sea food haven and offers grilled, pan-fried, deep-fried and steamed seafood options. One can choose from cold fish plates or hot platters before moving to mains which include fener, bugulama, jumbo and pejmez casseroles.
Located in Dubai Festival City Mall, Al Fanar is an Emirati restaurant converted from a pearl merchant’s house, which gives it strong 60’s UAE Bedouin vibes. There are indoor as well as outdoor seating options. Pull out a chair in the al fresco courtyard where tables are set around a huge central tree and the walls along with interior design details have been preserved to honour the grandeur of this traditional local house. There are dozens of nostalgic photos of old Dubai and you can buy handsome trinkets from nearby Souq Moshad. Choose from beef kafta, rice dishes and a choice of charcoal grilled meats, fresh marine fish, and authentic desserts including date pudding, date cakes and more.
One of the premium restaurants of Souk Al Bahar’s, this one offers scenic exterior seating and delicious Turkish and Anatolian cuisines. You can never go wrong with kebabs at Günaydin. You can enjoy your meal with a seat in their al fresco dining area, directly opposite The Dubai Fountain for a clear, crisp view of the Burj Khalifa and the fountain extravaganza. The menu includes traditional meatballs, doner kebabs, home-made burgers and traditional dessert options like Baklava with ice-cream, and Kunefe.
Located in the luxury resort of Jumeirah Al Qasr, Pai Thai is offers one of the most magical al fresco dining experiences, featuring 'wow' views of the Madinat Jumeirah waterways. Take a seat at its expansive outdoor terrace under the stars, overlooking the resort's canals and lit palm trees, this memorable dining experience screams 'date night.' Your journey to this restaurant is equally special - aboard a traditional abra, passing along Madinat Jumeirah’s romantic waterways surrounded by jaw-dropping views before you dock at the restaurant’s private water station. The menu includes aromatic and flavourful Thai dishes such as sun-dried crispy beef, purple flower chicken dumplings and river prawns in a red curry sauce.
With captivating views across the Arabian Gulf and the iconic Burj Al Arab, Pierchic restaurant offers a thrilling over-water dining experience. Situated on the end of the pier at the Al Qasr Hotel, it features haute cuisine, epic al fresco ambiance and stylish rickshaws that transport guests from pier to table. Fancy a scenic stroll? Tread the pier's boardwalk towards your special meal. Setting the mood with a dreamy expanse of moonlit seascape. The menu includes a vast variety of seafood such as oysters, caviar, wild seabass ceviche, poached Canadian lobster, tiger prawn tagine and milk-fed Spanish lamb.
Aji is one of the most chilled out and trendy places on Palm Jumeirah’s beach facing destination, Club Vista Mare. Along with some relaxing beach views, the restaurant offers upmarket Japanese-Peruvian dishes. The interiors speak loudly and so too does the food presentation making each dish a work of truly instaworthy art. The menu includes shiromi tacos, filled with a sea bass and yuzu ceviche, oributako causa, robalo and scallop ceviche.
Located in Pier 7, Dubai Marina, Asia Asia takes you on a journey along the ancient spice route, introducing flavourful dishes from the Far East, via an extended stopover in the Middle East. The entrance is adorned with Oriental statues and the interior is beset with stylish Asian-influenced decor and chrome fixings. The lighting of which is a masterwork in itself. The highlight is its terrace overlooking Dubai Marina, with wild views of gleaming lights, still waters and sky-high towers. The restaurant has a reputation for booking out fast especially the terrace, so pre-booking is a must. The menu includes seafood, sushi, skewers and mains. Highlights are the rib-eye teriyaki with roasted kabocha, parsnip mayo and glazed ancho chilli.
Located in Mina A’Salam, Shimmers sits in one of the most coveted locations in Dubai, within a gentle stone's throw of the Burj Al Arab. It is best known for authentic Greek cuisine, casual chic atmosphere and a relaxed seating arrangement on the sand. It also offers a beautifully lit area for night time dining. The menu comprises of starters like traditional tzatziki, fava pantremeni; chicken and lamb gyros; and delicious Greek desserts such as yogurt and loukoumades.
Khyamat Al Bahar
Take in the soothing air of Madinat Jumeirah‘s waterways and lush green palm trees, as your abra transfer takes you to the restaurant. Once there, the stylish outdoor setting with glittering views of the pool and beach set the tone for a luxurious experience, even before the menu is opened. The venue offers an immersive Lebanese experience complete with belly dance performances and live music in the evenings. The beachfront becomes the perfect spot to share a traditional mezza with friends or family in a lively and casual setting. The menu includes Arabian grills, tempting appetisers and desserts with amazing pool and beach views.