When we moved to Dubai many years ago, JLT was mostly known for the strange orbital road and for being on the wrong side of Sheikh Zayed Road. Though a lot of things have happened since then, and today, JLT is one of the hottest neighborhoods for foodies looking for cheap and tasty meals in Dubai.
Around lunch, office workers from the nearby skyscrapers keep the restaurants busy, but at dinner time, it is the JLT residents that flock to the tables. You do not see a lot of tourists in JLT, so the price level is significantly lower than in Dubai Marina and JBR. Furthermore, the standard is generally a lot higher as the restaurants seek to attract a loyal base of local customers as opposed to the transient tourist crowd. Here are some of the places that I really, really like and that I have dined at many times. Except from Mythos and NOLA, none of the restaurants serve alcohol.
My favorite Thai restaurant in Dubai. Café Isaan specializes in the food from Isaan (the Northeastern province in Thailand). This is where some of the spiciest Thai food comes from, so make sure that you order a milder version. The Thai Milk Iced Tea is also a must-order. It is very sweet so I usually have it for dessert.
Café Isan, Waterfront, Cluster M JLT, Dubai
This is one of the best and most authentic Vietnamese restaurants in Dubai, and I gladly take the hike across Sheikh Zayed Road for the pho. The tiny restaurant is permanently crowded, both for lunch and for dinner, but people eat quickly so the wait is usually not too long. I always end up ordering the pho with beef brisket and some fresh spring rolls on the side, but their salads are also excellent.
Vietnamese Foodies, PL-04 Lake Terrace Tower, Cluster D, JLT, Dubai
This Indian restaurant chain makes the most delicious omelets and egg curries. My favorite is the curry with onions, eggs and cheese with a stack of butter naan on the side. After the meal, have a cup of karak and maybe some kulfi (Indian ice cream) for dessert? It’s so cheap, that you can have both without breaking your wallet.
Raju Omlet, BS-06 1 Lake Plaza, Cluster T, JLT Dubai (for some reason this location isn’t mentioned on their website)
Really cozy cafe with lots of nice stuff on the menu. They also serve breakfast until 3pm which is great for people like me, who can eat French Toast and Eggs Benedict around the clock. There are also a range of healthy salads and smoothies to choose among, and, most importantly some might say, their coffee is legit.
Friends Avenue, Fortune Executive Tower (ground floor), Cluster T, JLT, Dubai
I first tried the branch of this cute Indonesian restaurant in Karama. I really liked the place, so I was happy when they opened a branch in JLT. They just launched a hot pot offer that let you choose a soup base and pay by weight for the ingredients, but I think that their a la carte menu is much better. I’ve also become a big fan of the Es Teler, which is a milk dessert with avocado and mango.
Betawi, Lake Terrace Tower (lake level), Cluster D, JLT, Dubai
Hands down, my favorite Greek restaurant in Dubai. I always go for the grilled octopus and then of course the taramosalata and the tzatziki with warm pita bread on the side. The warm pita comes at an extra charge, but it is so worth it, so this is not where you want to save. The gyros menus are great value for money, but if you are very hungry, you might want to order a meze or two on top of that. Mythos is licensed (=serves alcohol) and on weekends, it can be difficult to get a table, especially if you are looking for one of the tables on the patio. A reservation, weeks in advance is strongly recommended.
Mythos, B1 Armada BlueBay Hotel, Cluster P, JLT, Dubai
Just like Mythos, NOLA also offers outdoor seating, and the opportunity to have your cocktails under open sky is a real order-winner in Dubai. The food is good, but it is the nice bar that is the main attraction. It can get loud, especially on weekends, so NOLA is a great place to start a night out, but not so great if you are looking to have a quiet dinner.
NOLA, Armada BlueBay Hotel, Cluster P, JLT, Dubai