Are you lucky enough to own or rent an apartment in the Marina? A frequent guest to its many resorts, clubs and fitness centres? Or only a tourist gazing at the glamorous area from one of its sky-high hotels for a few special days? Whatever the case, you simply must try dining in the best of the best restaurants in Dubai Marina at least once.
Why? Because these three options for the best restaurants in Marina are simply unforgettable - they're the Skydive Dubai or At the Top Burj Khalifa of the culinary world. Here's why.
Marina Social, InterContinental
(InterContinental Dubai, King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud St. Dubai Marina; Reservations: + 971 (0) 4446 6664; Email email@example.com)
We found the tasteful décor and the romantic atmosphere of Marina Social enchanting from the very entrance. The hallway we walked into alone is full of candles and Giacometti-style sculptures, while the lounge bar lent itself perfectly to our comfortable, chatty ease-in to the venue.
The main dining room was the picture of sophistication with floor-to-ceiling windows and gorgeous views of Marina’s awe-inspiring towers and luxury yachts gliding down the moonlit waters. The main dining room was also full of modern paintings, beautiful flower arrangements, stacks and stacks of bottles of grape and soft, intimate lighting. But, most enticingly, we got a whiff of something special coming from the direction of the kitchen every few minutes. And that's where the true magic of Marina Social begins.
For starters, we had garlic flatbread, duck & foie gras terrine and tomato burrata (tomato stuffed with Burrata cheese) – all of which promised a great feast to come, with burrata being particularly light and heavenly.
The attentive waiters quickly topped that with delicious chicken angelotti, potato gnocchi and pea risotto - three dishes that took us back to dining in Rome's most hedonist and bohemian areas.
This was followed by the star of the night, the mains. We had a lamb rump, veal short ribs and chargrilled prawns – each dish an absolute sensation. Although we do have to single out the veal as it simply melted in our mouths with an exquisite charcoal overtone.
To round things off, we had a deconstructed white chocolate cheesecake, madeleines with raspberry puree and vanilla cream, followed by a banoffee bar (bananas, cream and toffee cake). All of these were tender and fresh and, like the whole experience, unforgettable.
To sum up, originality and great service are what makes Marina Social one of the very best restaurants in Dubai Marina, which anyone who's ever visited will confirm. The chef and his team aren't being arty or show-offish. Instead, Marina Social is all about gorgeous, hearty food that’s also marvellously presented and served.
Toro Toro, Grosvenor House
(Address: Al Emreef Street, Grosvenor House Dubai Marina; Reservations: +97143176000 Resbook.Grosvenorhouse@Luxurycollection.Com)
We heard a lot about the award-winning Latin American restaurant Toro Toro and couldn't wait to see if it's worthy of the furore. As soon as we walked in, we came across a fierce bronze sculpture of a bull, as if to say 'we're in charge here'. We went upstairs to check out the bar and found it to be as inviting as the main dining area with soft, intimate lighting and an elegant ambience. We opted for the downstairs quieter area where we could indulge in a nice tete-a-tete. Our welcoming hostess seated us in the non-smoking area with super sleek interior with subdued browns and burgundy colours.
We started with Ceviche de Huanchinango (sea bass), which is Peruvian style ceviche with leche de tigre that really left our senses tingling. The portions in Toro Toro are predominantly tapas-sized with the exception of Churrasco and the steak menu, so our recommendation is to order more than you think you'd need. Staying on the Latin American course, we then treated ourselves to the ever popular Pulpo al Olivo (octopus marinated in olive sauce), which was muy rico, as they'd say en Espanol.
Next came the Crispy Prawns (panko prawns with melcocha sauce, arugula and mango red chilli salad), which were just the right amount of crispy. We followed this with Lomo Saltado Empanada, which is a famous pastry in Argentina. It's a sautéed beef tenderloin avocado sauce and minced beef filled pastry that was, simply, to die for. The beef fillet Anticucho (beef tenderloin skewers with mirasol chilli, roasted corn and palm heart salad) were good as well. While indulging in a taste sensation, we enjoyed the chill music with a really good combination of Western and Arabic motifs.
For dessert, we were served a slice of their signature Tres Leches cake (three different kinds of milk) making for an incredibly decadent and moist dessert that is well-known and well-loved across Latin America. However, we didn't have a lot of room left for it so we tried to have only a few bites and called defeat.
We had coffee, thanked our hosts for an amazing dinner and service, and left with the intention of visiting again and muy rápido.
BudDha-Bar, Grosvenor House
(Address: Grosvenor House Dubai, Ground Level, Tower 1, Al Emreef Street; Reservations: +97143176000 Resbook.Grosvenorhouse@Luxurycollection.Com)
Buddha-Bar is probably the most famous of all three of our three top picks of eateries in Dubai Marina – a spacious, vibrant and cosmopolitan venue with sensual live chill-out music that grows more housey as the night progresses. Still, we arrived just after opening time (7 PM) wanting to have a few laughs over a lychee and espresso martini whilst lounging and soaking in the glamorous, New York ambience. Aside from the iconic installation of the Buddha that overlooks the venue like a serene, knowing guardian, Buddha-Bar boasts seemingly never-ending windows that overlook Marina’s glamorous cityscape and glistening waters. Of course, all that wouldn’t be complete without the exquisite table settings everywhere, indicative of the great service that was to come.
And that's exactly Buddha-Bar’s main selling point - service with an almost scientific precision. Our waitress, equipped with a headset, was everything you’d want your host to be during a birthday event, a proposal, or a VIP business dinner – confident and knowing, yet warm and effortlessly charming. Her service alone was worth our money. However, the Buddha-Bar experience was far from over – we had a full evening of banter over exquisite white grape and first-class cocktails, a plethora of grade-A sushi and other Japanese specials, and a white chocolate cheesecake with blueberry compote on the side as the last delicacy of the night.
And that's why Buddha-Bar is one of the most famous and, simply put, best restaurants in Dubai Marina. We give it five Bayut chef hats.
With that, we conclude our roundup of the best eateries in Dubai Marina. Stay tuned to MyBayut to find out what restaurants are great for those who live in Downtown Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, and other trendy areas. And if you're looking to rent an apartment in Dubai's most glamorous area, visit Bayut.
For tips on the best eateries in Dubai on a budget, we've got you covered with that too. Here are some of the more affordable happening restaurants in Dubai.
* The main image is of Buddha-Bar, Marina Social and Toro Toro, in that order.