Gazing at Dubai’s spectacular skyline or sparkling coastline over a good meal is one of the pleasures of visiting this ever-changing city. Located on level 122 of the Burj Khalifa, At.mosphere is the ultimate restaurant with a view. Richly decorated with polished mahogany walls and dark brown leather chairs, the modern European menu focuses on seafood and steak, while the view over the sea of skyscrapers speaks for itself.
If you’d rather look up at the world’s tallest tower, Inka on the 31st floor of Sofitel Downtown Dubai has an unobstructed outlook. The modern Peruvian menu from chef Christian Motte, who comes from Lima via London’s acclaimed Ceviche, features signature dishes such as grilled octopus with quinoa risotto and squid ink, along with four set menus (including a vegetarian option).
At the foot of the Burj is the Dubai Fountain, which shoots jets of water more than 150 metres into the air, accompanied by music, every half hour from 6pm until 11pm. The terrace at Rivington Grill offers a great vantage point, together with excellent modern British cuisine, while Serafina boasts the largest licensed terrace overlooking the spectacle. It offers a wide selection of rustic northern Italian classics, plus more extravagant options like burrata with black truffle honey and gold leaf.
TOMO at Raffles Dubai, meanwhile, offers perhaps the city’s most authentic Japanese from chef patron Chitoshi Takahashi – far removed from the fusion you’ll find at the likes of Nobu and Zuma. The tatami floor terrace features low tables and outstanding views of Dubai’s futuristic skyline, as does the al fresco bar serving sake and cocktails until late
Down by the Creek, Vivaldi by Alfredo Russo at Sheraton Dubai Creek offers traditional Italian food with Michelin-star pedigree and a glassed terrace with picture-perfect views of the abras that ply the waterway. The views are just as magical aboard Bateaux Dubai, the city’s premier floating restaurant that glides up and down the waters at night. With wood furnishings, gourmet cuisine and a pianist, it’s one of the most popular water-side venues.
If you’d rather be beside the Arabian Sea, Sea Fu at Four Seasons Resort is a chic beachfront restaurant with concertina doors opening onto a shaded terrace (after dark, the sunken lounge in front of the fire pit is the place to be). The Asian-inspired menu has varied tempting treats, including lobster macaroni and forbidden rice with scallops, prawns and calamari.
At the end of a wooden walkway in front of Al Qasr hotel in the Arabian-styled Madinat Jumeirah resort, Pierchic is one of Dubai’s most picturesque spots. The sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel provides an Instagram-worthy backdrop day or night, while the Mediterranean menu includes caviar, oysters, scallops, sashimi and lobster, as well as an array of fresh fish. Outdoor seating is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis so it pays to be prompt.
Taking an abra through the tranquil waterways of Madinat Jumeirah to Pai Thai also scores high on the romance scale. Book a table on the inviting outdoor terrace and enjoy what many believe to be the city’s most accomplished Thai cuisine. On the 27th floor of the Burj Al Arab, Al Muntaha – Arabic for ‘The Ultimate’ – certainly lives up to its name, with sky-high views over the coastline and city. It’s best experienced during the day, but if you’re heading here for dinner, book a table overlooking the glittering Palm and Dubai Marina to avoid staring at the inky darkness of the ocean. The modern European cuisine is very good but, like At.mosphere, you’re paying a premium for the panorama.
One of our favourite views has to be from the terrace at 101 Dining Lounge & Bar at the exclusive One&Only The Palm. Take the water taxi that departs from sister hotel, One&Only Royal Mirage, and time your arrival to watch the sun set. Then dine on tapas and fresh seafood, as the resident DJ entertains the fashionable crowd.
The Beach at JBR is a low-rise beachfront mall with a number of restaurants (although most don’t serve alcohol). With beautiful Moorish tiles and a latticework ceiling, Almaz by Momo also has two outdoor terraces that are perfect for people watching. The contemporary North African menu has favourites like tagines and pastilla, while the patisserie and ice cream section will tempt even the most disciplined diner.
Entrance to Rivington Grill
Seriously stunning skyline views from One&Only, The Palm