Our Favorite Shisha Hangouts in Dubai
Shisha cafes and lounges are a familiar sight all over Dubai, and you’ll always find them buzzing with activity in the evenings. They are a strong part of the city’s culture and are popular not just with the local crowd, but expats and tourists as well. If shisha isn’t quite your thing, many of them also have a solid selection of great snacks and food options! Here are a few of our veggie-friendly picks!
- Reem Al Bawadi
Reem Al Bawadi has several locations throughout Dubai, and our favorite is the main branch along Jumeirah Beach Road. The outdoor gazebo there has a very garden-like feel, decorated with hanging trellises. It’s the perfect place for a lazy weekend hangout, and many would seem to agree, as it tends to be pretty packed on weekends.
There’s a large variety of tasty hot and cold mezze, salads and pastries; a recently discovered favorite is the Hummus Triple Delight, a tasty trio of basil, oregano and olive hummus. There are also plenty of fresh fruit juices, mocktails and even milk shakes to cool things down when hanging out in warmer weather.
- Shakespeare & Co.
Not one to blend in with the crowd, Shakespeare & Co. is notable for its unique vintage décor, bringing to mind a living room in a Victorian mansion. Shakespeare has a pretty good food selection too, with plenty of salads, pastas, sandwiches and saj wraps to choose from.
While it started out as a European café, it has gained a lot of popularity as a shisha joint over the years. You’ll find the café’s signature chairs around the outdoor area as well, and branches at Souk Al Bahar and Marina Mall also have gorgeous waterside views.
- Kris Kros
Situated just across the road from Dubai Mall, Kris Kros has a cool indoor aesthetic with its brightly colored seats and geometric patterns on the walls. We also love the complementary bread basket, which has a pair of bread sticks shaped like the letter ‘K’!
Kris Kros boasts a menu of over 54 mocktails, all made fresh, and with a varied multicultural inspiration. The cuisine spans different cultures as well, with a decent selection of sandwiches, salads, wraps and pasta. Sitting in the outdoor shisha area feels a bit like hanging out on a friend’s porch, with comfy wicker lounge chairs and hanging wicker baskets.
- Park Central
If you find yourself near the Park Place Hotel Apartments on Sheikh Zayed Road, drop into this unassuming little café that doesn’t announce itself too loudly, but is a good place for a satisfying lunch without the rush. They serve international cuisines, including American comfort food and a little European flair in the form of crepes and pasta.
We’d recommend the Gandhi’s Helper (if only for the name!), a veggie burger with a crispy hash brown-style patty made with mushrooms and other mixed veggies. The shisha area behind the building keeps the main road out of view, so you needn’t be bothered by the sight of passing motorists as you enjoy the outdoors. It’s also open 24 hours, so there’s no hurry to leave.
- Al Hallab
Looking like a modern fine dining restaurant a la Arabian Nights, Al Hallab is a cut above many Arabic restaurants in the city, in both atmosphere and taste.
You can tuck into some great hot and cold mezze, including our favorites like mutabbal, muhammarah and labneh with garlic. There’s also a nice assortment of savory pastries, including cheese saj and spinach fatayer, which are great for sharing. The Dubai Mall and Downtown locations have outdoor terraces overlooking the Burj Khalifa, along with a gorgeous waterside view.
Whether you’re looking to play a round of golf or just want to take in the creekside ambience, head to QD’s at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club. Open only from 5 pm onwards, and 1 pm onwards on Friday, it’s designed for an unwinding session after work or for a late meeting.
The vegetarian selection is pretty standard, and consists mostly of mezze, pizza, and couple of vegetable curries and pastas. It’s mostly about the atmosphere and the shisha though, as you take in the breathtaking panorama ahead of you, especially at sunset.
- Mezza House
Mezza House is a little trip through time, using a rustic Levantine motif jazzed up with some cool blue accents. As the name suggests, it’s also home to some very good mezze, with an extensive vegetarian selection.
Some of the highlights include an irresistible hummus-muhammara mix, batata harra (sautéed potatoes with coriander and garlic) and yalanji (stuffed vine leaves with an added zing of yogurt garlic sauce). The outdoor terrace swaps the homely feel for a more typical café look, but it’s hard to complain too much when enjoying the Downtown atmosphere.
While these are some of our choices, there’s no shortage of cafes and restaurants around the city that offer shisha along with some good vegetarian food.Sumati Menda
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