It's the eternal question for families with youngsters, posted on mums' groups across the city: where can I take the children for a meal where they are at once well-fed and entertained?
While many restaurants offer children's menus (some that even go beyond all things deep-fried or served on bread), here are a dozen that also have dedicated indoor and outdoor play areas to keep your sprogs happy and busy.
Both the JBR and Dubai Harbour Creek branches have air-conditioned play areas.
For children: The restaurant has a dedicated corner for youngsters featuring soft and wooden toys, a kitchenette with mini chairs and tables, plus books, drawing material and edutainment activities.
On the menu: The French restaurant has an elaborate breakfast menu, with everything from acai bowls and avocado toast to muesli and chia pudding; plus mains such as quesadillas, burgers and hearty salads.
Saturday to Wednesday, 8am-11pm; Thursday and Friday, 8am-midnight; several locations; mondoux.ae
The cosy indoor-outdoor cafe is most often frequented among families living in JLT, and is a popular birthday venue.
For children: The space is brimming with wooden and soft toys, cars and scooties galore, kitchenettes and a mini jungle gym with a slide. Socks are a must for children and adults.
On the menu: The cafe is best known for its herbal teas and healthy smoothies, and serves bites such as pancakes, waffles, salads, pizzas and pasta. The menu also has a German selection, with flammkuchen flatbread, chicken bratwurst sausages and leberkaese meatloaf.
Open daily; 8am-9pm; Cluster U, Jumeirah Lakes Towers; 04 554 6206
Making good on the Italian tradition for leisurely family meals, Luigia is helmed by Sunset Hospitality Group, the team behind SushiSamba, Ammos and Lola Taberna Espanola.
For children: The restaurant has an indoor cinema and a dedicated playroom with a soft play area stocked with plenty of books, toys and colouring materials. A foosball table and video game machine with classics such as will keep older kids occupied.
On the menu: Pizzas are a must-have at Luigia, and include options such as matrioska (with smoked salmon, steamed potatoes, mascarpone cheese and ricotta), tacos (with chicken nuggets, avocado, grana padano and datterini tomatoes) and langarola (with fresh baby spinach, beef carpaccio, burrata and honey citronnette). The restaurant also serves pasta and other traditional dishes inspired by the recipes of Italian nonnas.
Sunday to Thursday, 5.30pm-midnight; Friday and Saturday, 12.30pm-midnight; Rixos Premium, JBR; 04 349 6950
The German restaurant is run by Sven the Baker and mum chef Heike Voigt, both of whom support the eat-clean movement.
For children: An indoor soft play area comes equipped with a wooden jungle gym, slides, swings, some toys and plenty of books.
On the menu: Freshly baked goods aside, the restaurant serves healthy breakfast bowls and salads, fluffy pancakes, vegan burritos, sausages, salmon, stews and steak.
Open daily, 8am-9.30pm; Dubai Marina; 050 840 9936
Masha and the Bear
Formerly known as Oompa Loompa, the restaurant is a popular choice for children’s birthday parties.
For children: A multilevel soft-play area with toys and soft play paraphernalia galore, plus meet-and-greet sessions with its namesake characters, and regular chocolate and pizza-making workshops.
On the menu: The restaurant serves a host of breakfast options, from eggs and pancakes to oatmeal porridge. Mains include pasta, pizza and burgers, plus salmon steak, mixed grill, dumplings and udon noodles.
Monday to Wednesday, 9am-11.30pm; Thursday to Sunday, 9am-12.30pm; The Walk at JBR; 800 62742
The Italian restaurant is best known for its family-friendly brunch, and can provide salt-free, vegetarian, halal and gluten-free menus.
For children: The restaurant has a large soft-floor outdoor play area and also screens children’s movies indoors. During Saturday brunch, the restaurant puts up a bouncy castle.
On the menu: The sharing-style brunch menu is a good indication of the kinds of dishes you can expect at Solo: think burrata, arrancini and fritto miso for appetisers; pizzas, ravioli, braised beef and salmon for mains; and tiramisu, lemon cake and gelato for dessert.
Sunday to Friday, 5.30pm-11.30pm; Saturdays, 1pm-4pm, then 5.30pm-11.30pm; Raffles Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Road; 04 324 8888
Al Areesh Food Hall
The restaurant primarily serves American food and recently stocked up on board games.
For children: Board games such as Taboo, Carcassonne and Cavern of Soloth aside, the food hall has an outdoor seating area that oversees a park, which is equipped with a jungle gym, swings and slides.
On the menu: The restaurant serves salads, sandwiches, wings, pizzas, pasta and poutine.
Monday to Thursday, 10am-10pm; Friday to Sunday, 10am-11pm; Dubai Festival City; 04 546 7400
The decor at this family-friendly sports bar is inspired by the journey undertaken by the protagonist of Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days.
For children: An air-conditioned tent with swings, slides and plenty of toys, plus colouring books and crayons.
On the menu: The restaurant serves small bites such as chicken popcorn, baos and nachos, plus salads, wood-fired pizza, grills, burgers, and “dishes from the East”, including Thai curry, chow mein, yakisoba and kung pao.
Open daily, 8am-1.30am; Emirates Hills; 04 572 4477
The Scene, Pier 7
The resto-pub is helmed by British chef Simon Peter Rimmer of Something for the Weekend and Sunday Brunch fame.
For children: Indoor gated play area with a tent, colouring paraphernalia, child-size chairs and tables, plus cartoons playing on a large screen in the backdrop.
On the menu: The Scene is best known for its Saturday family brunch (where children under 6 eat free), and also serves mini cod and chips, popcorn chicken, cheddar and jam toasties and roast beef sandwiches.
Monday to Thursday; noon-midnight; Friday, noon-1am; Saturday, 10am-1am; Pier 7, Dubai Marina; 04 422 2328
Schoko Fabrik Cafe
Launched with children as its main target group, this “creative cafe” is an eat-play restaurant with plenty of edutainment options.
For children: A three-storey play area with a twisting slide, ladders, balancing beam, punching bags, kitchenette, building blocks and drawing surfaces.
On the menu: All-day breakfast (eggs, acai and pancakes) and desserts (sweet waffles and crepes) are the mainstays here, but you can also get a salad or burrito.
Sunday to Thursday, 1pm-1am; Friday and Saturday, 1pm-2am; Bluewaters Island; 04 578 6121
Organic Foods & Cafe
Located within the organic supermarket in Cityland Mall, the cafe is a good place to sample some of the food items on offer even as the children are kept entertained.
For children: The cafe has an air-conditioned soft play area, with wooden fencing and a big, red slide with a cushioned bottom, plus kitchen sets and a few toys.
On the menu: The cafe serves an all-day breakfast menu with acai bowls, pancakes, scrambled eggs and avo toast, plus soups, salads, sandwiches, poke and mains such as salmon, steak and free-range chicken. It also offers a long list of healthy and tasty beverages, from detox shots and spice-infused hot chocolates to veggie smoothies, rooibos tea and butter-blended coffee.
Open daily; 8am-8pm; Cityland Mall, next to Global Village; 04 577 6306
The Roost Rotisserie
The restaurant specialises in rotisserie-style chicken dishes.
For children: The Roost Rotisserie has a small outdoor playground as well as an arts and crafts area within, stocked with paper and colours.
On the menu: The restaurant prides itself on its healthy, hormone-free and locally sourced chicken, and serves dishes such as Waldorf salad, chicken burger and musakhan wraps, plus fresh bone broth.
Saturday to Wednesday, noon-11pm; Thursday and Friday, noon-midnight; Shop no 003, API 1000, corner of Al Wasl Road and Al Thaniyah Street, Al Manara; 800 76678