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Eating Dubai: six of the best restaurants

Eating Dubai: six of the best restaurants



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This is part three of a three-part journey into the food of Dubai, a desert city in the UAE. Read the second installment on the tradition of Dubai brunch here.

“What happens in Dubai stays in Dubai”.

That was the mantra that my fellow travellers and I decided to stick to as we said our goodbyes at Dubai airport. But we weren’t up to anything sordid, we were simply making a pact to never discuss how much we had eaten during the last five days.

The problem is, it’s my job to do just that, and given the quality of some of the food it would be an injustice not to talk about it – even if it does give me flashbacks of being so full I thought I’d never breathe normally again.

We’d just completed a food tour of Dubai, taking in everything from the aptly named High Tea in the tallest building in the world, to late-night munching at a traditional Turkish restaurant in the old town. Whatever you think about Dubai as a place, or even as a concept, you can’t deny that the food is exceptional.

Being in a desert, all its ingredients have to be flown in from around the world to feed its 2 million inhabitants. That’s not good news for the environment, but they are working on becoming self-sufficient – I can only assume with air-conditioned greenhouses or something. While they attempt to reinvent the weather, their food culture is brought to life by the cuisines and techniques that fly in with the ingredients from all over the world. In five days we ate Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Persian, Turkish, Italian, French, British, Spanish, Mexican and Emirati – all cooked by chefs from those places. Dubai is as multicultural as the desert surrounding it is dry.

So whether you’re in a five-star hotel, seeing an expat friend, or just pretty much passing through the airport, here are my six top tips for dining in Dubai.

Toro Toro

What you have to realise about Dubai is that if you want good food and a drink, you’re probably going to have to eat in a hotel. But don’t worry, the hotel restaurants in Dubai are nothing like the canteen-like horror shows of many inns around the world. They take their food seriously, as Toro Toro at Grosvenor House shows. It may pompously declare itself to be “Pan-Latin”, but they served us some of the best guacamole I’ve ever tasted, along with excellent beef empanadas. The real star, though, was the Churrasco skewer – a hot-plate platter of wagyu rib-eye, lamb chops and zesty achiote-marinated chicken – along with a Brazilian beef cut called picanha, a prized cut of steak with a huge ridge of fat on top that melts to give the meat a gorgeous, deep, fatty flavour and a soft, almost buttery texture.

Ravi restaurant

If you’ve been to the famous Tayyabs in London’s Whitechapel, then you’ll know exactly what Ravi is like – rammed to the rafters with after-hours revelers, all there to dig in to the authentic and slightly rough-around-the-edges Punjabi cuisine. Ravis is loved by everyone because the flavours are big but the prices are small; a welcome revelation in Dubai. Lovingly described by locals as “organized chaos”, it’s an experience unlike anything else in the new part of the city.

Imperium

Another hotel-restaurant, this one is the cream of the crop at the incredible Turkish-inspired Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, where I was staying on my trip. Serving classic French food in a pillared, chandeliered dining hall, it’s pretty special stuff – which made me feel a little underdressed in my linen and flipflops (it was hot, alright!?). Their a la carte offers some amazing dishes, but for a real taste of what the chefs can do, try their brunch menu – and read my experience of it here.

Pierchic

If you’re looking for some romance in the metropolis that is Dubai, then look no further than Pierchic. Found about 150 metres off the coast at the end of a long pier, it’s lit from below like a street racer but tastefully decorated with a touch of a Caribbean beach house about it. Rightly for its location, it serves beautiful seafood with Michelin-style flair – the head chef Rosalind Parsk has worked for Gordon Ramsey and Marco Pierre White in the past. People were making lots of noise about the lobster bisque, but it was the fried halibut with white asparagus topped with a wagyu beef raviolo (seriously, how good does that sound?) that stole the show for me.

Abshar Restaurant

On the final night of our stay we were taken on a tour of “old Dubai” – I use quote marks because “old Dubai” is barely older than I am – but the cultures that it embraces are centuries, even millennia old. Our final stop was Abshar, a Persian restaurant loved by residents. We started with an amazing sangak – a flatbread baked on charcoal and served with goat’s cheese, nuts and sweet basil. After that we had Kashk Badmejan, a gloopy dip of slow-cooked aubergine, mint sauce and caramelised onion that was amazing scooped up with the bread. We finished with a moreish chicken dish called Mandi, where the meat is slow-cooked while hanging in a tandoor, and was served on a bed of rice cooked with zereshk – small sour berries not unlike dried cranberries. It was a true Persian experience – you can sit on the floor and eat with your hands. Being hungry and more adept with a spoon, we plumped for a table.

For my piece on “Old Dubai” click here.

Jamie’s Italian

Well it had to be here didn’t it? A taste of rustic Italy in the scorching desert sun, the Dubai branch is actually one of my favourites – and I’ve been to a few. You can enjoy cocktails on the veranda overlooking the Burj Al Arab, or tuck in to some gorgeous antipasti, pasta and traditional Italian stews and grills in the restaurant. For more details, check out my blog on the restaurant, which I paid a flying visit to on my travels, and ended up staying at until about 2am.


Fantastic 6! Discover 6 Of The Best Dubai Locations To Visit Or Stay In, For Business Or Pleasure

Holidays to Dubai are often only a matter of days, what part of Dubai to stay in is often the most significant question.

As we have temporarily relocated to Dubai to explore life as a digital nomad during the UK lockdown, we decided it would be an amazing opportunity to gain a more intimate knowledge of the city. Which meant staying at different hotels in different parts of Dubai every 3-5 days, which might sound arduous but actually enhanced my knowledge of Dubai. Having visited Dubai 6 times in the past for holidays, this is the first time I have seen so much of it.

Looking along desert towards the business district

The exploration of Dubai was also partially driven by us wanting to get to know Dubai better whilst we consider a second home here. The more areas and hotels I explored, the more I realised Dubai is very much a city of cities and it is easy to fall foul of returning to the same hotel or area every visit.

If I am going to experience a few months as a digital nomad, I may as well become a cultural nomad too. So here are 6 areas of Dubai you should consider visiting or staying in, as a digital nomad, business traveller or holidaymaker:

Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina, is arguably one of the most ‘happening’ areas to stay in. With other locations, you may be reliant upon the hotel to provide your entertainment and dinning throughout the stay, Dubai Marina has a myriad of dining options, bars, shopping and of course the marina itself if you fancy a yacht trip.

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Dubai Marina is home to the Dubai Marina Mall (of course, it is Dubai, there is a mall in every area) but it is also home to Pier 7, 7 floors of fine dining restaurants and a zipline experience. The area is buzzy and vibrant so I can see why it is a popular location for residential properties.

We stayed at the Intercontinental Dubai Marina, which was a modern luxury solace from the buzzy atmosphere in the Marina, the hotel is filled with grand contemporary sculptures one of which ‘The Travellers’ crafted from the story of the Arabic Bedouins stands at, at least 20ft stands out on the walk to rooms. The room we stayed in had a balcony with a stunning view of the marina, mall and the pool it was a perfect place to work from in the late afternoon and perfect for a glass of wine pre dinner. The Intercontinental Dubai Marina is also home to Michelin-Starred British Chef Jason Atherton’s restaurant Marina Social, where you can soak up some of the Marina atmosphere with delightful food and a stunning backdrop of the waterfront. Back to work, if we must, I found that the Club International, on the roof top of the hotel was a perfect space to get away from it all and get my head down. I spent my afternoons on the rooftop conducting zoom calls with clients with afternoon tea and a freshly squeezed juice.

Downtown Dubai

Home to the worlds largest retail hubs, Dubai Mall and of course Dubai Fountain, which was created by the same people who brought us the famous Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas. The best trick I found here was to find a restaurant on the upper floors of the Dubai Mall that had a balcony, it was a much better view than on the ground. Downtown is home to many things including the Burj Khalifa which is the world’s tallest building!

We stayed at the Hotel Indigo, a brand-new boutique hotel, which was beautifully quirky from the surrealist wallpaper of a camel jumping over a cloud on the hotel room

Hotel Indigo Room image with surrealist wallpaper and shisha style lamp

wall to the art filled walls of every corridor. The hotel had only opened in October 2020, I loved the new hotel feel and smell, but what I loved the most was the hotels decision to focus on bringing in art from local artists and coffee from a local entrepreneur ‘Café Rider’. As an entrepreneur myself I always commend larger brands who support local small business, the little creative touches across the rooms and public areas of the hotel were married beautifully with the floor to ceiling windows overlooking Dubai Canal.

The aesthetic of the hotel has clearly been inspired by the history of Dubai Creek, each item from the reception to the 200 pieces of art typify the transformation of Dubai from a trading dock with the hustle and bustle of Dhows and Abra’s (trading boats) to the modern architectural exuberance we see in Dubai today. It is great to see the history magnified through art.

The Dubai Mall is walking distance, but I quickly learnt, no one walks in Dubai, even the mall has a taxi inside.

Night Aerial view of Downtown Dubai. The Dubai Mall, the Address Hotel, and Dubai Fountain can be . [+] seen illuminated at night.

Jaddaf Waterfront

In very close proximity to Downtown Dubai, around 8 minutes to Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa and 15 minutes from the airport but feels truly remote. The Jaddaf Waterfront is a serenely quiet neighbourhood, the area screams luxury residential, as a beautiful waterfront location. It is also home to the Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park with outdoor installations, the UAEs first open-air sculpture park.

The most significant building on this quiet neighbourhood is the Palazzo Versace Hotel, a hotel that is reminiscent of the 16 th Century Italian palace, the hotel is

Palazzo Versace Hotel Room

architecturally a masterpiece of traditional luxury. In contrast to the other hotels, the Palazzo Versace felt like ‘old money’, with floral silk bedding and gilt gold touches of Versace style opulence and iconic Medusa heads.

In alignment with the very quiet neighbourhood feel of the Jaddaf Waterfront the Palazzo Versace had a more mature crowd, less hustle and bustle more leisure retreat. It was also an ideal place for meetings with a vast and ornate reception hall, 8 restaurants and landscaped gardens – there is certainly space to impress visitors.

If you have meetings in town and want somewhere quiet to retreat to within close proximity, this location works.

Dubai Festival City (DFC)

Dubai Festival City is a multipurpose destination built alongside a 3.3 kilometre creek, comprised of residential, educational, commercial and social spaces. Including a 2.5 million square foot retail destination, a Guinness World Record holding daily light and water attraction called ‘Imagine’ and of course a mall.

There are only 4 hotels in DFC, we checked into the Intercontinental Festival City, we booked into the Presidential Suite (early birthday celebration) and we were hit with breath taking views of the waterfront of DFC throughout. The sprawling suite had every amenity possible to make for an exceptional experience, the most exciting of

Intercontinental Dubai Festival City Glass Infinity pool

Intercontinental Dubai Festival City

which (in Covid times) was a private steam room inside the suite – modern luxury at it’s finest. Being in Festival City you are surrounding by low rise buildings, other than the 4 hotels, with a much greater chance to mix with locals. Executive lounge at the Intercontinental Festival City was ideal, it provided a perfect space to work away from the suite and network with others during the afternoon tea.

As part of the booking, we had a traditional ‘Abra’ experience, an Abra or Dhow is the traditional wooden boat previously used for the fishing industry in Dubai, it was a great way to see Dubai’s scenic river in a historic transport boat. Across the creek I could also see the new state of the art ‘Mohammed Bin Rashid’ library in Al Jaddaf, 66,000 square metres, due to house 4.5 million printed, digital and audio books – it cost around 1 billion AED ($272k) to construct but sadly doesn’t appear to be open yet.

Dubai Trade Centre District

This area is considered as the heart of the business and financial district, as the Dubai World Trade Centre hosts fairs, exhibitions, concerts and global conventions. Sheikh Zayed Road, the longest road in the UAE at 558km stretching from Abu Dhabi to Ras Al Khaimah, is great if you want to see a selection of the world’s best supercars zooming back and forth.

A must visit in the area is ‘La Mer’ beach, beachfront location with shopping, dinning and a water park, it is a fun filled destination day and night. There is also a Flamingo park in Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary that locals seem to mention quite regularly, unfortunately closed temporarily due to Covid.

We stayed at the Voco hotel, an upscale hotel who proudly proclaims that their sustainable beds are made from recycled plastic bottles and an aerated water saving shower. With DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) in walking distinct, this hotel definitely feels like it is perfectly located for business meetings. The thing about

being a digital nomad is that you do have to have some down time and the Voco hotel has an award-winning spa where I had an exceptional deep tissue massage to relieve tension after a long day. Followed by dinner in an award winning Indian fine dining restaurant Tresind, voted one of the 50 best restaurants in the world by Discovery.

Dubai Trade Centre District

The Palm Jumeirah Dubai

The Palm Jumeirah is a manmade island (or artificial archipelago, island group), it was made from 7 millions tons of rock blasted from the Hajar Mountains! The $12 billion project took 6 years to build, starting in 2001. I remember being in Dubai in 2002 with my parents when the Palm was still just a concept, it is amazing to stay on it now and look at the destination that it has become.

The palm is now home to The Pointe, the palm fountain which has taken the official title from the Guinness World Records as the World’s Largest Fountain. “The two giant floating platforms covers a 14,000 sq meters of sea water, towers at 105 meters height, lights up the sky with magical 3,000 LEDs” with shows from sunset to midnight.

As well as a destination for holidaymakers and digital nomads like myself, The Palm

has 21 hotels. A personal favourite of mine is the Five Palm, a buzzy busy and social hotel. It is a resort with lots to offer from restaurants and a spa to a rooftop bar, there is no shortage of things to do. I covered my experience at the Five in a previous article here. The Five Palm is located at the start of the Palm which gives easy access to ‘mainland’ Dubai.

I also stayed at the Rixos, the only all-inclusive hotel in Dubai, felt very much like a family location and was buzzing with children. Located on the eastern side of the Palm, the Rixos is further from ‘mainland’ Dubai but as you would expect from an all-inclusive resort everything you need is on site. If you can pull yourself away from work or the all-inclusive restaurants, the Paradise beach club is a great location for adults to have some adult time away.

Aerial view of Dubai Palm Jumeirah island, United Arab Emirates

There we are 6 areas, with many more to explore during these nomadic travels.


Homegrown heroes in Dubai’s culinary scene, chefs Nick Alvis and Scott Price are not afraid to innovate. The joint venture by the protégés of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay – folly by Nick & Scott – is helping put Dubai on the world foodie map. The restaurant at Madinat Jumeirah has it all, including waterway views, expansive terraces and a menu of contemporary dishes that champion creativity, such as the lamb saddle with whipped pine nuts and salsa, and monkfish cheeks with paprika and lemon.

Known for: A local take on modern European fare


Six of the best brunches around the world

A leisurely brunch is one of the joys of the weekend, whether it’s an extended breakfast with bloody Marys, or a relaxed three-course meal with bottomless fizz. Here’s our pick of six of the best brunches at Mandarin Oriental hotels around the world and what makes them so special

Modern patisserie at Camélia

Chef Thierry Marx has infused the Sunday brunch menu at Camélia with his modern, French-Asian style. The elegant three-course experience comes with a glass of Champagne and guests can choose savoury starters from the buffet and a hot main course, but it’s the delectable sweet treats from the patisserie counter that really steal the show. Highlights include the delightful tarte clementine-cannelle with its golden citrus pastry and cinnamon biscuit, topped with clementine marmalade and a zesty cream.

World buffet at Lord Jim’s

Come the weekend at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, guests can go on an entertaining, gastronomic tour of the world via the brunch buffet at Lord Jim’s. The lively restaurant serves a huge array of dishes from across the continents, with everything from sushi and sashimi and fresh pasta, to carved meats and flaming crêpes Suzette, prepared with a flourish at the live stations around the dining room.

Portuguese tasting menu at Tasca

Superstar Portuguese chef, José Avillez, brings a little Mediterranean sunshine to Dubai with his restaurant, Tasca. Brunch is on offer every Friday, and the best seats in the house are on the terrace, which looks out over the shimmering blue sea of the Arabian Gulf. Guests are treated to a full brunch tasting menu of Portuguese delights, from freshly baked bread with smoked butter and marinated seafood and shellfish, to classic, rich Portuguese custard tarts, all accompanied by a jug of refreshing sangria.

Cocktails and tunes at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental

There’s a cool, late-night vibe to the late-morning offering at this hip drinking spot. MO Bar at The Landmark’s Belvedere Weekend Brunch menu includes free-flowing cocktails, from classics such as a bloody Mary or espresso martini, to signature, modern concoctions like the MO Rickey – a mix of Belvedere vodka, chamomile honey water, cucumber and lemon. The food is fresh and organic, with vibrant salads, home smoked salmon, grilled prime steaks and some wickedly good tater tots with blue cheese and bacon. This is all served to a soundtrack laid down by the in-house DJs who take to the decks from 12.30pm. And for those who want to continue the fun there’s an after-brunch menu of free flowing Champagne, wines and spirits that will see you through until 7pm.

Dim sum at Cherry Garden

When it comes to the brunch offering at modern Cantonese restaurant, Cherry Garden, at Mandarin Oriental, Singapore, the focus is on dainty and delicious dim sum. An extensive selection of small but perfectly formed morsels is on offer every weekend, and guests can choose as many dishes as they like from the menu. Must-try plates include the steamed crystal dumplings with a rich mushroom and black truffle filling and zingy crispy wasabi-aioli prawns with fresh mango and tobiko fish roe.

Free flowing cava at Blanc

It’s not hard to see why the brunch experience at Blanc, in Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona, is rated as one of the best in the world. The modern dining space is stunning in its design, set under a vast glass atrium, and serves exceptional food, which comes courtesy of Michelin-starred chef Carme Ruscalleda. The meal starts with a bloody or virgin Mary, before the Spanish sparkling wine starts to flow. And cava is the perfect accompaniment for the restaurant’s speciality rice dishes, such as tender Iberian pork rice or seasonal seafood paella.


Six of the best restaurants Daylesford VIC

Renowned for its sophisticated, farm-to-table fare, Daylesford is a gourmand’s delight. Perfect for a weekend getaway, there's stunning accommodation, fresh country air and natural spring waters. Don't forget to book ahead if you want to eat at any of these 6 incredible spots.

* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.

Set in a beautiful French-style country house surrounded by lavender fields, Sault is the epitome of regional dining. With chef Hugh Maxwell at the helm, the menu showcases regionally-inspired seasonal dishes – complemented by herbs, vegetables and trout smoked on site. Menus change seasonally, with a three or four-course choice menu, or seven-course tasting menu available. Framed by continental Bay windows, the restaurant enjoys 180-degree views of the surrounding lake and forest.

Produce-driven degustation menus are the name of the game at Mercato. Translating to ‘market’ in Italian, the restaurant is aptly located just down the road from Daylesford’s Sunday market. Set in a beautifully-restored 1864 timber cottage, the restaurant lures visitors for its contemporary modern-Australian cuisine created by head chef Richard Mee. The menu is a delectable experience, from Mt Franklin zucchini flowers to Western Plains sticky pork belly and Yearling eye fillet. Wash it down with matched wines from a 100-strong wine list, many of which are local to the region.

This award-winning restaurant needs little introduction. Under the guidance of Co-Owner and Culinary Director Alla Wolf-Tasker, Lake House has become a stalwart on Australia’s regional dining scene. Here, almost everything is produced in-house, from breads to an extensive range of charcuterie, while remaining ingredients are sourced from small-scale local suppliers. Guests can choose between a seasonal a a la carte and tasting menu at both lunch and dinner. Visit during the day to enjoy magnificent views across Lake Daylesford and beyond.

Located within the enchanting Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, Wombat Hill House transforms a 1940s caretaker cottage into a spot for all-day grazing. This country-style café serves simple albeit delicious seasonal food, with a menu that changes frequently. There are a range of vegetarian and vegan options available, as well as local ciders, beer and wine. If you would rather a picnic, the café will happily pack away your lunch in a basket. Alternatively, you can keep things classy with a country high tea, served from 2pm Thursday through Monday.

The brainchild of owner-chef Matthew Carnell, Bistro Terroir brings classic French dishes to Daylesford. Housed in an intimate bistro setting, the restaurant is a true neighbourhood affair. On the menu expect French icons like bouillabaisse, steak frites and duck liver parfait, teamed with a carefully-selected drinks menu. And to finish, indulge in a traditional peach melba, macarons or cheese.

Located in the heart of Daylesford, this traditional pub has been lovingly restored to its former glory. Enjoy dinner and drinks in the beer garden or in the elegant dining room. Upstairs, the bar spills out to a Federation-style veranda, which overlooks the town below. Enjoy delicious Australian bistro fare, such as roasted chicken, battered fish and chips or Daylesford Hotel’s famous pie. To drink, there’s an extensive selection of specialty beers as well as local, regional and imported wines.

The Weekender's travel guides are independently written by real travellers. We do not receive any money from, or have a sponsorship arrangement with, any of the entities listed in or referred to in this article.


Pret A Manger

Pret A Manger has made its name for its selection of prepared crusty baguette sandwiches and fresh salads made daily (they donate any end-of-day leftovers to food banks), but where this popular, London-based chain really shines is in the breakfast department. Organic coffee (with organic milk), fresh fruit, oatmeal, muesli, Greek yogurt, cage-free eggs, and more make choosing a hearty cleaner breakfast a piece of cake. The company is also committed to improving animal welfare and has pledged to implement more humane processing methods for chicken by 2024.

CLEAN PICK: Breakfast Egg & Quinoa Pot—hard-boiled egg, avocado, grape tomatoes, arugula, and quinoa
Cal: 240, Fat: 14g, Sat Fat: 2.5g, Sodium: 210mg, Sugars: 2.0g, Protein: 9.0g


Soups

Thai tom kha gai soup recipe

Tom kha gai recipe (วิธีทำ ต้มข่าไก่)

Tom kha gai (ต้มข่าไก่) is a popular Thai soup or curry, made with coconut milk and chicken, and flavored with lemongrass, galangal, and chilies. It is usually quite mild in spice, and really focuses on the delicious richness of the coconut milk.

Tom yum soup (ต้มยำกุ้ง) with shrimp recipe

Tom yum soup (ต้มยำกุ้ง)

Tom yum goong (ต้มยำกุ้ง) is one of the national dishes of Thailand, a soup made with shrimp, and a broth flavored with the holy trio of lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves. There are about a thousand different recipes and variations of tom yum soup in Thailand, and this one is more of the modern street food style. Soon, I’ll be trying to make some more traditional recipes for tom yum goong (ต้มยำกุ้ง) – so stay tuned for those as well.

Southern Thai gaeng som

Southern Thai gaeng som (แกงส้ม)

Gaeng som (แกงส้ม) in Thai translates to sour curry, and it’s popular in a variety of different versions throughout Thailand. The central Thai version of this dish is more like a sweet and sour soup, but the southern Thai version, which is the one we’ll be making in this recipe is very sour and very spicy, and orange from lots of fresh turmeric. It’s easy to make, and it tastes delicious. It’s one of my favorite Thai dishes that I eat at home very often, and it’s very healthy as well.


Gordon Ramsay’s Quick and Easy Fish Recipes

They’re extremely simple to make at home and less expensive than eating out. We want to get superior pan-seared sea scallops that have been thoroughly brown and crusted and no hint of burnt-flavors…

This is the white sweet crab meat that comes from the body of the crab. The other meat is “claw meat” and comes from the claws or legs of the crab. You can use any meat from the crab…

3. Fish and Chips

The fish is coated with a beer batter that produces a crunchy and delightful texture, as the internal of the fish is delicate fall apart flaky. One of the features of this fish and chip recipe creates a different from any other…

The tuna is lightly pan seared with a sesame crust when purchasing tuna select labeled with “sushi grade” from a trusted fresh fish market or the fish section of your grocery store. The green tea…

5. Pan-Fried Red Snapper

Next time you are shopping look in the fish cases and get some red snapper fillets with the skin still on and pan fry the snapper for a simple and delightful light dinner. Red Snapper sautés…

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Order This, Not That: Papa John's

I frequently see commercials for this pizza chain but often wonder if there's really is anything I can order that won’t bust my waistline. We’ll give you the cheesy facts so you’ll be prepared on your next visit.

It can get kind of tricky when reading the nutrition information for Papa John’s. The calories listed for most items will give you the per-serving information. This means that their “Pizza for One,” which serves 4 has the calories listed for a quarter of the pie. The same goes for their sides like chicken wings and breadsticks. The calories listed are for a serving size of 2 wings—though 10 are served in each order. So be sure to take a few minutes to decipher their nutrition breakdown when you sift through their website.

Papa John's Garden Fresh Pizza is topped with onions, green peppers, portabella mushrooms, black olives and tomatoes. It’s your best bet to get in some veggies since not many other options on the menu offer them. Remember that if you choose the Pizza for One, the nutrition information is given for one quarter of the pie. The calories for ¼ of the Garden Fresh Pizza for One is 180—which means you can still eat half of it for 360 calories. Though if you gobble down the entire Pizza for One, that’ll add up to 720 calories.

Add some spice to your pizza with packet of crushed red pepper or Parmesan cheese. The crushed pepper has 5 calories and 0 milligrams sodium and the cheese has 15 calories and 45 milligrams sodium per packet.

If you order an extra-large pie of John’s Favorite loaded with pepperoni, sausage and a 6-cheese blend, one slice will set you back 430 calories and 22 grams fat. Sound harmless? Gobble down one-quarter of the pie (2.5 slices) for 1,075 calories and 55 grams fat or half the pie (5 slices) for 2,150 calories and 110 grams fat.

It gets tricky trying to decipher the nutrition information for these dishes. The Parmesan breadsticks contain 340 calories and 10 grams fat per 2 breadsticks but one order has 10 breadsticks. The wings have the same issue with 2 BBQ Wings weighing in at 190 calories and 12 grams fat—though there are 10 wings per serving. If you can stop at 2 wings, then more power to you.

The Special Garlic dipping sauce that comes with an original crust pizza racks up 150 calories and 17 grams of fat per cup. If you're a die-hard garlic sauce fan then measure out 4 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup) for 37.5 calories and 4.25 grams of fat.

Although the special seasoning has 5 calories per packet, the sodium is 410 milligrams which is 15% of your recommended daily dose. The pizza already has plenty of sodium—there’s no need to add this much more to your meal.

One medium piece of fruit (like an apple or orange) has 60 calories, so when a serving of Papa John’s Apple Pie rang up at 480 calories I was pretty surprised. Skip it and go for some fresh fruit at home.


Hungry for More? The Runners Up

These other restaurant chains -- runners-up in our ranking -- are also worth a visit.

11. Cici&aposs Pizza This buffet restaurant offers great value (kids eat for $3 or less, babies and toddlers for free) and good-quality food, including 16 kinds of pizza and a salad bar.

12. Texas Roadhouse At some locations, kids get their meal -- with sides like green beans -- served in a cowboy hat.

13. Ted&aposs Montana Grill All menu items, including the children&aposs salmon, meat loaf, and "mac &aposn&apos cheez" are made from scratch using local ingredients when possible.

14. Joe&aposs Crab Shack The snow-crab legs and crab-shaped Rice Krispies Treat are fun, but the draw is the playground.

15. California Pizza Kitchen Yep, kids love the pizza. But mac &aposn&apos cheese with edamame, pasta tossed in olive oil, and a big salad topped with Goldfish crackers are also yummy.

16. Chevy&aposs Fresh Mex Bean-and-cheese burritos, tacos, and flautas will have your niños saying olé.

17. Olive Garden Kids can have their mac &aposn&apos cheese or spaghetti and tomato sauce made with whole wheat linguine.

18. IHOP Five kids&apos items -- like the tilapia and Create-A-Face pancake with fruit -- are noted as healthy choices.

19. Roy&aposs A three-course kids&apos menu has some adventurous choices like veggie crudites, salmon, and shrimp tempura.

20. Ruby&aposs Diner Although its kids&apos menu is in the shape of a classic car that kids can pop together, choices like organic milk, turkey burgers, and grilled chicken -- are totally mod.

21. Bertucci&aposs At most locations, kids get pizza dough to play with while they&aposre waiting for their own pie to come.

22. Sonny&aposs Real Pit BAR-B-Q Pulled pork, ribs, and smoked turkey are among the selections for kids.

23. Applebee&aposs Although the kids&apos entrees are typical, the chain offers broccoli, celery with dip, or applesauce as a side.

24. Romano&aposs Macaroni Grill Children can color on the paper table cover before their meal arrives.

25. Ruby Tuesday Pasta with marinara sauce and grilled chicken with broccoli are great choices from the kids&apos menu.

Trans Fat-Free Restaurants

Which restaurant chains have stopped using this most unhealthy type of fat? Check out our exclusive guide.

Totally Trans-Fat-Free

  • Applebee&aposs
  • Bertucci&aposs
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • Chevy&aposs Fresh Mex
  • Chili&aposs Bar & Grill
  • Cici&aposs Pizza
  • Legal Sea Foods
  • Olive Garden
  • P.F. Chang&aposs China Bistro
  • Red Robin
  • Roy&aposs
  • Sonny&aposs Real Pit BAR-B-Q
  • Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • Ted&aposs Montana Grill
  • Uno Chicago Grill

Mostly Trans-Fat-Free

  • Buca di Beppo
  • Claim Jumper
  • Denny&aposs
  • Friendly&aposs
  • IHOP
  • Mimi&aposs Cafe
  • Old Spaghetti Factory
  • Ruby&aposs Diner
  • Ruby Tuesday

Making Progress

  • Big Boy
  • Bob Evans
  • Carrabba&aposs
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Joe&aposs Crab Shack
  • Maggiano&aposs Little Italy
  • McCormick & Schmick&aposs
  • On The Border
  • Red Lobster
  • Romano&aposs Macaroni Grill
  • Sizzler

No Policy

  • Bennigan&aposs
  • Black Angus Steakhouse
  • Ninety Nine Restaurant
  • Max & Erma&aposs
  • O&aposCharley&aposs
  • Outback Steakhouse

Healthy Kids' Menus

What&aposs on the kid&aposs menu? In three words: more than ever. After reviewing the choices for children from 40 restaurant chains, Parents found that while soda, fries, and nuggets are staples, you&aposre likely to find some nutritious options too.

38%: Broccoli

No-Shows

The following popular restaurant chains blew off the Parents survey:

  • Bonefish Grill
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Lone Star Steakhouse
  • Old Country Buffet
  • Perkins
  • T.G.I. Friday&aposs

Originally published in the July 2008 issue of Parents magazine.


Six of the best motorcycle and car-themed restaurants and cafes in the UAE

The Dubai location of this motor­cycle-themed cafe has been popular with bikers since it opened in 2011. The cafe now has branches in Abu Dhabi and Fujairah. The Bin Hadher Group launched it as a place for riders to show off their customised bikes, but it has since evolved into a place for everyone. Favourite dishes include the Royal Platter, packed with Emirati favourites such as balaleet, chebab, khameer, khabise and more. International options include Spanish omelette, eggs Benedict, quesadillas and fish and chips.

• Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai, 04 349 3585 Fujairah International Marine Club, Fujairah, 09 224 4686 Al Seef Village Mall, Abu Dhabi, 02 444 3942

2 Le Trésor: Classic Car Cafe

Located in Boxpark, Dubai, Le Trésor (The Treasure) opened in September. It is filled with classic European automobile memorabilia. The menu is typical of a French cafe: egg dishes, croissants, sandwiches, soups, salads and mains such as linguine with prawns, braised lamb shank, and pot roast chicken breast with ratatouille. The chef’s signature dessert is a pistachio cake served with honey ice cream and honeycomb.

• At Boxpark, Al Wasl Road, Dubai, open daily from 7.30am to midnight, 04 343 6591

Also in Boxpark, BikesnBites is a casual eatery with an urban feel. Guests can fill up on American-­style flame-grilled meats cooked “low and slow” and served with one of more than 40 sauces. Notable dishes include wings, slow braised veal ribs, slow-smoked prime Angus beef brisket, grilled hotlink beef sausage, and Cajun baby chicken. Sides include deep-south coleslaw, sweet potato fries, and smoked mac and cheese.

• Boxpark, Dubai open weekdays from 10am to midnight weekends from 8am to 1am 04 343 2855

The world’s first Yamaha Cafe was launched in Boxpark earlier this year by Al Yousuf Motors, a dealer for Yamaha in the UAE. The cafe has a dining area with a community table, built-in video-­game screens and accessories and bikes on display. The Japanese menu includes sushi, sashimi, tempura, sweets and green tea. Guests get a 15 per cent discount if they show their bike licence.

• Boxpark, Dubai, open daily from 10am to midnight, 04 453 5203

Another world first and also in Dubai, Kawasaki Cafe opened in October above the Kawasaki showroom on Sheikh Zayed Road. It offers coffees from Illy, plus salads, sandwiches, snacks, cakes and pastries. At the cafe entrance sits a 1983 Kawasaki Ninja – the type used in Top Gun – and images of the latest Kawasaki Ninja H2 are displayed throughout the cafe.

• Sheikh Zayed Road, open daily from 7.30am to 10pm

6 Intersect by Lexus (Coming soon)

The latest car-themed cafe in the country is scheduled to open in DIFC on December 8. Head chef Tomas Reger, who is also behind Dubai’s Secret Supper Club, will serve up sophisticated dishes – beet and barley risotto, Chilean sea bass with yuzu-glazed turnips and slow-cooked beef short ribs with celeriac purée – in a casual, fine-dining atmosphere. The first Intersect by Lexus opened in Tokyo in 2013 Dubai will be the brand’s second location.