Iftars to remember: best places to eat in the UAE this Ramadan

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When the fast ends, the feast begins. Stacie Overton Johnson presents her pick of the most mouthwatering iftars, from the quirky to the exclusive.

The quirky

Sho Cho

Souq Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi

With views of the Grand Mosque, Sho Cho in Abu Dhabi is serving up an iftar bento-box special all month. The restaurant will offer three options: chicken katsu, grilled chicken and vegetarian. The boxes are stuffed with appetisers, salad, sushi, miso soup, a main dish with curry and date-mocha ice cream. Sho Cho ­Dubai will be closed during Ramadan.

From sunset to 8.30pm, Dh89 to Dh115. À la carte menu to follow. Call 02 558 1117, www.sho-cho.com

The quirky

Amasi Lounge

The Emirates Golf Club, Dubai

This Ramadan lounge, set up on lush green lawns, will stage an iftar buffet as well as an à la carte suhoor. The Amasi Lounge will host live-cooking stations, including Egyptian fateer, termes (lupini beans) and foul from a street cart. Main dishes on offer include roast-lamb ouzi and whole baked salmon harra. There will also be Arabic sweets, desserts and a juice bar. The lounge will also include a Ramadan bazaar featuring local artists.

Sunset to 9pm. Dh165. 04 417 9999

The quirky


The Hub, The Mall at World Trade Center, Abu Dhabi

This newly opened pan-Latin restaurant will serve a set menu designed by Mexican head chef Humberto Canales. Guests will get a choice of Latin American nibbles, appetisers and mains. Must-tries on the flavour-packed menu include sea bass ceviche, octopus with garlic and coriander and cornfed chicken with Caribbean dressing. The meal ends with a sharing dessert platter.

Iftar orders taken from 7.30pm to 1am; open until 3am. Dh150. 02 666 8066, www.butrinity.com

The quirky

Firebird Diner by Michael Mina

Four Seasons, DIFC, Dubai

This new 1950s-style diner is putting an American spin on iftar with a set menu designed for sharing. Starters include Buffalo chicken wings and popcorn shrimp, roasted tomato soup with cheese toast. Sharing platters include braised barbecue short ribs, oak-grilled salmon, and golden chicken with truffle mac and cheese. For dessert, it’s a rich chocolate cake and strawberry sundae.

From sunset to 11pm; until 2am on Thursday and Friday; Dh200. 04 506 0000

The quirky

Ramadan Nights by Dish Catering

Warehouse Four, Al Quoz, Dubai

Dish Catering’s Ramadan Nights is a chic pop-up in Al Quoz (off Sheikh Zayed Road, near Tom & Serg cafe). The warehouse seats 100 people and boasts a 6-metre-high ceiling with a private VIP balcony that accommodates 70 people. Sharing-style platters include a signature eight-hour slow-roasted spiced lamb shoulder with saffron labneh, orange blossom-marinated chicken and kunafeh-wrapped prawns. Dessert is a rose and raspberry cremeux with eight layers of ­texture, served in a balloon glass.

From sunset to 9.30pm; Dh195. 056 128 3247, www.dish.ae/ramadan-nights

The new


Boxpark, Dubai

This biker-themed restaurant opened in October and is known for its flame-grilled meats, cooked low and slow, and the choice of more than 40 sauces they offer to accompany that meat. For BikesnBites’ first Ramadan, the chefs are rolling out a three-course set menu that includes dishes such as tuna and avocado salad with lime dressing, roast courgette salad with feta cheese, slow-cooked lamb leg, smoked prime ribs; Nutella banana split and sticky toffee pudding.

Sunset to 11pm; Dh120. 04 343 2855, www.bikesnbites.ae

The new


Atlantis the Palm, Dubai

This Lebanese restaurant — the name means “the good old days” in Arabic — opened in March. The chefs pay homage to authentic flavours of Lebanon and the iftar menu will be no different. Try the set menu, which features authentic Lebanese dishes including lamb makanek (spicy Lebanese sausages), shrimp kunafeh, shish taouk and kibbeh mabrumeh. There is also traditional Arabian entertainment, live music and a shisha terrace.

Sunset to 8.30pm. Dh210, à la carte suhoor to follow. 04 426 2626, www.atlantisthepalm.com/restaurants/ayamna

The new


The Hub, The Mall at World Trade Center, Abu Dhabi

This new restaurant already has people buzzing. The chic interior — complete with floor to ceiling windows and massive hanging copper bells — makes this venue a standout in the capital and the food is just as innovative. Tamba combines non-traditional cooking methods (think robata grill and smoking) with traditional Indian ingredients. The iftar menu includes watermelon with arugula, tomato chutney and cheese snow, 48-hour slow-cooked lamb shank with rogan sauce, salmon tikki with mango and date jam and caramelised banana toffee cake with pecan-nut praline.

Sunset to 8.30pm; Dh180. 02 672 8888, www.tambarestaurant.com

The new

Majlis Al Fareej

Darwish Tower, Danat, Abu Dhabi

This new Emirati fusion restaurant, which opened last month, is serving up an extensive set menu that offers a choice of soups, salads, harees and three mains: machboos (chicken or meat cooked with saffron and Emirati spices), salonat (chicken, meat or fish with vegetables, served with white rice) or f’reed (chicken or meat with vegetables). Finish the meal on a sweet note with lgeimat, sagaw or traditional aseeda (sweet ­porridge infused with cardamom and saffron).

Sunset to 9pm, Dh120. 02 665 3653

The new

Jazz@Pizza Express

The Hub, The Mall at World Trade Center, Abu Dhabi

Jazz@PizzaExpresss opened in the capital in August and has quickly become a favourite spot for foodies looking for affordable, tasty food in a lively atmosphere. For Ramadan, the restaurant’s iftar deal is a good one — and could have easily fit in our budget-friendly section, too. The set menu gives diners a choice of starters, a main course (from a list of 14 options), plus mango panna cotta, chocolate fudge cake or banoffee pie for dessert.

Sunset to midnight; Dh79. 02 444 7752

The iconic

Le Royal Méridien, Abu Dhabi

This hotel’s iftar and suhoor are two separate must-try events. Arguably the most famous and opulent in the capital, the Layali El Hilmiya pavilion is built over the hotel’s pool in the central courtyard. The massive structure covers an area that can seat 850 people, and two temporary kitchens have been built nearby, serving hot and cold mezze, fateer (made by four Egyptians flown in for the month), traditional saj, and a range of mains — many of which will be prepared in front of guests. There will also be an Arabic sweets station.

Sunset to 8.30pm, Dh150; suhoor to follow until 3am. 02 674 2020, www.leroyalmeridienabudhabi.com

The iconic

Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal

Giornotte’s nightly iftar serves up classic Arabic cuisine as well as a range of international dishes. Don’t miss the camel and lamb ouzi stations. There are also live-cooking stations surrounded by ­Arabic lanterns, traditional date displays and an extensive dessert station.

Sunset to 9pm, Dh225. 02 818 8888

The iconic

Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

Enjoy iftar in a beautiful pavilion on the hotel’s palace terrace while enjoying views over the beach. The custom-built tent hosts both iftar and suhoor with a spacious dining area, a separate lounge area and private majlis seating options. The buffet is packed with favourites, including grilled meats and Emirati speciality dishes. There will also be live- cooking stations.

Sunset to 9.30pm, Dh265; suhoor to follow. 02 690 7999

The iconic

Alserkal Avenue

Warehouse 90, Al Quoz, Dubai

Alserkal Avenue is hosting a pop-up ­concept called #ThisIsNotABuffet in a custom-designed warehouse at The Yard in Al Quoz. Elements Catering will serve up two- or five-course iftars with inspired main options such as quail ­terrine with duck prosciutto, roasted fig, asparagus salad and dukkah spice and Parmesan-crusted lamb loin with sweet potato cumin custard, elder flower ­yogurt, artichoke and Moroccan-spiced jus. The tapas-bar menu offers three items for Dh35. There will also be trivia sessions, board games and music nights throughout the month.

Sunset to 11pm; Dh90 for two courses, Dh210 for five courses (five per cent goes to charity). 056 499 3061, www.alserkalavenue.ae

The iconic

JW Marriott Marquis


Don’t miss your chance to enjoy iftar in the world’s tallest hotel. The Al Fanous Lounge in the Dubai Ballroom at the JW Marriott Marquis will be transformed into an extravagant white, gold and blue setting where chefs will serve up more than 200 dishes with a focus on traditional Arabian cuisine. Speciality stations include a salmon stand with salmon smoked and cured in different ­flavours, a live sushi station, a dim sum station and a dessert buffet with an interactive Turkish ice cream area. Arabian main dishes on offer include whole-lamb ouzi; lamb harees; chicken molokhia and shrimp machboos. Large-screen TVs and live music will help set the mood.

Sunset to 8.30pm, Dh195. 04 414 3000, www.jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com/dining/ramadan

The iconic

Armani Hotel

Downtown Dubai

The elegant Saraya Tent in the Armani/Pavilion boasts The Dubai Fountain in the background. Iftar and suhoor menus will change daily — expect traditional Arabic fare as well as signature dishes from the hotel’s five restaurants. Standard and VIP majlis seating is available.

Sunset to 9pm; Dh250. 04 888 3666

The pocket-friendly


JBR The Walk, Dubai

This traditional Turkish iftar starts with ezo gelin (red lentil and bulghur soup) and a selection of hot and cold appetisers that includes hummus, vine leaves, zeytinyagli fasulye (sautéed green beans with onion and fresh tomatoes), tavuklu boregi (homemade dough with sautéed chicken and vegetables), and fındık Üçlemesi (assorted pidettes). There is also a selection of fresh salads, grill options and desserts.

Sunset to midnight, Dh109. Iftar set menu delivery is also available for Dh69. 04 439 3788

The pocket-friendly


Abu Dhabi, Dubai

Break your fast with Carluccio’s two- or three-course set menus. First-course options include mixed antipasto, fried calamari, mushroom crostone and tomato soup. The main courses are aubergine Parmigiana, braised lamb shank with rosemary mash and penne picante. For dessert, there is lemon tart, chocolate fondant or pastiera, a traditional Neapolitan cake with buckwheat and ricotta cheese, served with ice cream.

Sunset to midnight. Dh99 for two courses; Dh119 for three courses. www.carluccios.com/restaurants/united-arab-emirates

The pocket-friendly

More Cafe

Mall of the Emirates, Dubai

This cosy cafe offers a simple but delicious set menu that includes laban, dates and Moroccan-spiced chickpea soup along with a choice of Arabian fish stew, lamb kofta kebab or shish taouk with garlic sauce. Finish with saffron and ­pistachio ice cream.

Sunset to 9pm, Dh95. 04 347 4696

The pocket-friendly


Abu Dhabi and Al Ain

This is an authentic Lebanese feast with moutabal, tabbouleh, falafel and hummus shawarma. Zaytinya’s iftar starts with a buffet selection of hot and cold mezze, followed by grilled meat and fish. For dessert, there is umm ali and kunafeh.

Sunset to 8.30pm; from Dh95. Al Seef Village Mall in Abu Dhabi (02 447 4489) and Bawadi Mall in Al Ain (03 784 8422); @zaytinyaME