Travel

United Arab Emirates

Establishment neighborhood
Omnia Gourmet
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.
Desert Safari
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
The desert surrounding the city of Dubai is a preferred escape for many locals/expats, who will rent quads and trek out to walk around the dunes, picnic, and hang, or ride bikes around the Al Qudra tracks. For a more organized journey into the desert, check out the touring group Platinum Heritage. You can arrange to be collected from where you're staying (or from a convenient group pick-up spot), and a knowledgeable guide will drive you the hour or so out into the desert, which is incredibly majestic—rolling bronze dunes as far as the eye can see in every direction. There are two main tour options: with the Platinum, you ride in a luxury Range Rover, and in Heritage, it's vintage Land Rovers with more of an emphasis on learning about desert life. (If you get carsick easily, the Platinum is probably the safer bet, although many will take something to help prevent nausea before the trip.) You can do both around sunset, which adds to the magic. They also allow for camel rides if that's of interest, but you're likely to see some wandering wildlife, too—like the Arabian…
Parker’s
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.
Lighthouse
Burj, Dubai Design District
This concept store is a central point of the Design District, where Dubai's creative crowd works and hangs out. The space itself features a little dining area surrounded by a highly curated design space displaying ceramics, glossy coffee table books, and other knick knacks on plexiglass shelves (you can even get Mast chocolate here). The central dining space—which has a menu designed by Dubai-based chef Izu Ani—is always buzzing with lunch meetings.
Jones the Grocer
Trade Centre, Dubai International Financial Centre
Originated in Sydney in 1996, Jones the Grocer's gourmet cafés are now in over seven countries (four cafes residing in Dubai alone), making it an easy-to-find standby for a solid meal and great host/hostess gifts in the form of gourmet chocolates, cheeses, jams, and other kitchen goodies. The café is a great place to set up with a coffee and sandwich for a few hours of work. There are also locations in Al Manara and Al Safa.
Baker & Spice
Marina Promenade, Jumeirah Beach Residence
Baker & Spice's casual menu is a balance of Western and Middle Eastern dishes, and changes based on what's in season (they source most of their produce from UAE farmers). The breakfast menu is full of healthy-ish classics like Turkish eggs, avocado toast with dukkah, and a famously good shakshouka, and lunch is a mix of fresh salads and hearty comfort food, like burrata salad with beetroot carpaccio, pumpkin and goat cheese tortellini, and roast chicken and potatoes. If you don't have time to order off the menu, you can also pick up fresh-baked bread, tarts, pastries, and pies to go. Now in its seventh season, their Friday farmer’s market at Business Bay is an amazing resource for locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables. There are locations in Al Barsha, Jumeirah, Souk Al Bahar, and Souk Al Manzil (oh, and they cater).