Six perfect places for a first date
If you're still deciding where to meet that special someone this weekend
Ah, the first date: an experience that can go either terribly, or terribly well. (Well, it can be mediocre too.) While we at Lovin Dubai can’t really help out much with developing the chemistry between you and your intended, we can offer some advice on where you might want to go to set the mood.
Of course, the venue you choose will depend on whom you’re taking out, your own personal style, and what your intentions are. But there’s a fine line to tread between making no effort at all, like taking your date out to a chain restaurant or a sports bar, for example; and going over the top way too early, like dinner at a fine dining establishment best reserved for those very, very special occasions.
With this fine line in mind, we’ve compiled a list that covers the casual post-work drinks spot, the charming hideaway, two sophisticated settings, the fun and bubbly lounge, and the “sweep ‘em off their feet” destination.
Boca: Cool, casual and conveniently close to work
If you happen to work at DIFC, it’s hard to go wrong with Boca, especially now that it’s cool enough to sit in their terrace outside. This Catalonian eatery is a more laidback option amongst the more scenic restaurants that dot the Gate Village terrace – that in itself eases some of the pressure of a first romantic encounter. Their resident DJ spins a welcome mix of contemporary and Motown tunes (at just the right volume too), and if you show up during their happy hour an order of drinks comes with a selection of Pintxos – little snacks that go down really nicely. If that meal deal opens up your date’s appetite, we really recommend you share a platter of Boca’s home cured pastrami and their black rice with seared scallops. Then you can round things off with the mascarpone crème brûlée.
Gate Village 6, DIFC; 04 323 1833
The Social Room: Contemporary chic counter with finger-lickin’ fare
If you happen to work (or live) on the other side of town, may we suggest drinks at The Social Room? We really like this little offshoot by the side of celeb chef Jason Atherton’s sleek Marina Social. The menu includes two of our favourite items from the main resto’s menu: the goat’s cheese churros and the foie gras hot dogs. While the Marina Social’s main dining room oozes sophistication, the Social Room’s vibe, particularly at the counter, is less intimidating. The dimly-lit counter space is accented by containers of fresh herbs and small vases of flowers that serve to soften the modernity of the bar. And behind the counter, two expert mixologists concoct some of the best drinks we’ve had in the city to date. If things are going super well (which they will do, if you order that foie gras hot dog), move on to the main dining room, or better yet, the terrace with its stunning views of the Marina.
InterContinental Marina, Bay Central, Dubai Marina; 04 446 6777
Iris: Tower over the city in a low-key location
For a weeknight first date, we recommend The Oberoi’s Iris, a venue that hits the first date sweet spot—but only on weeknights. Otherwise, it’s way too packed and happening. What draws the crowds? Well, apart from the nibbles, tipples and a DJ with a killer playlist, it has got to be the atmosphere. Iris occupies the 27th floor of the hotel, so it boasts a view of the Dubai Skyline few venues can beat. And whoever fitted the place out really capitalized on that: floor to ceiling windows almost all the way through, combined with plenty of greenery, gives the place an urban greenhouse vibe. When paired with warm wooden accents and clever lighting, you’ve scored a (school night) date spot that’s sure to please.
The Oberoi Hotel, Business Bay; 04 444 1444
Oscar’s Vine Society: For the cozy tête-à-tête
A quirkier spot we’d like to recommend is Oscar’s Vine Society – tucked away in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, this little hideaway’s extensive beverage selection (over 100 varieties, 40 of which come by the glass) topped the rankings for Dubai’s best grape bar in 2008—an oldie but a goodie. Oscar’s channels a Provençale vibe—think sprays of lavender, a cutesy mural depicting a small town street. Edith Piaff, Serge Gainsbourg and Françiose Hardy play in the background, and the food menu consists of hearty stews, moules frites and a delicious lamb shoulder. There aren’t that many patrons here so it tends to be quiet, but you might come across a table of raucous French expats catching up over drinks and charcuterie. But beware—to get there on foot, you will have to cross one of the more unsavoury stretches of SZR. If you think that will put your date off, save a first date at this cozy little place for someone that’s a little less uptight.
Crowne Plaza Hotel; Sheikh Zayed Road, Trade Centre Area; 04 3311111
Sho Cho: The old-school Dubai beachside hit
In a fickle city where places can go in-and-out of style in a matter of months, Sho Cho has been on the scene since 2000. So what is it about this chilled out sushi lounge that lends to its staying power? For one, later in the evening Sho Chos is host to an unpretentious, super-fun party scene, with resident DJs that really know how to work the crowd. And the fish, which comprises most of the menu, is always fresh. But date-wise, what really counts here is the seaside setting. Sho Cho terrace hovers over a beautiful stretch of beach, so if you’re lucky enough to score outdoor seating while the weather is good, you can both see and hear the waves lap against the shore. If there are any lulls in the conversation, at least you can take in the view.
Dubai Marine Beach Resort and Spa, Jumeirah 1; 04 346 1111
Pierchic: Possibly Dubai’s most romantic venue
No exaggeration, Pierchic is on every single “most romantic date spot in Dubai” list. So we’d save this one for a high-stakes first date scenario because once you take a date here, you’ve set the bar very high. Perhaps too high. But if you’re seriously wooing, going for the jugular, this is the place. Like something out of a fairytale, this fine dining seafood restaurant sits on the edge of a pier right in the middle of the sea. And it’s not just a pretty face – the food here is exceptional too. But it’s so romantic, maybe a lunch date is best.
Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah; 04 366 6705
Now read: The Best Alternative Date Spots In Dubai