Whether you’re fasting or not, those kiddos have still got to eat. Steer clear of food-court hell with our pick of the best standalone family-friendly restaurants where you can fill up tiny tums while relaxing in the knowledge that you won’t be the only person with a crying baby or rambunctious brood to keep under control.
A little indoor play area – complete with chalk board, toys, and books - makes Bystro a super handy SZR stop-off for a low-stress, tasty bite to eat with the family. Always heaving with the mum crowd, kids can investigate (nothing like unfamiliar toys to keep a toddler happy) while you sit back and enjoy some of the wholesomely delicious fare. Over Ramadan their usual daily early-evening kids’ meal promotion is now only on the weekend: you can get two kids’ meals free (main, drink and ice cream) with every adult main purchased from 4pm to 5pm on Friday and Saturdays.
Al Manara, Sheikh Zayed Road
T: +971 4 3368056
Open daily 9am – 4pm weekday, 8.30am – 5pm weekends
Not only is it business as usual when it comes to food at this family-friendly British gastropub throughout Ramadan, but Refom is also putting on the Ramadan Playdates, a timetable of free activities for babies and children in their air-conditioned outdoor tent every weekday throughout Ramadan.
From baby massage to toddler dance and drumming, music classes, messy play and even kid-friendly science experiments, sign up for one of these fabulous free sessions and experience a taste of the full spectrum of child-friendly activities available in the emirate. You can view the full timetable of activities here.
Reform Social & Grill
T: +971 4 4542638
Open daily 8am – midnight (liquor served all day)
There’s no change in the opening hours of this elegant JLT neighbourhood café, which stands out for its well-stocked kids’ corner, as well as its superb ice cream and sweet treats. It also offers a good range of flatbreads, tasty salads, and breakfast options, with the ability to order gluten-free bread. Grab and coffee and let little ones crawl around in the clean play area and….Relax.
Jumeirah Lake Towers Cluster U Lake Level
04 554 6206
8am – 9pm
This French bistro’s combination of tasty food and spacious children's play area makes it a winner for a chilled lunch (the restaurant opens at 12pm during Ramadan as normal) or afternoon playdate. Boasting the largest permanent indoor café play space for kids that we have seen in Dubai, little ones can be entertained for a lot longer than at your average food outlet’s kid corner, with a play tent, arts and crafts, toys and, crucially, a TV playing cartoon movies. There's also a gourmet kids' menu (the mini-soup comes in an adorable thimble-sized ceramic tureen, while the organic grilled chicken would be good enough to serve at a grown-up dinner party) and the play area is safely cordoned off in a way that keeps little ones contained and safe. The service is swift and switched on - children's drinks come in non-breakable, non-spill cups with a lid and straw as standard - and the authentic French food is of a very high standard.
Mövenpick Hotel, Cluster A, JLT
04 514 9339
You may also like: '10 fun (and cheap) ways to get your kids engaged with Emirati culture'
This cute neighbourhood eatery has uber-Instagrammable and delicious brekkies (think plump poached eggs, artfully arranged micro herbs and smashed avo with everything), combined with equally easy-on-the-eye industrial-chic décor. While there’s no play area, it has a family-friendly vibe and a reasonably priced kids’ breakfast and lunch menu (all around the Dh20-27 mark) and, most importantly, serves up a suitably potent caffeine fix in the form of organic RAW coffee. Kids also eat free when you order an adult main on weekday afternoons.
Emaar Business Park, The Greens
T: +971 4 5588141
Open daily 8am – 8pm
This edgy, industrial-chic café has become a cult favourite with Dubains, and boasts some of the city's absolute best breakfasts, while also offering gourmet coffee and a wide array of creative lunch and dinner options. Encompassing two floors, parents will love the kids' area on the second floor (be warned: there's no lift for strollers), which is safely tucked away and features colouring, dinosaurs, chalk board, toys and more. There's also a great kids' menu.
Al Joud Centre, Al Quoz
T: +971 56 4746812
Open daily 8am – 4pm and on weekends until 6pm
This bustling bistro and deli’s huge range of gourmet breakfast and lunch dishes makes it an ideal spot for a fresh and hearty meal, while the daily promotion of one kids’ main free with every two adult mains makes it a good-value option for families. There is a small children’s play area, but it’s outside and so probably too hot at this time of year, although the warehouse-style high ceilings and background hubbub mean that you won’t worry about your tots making a bit of noise. Jones is running several Arabic-inspired Ramadan specials on the menu, and is also offering ‘A very delicious Ramadan’, a build-your-own salad and antipasti boards promo.
Al Manara, Sheikh Zayed Road
T: +971 4 3466886
Open daily 7.30am – midnight
Tucked discreetly behind a temporary forest green wall, family favourite Rose Leaf café is still serving dine-in from 8am-9pm during Ramadan. Nestled towards the back of the Dubai Garden Centre, there’s a lovely airy atmosphere, and a good selection of fresh salads, quiches, sandwiches, and an array of java-based beverages. They have a little corner with puzzles and colouring to distract the little ones, and upstairs there are an array of charming independent boutiques, many of which sell gorgeous kiddie clothing, toys and accessories.
Dubai Garden Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road
04 224 4585
8am – 9pm
Lime Tree offers tasty, fresh and healthy salads, sandwiches and hot meals, as well as take-away pots that are great for lunch (we love the salmon and quinoa). You go up to the counter to order, so service is quick and you can easily grab a quick granola bar to stop little tums from getting hangry, plus there's also free filtered water available in a hipster-style glass drinks dispenser. The design aesthetic is industrial chic (read: durable for wayward toddlers), there's a well-contained kids play area with toys and books and mini play kitchen, and they do a mean range of gluten -free cakes and baked treats.
Sheikh Zayed Road – open daily 7.30am – 9pm
Al Quoz – open daily 7.30am – 6pm
Jumeirah 1 – open daily 7.30am – 6pm
T: +971 4 3256325