Think of the word 'brunch' and images of a lazy mid-morning meal in a neighbourhood cafe probably spring to mind. Not in Dubai. In a city that takes extravagance to the next level, brunch is a decadent all-you-can-eat-and-drink affair with resident DJs and glammed-up guests.
From all-day pool parties to family-friendly feasts, here are 10 of the best places to kick off your day (or make an entire day of it) in style.
Soak up a waterside brunch at Zero Gravity © Alex Pal / Zero Gravity
For chilled DJ tunes and prime people-watching, head to Supernatural Saturdays at Zero Gravity. The day-to-night party kicks off at noon, but you’ll want to get there early to nab a day bed by the pool. As bottomless mojitos and margaritas are mixed, bikini-clad revellers flit between food stations serving spit-roast lamb, Cajun-spiced chicken and Wagyu beef sliders. Don't worry about the setting sun – the fun continues until late. Saturdays from noon to 5pm, Dhs225 (girls) and Dhs275 (guys) including house beverages
From the quality of the food (otoro tuna belly, top grade Wagyu, sea urchin sushi) to the friendliness of the waiters, Zuma’s buzzed-about brunch is one of Dubai’s best. Rub shoulders with the stylish crowd at the sushi buffet and robata grill, and then enjoy small, shareable plates and mains served at your table. And yes, miso-marinated black cod is on the menu. Fridays from 12.30pm to 4pm, Dhs450 (soft drinks and juices), Dhs595 (house beverages and sparkling wine), Dhs655 (Champagne)
Go large with the moules frites and oyster buffet at Café Belge © Café Belge
This classy Belgian restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton DIFC channels a 1920s vibe at its aptly named Grand Brunch. A DJ and sax duo provides soulful jazz sounds while flirty flappers dance the Charleston and guests graze on moules frites and Fine de Claire oysters from the overflowing buffet. It’s all washed down with Belgian beers and Bloody Mary cocktails. Fridays from 12.30pm to 4pm, Dhs295 (soft drinks), Dhs495 (house beverages and prosecco) or Dhs595 (Laurent Perrier Champagne)
Spilling out from this Peruvian restaurant at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel onto a sunny terrace and into a nightclub, the Wanderlust brunch is so big you’re given a map to find your way round. There’s an unabashed party atmosphere with a live DJ, tequila bar on the terrace and 360 globetrotting dishes to devour, from zingy Peruvian ceviches and fragrant Thai curries to slow-cooked boeuf bourguignon. Fridays from 1pm to 4pm, Dhs425 including house beverages
Savour a laidback brunch at El Chiringuito © Lara Brunt / Lonely Planet
If you’ve got kids in tow, head to the laidback La Familia brunch at Palm Jumeirah’s Ibiza-style beach club, El Chiringuito. Sip summer berry sangria while a steady procession of sharing plates are served at your table (think chargrilled octopus, tuna tartare, seafood paella and veal Milanese). Afterwards, splash about in the beach and pool, while the little ones play in the supervised kids’ club. Saturdays from noon to 4pm, Dhs395 (soft drinks), Dhs495 (house beverages), Dhs695 (Champagne)
Carnival by Tresind
When you’re welcomed by waiters blowing bubbles, you know you’re in for a good time. Located in Burj Daman tower in DIFC, Carnival by Tresind has won plenty of fans, thanks to its playful Indian molecular gastronomy, tableside theatrics and vibrant interiors. Expect smoking cocktails, riffs on Indian street food and dishes served in tiffin boxes at your table. It’s a top choice for vegetarians, too. Fridays from noon to 4pm, Dhs209 (soft drinks), Dhs318 (house beverages) including 10% DIFC tax
Try the swanky brunch at Coya, with unlimited ceviches, tacos and tiraditos © Coya Dubai
For a brunch that is as sophisticated as its clientele, look no further than Coya in the Four Seasons Resort Dubai. Start with a pisco sour (or two) and unlimited ceviches, tacos and tiraditos, before moving on to skewered meats and mushrooms. Further foodie bliss awaits with mains like lomo de res (beef tenderloin in red wine sauce) brought to the table. Fridays from 12.30pm to 4pm, Dhs328 (soft drinks), Dhs498 (house beverages), Dhs598 (Veuve Clicquot Champagne)
Seafood counter at Turquoise © Lara Brunt / Lonely Planet
We won't spoil the surprise, but the live entertainment at this newcomer in the Rixos Premium Dubai will leave you smiling long after you leave. Ambience aside, Turquoise offers a great value brunch with a dizzying array of Mediterranean-inspired salads, soups and starters, plus seafood, meat and pasta cooked to order. Turkish coffee martinis and a sprawling dessert spread will ensure you have to loosen your belt. Fridays from 1pm to 4pm, Dhs270 (soft drinks), Dhs370 (house beverages)
Immaculate desserts at the Bubbalicious brunch © The Westin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina
Spread across three restaurants at The Westin Mina Seyahi, Bubbalicious is a bigger-than-Ben-Hur brunch experience. There are live cooking stations, a smattering of food trucks and a dessert section that would do Willy Wonka proud, plus live music and acrobats to boot. Pile your plate high with everything from steaks and sushi to Asian food and oysters. In the cooler months, book a table on the palm-shaded terrace. Fridays 1pm to 4pm, Dhs450 (soft drinks), Dhs550 (house beverages), Dhs680 (Laurent Perrier Champagne)
With its beachy vibe, live band and truly staggering spread, brunch at Le Royal Meridien’s all-day eatery is worth the splurge. You’ll need a strategy – skip the bread and pasta – and then work your way around 10 live cooking stations. Plump for pineapple mojitos, linger over langoustines and lobsters, make a beeline for the beef cheeks and leave room for a cheeky Nutella crêpe. Fridays 1.30pm to 4.30pm, Dhs400 (soft drinks), Dhs525 (house beverages), Dhs725 (Laurent Perrier Champagne)
Looking for something original? Let the Lonely Planet locals introduce you to up-and-coming neighbourhoods around the world with unique culinary and artistic subcultures.