From Outdoor Terraces to Rooftop Views, the Best Al Fresco Dining Spots in Dubai

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Al fresco season is finally (finally) here. We know that after the heat of summer, all you want to do for the next five months is soak up the good weather and fresh air, and to be honest, nothing quite makes us as happy as enjoying good food with a cool breeze.

From beautiful outdoor terraces to rooftop views and secret gardens, we’ve rounded up our favorite venues for the best al fresco dining in Dubai. Doesn’t matter what time of day you go — it’s always the right time to enjoy the perfect weather of Dubai winter outside.

August

You can hardly predict a restaurant’s success based on its opening night, but based on our experience at August’s launch party, we can definitely say that it’s off to a good start. From its breathtaking location at The Address Fountain Views with equally stunning views of Downtown and the Burj Khalifa, friendly service, and warm hospitality, this baroque-inspired restaurant really knows how to make a good first impression.

The restaurant is divided into three sections: the spacious Dining Room, the speakeasy-style Cocktail Room, and the breezy outdoor Terrace Garden. Each area offers its own unique vibe, but we don’t need to tell you that the to-die-for terrace holds the best seats in the house. Led by August’s Head Chef Juan Pablo Rey Nores, the restaurant offers French Mediterranean dishes such as tartare cones, wagyu carpaccio, truffle toasts, beef sliders, and the most beautiful charcuterie platters you’ll ever find. When it comes to mains, you don’t want to miss the ‘Lobster Tagliatelle’, ‘Sea Bass Papillote’, and ‘Steak Frites’. Still peckish? Save room for desserts like ‘Caramel Fondant’, ‘Crêpes Suzette’, and the ‘August Chocolate Dream’. You won’t regret it.

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Carine

Overlooking the lush greenery of the Emirates Golf course, the view at Carine, especially at sunset, is superb. Add to that its fabulous playlist, and it becomes a whole new vibe. The French-Mediterranean menu was curated by renowned Dubai-based Chef Izu Ani, so one already knows that the food will be exquisite. Before you order anything, make sure you tell your server to place the order for the famous Tarte Tatin – an upside-down apple and caramel tart served with three generous scoops of vanilla ice cream. This is one of Carine’s best sellers, but it takes a while to prepare, so be sure to put your order in right away.

We aren’t regular fans of fried food, but the fried calamari and zucchini are seasoned with special yummy spices, making it truly unique. The wafer-thin onion tart is equally delicious, and we cannot resist the lobster linguine for the main meal. Whether it’s a romantic date night or an evening out with friends, the ambiance and food here will make you want to keep coming back.

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@CARINE.AE

Caya

If you find yourself in the Town Square area, there is a beautiful little venue serving all of our favorite comfort foods with one of the best outdoor areas for adults, children, and dogs alike. Situated on an enormous field of green, Caya is a relaxed, upscale cafe, perfect for grabbing a weekend breakfast with friends or family. Children (and dogs) can run around on the grass or climb on the immense playground just past the field, while adults are able to sip, eat, and talk from a relaxed distance (and if the kids are too little to go far, there is a very convenient play area inside the restaurant as well). There is also a private open atrium if you’d rather eat al fresco with a bit more intimacy.

With food to please every palate, you can expect savory pizzas, pastas, and gourmet burgers, however, we must say we are particularly fond of the eggs benedict and avocado toast they offer for breakfast.

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Clay

Recently, we had the opportunity to dine at Clay restaurant, one of last year’s best new restaurants to hit the Dubai scene, and we had such a good time, we thought we should spread the word about this al fresco gem. We sat outside on the terrace and enjoyed the stunning view of Ain Dubai and fireworks display, as well as the fresh winter air. The food was just as good as we remembered it.

For starters, we had the salmon sashimi—it had an interesting combination of passion fruit, mint, and chili for a side sauce that surprised us in a great way with how well it worked. The short ribs were a bit on the salty side, but so tender we still enjoyed it to the fullest. Following that, we had the O-Toro Maki—a fatty tuna paired with truffle—which was probably the standout dish of the night. Then again, if it has truffle, usually its a win. For our mains we ordered the black cod, which was so good, it can rival any other restaurant’s version of the dish. It was paired with a red yuzu sauce and grilled peppers that complemented the salty cod perfectly.

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Eden

Enjoy a breath of fresh air surrounded by lovely people, verdant greenery, and a view of the Burj Khalifa at the newly opened Eden, a secret garden on the rooftop of Dubai Opera. The vibe here is fun, relaxed, and perfect for a post-show meal or an out-of-the-ordinary get-together with friends. The dining experience is made even better with its hearty and delicious Italian comfort food, enjoyed with a side of upbeat music from the venue’s resident DJ.

Start with a thirst-quenching beverage from the restaurant’s expert mixologist, before digging into popular favorites like ‘Cecina de Leon’, ‘Calamari Fritti’, and savory pizzas that come in a variety of toppings. For a sweeter affair, the ‘Lamponi’, a beautiful creation made of fresh raspberries and vanilla mousse, is a must-have.

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Gaia

Situated quite literally in the heart of DIFC, Gaia may not have the ‘rooftop’ experience, but its laidback al fresco patio is one of our favorites. Honestly, we can never decide if we want to be inside or outside when it comes to Gaia, because we love both the same. The inside decor is beautiful and elegant, but the outdoor terrace seating under the stars and lights of DIFC is equally as magical, as are the two side outdoor patios under the colorful bougainvillea. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Greek food, beverage, and lifestyle concept by Evgeny Kuzin and Chef Izu exceeds every benchmark, and then some.

We go nuts over the chargrilled octopus, spinach pie, moussaka, prawns saganaki, truffle pasta, baby goat, and the daily fresh fish prepared in whatever way the fishelier feels best suits your choice. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, and since the weather is lovely, eating some of the best food in Dubai under the blue sky makes for an incredible meal from start to finish.

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Garden of Dreams

Garden of Dreams—a playful yet sophisticated extension of DREAM Dubai—is a lovely chillout spot for those seeking an escape from the madness of city life. The space is dotted with dreamcatchers, wind chimes, and colorful cushions, allowing guests to bask in the sunshine and open air. Meanwhile, the menus offer refined, contemporary takes on Mediterranean cuisine.

For the best experience, we recommend trying out the ‘Daydreamer Brunch’ to get a taste of the best dishes in the form of sharing plates. The tempura prawns, which are delicately drizzled with a mango-based sauce, make for a delicious starter. Follow that with hearty mains that include juicy beef sliders, homemade pasta arrabiata, and a perfectly marbled grilled ribeye steak; the latter is served with a deliciously punchy black pepper sauce. Complement the meal with the restaurant’s signature thirst-quenchers and the most irresistible dessert platters in town.

Il Borro Tuscan Bistro

If you want to take a trip to Tuscany without having to fly there, then there’s no better place than Il Borro Tuscan Bistro, located within the Turtle Lagoon in Jumeirah Al Naseem. Owned by the Ferragamo family, this was the first restaurant they opened outside of Italy. The concept is simple – traditional Italian food made from the finest ingredients, which are accompanied by Il Borro’s own products such as the organic extra-virgin olive oil, honey, and selected vegetables from their organic farm in Tuscany. The ambiance is warm and homely, and features earthy tones throughout. During the winter, the sunken patio (overlooking the turtle rehabilitation lagoon) opens up for the season.

From the raw menu, we recommend the beef carpaccio. We obviously chose to add the truffle. However, the true highlight of our meal was the homemade tagliatelle with Umbrian black truffle and parmesan, which is without a doubt one of the restaurant’s finest offerings. Don’t skip dessert, and go for the cheesecake – one of the best in town. It’s the perfect combination of tarty and sweet, but make sure everyone orders their own because it’s so good, you won’t want to share it.

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Katsuya

Easily one of Dubai’s most charming dining places, Katsuya at Hyde Hotel in Business Bay commands an enviable canal-side view against the city’s illustrious skyline. The best part is you don’t even need to grab an outdoor table to enjoy the scenery. The artful interiors, developed by Philippe Starck and Yabu Pushelberg, are surrounded by bright and airy glass windows that open up, so you can enjoy unobstructed views of the Burj Khalifa and other recognizable landmarks no matter where you sit. Perfect for both romantic date-nights or vibrant gatherings with friends, it serves as the perfect venue for a memorable dining experience.

With no less than Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi at the helm, the menu is best described as whimsical and surprising, merging traditional Japanese cuisine with modern techniques and flavors. Start off with a refreshing drink — the ‘Future’ creation is a must-try — followed by crowd-pleasers like ‘Crispy Brussels Sprouts’, ‘Chicken Karaage’, and ‘Popcorn Rock Shrimp’. Once hungry, sink your teeth into your choice of sushi and sashimi, all freshly made and beautifully plated. Or, have a go at a quintessentially Dubai main dish, the ‘Miso Glazed Black Cod’, which is deliciously smoked in cedarwood and garnished with mushrooms. It is wise to save room for dessert, because the ‘Chocolate Hojicha’ masterpiece is as satisfying to watch as it is to eat.

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Ninive

Nestled in between the two imposing buildings of the Emirates Towers, the laid-back atmosphere at Ninive offers the best of both worlds. Inspired by a traditional Bedouin tent, this open-air majlis concept, furnished with lush greenery, rich textiles, homey communal areas, and cozy low seats, is a refreshing oasis in the middle Dubai’s urban jungle of concrete and glass. The ambiance pays homage to Arabesque architecture, while the starlit sky gives it a sense of natural grandeur.

The dining experience at Ninive is a culinary journey through the Middle East and North Africa, with recipes from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Morocco. Every single dish we tried — from the starters (zaalouk, chicken durum, and spiced beef kibbeh), to the mains (couscous royal, mix grill, and chicken tagine) and desserts (almond kunafeh and Turkish baklava) — we loved. In a way, Ninive perfectly sums up everything we love about this city: excellent food, friendly staff, and the most beautiful skyline anyone could witness.

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ROKA

You’d think you’re on the top of the world when dining at ROKA’s terrace, thanks to its stunning views of the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai skyline. The restaurant, discreetly located in Business Bay’s iconic The Opus, is perfect for romantic date nights with the glittering city lights providing a gorgeous backdrop. ROKA, designed to be relaxed but immersive, offers a unique style of contemporary Japanese robatayaki cuisine, as well as an extensive selection of the freshest sushi and sashimi. We recommend going for any of the expertly curated tasting menus where the delicate flavors slowly build up and intensify as the meal progress, giving an intensely satisfying umami experience. Between the world-class hospitality, the beautiful setting, and the delicious food, ROKA is one of those places where you lose track of time, never wanting to leave.

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