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Food & Drink

The cafes that Dubai locals love

Wed, June 1, 2022

Dubai's cosmopolitan culture includes several hipster cafes that serve it all, in effortless style.

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Dubai's cosmopolitan culture includes several hipster cafes that serve it all, in effortless style.

1

21 Grams

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A neighbourhood bistro with soul, 21 Grams is a creative ode to the Balkans. Tucked away in Meyan Mall on Al Thanyah Road, the cafe is a labour of love for creative partner Stasha, who set out and succeeded in creating a warm, welcoming space, complete with wooden tables, framed art, cool lighting and floral touches. The food is top-notch and made from family recipes using seasonal ingredients, while the coffee sings thanks to locally-roasted beans sourced from around the world. There’s a sense of community too, as the menu offers popular hot chocolate variations by homegrown chocolate factory, Mirzam.

2

Cassette

Cassette Dubai

The Courtyard in Al Quoz is where the cool kids come to play, so it’s no surprise that Cassette is where you'll find them taking a well-deserved break. Expect nostalgic tunes mixed in with modern anthems, with a coveted display of vinyl at the back…but beyond the obvious music theme, there’s a freshness that's undeniable. Think plenty of natural greens, quirky art and an upbeat vibe — it’s all irresistible, with some of that magic spilling on to its menu. You’ll find crowd-pleasers done well like avocado on toast and vegan salads, alongside special lattes using matcha, beets and more with coffee beans from the nearby Dubai roastery, Seven Fortunes.

3

Comptoir 102

Comptoir 102 Dubai

A fine French concept store and organic cafe all in one, Comptoir 102 exudes style. Blending the best in curated fashion, interior design and bountiful bites, it's quickly become a go-to for Dubai's health-conscious. The cafe offers plenty of raw, gluten-free and vegan dishes, plus organic juices and smoothies that promise a refreshing antidote for busy days. It's the perfect place to gather with friends, where you can laze away an afternoon sampling delicious fare, and browsing through the store's tasteful selection of apparel, accessories and home decor. We'll see you there.

4

L'ETO Caffe

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Definitely one of the most chic cafes in City Walk, L'ETO Caffe is popular with both locals and expats. Originally from London, the chain has managed to introduce fresh vibes to its Dubai branch with a menu that celebrates popular ingredients — think spectacular salmon teriyaki, rosemary-roasted turkey or honey-roasted pumpkin and kale. You can't leave L'ETO without tasting its desserts. Serving some of the best treats in town, there's a wide selection to entice, with the pistachio rose and raspberry cake a hands-down bestseller. The outdoor area is always abuzz but even when dining inside, you'll notice that this place shines.

5

Nightjar

Nightjar Coffee Roasters in Dubai

A hipster spot in the achingly cool Alserkal Avenue, Nightjar is part café, part roastery. One of the city’s most respected coffee suppliers, they source green coffee beans direct from single-origin farms around the world, and their commitment to empowering independent is not just for show. As expected, sipping a cup of brew here is an elevated experience — it’s all roasted on-site, so you’ll taste the difference. The Dubai-inspired menu, celebrating a medley of global flavours, is equally impressive with standouts like the wombok slaw salad with Chinese cabbage, pasture-fed New Zealand meatballs, and chicken frankie wraps with Indian spices.

6

SEVA

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This Jumeirah cafe and wellbeing haven is a gorgeous and serene spot to while away a leisurely day. Whether you're looking for an uplifting breakfast or a mid-day snack, this cafe is bursting with goodness thanks to all-vegan treats. The setting is nature-inspired, complete with tree stump chairs and a garden fresh theme. While all the dishes served are free from sugar, gluten and dairy, every creation is packed with flavour, so even the most hesitant of diners will leave feeling satisfied. Afterwards, join in one of SEVA's meditation or yoga classes, led by some of the most inspiring instructors in the city.

7

Tom & Serg

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A contender for the most Instagrammed eatery in Dubai, Tom & Serg is a Melbourne-inspired, warehouse-style cafe set in the heart of Al Quoz. It is well known for injecting a trendy vibe to the district, fitting in well with the many art galleries, concept stores and coffee roasters dotted around the neighbourhood. The menu changes with the season but you can't go wrong with their rolling specials of jazzed up superfood salads, creative sandwiches and sweet-as-pie desserts — you'll be back for more soon enough. Everything from its urban decor to the friendly staff is undeniably cool, making this a homegrown hero of note.

8

Biker's Cafe

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With a name like Biker’s Café, it may seem like there’s no real surprises in store, but you’d be wrong. Yes, the entrance is a veritable showroom for high-performance bikes, and there’s plenty of revving for thrills, but this is a place that celebrates life on the open road and the promise of journeys ahead — we can all relate. The 'Heritage Tray' with Emirati bites is a popular breakfast choice, while all-day specials like the beetroot falafel burger and harissa-charred chicken are the perfect choice to refuel well into the evenings. Grab a table on the outdoor patio, decorated with fairy lights and foliage, and watch the world go by.

9

Boston Lane

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This super-cute Australian café in Al Quoz is a top spot for a lazy weekend breakfast, lunch, or a quick coffee with friends. The menu is simple, with toasties being the star of the show. From Turkish eggs and smashed avocado on toast to healthier offerings like chia pudding and mango yoghurt bowls, their breakfast menu includes something for everybody. Inspired by Melbourne's laneway coffee culture, Boston Lane is a great place to try with the entire family as they even have a couple of delicious options like grilled cheese and kids' spaghetti for the little ones.
10

XVA Café

Xva Gallery Art Hotel Cafe Dubai
Housed in the award-winning XVA Art Hotel, the famous XVA Café offers a selection of regionally-inspired plant-based options in the courtyard setting, as well as room service for the guests staying at the hotel. The mint lemonade is something you can’t miss, as well as inventive vegetarian dishes such as the eggplant burger. The calm and cosy vibe adds to the allure of this novel spot. After a hearty meal, head to the acclaimed art gallery to browse inspiring pieces or step out and take a stroll around the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood.
11

Kulture House

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This Emirati-owned cafe, concept store and art space hybrid, which also hosts regular pop-up exhibitions and wellness sessions, is a favourite among locals and visitors alike. Stop by for a takeaway cup from the coffee bar and peruse the shop selling trinkets and keepsakes. Fans keep coming back to indulge in the compact yet diverse menu, packed with intriguing dishes. Whether you are after a breakfast of jalapeño eggs Benedict or labneh shakshouka, or want their signature Asian 'chick-shroom' burger, you'll find plenty to tuck into. Desserts are another highlight, with the east-meets-west ethos clearly coming through in the baklava cheesecake.

12

maisan15

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One of those insider secrets that you'll keep returning to after your first visit, maisan15 never fails to impress. The menu at this eclectic cafe showcases healthy breakfasts and tempting, wholesome mains made using seasonal and regional ingredients. Sample unusual concoctions or plates you won't find elsewhere like a delicious shawarma pizza, local burrata and Yemeni shakshouka baked eggs. Regulars rave about the signature burger and Rami's breakfast, named after the owner's top pick. There's even a karak and camel-milk cake for dessert.

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