Dubai is home to lots of things: The biggest this, the tallest that. What we’re not known for, however, is a girly aesthetic. If you look hard enough, though, between all the spectacular skyscrapers and awe-inspiring bridges reside a few of the girliest places in the world. Which begs the question: Where do you go when you want to have a girly celebration — or even casual catch-up — with your closest friends? Here’s what we found.
Brunch & Cake
Leave it to a beloved culinary institution from Barcelona to bring a touch of Bali (you’ll love the rustic-chic décor from the get-go) alongside vibrantly hued food and dessert-inspired drinks to Jumeirah. Brunch & Cake promises “grandma’s goodness” in every dish that lands on your table, and we can only wish our grannies were so creative! Taking a cue from its name, we dined on the rather aptly named ‘Next-Level Avo Toast’ that is a virtual party on a plate followed by a clever, crunchy take on French toast, courtesy of pistachios. However, it’s the extensive new dinner menu that we’ll soon be returning for. Heck, a decent selfie on that wicker swing is reason enough.
Lou'Loua by Nadia
If we really do eat with our eyes first, we can’t not recommend a place where even the spaghetti is pretty – enter: Lou’Loua by Nadia, a hidden gem in Jumeirah that we’re glad to have discovered. Not only does it win brownie points for its all-day breakfast menu and accents of pink, purple, and rose gold, but its menu feels like a culinary jaunt through the Mediterranean with cheat-day treats thrown in for good measure. The ‘Coachella’ pairs coffee with Nutella, the ‘Lobster Mac & Cheese Sandwich’ is the stuff of creamy carbohydrate dreams, and just about every flavor of cakesicle here is a crowdpleaser. Some of the newer menu items are particularly inventive, and it’s the quinoa-encrusted prawns on a bed of guacamole that wins our vote, hands down.
Before Vibe even opened, it garnered a shout-out from Drake, who owner Noora Salem is friends with IRL, making a pitstop at either of this cheery little eatery’s two outposts a must. Inside – as expected – vibes are aplenty. Not only does Salem keep a steady stream of boppable hip-hop jams playing, but there’s also Instagrammable neon signs at every turn. The menu is packed with health-conscious (but highly tasty) items like veggie burgers and grain-based power bowls. One of its most beloved offerings is the expansive drinks menu that features everything from detox shots to mocktails. It also helps that, here, the green juice is named ‘Kermit Business’.
Go for the toasties. Stay for the coffee. We dare you to find a decent Dubai-based Instagram account without a photo of Boston Lane in it – or a bona fide foodie who has yet to rave about its ‘Mac N Cheese’ toasties. Not only does this all-pink eatery still feel like a hidden gem (it’s tucked away in The Courtyard), but it’s also the perfect place to linger over a cup of coffee – or something a little more inventive, like the ‘Cacao Superfood’ smoothie. You and your girlfriends will also love the fact that Boston Lane is flanked by indie little boutiques, like Tribe.
Located in the rather corporate Dubai World Trade Centre area is the wonderfully girly Parlour Boutique that serves everything worth waking up for – think: brioche French toast served with berries and chantilly cream, avocado toast topped with blue cheese and sautéed mushrooms, and eggs Benedict ingeniously encased in choux pastry. The eatery is inspired by the French tradition of the parloir, or a space for “gathering together for speaking”. The result? A chic bistro featuring a relaxed lounge area, a large communal table, and even a library. While it serves some of the city’s most Instagrammable food, the dishes taste even better than they look.
Secret Garden by L’ETO
Flowers, flowers, and more flowers. Have you guessed we’re referring to Secret Garden by L’ETO? Between its vibrant floral walls and arches, rustic lighting, garden furniture, eclectic menu, and seemingly endless display of cakes and desserts, this girly-girl spot with branches in City Walk and The Dubai Mall is nothing short of enchanting. Theatrics come courtesy of beverages like ‘Beauty and the Beast’, which is accented with beautifully scented rose smoke, while decadence resides in desserts such as ‘Blueberry Umm Ali’ and ‘Almond Frangipane Tart’. As for getting creative with coffee? We tried the ‘Marhaba’ – complete with cardamom, saffron syrup, and coffee beans embedded in ice cubes – and can’t rave about it enough. Suffice to say this is no ordinary garden.
Where in Dubai can you find ‘Unicorn Toast’ to indulge your inner kid, a selection of beautifully packaged handbag essentials to shop, enough varieties of tea to keep the queen of England happy, and an alfresco patio where your pooch is welcome? Tania’s Teahouse, of course. This cult hit of a café is located on Jumeirah Beach Road, and has a whole host of new menu items on offer. We’ll be starting with the wholesome selection of ‘Magic Mylks’, a.k.a. nut-milk lattes heaped with all-natural adaptogens to boost resilience and mental and physical well-being.
A spritz of rosewater accompanies the fruity ‘Flower Basket’ mocktail, a pampering hand massage – or a skin consultation from a beauty advisor, if you prefer – precedes the meal. Let’s just say it: there’s no girly café quite as girly as L’Occitane Café. The menu is inspired by the beauty products of L’Occitane and celebrates the flavors of its hometown of Provence, France. Whether it’s sweet or savory that you’re after, expect to dine on French favorites (‘Pain Perdu’ and ‘French Onion Soup’) alongside regional staples like shakshouka and hearty classics such as ‘Croque Monsieur’. Bonus: there’s a full-fledged store inside the café, so even more pampering awaits.
For the healthy girl who wants to stick to clean eating without sacrificing taste, Bounty Beets offers a bounty of options. From detox shots to açai bowls and its plant-based ‘Bunbelievable’. this gem caters to every food fancy and health concern there is. Not to mention, between its pink walls and outdoor gazebo, this gem in Le Meridien Mina Seyahi is a must for snap-happy girls looking for a picturesque locale. Oh, and whether you’re a herbivore or carnivore, we recommend trying the ‘Son of a Chick’ omelette made with chickpeas and cashew aioli before making room for the ‘Matcha Cake’, a sweet delight that you won’t believe is vegan.
Two at Symphony
No catch-up is complete without a little retail therapy – better yet, a splurge. Enter: Two at Symphony. We’re dubbing this elegant little spot the ultimate place for a lunch date with your bestie. Located above Symphony in the ‘Fashion Avenue’ of The Dubai Mall, this homegrown café believes that food should be a feast for the eyes – the ‘Taouk by Two’ comes accompanied by a pink sauce, the ‘Fillet Cubes by Two’ is topped with edible flowers. While we’re here, we insist that you leave room for the signature ‘Two Milk Cake’, even if it’s not cheat day. It’s that good.
Veggie moussaka, avocado pizza, peanut butter açai bowls – just some of the delicious and nutritious dishes you can expect at Brambles, a cool café in Barsha Heights. But it’s not just the fresh, California-inspired cuisine that has us hooked. It’s the dreamy décor, too. Brambles is set in a pretty palette of pinks and greens, so it’s practically designed for Instagram, complete with exposed pink-brick walls, moss accents, and cushions so cute you’ll wish they were on your own couch. It’s a firm favorite spot in which to dissect the latest Netflix series with the girls, fueled by French toast. We’ll raise our ‘Pure Greens’ juice to that.