Back when I moved to Dubai (in the early 90’s), no one had heard of it. A lot of people were apprehensive that I’d be moving so far away, and to the Middle East of all places. Today, Dubai’s on everyone’s radar. The influx of tourists, as well as expats from all around the world means the culinary food scene is incredibly varied and diverse. You don’t have to look to far to find a particular cuisine.
Sheikh Zayed Road
We visit Dubai with our entire family quite often, and because of this we’re always on the lookout for restaurants in the city that are kid-friendly. The second city in our Top 10 Kid-Friendly Restaurant series was Dubai (the first was our hometown of Oahu, which you can view here), and it’s one of the most popular posts on our site to date.
So, I’ve decided to make this a yearly feature! Here’s our kid-foodies 2016 list of 10 restaurants in Dubai that are kid-friendly. They are in no particular order, but the kids have come to love some of the items on their menus or just love the place because of what they have to offer.
Making our kid-friendly list for the second time in a row, Sumo Sushi & Bento consistently delivers with their kid-friendly menu options and wonderful service.
There’s nothing more we love than discovering kids menus that actually serve the restaurant’s cuisine in kid-size portions.
Growing up in Hawaii, LouLou and Jaf are huge fans of Japanese cuisine, and Sumo serves up their favorites. We make sure to visit Sumo multiple times during our stay in Dubai, and love that kids 12 and under get to dine free every Tuesdays, with each adult entree.
Kid-Foodie Favorites: Salmon Nigiri Roll, Avocado Maki Roll, Kappa Maki Roll, Teriyaki Chicken Bento, Tempura Bento, and Sumo Fried Rice. If your kids are adventurous eaters (like mine are), then try their newest Poke Bowls.
Combine a love for books, reading, and food, and what do you end up with? BookMunch Cafe & Bookshop, of course! BookMunch is Dubai’s first literary cafe with the cutest meaning behind their name.
Our name, as you might ask, is inspired by Oliver Jeffers’ “The Incredible Book Eating Boy,” about a boy who, just like us, loved books so much that he ate every one of them. So, come munch along…
If you live in Dubai, it’s a great place to come unwind with the kids, they have a cosy reading nook, perfect for the little ones. In addition to serving up comforting, homely food, they also host regular kid-friendly reading events, as well as a weekend family brunch. All books in their bookshop can be read during your time there, but if you get it dirty, expect to purchase it.
The kids menu is incredibly creative and playful, with a lot of bright dishes, and fresh veggies. Their most popular kids menu item is Charlie & Lola’s Ocean Nibbles made from homemade breaded fish or chicken with cloud fluff & moon squirters (potato mash and cherry tomatoes).
Kid-foodie favorites: Shrimp Summer Rolls, Pasta in a parcel, Charlie & Lola’s Ocean Nibbles, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Spaghetti & BookMunch tomato sauce)
Location: Al Wasl Road, Opposite Al Reef Lebanese Bakery, Dubai
Wagamama is a popular Asian-inspired restaurant franchise that began in London’s Bloomsbury neighborhood back in 1992. They have a kaizen philosophy, which means they’re constantly creating and innovating their restaurants and menu.
If you’re craving a hearty meal that will satisfy the entire family, head to one of their four locations, with their newest restaurant on Palm Jumeirah being extremely kid-friendly – there’s an outdoor grassy area with a playground nearby.
They’re also a restaurant that pay attention to what they offer on their kids menu – it consists of popular items from their regular menu, but in kid-friendly sizes. They also offer grilled chicken instead of deep-fried for the kids version of their most popular item, the Chicken Katsu Curry. Read our in-depth review of their menu offerings here.
They have a diverse menu, with everything from soups to sandwiches as well as pasta to Asian food. But, what we love them for are their galettes, which remind us fondly of our time spent in Paris.
Galettes are a french savory crepe made from buckwheat flour, and filled with eggs, meat, cheeses or veggies. At Markette, their savory galettes are freshly made to order, and handcrafted with organic buckwheat flour and natural ingredients. They have a number to choose from, but we especially liked the Leon galette which contained roasted chicken, pesto, mozzarella, tomato confit, rocket leaves, shaved parmesan, pine nuts & chorizo.
Kid-foodie favorites: Chili cheese fries, Leon galette, Michel galette.
If you’re a fan of Anthony Bourdain (like I am), then you’ll remember Bu Qtair from his Dubai No Reservations episode. Bu Qtair was a small fish shack started over two decades ago by Keralite Indian chefs, serving primarily workers, before the public caught wind and then, Anthony Bourdain.
Ever since then, the lines have been incredibly long, but apparently the food makes it worth the wait.
We tried them out on our last visit to Dubai, and were surprised to find that that they’re no longer a shack, but a full-fledged brick & mortar restaurant. Thanks to all the popularity, they were able to set up in a new building, opposite to where the shack used to be. Their indoor seating is spacious and clean, and their patio overlooks Kite Beach, which is a short walk away.
You pick the fish marinating in masala that you want, and they fry it fresh for you!
And, the food? Unassuming seafood cooked with a South Indian flair – there is no menu, what you order depends on the day’s catch. You walk up to the kitchen, and pick the fish you want fried, as well as any shrimp, and pay at the counter next door. They serve you the pomfret you picked, that’s fried and incredibly fresh, prawns that they’ve marinated in a delicious red masala (that isn’t spicy), as well as an Indian fish curry, a lentil curry, and a serving of rice.
Kid-foodie favorite: Everything, especially the lentil curry, and the freshly-fried pomfret.
Location: 80 – 78 4 E St – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
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The one thing we miss about Dubai when we leave are all the 24/7 options. A lot of restaurants in Dubai offer 24/7 delivery options, which means, if you get a late-night craving in Dubai, you can be sure your appetite will be satiated!
They have delicious Lebanese fare, fresh juices, and tasty sandwiches. The kids love their kafta wrap, and falafel. They have a number of locations throughout the UAE, and service is always good, but we mostly use their delivery service, which is quick.
Kid-foodie favorite: Zaatar Manakeesh, Baked Falafel wrap, Mighty kafta wrap, and fresh apple juice
Their menu is extensive, but expect the standard Lebanese dishes, that are flavorful and hearty. The kids loved their falafel, hummus, stuffed grape leaves and chicken shawarma plate. Sit outside to enjoy the view of the marina (no one was sitting inside the restaurant because the weather was lovely), and the lit-up dhow cruises that go by!
If you’re in the mood for breakfast at any time of the day, then Eggspectation fits the bill. A restaurant primarily dedicated to breakfast options, Eggspectation is conveniently located right next to the beach at The Beach, JBR.
We came here after a day swimming at the beach, and were in the mood for eggs and pancakes. The kids liked that they were able to make their omelettes with toppings to their liking – they come with a serving of fruit, as well as potatoes. Rather large portion sizes, so be prepared to share (or take your meal to-go).
Located in the heart of Al Karama, Saravana Bhavan has been around since I first came to Dubai and has a reputation for good, cheap veg-South Indian food. We love having breakfast here, but come early, especially on the weekends because the restaurant tends to fill up.
For breakfast, the kids absolutely love a paper dosa – they’re large, crispy, and extremely fresh especially dipped in the curry they serve (sambar). FYI, they have 56 locations around the world, and two in California, which we have to check out when we’re next in the Bay Area.
Kid-foodie favorites:Poori bhaji (potato curry with indian bread), Paper dosa, Lassi milkshake
Everything on the menu is made keeping your health in mind. What we love about the restaurant is that it recreates some of our favorite dishes with vegetables, and you’re not left missing meat. The Balti Good Fat Potatoes with Aubergines (eggplant) consist of baby potatoes sautéed in fenugreek, pepper strips and eggplant garnished with spices and yogurt, and were a delicious start to the meal.