Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 January 2020

Downtown Dubai area guide: where to eat, shop and stay in the suburb

You really are spoilt for choice in the home of the Burj Khalifa

Downtown Dubai, from the 112th floor of the Burj Khalifa. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Downtown Dubai, from the 112th floor of the Burj Khalifa. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Well, where do we start? There are more than 1,300 stores in Dubai Mall alone, so the shopping and eating world really is your oyster in this Dubai suburb, which, while hard to believe while you walk around it, is only just over 10 years old.

Eat

If you want to see the Dubai Fountains (who doesn't?), have one of Baker & Spice's delicious salad plates: the it's in Souq Al Bahar rather than Dubai Mall means its view of the fountain is a little-less crowded (it is also now, like most of the souq's restaurants, licensed). Or, try Al Hallab's terrace for an elevated fountain view, the Lebanese restaurant serves the finest cup of lentil soup in the city (Bebabel is another great Lebanese spot in the mall).

The best coffee in Dubai Mall can be found at Overdose or % Arabica; the best East Asian food is at Din Tai Fung (Taiwanese with a fountain view); there are great breakfasts to be had at Home Bakery, grab-and-go options at Pret A Manger, and you can't go past Eataly for fresh pasta and good pizza.

But don't get stuck in the mall, there are a lot of options along the Boulevard, too. For traditional kaiseki-style Japanese go to Kohantei in Dubai Opera (you'll need to take off your shoes and sit low to ground); or for lively Lebanese, go to Em Sherif in the Address Downtown (where you pay a set price to be served an impossible amount of food, with flair). For a fun, dinner with a DJ vibe, we like Kizmet (which does Dh10 tacos on Tuesdays); for fresh French cuisine with white tablecloth service, go to La Serre; for fantastic Malaysian we adore Mamak; the pho is unbeatable at Vietnamese Foodies, and for fine dining Indian, we like Armani/Amal in the Burj Khalifa.

On our take-tourists-to list is Neos, the bar on the 63rd floor of the Address Downtown: cocktails are expensive there, but you get such an expansive view of the fountains, Downtown, the Burj Khalifa and beyond, it almost negates the need to go up the tallest tower itself. Downtown is also home to one of the most romantic restaurants in Dubai, Thiptara in the Palace Downtown is a pergola jutting out onto the Dubai Fountains lake. A bucket list experience if you book the right table.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - July 20, 2019: Standalone. A visitor takes pictures of The Dubai Mall Waterfalls. Saturday the 20th of July 2019. Downtown, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
A visitor takes pictures of The Dubai Mall Waterfalls. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Shop

Well, the suburb is home to one of the world's largest malls, so shopping is well covered here. Some of our favourite stores in the mall include Australian beauty brand Aesop, Japanese bookstore Kinokunya, the Bloomingdale's Home on the lower ground floor, discount Japanese store Daiso, South Korean glasses store Gentle Monster and the covetable sneakers at The Social Foot.

Stay

There are around a dozen hotels inside Downtown Dubai itself: there's the sleek, grey-and-silver Armani Hotel, and the fountain-facing Address Downtown. We have a real soft spot, however, for the smaller, Arabian-style Palace Downtown and the cute, boutique-style 4-star Vida Downtown: both have pools with lovely cabanas in which to while away the day.

Do

Well, you'll want to go up the Burj Khalifa, of course (the main viewing platforms are on the 148th floor – book your tickets in advance). There's also an aquarium, an ice rink, a haunted house (Hysteria) and a VR park in the mall. We also recommend a stroll around the area: you'll find a lot of public art dotted along the Boulevard and in Burj Park, a walk through these bustling parts of the suburb make for plenty of photos opps and good people watching.

Updated: December 6, 2019 01:08 PM

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