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February 06, 2013

Friday Brunch in Dubai

The hybrid meal takes on myriad personalities in the Middle Eastern city.

When it comes to cities with great brunch traditions, it is hard to top New York, a place that seems to have perfected the ways in which one can eat eggs well into a leisurely afternoon. But a desert-based upstart may be looking to take over. Dubai has developed a reputation for creating some of the world’s grandest buildings, water fountains and shopping malls, and its sights are now set on becoming a premier destination for the hallowed weekend repast.

In this emirate, Friday brunch—workweeks here run Sunday to Thursday; Friday officially starts the weekend—has become a serious social and culinary institution. Locals and visitors alike indulge in their Champagne wishes and caviar dreams, and every eatery in the desert wonderland is committed to staging a foodie undertaking that will stand up to its closest rival.

Stroll into Madinat Jumeirah’s Al Qasr on a Friday and you will find 800 diners holding one thing: a map. Each and every visitor needs it in order to navigate the sprawling feast that occupies the entire first floor of the building. There are 37 stations in all, so tracking down, say, the omelets is anything but a simple mission. Depending on where you sit, you might not make it past the waffles or the Mexican offerings before hearing eggshells crack over a skillet.

Madinat Jumeirah’s weekly blowout may seem over the top, but Dubai’s brunch scene is, generally, not for the faint of heart. Restaurants such as Toro Toro and Hakkasan, for example, forgo never-ending, trip-around-the-world buffets for meals that highlight their specialties (Latin American fare and dim sum, respectively). Others opt for a more atmospheric experience like the elegant affair at Traiteur in the Park Hyatt Dubai, where menu standouts include flavorful escargot and panfried foie gras. Spectrum on One at the Fairmont Dubai gets celebratory, putting together a bubbly brunch featuring unlimited flutes of Moët & Chandon sparkling rosé.

The options are endless, but here are ten Dubai hot spots that are well worth a reservation.