Inside Sauce: Dubai's new retro diner serving up American favourites

With hot dogs and burgers, 20 signature sauces and a vintage vibe, this is quickly becoming a popular UAE hang-out spot

There is a new restaurant in town – and it aims to transport you back in time.

Sauce, a 1950s-era American diner, has opened doors in Al Habtoor City. Located along the Dubai Canal, the home-grown brand has already exploded on social media thanks to its quirky interiors that pay homage to the classic diners of days gone by.

Enter and you’ll find the place decked out in shades of bright red and Tiffany blue, with plenty of chrome and comfy booths. There are neon signs, black and white patterned floors, and a screen showing Elvis Presley belting out tunes. Even the waitresses are dressed in retro uniforms.

If that’s not enough to remind you of the good old days, the menu also provides a little blast from the past, with a number of burgers, hot dogs, fries, salads, pizzas and sandwiches. The spaghetti and meatballs, loaded hot dog and signature Wagyu beef burger are so far proving to be bestsellers.

But it’s the sauces that really steal the show. Sauce has 20 custom sauces, created from scratch, available in an array of flavours and colours – from the bright “blue cheese mayo” to the black mamba, a garlic and onion concoction. Other sauces to try include a pink beetroot mayo, tzatziki, gravy, truffle garlic labneh and herb mayo.

“All are typical sauces in a sense, but they have a twist,” says general manager Alice Daniel. “For example, we have a harissa ketchup or a Tex-Mex sauce with a bit of Indian flavour, a tahini mustard – typical sauces but with a twist that’s relevant to Dubai.

Different type of sauce at the Sauce Diner restaurant at the Noora Tower in Al Habtoor City in Dubai on June 9,2021. Pawan Singh / The National. Story by Janice Rodrigues
American diner Sauce has created 20 signature sauces from scratch. Pawan Singh / The National

“Dubai is very diverse and we have created a bit of that within our sauces.”

No old-school diner is complete without milkshakes, and Sauce has a large variety, from cotton candy and black vanilla to a more traditional coco peanut butter shake. Those with a sweet tooth can also dig into classic American desserts – think apple pie, peach cobbler and banana splits.

Daniel says the restaurant was started because it was a “missing link” in the region. “In Dubai, we pretty much have everything. But when we think about diners, the music, the interiors, it was the one thing that we didn’t have,” she says.

Staff at the Sauce Diner restaurant at the Noora Tower in Al Habtoor City in Dubai on June 9,2021. Pawan Singh / The National. Story by Janice Rodrigues
Waitresses wear old-school uniforms. Pawan Singh / The National

And it’s already proving to be a hit. While the restaurant does not take reservations, there have been people on waiting lists every evening, says Daniel.

"The reaction has been amazing. People love American food but they especially love the interiors. When people step in here they are transported back in time, they feel like they’re in a movie or something," she says.

“There’s a lot of American food in Dubai, a lot of burgers and hot dogs everywhere, but what’s special about Sauce is you can go inside and automatically get that feeling of a typical American diner.”

While it’s been attracting guests from all walks of life, Daniel says there’s one particular group it seems popular with. “I think millennials are loving it the most. It’s very Instagrammable, the music is nice [and] you can sing along to it. I think they’re the ones most excited about it.”

Open daily, noon to midnight; Al Noora Tower, Al Habtoor City; instagram.com/saucedubai

Updated: June 13, 2021 11:30 AM

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