x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 13 December 2017

Gastronomic treats galore at La Mer in Dubai

We check out the food options at the newly opened beachfront destination, and find fun and kitschy restaurants serving up delicious fare

The Loca Lito food truck at La Mer. Reem Mohammed / The National
The Loca Lito food truck at La Mer. Reem Mohammed / The National

La Mer lowdown

La Mer beach is open from 10am until midnight, daily, and is located in Jumeirah 1, well after Kite Beach. Some restaurants, like Cupagahwa, are open from 8am for breakfast; most others start at noon. At the time of writing, we noticed that signs for Vicolo, an Italian eatery, and Kaftan, a Turkish restaurant, indicated that these two restaurants will be open soon, most likely this month. Parking is available, as well as a Dh100 all-day valet option or a Dh50 valet service if you’re just stopping by for a few hours.
 

Dubai’s La Mer beach is a beautiful spot to while away some hard-won leisure time. Wooden walkways divide the tropical landscaping, and surfboards submerged in the sand separate a multitude of shops and restaurants from the white-sand beach in Jumeirah 1. Once complete, the ambitious beach develop-ment will boast a whopping 124.4 hectares of existing and reclaimed land, home to La Mer North and South, both of which are mostly open, and The Wharf, due to open next year. Already, the shallow blue waters, beach sports and shops beckon resi-dents and tourists, making it crowded on weekends.

No day at the beach is complete without something tasty to keep everyone going, and ice-cold beverages to offset the heat. We’ve combed the beach to provide you with a guide to the restaurants currently open at Dubai’s latest hotspot, all of which offer al fresco dining in the balmy Dubai breeze so welcome at this time of year. And in classic Dubai style, there’s something for everyone when it comes to gastronomic options – from a burger joint serving non-GMO, all-­natural ingredients to a popular cafe using real charcoal in its lemonade. Here are some of our favourites to try.

Hola

Stop by at Hola if only to take a picture of the seating area made out of rope swings, hanging from a ceiling that features upside down straw baskets, centred around a turquoise barrel drum. It’s perhaps the healthiest option along the stretch of beach. The one-of-a-kind Latin American concept features fresh fruit and vegetable delights – everything from popsicles to ice cream bowls to fruit salads and fruit sushi – dreamt up by Mexican chef Salvador Carrillo. “Everything is fresh, everything is homemade daily right here, and the flavours we offer depend on what’s in season,” explains Carrillo. “Later on, we’ll be introducing a coffee menu that incorporates fresh fruit as well. You’ll love our affogato.”

We recommend: The banana popsicles (Dh20) for kids are smaller in size and perfect for little hands; we also loved the watermelon and blueberry popsicle flavour (Dh30), the saffron popsicle and the Cali Fruteros, which is a fruit salad of watermelon, pineapple, papaya, melon, dragon jelly and vanilla ice cream served in a pomelo bowl (Dh35).

Motomachi at La Mer. Reem Mohammed / The National
Motomachi at La Mer beachfront. Reem Mohammed / The National

Motomachi

This beloved Japanese eatery needs no introduction. The original concept is already open in Dubai Festival City, and is well known for its first grade sushi and light-as-air Japanese cheesecakes. The La Mer interior is striking, with communal wooden tables, authentic kimonos on the walls and Japanese lanterns dotting the space both inside and out. For restaurant fans, we’re happy to report that the menu is identical to the Dubai Festival City branch.

We recommend: One of Motomachi’s signature dishes, the Gindara Saikyo Yaki (Dh105) features fresh grilled black cod greased with miso. The eatery is also well-known for its authentic ramen bowls (Dh58 to Dh65) and a variety of kobachi (small dishes) to snack on.

Ya Meza

When you see a conveyor belt in a restaurant, you automatically assume sushi is on the menu. But original concept Lebanese eatery Ya Meza has decided to adopt the serving technique to showcase its wide assortment of mezze portions in a new way to introduce an outsider to Lebanese cuisine. It’s a fun, interactive way to eat: each plate has a different coloured band around it, indicating its price point, so Dh16 for the green plates, Dh22 for the blue, Dh26 for the red and Dh35 for the yellow.

We recommend: Go to town on the mezzes available, many of which are not often found in Lebanese eateries around town. We loved the fresh almonds sitting in a bed of ice, ready to be peeled, and the sour labneh mixed with pulverised walnuts.

The interiors at HQ's 459. Reem Mohammed / The National
The interiors at HQ's 459. Reem Mohammed / The National

HQ’S 459

Another original concept, this restaurant is one of the highlights along the beach so far. Three biker friends – Hozefa, Quaid and Shabbir – launched a French-Italian eatery with an all-day breakfast and the city’s first Nitro coffee, as well as a separate coffee machine made by the Lamborghini car company. “We’ve always wanted to do something big, something different,” explains co-owner Shabbir Taher. That’s an understatement: the restaurant’s ceiling is made out of 21,000 cardboard tubes, arranged to imitate an upside down wave to pay homage to the beach lapping at the restaurant’s entrance.

We recommend: Pretty much everything is phenomenal here. The HQS salad (Dh62) is a fresh concoction of kale, quinoa, mixed greens, Marcona almonds, cantaloupe, green beans, crumbled feta and a lemon vinaigrette that’s out of this world. A nitro cold froth cappuccino will set you back Dh25, and is worth it if only to take a picture perfectly made for posting on social media.

Bareburger is a health-conscious burger chain. Reem Mohammed / The National
Bareburger is a health-conscious burger chain. Reem Mohammed / The National

Bareburgers

This health-conscious burger chain that first originated in New York, offers everything from organic beef patties to wild camel burgers and a sweet potato and quinoa burger for vegetarians. It prides itself on using organic, non-GMO, all-natural ingredients, and their sweet potato fries are legendary.

We recommend: The Standard burger (Dh48), with its hereford prime beef patty, colby cheese, caramelised onions, dill pickles and special sauce, housed in a brioche bun, is delicious.

Parker’s

Perhaps one of the busiest restaurants in La Mer, Parker’s has it all. It’s edgy, modern and comfortable both inside and out, and the menu is over the top in the right way. It started as a pop-up restaurant near City Walk, which you needed a special key to access, by following them on social media and embarking on a treasure hunt across town. Now, there are several branches all over town, and La Mer’s is the latest.

We recommend: Their black lemonade (Dh25) uses activated charcoal and is recommended if you’re having any digestive issues. Otherwise, try the balsamic quinoa beetroot salad (Dh33), the loaded street fries (Dh29) and the pretzel chicken strips (Dh37). And then maybe go for a nice, long swim in the beach to burn off all those calories.

Loca Lito food truck

It’s one of the only food trucks parked along the promenade at La Mer so far, and it was hands down our favourite eatery in the area. You can’t miss it – look for the bright, green vehicle. Think of it as the newborn baby of popular eatery Loca, the award-winning Mexican restaurant now present at the Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Souk Al Bahar and The Galleria in Abu Dhabi. Loca Lito makes favourites fresh on the beach – everything from burritos to quesadillas and tacos to ensaladas.

We recommend: The chicken quesadillas are to die for, oozing with pimento cream and Monterey cheese (Dh36). We also loved the aguas frescas (Dh15), which are Mexican juices made with fresh fruits.

Honourable mentions

Mr Greek, identical to the Yas Mall location, is open on La Mer in all its souvlaki, gyros and tzatziki glory, complete with Zorba the Greek playing on the restaurant’s speakers. Aprons and Hammers, well-known in JBR, is open for seafood lovers; their 1kg mussels bucket for Dh185 is a restaurant favourite, as is the lobster thermidor for Dh300. Japanese eatery Miyabi has opened its fourth branch, and the menu comprises all of the popular dishes, as well as a ceviche section. Cupagahwa, a stalwart in the Last Exit heading to Abu Dhabi as well as in Dubai Silicon Oasis, is at the end of La Mer North, and open earlier than all the other eateries at 8am, just in time for a beachside breakfast. Zouzou is a traditional Arabic restaurant, featuring Lebanese and Emirati cuisine and Amorino is a cafe serving fresh juices and hot drinks.

Carts

If you fancy a sorbet served in a coconut shell or in half a lemon, or need an icy slushie to cool you down, the food carts dotted along the promenade have plenty to offer. We especially loved the New York-style, all-beef hot dogs, for Dh30. As for the aforementioned slushies, they come in over eight flavours (Dh25 to Dh40). Plus, there are ice cream stands, gelato vendors, fresh juice stands, popcorn machines and cotton candy galore.

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