Friday Brunch at Dubai for Valentine's Day
While doing travel planning for Dubai, I came across an activity that is beloved by expats living in Dubai – extravagant Friday brunches to kick off the weekend. Yes, weekends are Friday and Saturdays at Dubai, and since the local law is very strict on alcohol consumption, people usually go all out at these Friday Brunches while they can. As a tourist, I only had one chance this trip to have a Friday Brunch at Dubai (my other Friday spent in the UAE was at Abu Dhabi). So I looked into several restaurants that are written in blogs, travel books, and local magazines. In the end, I decided on the Jumeirah Al Qasr at Madinat Jumeirah.
There are three main reasons why I chose this hotel for my one-and-only-chance brunch:
1. This is supposedly the biggest brunch in Dubai in terms of food and drinks selection.
2. I came across a picture of a drink that is served at brunch – fresh coconut with Malibu – and I was sold.
3. I wanted to visit the Madinat Jumeirah area since I’ve seen spectacular pictures of it. The palm trees, the water canals….it’s like Venice combined with LA.
So that was my thought process. The good news is all three of the points turned out to be true!
Upon entering the restaurant, I was given a red rose since it’s Valentine’s weekend. Then the server took us to the main hall that led to an outdoor patio with a view of the canal. I could feel the sun on my skin and a light breeze from the water. The sky and the water were in the same shade of blue. Towering palm trees lined up next to the water canal. I was sipping on the glass of bubbly while waiting for the server to return with a map of the buffet stations, which I’ve read about in a blog, but I never got a map in the end…..maybe they ran out of maps that day? Anyway, to say the buffet is massive would be an understatement. The food and drinks booths extend across three restaurants and two patios. Food selection is from all over the world – Middle Eastern, Asian, American, European, you name it. There are also live cooking stations for BBQ meats. There are so many booths that we really only got to try maybe 1/10 of them before our bellies called it quits.
I’ll say the most impressive part of the experience is how they set up the booths for drinks. I was expecting a few booths, with each booth serving maybe 10 or so different types of drinks. But nope, each drink station only serves one or two types of drinks. So there’s the Malibu with fresh coconut stand, the Bacardi Mojito stand, the Jack Daniel’s Lemonade stand…... And did I mention you get served a bubbly first thing you sit down at the table? There are A LOT of booze. Overall, I was quite impressed with the quality of food given the quantity of the selection. I’m not a huge buffet person since a lot of food just tastes better served immediately, but I’ll say Al Qasr has done a good job. The brunch is AED 595 per person (including alcohol beverages), which is reasonable for the quality of food and the location.
Some last thoughts before I move on to other parts of Jumeirah Madinat, here are some other restaurants that I also considered booking:
- The Toro Toro Hola Hola Brunch: Latin American favorites (Dh500 per person; Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina)
- The Jumeirah Mina A’Salam Brunch: International & Mexican with live cooking stations. Separate children’s buffet and entertainment area. Perfect for families! (Dh525 per person; Hanaaya and Tortuga at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam)
- The Westin’s Bubbalicious Brunch: Extensive food & drinks selection with live entertainment. (Dh550 per person; The Westin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina)
- The Le Méridien Warehouse Brunch: Great food, creative drinks, and a dance floor. (Dh259 per person; Le Mériden Dubai Hotel & Conference Center)
*Make sure to look into what cuisines the restaurants offer since they really vary! And make sure to make a reservation at least one week in advance.
After the three hour-long brunch, we carried our (now 5 kg heavier) bodies for an abra ride to the rest of the Madinat Jumeirah areas. The abra ride was free for us since we just had brunch at the hotel, otherwise you’ll have to pay for an abra tour (AED 85) unless you stay at one of the Madinat hotels. The abra was a good way to admire the beautiful Arabian architecture, palm trees, and blue skies while journeying on the waterways. The Abra has several stops, and we decided to visit the Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Comparing to the traditional souks at Diera, Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a lot cleaner, modern, touristy, and expensive. I’ll say it’s a good place for a stroll after the big brunch, though!
Although we didn’t get to visit any of the hotels other than Jumeirah Al Qasr, I feel like this resort would be a great place for a relaxed, romantic vacation. I wouldn’t mind staying here next time I come back to Dubai!
- Put on your best outfit for the Friday Brunch. People go all out with their style choices, and I mean that in terms of how much skin is revealed! I saw a handful of mini skirts and towering Louboutin heels. However, if you are taking public transportation to/from to brunch, I’ll still recommend wearing respectful clothing.
- Don’t forget your sunblock. You could get a lot of sun sitting on that patio! And bring your favorite sunglasses.
- Wear liquid lipstick or lipsticks that last. Otherwise you’ll be reapplying after every round of food at brunch…..
- Friday Brunch is a must-do in Dubai! Everyone was having a great time eating, drinking, talking, and swaying to the music.
- Take the abra ride after brunch! You get to see the resort and take great pictures.