It's the eternal question for families with youngsters: where can I take the children for a meal where they will be well fed and entertained?
While many restaurants offer menus for young ones — some may even go beyond all things deep-fried or served on bread — here are some that also serve up play areas and activities galore to keep your little ones happy and busy.
For a list of restaurants with play areas in Dubai, click here.
The Lebanese restaurant is famed for its open-fire kitchen and sprawling indoor play area.
For children: Doubling as a soft play area, the restaurant has child-friendly staff to monitor the little ones. There is a ball pit, trampoline, jungle gym and slide as well as climbing frames galore, complete with Milky Way-themed wallpaper.
On the menu: Offering Lebanese-Mediterranean cuisine, with most of the meat and vegetables cooked on an open flame, Stouff offers steak tartare with dukkah spices, basturma rolls with tzatziki, moussaka bruschetta, aubergine makdous and shawarmas.
Open daily, noon-12.30am; The Hub, World Trade Centre — Abu Dhabi; 056 688 4042
Sanderson’s is a venture by the Serg half of Tom and Serg, the chefs behind Common Grounds and The Sum of Us. Going it alone, Spanish entrepreneur Sergio Lopez opened this spacious cafe in 2018.
For children: A seat on the terrace is a no-brainer during cooler months allowing you to watch over the children in the outdoor play area, which has a slide, swings, trampoline, climbing frames and jungle gyms in two sizes.
On the menu: The cafe offers plenty of healthy, vegan and gluten-free salads, sandwiches and snacks — think cashew and coconut hot cakes. It also does an excellent chicken Parmigiana, crispy skin salmon and truffle burger.
Open daily; 8am-10pm; The Walk at Al Seef Resort & Spa by Andalus; 02 222 1142
Art House Cafe
From big horse statues and upcycled soft toy-encrusted armchairs, to a colourful parasol-dotted roof, this tranquil spot has a warm and cheerful vibe.
For children: Keep little ones busy by letting them paint plates and bottles, which can be displayed on a dedicated wall. Older children can seek inspiration by checking out the latest exhibition at the gallery.
On the menu: The cafe offers breakfast options such as avocado and mushroom toast, acai bowls, all manner of eggs and salmon or turkey bagels. The eclectic main menu has everything from brisket and oxtail curry to chicken wings and risotto.
Open daily; 9am-10.30pm; Villa 15, Al Bateen; 02 666 0175
Le Noir Cafe
Styled to look like a Parisian cafe, this lesser-known spot on Saadiyat Island is known for its proficient baristas and high-quality ingredients.
For children: The cafe has a small indoor, fenced-off play area, with toys, drawing materials and small chairs and tables.
On the menu: Le Noir serves a range of speciality drinks, from black berry and pistachio latte to dragon fruit smoothies and organic spring Mao tea. Mains include Mediterranean classics such as coq au vin, aubergine Parmigiana and duck confit, plus soups, salads, burgers and bar bites.
Sunday-Thursday, 7am-11pm; Friday and Saturday, 7pm-midnight; The Collection, St Regis Saadiyat — Abu Dhabi, 02 448 4859
Californian fare meets Afghan delicacies in this unique cafe, which pays homage to owner Marjon Ajami’s roots. It has four branches in the capital, in Al Raha, Al Khalidiya, Khalifa Park and Galleria Al Maryah Island.
For children: While it does not have a dedicated play area (although the Nolu’s in Galleria is close to Caboodle), the cafe has a dedicated children’s menu that is chock-full with activities — from crosswords and maths puzzles, to join the dots and spot the differences. The speedy service means the children will probably still be busy finding all the differences when the food arrives.
On the menu: Said children’s menu offers polka-dot pancakes and peanut butter jelly banana burritos, while adults can gorge on mantoo dumplings, Kabuli pulao and kebabs, as well as pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and burgers.
Various timings and locations; nolusrestaurants.com
The all-day dining restaurant at Royal Rose Hotel, Electra Street, is known for its breakfasts and business lunches on weekdays; come Sunday, however, it puts on a special show for families.
For children: The Sunday brunch team break out a massive soft play mat and fill it with toys, car tracks and puzzles as well as drawing and painting materials. A dedicated buffet for children is also laid out at the edge of the mat, complete with a chocolate fountain.
On the menu: Dishes for the adult’s brunch include roasted pumpkin soup, saffron hammour, Cajun duck, roast beef, chicken kiev and macaroni bechamel, plus live stations for salads, shawarma, lamb ouzi and Thai curry.
Sunday brunch, 12.30pm-4pm; Dh75 for children and from Dh149 for adults; Royal Rose Hotel, Electra Street; 02 672 4000