It’s also one of the city’s most beautifully designed restaurants, with a hefty number of Dubai’s fanciest places to eat housed in an area that probably amounts to less than five square kilometres.Impressed? You’ve not seen anything yet.
Here are the restaurants designs we rate in Dubai’s DIFC.
Avli by tashas
Modern Mediterranean with a distinctly Greek flex, and interiors that look like they inspired the Kardashian-Wests’ break for marble minimalism. Creamy curved ceilings lend the impression of an ancient mausoleum – albeit one that really comes to life during dinner seatings. Creative mixed drinks are whirled overhead at the bar, while dishes of saganaki and seabass are served to tables throughout the room.
The flawless delivery of Avli by Tashas saw BW Interiors win Interior Fit-Out Project of the Year at the Commercial Interior Design Awards 2019, while the design itself is by Neydine Bak and Dewald Struwig of B&S Studio.
Gate Village 9, DIFC, www.avlibytashas.com
Madrid-born Latin American restaurant Amazonico brings an explosion of rainforest to DIFC, crammed with wide-leafed foliage and vibrant murals. Set across multiple floors, grab a mixed drink and nibbles in the cosy lounge downstairs, or head up a floor to watch the chefs at work in the (semi) open kitchen. Dishes are a familiar mix of raw ceviches and smoky grills, and the vibe is rarely short of buzzing.
The fit-out is another successful project by BW Interiors, with the interiors an immersive environment of rainforest-inspired lush greenery and natural materials designed by Catalan interior designer Lázaro Rosa-Violan.
DIFC Pavilion, DIFC, amazonicorestaurant.com/dubai
BB Social Dining
Unlike anywhere else in the city, BB is reminiscent of a townhouse. Split over multiple floors and featuring a winding spiral staircase and infinitely cosy bar, it’s only when you step out onto the small terrace that you’ll be reminded where you are.
Distinctive monochrome mosaic tile flooring and black and white striped banquette seating boosted by pops of yellow cushions are the inspired additions of designer James Michael Lees, from London’s Studio Hopscotch.
Baos, buns, bowls and small bites form the kitchen’s MO, and they excel on all fronts.
Gate Village 8, DIFC, bbdifc.business.site
Bull & Bear
With an almost businesslike glamour, Waldorf DIFC’s Bull & Bear welcomes diners with an enormous sculpture of its two namesakes, and views of Downtown Dubai through floor-to-ceiling windows.
The sophisticated New York-style interior design that harks back to the original in the Waldorf Astoria New York maximises hues of blue, gold and black. Design was led by LW Design Group, which also worked on the hotel's pool bar, St Trop.
Expect seriously smart service and some of the best-looking dishes in town – and don’t be fooled by the simple-sounding explanations on the menu. The food here is art.
Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre, waldorfastoria3.hilton.com
When it opened, GAIA kicked off what became a wave of new Greek-Mediterranean restaurants in the city – a previously underserved cuisine. And at least a couple of years later, the restaurant is still riding it, with a menu of contemporised dishes (case in point, the moussaka) and surprisingly intimate interiors.
The restaurant and bar by interiors agency Finasi – you can find it speakeasy-style hiding behind a wall on Gaia’s ground floor – blends contemporary and traditional Greek design with a beautiful aesthetic that adopts an understated colour palette: think soft greys, calming whites and a blend of natural wood and Italian marble.
Thanks to some well-publicised visits by some VVIPs, prepare to book in advance.
Gate Village 11, DIFC, gaia-restaurants.com
In Dubai by way of New York, Indochine brings modern French-Vietnamese fusion to Dubai’s financial hub. And a whole load of New York swagger besides. Food is as stylish as the staff, while the intimate dining space has a refined bistro feel and a lively vibe – helped along by a DJ working the decks in a lounge that murmurs 60s cool.
Adorned with artfully potted plants, wicker lamps, plush booths and signature wallpaper that serve as a reminder of the venues Vietnamese-inspired roots, a Wall of Fame featuring famous patrons from the New York branch stands as an ode to the original marque.
Gate Precinct Building 3, DIFC, indochinedxb.com
LPM Restaurant & Bar
A restaurant that really needs no introduction. Stalwart of DIFC, and one of two to put the area on the map as a destination for some of the best food in the city.
Wherever you choose to eat at this DIFC-favourite, expect classic southern French dishes and consistently excellent cooking, in one of Dubai’s most perennially busy restaurants.
Gate Village 8, DIFC, lpmrestaurants.com/dubai
It may not have the celebrity sparkle of some of its neighbours, but Royal China is a titan of Chinese cuisine in Dubai – and not just in DIFC.
Expect some of the best dim sum in the city, alongside authentic Cantonese dishes. Despite the somewhat regal setting in an upscale red interior, prices are reasonable.
Precinct Building 4, DIFC, royalchinadubai.com
Juxtaposition abounds at this Art Deco-inspired restaurant, where 1930s Shanghai takes over the aesthetic, while the food is very much modern riffs on Asian classics. And don’t be taken in by the name – the menu covers more than just Chinese cuisines.
There’s a gorgeous terrace well worth checking out before dinner, and the bar’s slick mixology is a perfect excuse.
Gate Village 11, DIFC, shanghaime-restaurant.com
Titan of DIFC’s restaurant scene and modern Japanese-fusion, Zuma is as much a go-to today as it was when it first opened in Dubai more than a decade ago. Superb dishes, flawless service and a low-key stylish setting.
While you're enjoying the aforementioned, admire the work of stellar interior designer Noriyoshi Muramatsu of Tokyo's Studio Glitt. based on balancing the six elements of fire, earth, water, air, wood and iron to achieve harmony.
Gate Village 6, DIFC, zumarestaurant.com/locations/dubai.com