Dubai cafes to spend your whole entire day at

Most people I hang with know that I’m pretty hooked on cafes. I started doing all my work in cafes back in university when I realized I am most productive in public settings buzzing with activity. Somehow the din, along with a set of earphones and badass music, helps me concentrate on my thoughts. Once I started drinking coffee I also began pulling all nighters at 24-hr cafes in Montreal, and at some point I was obsessive enough that I wrote an article about Toronto’s best latte art cafes. I think my 2+ years doing freelance work in social media, PR and editing also helped cement my passion for cafes. In Toronto I would spend the whole day typing away at Queen West cafes like Jimmy’s Coffee, Quaff, La Merceria and, of course, my beloved Tequila Bookworm, which I still think owes me a cut of revenue for the droves of people I’ve taken there. Kidding, if you’re reading this:p So now that it’s been two years that I’ve lived in Dubai, it’s about time I write about my favorite cafes in the city. I must have one or two, right?

Since I work in an office now it’s harder for me to visit all the cafes around Dubai but I do try to do this on my weekends. There are a few cafes in my neighborhood which I favour due to proximity. Also, in some cases I visit for the wifi and others for the coffee and eats. Although coffee is intrinsic to the history of the Middle East I am much more attuned to cafe culture than the coffee roasting industry. In fact I haven’t even tried the coffee at one of these ‘cafes.’ Keep this in mind as you read ahead:) here are some cafes I frequent-

Belgian Beer Cafe in the TECOM Grand Millennium (includes wifi)
This has to be my favorite spot for writing and getting office work out of the way. When I work here it’s usually if I need a creative spark and complete silence in my mind. In the evening this place is packed with people so don’t expect solitude if you need that for work. It’s just very cozy and dimly lit. I can go in sweats and cross my legs in a corner booth and no one cares. My friend and I like to have productive “drink and write” sessions at the Belgian Beer Cafe, along with a glass of house wine. I don’t typically order beer here except for my typical Monaco and the only dish I eat is the Carbonnade, a super filling beef stew accompanied by yummy fries. After a heavy work session I suggest you have a drink on the lovely upstairs terrace which can almost..almost transport you to an alleyway bar in your favorite urban setting.

La Gaufrette in TECOM (includes wifi)
Located next door to the Emirates airlines accommodations and the MMA Fitness Centre in the Carrefour Express building, this cafe has become the perfect spot for checking out hot cabin crew ladies and built guys in workout gear. I introduced someone I was into to this cafe and he said he couldn’t wait to go back and check out the girls. Don’t I have good taste in men? Oh, and La Gaufrette is also awesome for getting work done. It’s never completely packed and you can find your own corner to zero in on a book or iPad. I must say the food is nothing special and to me it tastes like something basic you may cook at home…and that’s if your cooking is subpar. The coffee is good, though, and the servers are very nice. You can also have sheesha on the terrace outside, which unfortunately sits along the edge of a parking lot. But hey, can’t have everything!

The Pavilion in Old Town, Downtown Dubai (includes wifi)
My first visit to The Pavilion was one ill-fated afternoon after a breakup. It proved to be a savior of a sort for me, and I spent the next few weeks there working on a project in the studio area. The Pavilion is much like a community centre, but of course the Dubai version of a community centre. Privately owned by the people behind Brownbook magazine, its minimalist decor and collaborative workspaces leave the imagination free to wander, which is exactly the fuel you might need for that creative project you’ve been nursing. Mind you, this place isn’t the bummy sort — I don’t rock my sweatpants here and I always wear at least eyeliner. The Pavilion is a bit further out for me so I don’t visit all the time. Coffee is decent, food is fine. When it’s busy service can get irritably slow.

MAKE business Hub in the Dubai Marina, JBR area (includes wifi)
This place has developed quite a name in Dubai. They’re active on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and they’re constantly holding cool events focused on blogging, film, fashion and startups. Besides their fantastic marketing campaigns and community work MAKE business Hub does in fact meet the mark. I have nothing to complain about when it comes to this place, save for the difficulty finding the location and parking on my first visit. Out of all the places I’ve written about so far, Make has the best food. The flatbreads are delicious, with good quality meat and fish and fresh vegetables. The coffee is also good. As a workspace this one is built especially for the freelancer and collaborator, with mostly communal tables and electric sockets galore. Although I wish there were less hard back chairs and more comfy couches a la my darling Tequila Bookworm, I do realize not everyone finds comfort conducive to productivity. I’m currently sitting at MAKE writing this, by the way, and after they realized they forgot my order they apologized with a piece of sticky toffee cake…not necessary but defo a bonus!

The Archive, Sheikh Zayed Rd/Safa Park, Jumeirah (includes wifi)
I went here for the first time last weekend. The Archive opened a few months back, again by the guys behind Brownbook, and I think they’re still working out the kinks. It took ages for a server to help me and that’s after I was told by the counter girl to sit down at a table and wait for someone to come to me. An hour later I got my coffee order because the first person who took it hadn’t put it through. Anyway, apparently it’s only busy on the weekends and regulars avoid it at that time. I can’t blame people for visiting, though. It’s set in the picturesque Safa Park with a terrace bordered by greenery. Surrounded by glass walls and filled with a plethora of books from Arab literati, The Archive looks out on the park at kids playing and happy couples walking hand in hand. Sounds idyllic, yes? I forgive The Archive their errors in service, though. The healthy options on their menu, such as the muesli, were filled with nutritious grains and fruits that made my day. The portion was a little too big though and I felt guilty for leaving so much behind for flies to feast on.

Honorable mention goes to these places I’ve enjoyed-
Pascal Tepper, Media City – great food and a good spot for one-on-one meetings
Dean & Deluca, Dubai Mall – good coffee and salads, clean decor
Paul’s – love the coffee and those little cakes they give with it! Yum!
Circles, Media City – chilled out, good salads and they deliver
Limetree – reliable coffee and fresh food

Places I still have to visit
Tea Junction
Basra Art Cafe

Here’s what TimeOut had to say about cafes

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