Remaliya at Dubai Ladies Club
Jumeirah Rd., Jumeirah
While distance doesn't make it an easy trip to plan for those coming from the Americas and around, as a city, Dubai is well-suited for a girls trip. For starters, it's extremely safe, and more so than other popular celebratory destinations (say, Miami or Vegas), the culture here has a real respect for privacy, which is refreshing if all you want to do is get some quality time with your girl gang. Plus, there are some fun ladies-only activities, one of them being a trip to the Dubai Ladies Club. Located on the beach, the club offers membership and day rates, for access to the pool, tennis and squash courts, spa, fitness classes, and so on. (There are also options for kiddos, too.) For a peek into the club life, come for breakfast or lunch at Remaliya—the pretty cafe (which also has an outdoor terrace for not-scorching days) makes some of the most refreshing smoothies and juices in the city. (Note that Remaliya is open to men on Mondays until 2pm.)
Burj Al Arab Terrace, Jumeirah
In 2016, the Burj al Arab added an outdoor terrace that perches over the Persian Gulf. (Another impressive architectural feat for the city: The 10,000-square-meter deck arrived in eight sections and was installed in twelve weeks.) The swimming pools (one fresh, one salt water) and air-conditioned beach cabanas are just for guests, but anyone can dine at the restaurant, Scape. Come for sunset, views of the gulf and city, plus a new angle to see the Burj al Arab from, up close. The cocktails are good and the food menu can satisfy a range of diners—try the crispy chicken with BBQ miso and a carrot-ginger purée.
Kite Beach, Jumeirah
Started by two women, Amal Al Marri and Deem Albassam, Salt began as a temporary food truck at Kite Beach. (This sounds like a familiar story in many cities but food trucks weren't a thing in Dubai when they tried it, and they still aren't at the level of what you'll find in LA, NYC, London, etc.) While a lot of Dubai's eating and entertainment happens indoors (mall culture is huge here), Marri and Albassam wanted to create a fun spot for locals to hang outdoors. Salt now has a permanent spot at Kite Beach, and it's wildly popular. The menu—sliders, fries, softies—is indulgently good beach food. If you're feeling adventurous, the cereal latte is a bestseller. (There's also a Cheetos-fried chicken sandwich option...)
Social by Heinz Beck
Waldorf Astoria, Crescent Rd., Palm Jumeirah
Heinz Beck, of three-Michelin-star La Pergola in Rome, serves an elegant Italian menu at Social, his white-tablecloth restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria on Palm Jumeirah. Leave room to share a few desserts, and also note that Wednesday is ladies night, with a three-course menu (plus a couple of drinks) at a reasonable set price.
Madinat Jumeirah, Jumeirah
Built directly onto a private wooden pier with a stunning glassed-in terrace and bay views, this is the ideal place for a romantic evening. While not particularly glitzy, the ambiance is undeniably elevated, as is the seafood-centric menu: the caviar, lobster, and fresh fish are offered in every imaginable incarnation. Dinner is always a sure thing, though the locals like to flock here for the boozy brunch, which can't be overstated: Brunch is huge in Dubai—really the thing to do on Fridays (which is the UAE's Saturday).
Abd El Wahab
Souq Al Bahar, Downtown
Although Abd El Wahab is technically located inside shopping mall Souk Al Bahar, don’t expect it to be a typical mall-dining experience—with a large terrace and views of the surrounding city and man-made lake, having a meal there is actually quite relaxed. They serve excellent iterations of the classics in a wide-ranging menu: think perfect tabbouleh, hummus, grilled meats, and vegetables served in myriad ways with ample fresh, warm bread.
Marsa Dubai, Jumeirah Beach Residence
We could wax poetic for a while about the food—which is an incredible offering of elevated Italian food that includes everything you’d hope for, from super-fresh salads and seafood dishes to homemade fresh pasta—but the real draw here is the restaurant itself, which is a beautiful multi-level space with beach views. It’s somehow both laid-back and upscale at once; the more family-friendly option is to opt for a table upstairs on the terrace, where you can order wood-fired pizza. Downstairs, you’ll find both a main dining room and a large, tree-adorned patio space where you can order from the full menu.
Jumeirah Fish Harbour, Jumeirah
Dubai imports almost all of its food, so the organic and local emphasis at Silvena Rowe's first Dubai restaurant makes a statement—she sources her cheeses, meats, eggs, fish, and produce locally. The offerings, like orange blossom glazed chicken or a zucchini linguine and avocado pesto, are light and health-centric yet accessible, and there's a gorgeous lineup of paleo and superfood-packed pastries and desserts, like a gluten-free raspberry and chocolate brownie and chia seed pudding. The insanely cool interior, with a peacock mural on the wall, wicker chairs, vegetation hanging from the ceiling, is another big part of the appeal.
Dubai Mall, Downtown
Founded by the same owners of the successful café Salt on Kite Beach, Parker's began as a social media-fueled pop-up concept that quickly gained traction around town. Here's the quirk: to eat at Parker's you need a special key, which are hidden across Dubai (by "Mr. Parker"). Fans who buy into the hype follow clues posted on Parker's Instagram/Snapchat handles to track one down. Once you're in, the menu really caters to a sweet tooth; particular attention is paid to inventive desserts while other menu specials include things like a crispy chicken potato sandwich with fries inside.
La Petite Maison
Gate Village, Dubai International Finance Centre
A spinoff of the London La Petite Maison—a restaurant by Arjun Waney (the investor behind Zuma) based on the restaurant of the same name in Nice—the food here has a distinctly southern French soul. Plates come small and to share, so you can theoretically sample it all. The salads and carpaccios from the starter menu shouldn't be missed, and for the main course, the fish is always excellent. The real star of the show is the black-leg-roasted chicken, though. Order it right when you sit down; It takes about an hour and twenty minutes, but it justifies the wait.