While romance isn’t what necessarily comes to mind when you think of Dubai, make no mistake — the city pulls out all the stops when you’re looking to impress someone. If you’re planning a holiday to celebrate a special occasion or spending a birthday or anniversary in Dubai, you should know that the city serves up many once-in-a-lifetime dining experiences. Here are Dubai’s most romantic restaurants, guaranteed to sweep your sweetie off her feet.
Italian Fusion Fare at All’onda
Located in the grand Emerald Palace Kempinski, the glamorous Venetian-Japanese restaurant All’onda has all the ingredients of a perfect date night setting: a tasteful indoor dining space where gondola oars and boat-shaped wicker lighting installations (a nod to Venice) are displayed; a lavish central cocktail bar with mirrored sheets; metal walls; gold lighting (ideal for conversation over cocktails); and a dining terrace with spectacular views of Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina and the Arabian Gulf.
After you’ve enjoyed a classic Italian cocktail or two at the bar, peruse a selection of fresh seafood from the crudo bar. Savor Italian fare with a Japanese twist, such as duck ragu rigatoni with mushroom, soy and ginger, and risotto All’onda with king prawns, Madras curry and shiso. End on a sweet note with green tea mascarpone or panna cotta with yuzu and black olives.
Underwater Dining at Ossiano
While Dubai has plenty of great seafood restaurants, a dinner date at the underwater Ossiano at the Atlantis The Palm is an incomparable experience. You dine with floor-to-ceiling views of the resort’s Ambassador Lagoon, one of the largest aquariums in the world and home to 65,000 marine animals.
Sharks, stingrays and clownfish glide past while you sample a set menu with nine, 11 or 13 courses featuring exquisite creations by chef Grégoire Berger. On the menu are Mediterranean-inspired dishes such as the caramelized black cod linguine with almond foam and zucchini.
If you want to make your date feel extra special, order the smooth Beluga caviar and watch as she’s surprised by a personalized message delivered in the water by a diver. Unsurprisingly, the restaurant is a popular choice for marriage proposals.
Romance by the Canals at Pai Thai
Take a romantic boat ride on the canals of Madinat Jumeirah to arrive at Pai Thai, a fine Thai restaurant with alfresco dining along the water at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Jumeirah Al Qasr. Mellow lighting, soft music and warm interior colors create an intimate dining space, but we recommend eating by the canal under a starlit sky, on the charming terrace (when the weather is agreeable).
The menu features authentic Thai cuisine bursting with flavors, with options such as grilled prawns with sour mango salad, crab meat soup, wok-fried noodles with seafood, and creamy red lobster curry standing out. Finish with Thai-inspired desserts such as the mango panna cotta and pandan crème brûlée.
For most dishes, the portions are generous enough to share. And don’t hesitate to ask for suggestions from the friendly staff, either.
A Portuguese Meal with a View at Tasca
Head to the beachfront Five-Star Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai for a poolside rendezvous with unbeatable views of the Arabian Gulf. Here, the Portuguese restaurant Tasca, from renowned chef José Avillez, serves up traditional flavors with contemporary flair in what is an incredibly romantic alfresco scene overlooking the hotel’s infinity pool. When you dine indoors, you’re treated to fantastic views of Dubai’s skyscraper-studded skyline through expansive windows.
The seaside location is fitting for a menu that is mostly composed of seafood dishes inspired by a traditional Portuguese eatery (or tasca) that’s presented with a creative take, such as the Algarve prawns ceviche, roasted octopus and a seafood platter with blue lobster, scarlet shrimp, prawns and clams. Portuguese wines are expertly paired with your meal.
Italian Romance at Il Ristorante
Located on Jumeirah Bay Island, the glistening marble exterior of the Five-Star Bulgari Resort and Residences Dubai is a picture of understated grandeur that feels like just the backdrop for a dreamy date.
Begin the evening with aperitivo (pre-dinner drinks and bites) and sunset panoramas at the elegant oval-shaped Il Bar. Then head to your table at the fine-dining restaurant Il Ristorante-Niko Romito for an elaborate Italian meal. Dine indoors with unobstructed looks at the Arabian Gulf and the Bulgari Yacht Marina through floor-to-ceiling windows or outside under a starry sky.
The menu has fresh housemade pasta (langoustine tortellini) and other dishes, such as steamed lobster with chickpeas cream and braised lamb with turnip tops. Cap it off with the decadent tiramisu or ricotta cheese ice cream with figs compote.