What’s On Awards Dubai 2022: Here are the winners

March 31, 2022

The very best of Dubai, as voted by you…

Last night, we returned to the glittering Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, gathering together more than 800 of the industry’s power players for a dazzling ceremony to crown the What’s On Awards Dubai winners for 2022. It’s a pretty big deal (even if we say so ourselves), widely recognised as the region’s most important leisure and entertainment awards.

Making our long-awaited return to Dubai Media City for the first time since 2019, we dished out awards to 48 winners, and 27 outlets that were placed as highly commended, honouring the emirate’s most elite places to eat, and have fun.

And while the winners in most of these categories were decided by you, the voting public, there were also four Big Prize winners, selected by us here at the What’s On team, awarded for outstanding contribution to making Dubai an incredible place to live.

So here they are, the best of the best, the winners of the What’s On Awards Dubai 2022…

Grand Prix Winners

Restaurant of the Year – Trèsind Studio

Say the name of this restaurant to any foodie in Dubai and they’ll smile, utter a little ‘ahhh’ in appreciation, before waxing lyrical about how it deserves a Michelin star. A recent relocation onto a prime spot on The Palm means space for more diners, but still the same excellent service from staff who know the exquisite modern Indian menu back to front. Chef Himanshu Saini, and his restaurant, is – and will always be – a force to be reckoned with.


Newcomer of the Year – SushiSamba Dubai

The Newcomer of the Year award is designed to celebrate a venue that sent shockwaves through the industry when it opened its doors. In the last 12 months, no restaurant has achieved this feat more than SushiSamba Dubai. The much-awaited launch was met with a fully booked restaurant up to six weeks in advance, with one question on everyone’s lips: will it live up to the hype? Well, we’ll let its accolades and waiting list speak to that.


Chef of the Year – Gilles Bosquet, Corporate Chef, Rikas Group

In the five years since he landed at La Cantine, chef Gilles Bosquet has been a humble yet high-impact pioneer in DIFC’s fine dining scene. In the last 14 months, he’s been the culinary mastermind behind a trio of top-class culinary additions under the Rikas Group umbrella: bringing upscale Mediterranean flavours to Twiggy by La Cantine; inventive pan-Asian dishes to Mimi Kakushi; and Gohan, a hidden hangout within La Cantine that’s been drawing the in-the-know crowd since it opened in November. But not one to rest on his laurels, the corporate chef is set to be a busy guy in 2022, opening new concepts in Dubai and expanding the Rikas Group’s existing venues into Saudi Arabia, Mykonos and Miami.


Homegrown Restaurant of the Year – Orfali Bros Bistro

Run by a formidable trio of talented brothers, this fabulous bistro in Wasl 51 has found the perfect balance of respecting tradition while pushing boundaries. What you get at Orfali Bros Bistro, apart from a happy belly of creative dishes, is the sense that this really is a passion project by three men who love what they do. Nice people. Good price. Great food. Six words that tell you all you need to know.


Restaurants Above Dhs400

Favourite Asian Restaurant – Indochine

These days, a great restaurant is about so much more than good food. It’s about the welcome, the atmosphere, the service, the culinary offering, the drinks… Indochine ticks all of these boxes and more, redefining what is means to be a great Asian restaurant. From the creative French-Vietnamese menu, to the house party ambience, to the chic members of staff, Indochine oozes originality.


Highly Commended Asian Restaurant – SHI Restaurant

Favourite Brunch – Saffron Brunch 2.0, Atlantis The Palm

If you know your party brunch scene, you’ll know Saffron. And when it relaunched as Saffron Brunch 2.0 post-pandemic, this all-singing, all-dancing soiree upped the ante. Across 20 live cooking stations, Saffron Brunch 2.0 offers diners more than 200 dishes, including sushi, carved meats and a dedicated section for desserts. But let’s be clear, you’re probably not here for the food – and as well as those legendary drinks stations, there’s live DJs spinning an epic set, dancers, singers and magicians.


Highly Commended Brunch – The Naughty Noodles Brunch at Maiden Shanghai, FIVE Palm Jumeirah

Favourite European Restaurant – Carine

This is one of those Dubai restaurants that cleverly pitches itself at several crowds: the couple having a quiet dinner, a group celebration, or a family dinner. Carine backs up its versatility with great food, excellent service and a wonderful menu that has something for everyone.

Highly Commended European Restaurant – The MAINE Land Brasserie

Favourite French Restaurant – Bagatelle Dubai

Joie de vivre! Bagatelle’s flamboyant spirit is what makes this restaurant stand out from the crowd. Serving up classic French comfort food with a side of célébrer, Bagatelle brings endless good vibes in its own unmistakeable style. Truly a place to come for the food, and stay for the party.


Highly Commended French Restaurant – La Cantine du Faubourg

Favourite Greek Restaurant – Shimmers, Jumeirah Mina A’ Salam

Shimmers is a standout spot on the alfresco dining circuit thanks to its sunny beachside setting and Burj Al Arab views. But this whitewashed restaurant isn’t style over substance, and the traditional Greek cuisine is elevated far beyond standard beach eats. Fresh salads, cold mezze and cooked-to-order seafood are all standout.


Highly Commended Greek Restaurant – OPA Dubai

Favourite Indian Restaurant – Kinara by Vikas Khanna, JA Lake View Hotel

A carnival of flavours erupt, dance and sing from every plate at this classy restaurant at JA Lake View Hotel. There is heat in some places, cooler tastes in others, but always the right balance is found at Kinara, helmed by chef of Michelin star acclaim, Vikas Khanna.


Highly Commended Indian Restaurant – Armani/Amal, Armani Hotel Dubai

Favourite Italian Restaurant – Il Borro Tuscan Bistro

This fantastic restaurant continues to impress – just look at the awards filling its shelves at the entrance. If you want quality Italian cuisine in an equally stunning setting, Il Borro remains a Dubai favourite.


Highly Commended Italian Restaurant – Torno Subito, W Dubai – The Palm

Favourite Japanese Restaurant – SushiSamba Dubai

Effortlessly fusing Japanese cuisine with Brazilian ambience, SushiSamba’s extensive menu of treats is a delight to peruse. From the signature Samba Roll, paired with fresh wasabi, to the platters piled high with sashimi, this is a place where quality is never compromised.


Highly Commended Japanese Restaurant – Clap Dubai

Favourite Middle Eastern Restaurant – Ninive

A multi-What’s On award winner, Ninive continues to wow everyone who dines there. Serving Middle Eastern and Turkish food in the most stunning of majlis settings, Ninive surprises with every visit.


Highly Commended Middle Eastern Restaurant – Al Nafoorah, Jumeirah Al Qasr

Favourite Seafood Restaurant – Alici

It’s hard not to be bowled over by Alici. The attention to detail at this Bluewaters Island restaurant is outstanding. From the tiles and the flowers lining the terrace to the music and the perfectly ironed tablecloths, nothing is left to chance. Thankfully, the seafood – inspired by the Amalfi Coast – is as sensational as the surroundings, and few restaurants fare better across the city for fresh seafood.


Highly Commended Seafood Restaurant – Aprons & Hammers, La Mer

Favourite Steakhouse – Prime68, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai

Yes, the panoramic city views are eye-catching from the 68th floor of the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, but the fabulous food more than match the surroundings. Featuring the finest heritage breed beef from farms around the globe, and a great Sunday lunch to match, Prime68 has it all.


Highly Commended Steakhouse – Carna, SLS Dubai

Food Concepts

Favourite Afternoon Tea – The Lobby Lounge, The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, JBR

There’s something about stepping into The Lobby Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, JBR that feels instantly inviting. One of the all-time classics for afternoon tea in the city, you’ll go far to find a finer offering than their neatly stacked tiered towers of sweet and savoury treats.


Highly Commended Afternoon Tea – Al Fayrooz Lounge – Jumeirah Al Qasr

Favourite Alfresco Restaurant – Surf Club

When the mercury rests comfortably at 28 degrees Celsius and blue skies stretch as far as the eye can see, there’s only one place we want to be; the effortlessly cool Surf Club. With its wooden cabanas and pristine sand beneath our feet, Surf Club gives us those vacation feels every time.


Highly Commended Alfresco Restaurant – Shimmers, Jumeirah Mina A’ Salam

Favourite Burger – High Joint

From a passion project by three Emiratis that started as a hole-in-the-wall in Al Manara nearly three years ago, High Joint now sits pretty in Dubai’s ‘Burger Hall of Fame’. High Joint’s burgers are prepared using a mix of 100 per cent fresh and antibiotic-free premium quality prime cuts that are all grinded in-house. We love them, and so do you.


Highly Commended Burger – Slaw

Favourite Business Lunch – CÉ LA VI

When we need somewhere super WOW that is sure to impress our dining guests, Cé La Vi is always our first port of call. When dining on a weekday, the Lunch Set Menu is just Dhs140 with three courses. Dishes include house favourites like the black truffle sushi rice risotto and miso caramel vanilla mousse.


Highly Commended Business Lunch – ROKA Dubai

Favourite Café – Nightjar Coffee Roasters

This fully-fledged roastery/café in the heart of Dubai’s creative hub, Alserkal Avenue, continues to top the lists of best cafes in town, and it’s not hard to understand why. You can almost feel the pride emanating from Kiwi owner Leon Surynt when he talks about Nightjar. For him, coffee is an art form that he enjoys perfecting, and the excellent food is a wonderful accompaniment to his coffee on tap.

Highly Commended Café – Lana Lusa

Favourite Delivery Service – Deliveroo

Where would we be without Deliveroo in our lives? Probably a little bit lighter, we suppose. These guys changed the face of delivery forever and have helped us enjoy the city’s restaurants from the comfort of our homes and desks. We salute the teal road warriors for ensuring we never ever go hungry.


Highly Commended Delivery Service – Here-O Donuts

Favourite Dining and Lifestyle App – Privilee

From unlimited access to five-star beaches, private pools, gyms and thousands of fitness classes, being a part of the Privilee community is almost a rite of passage for residents, especially for those with families.


Highly Commend Dining and Lifestyle App – Viya

Favourite Expo Food Concept – The Local Aussie Grill, Australia Pavilion

Expo Dubai 2020 was a gastronomic destination in its own right with luxury restaurants, internationally-celebrated imports and homegrown favourites. But The Local Aussie Grill at the Australia Pavilion proved that simple, honest, ‘bush tucker grub’ is the way to an Expo visitor’s heart.


Highly Commended Expo Food Concept – Tiaki, New Zealand Pavilion

Favourite Healthy Restaurant – Comptoir 102

Nothing cleanses the body and soul quite like a visit to Comptoir 102. The concept store and healthy cafe serves up an exciting range of organic, natural, homemade plant-based, sugar and gluten free recipes, so that everyone can find something delicious and nutritious.

Highly Commended – Baker’s Kitchen

Favourite Pub Grub – Goose Island Tap House, FIVE Jumeirah Village

Dubai revellers can’t get enough of Goose Island’s hearty – and tasty – pub grub. With its huge indoor tavern,  sports screenings and live music, not to mention the largest craft beer selection in town, this JVC local draws in the crowds from far and wide.


Highly Commended – The Irish Village, Garhoud


Favourite Attraction – Topgolf Dubai

Whoever said golf was boring, has obviously never been to Topgolf Dubai. With 96 climate-controlled hitting bays on two levels, this Dubai attraction is the home of fun and competition. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t golfed before, Topgolf is open to beginners and people of all ages who might need a few practice swings to get the hang of this. After about an hour or two, you’ll be swinging like Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore.


Highly Commended Attraction – Aura Skypool

Favourite Bar – Koko Bay

The opening of Koko Bay in September 2020 was perfectly timed to scratch the travel itch we’d been feeling. With its wicker, maze and rattan furnishings, it feels like Koko Bay been plucked straight from the beaches of Bali. The only thing to rival its menu of fruity sips is the G&T collection served in giant balloon glasses, the perfect pairing to a beautiful sunset setting.


Highly Commended Bar – The Penthouse, FIVE Palm Jumeirah

Favourite Concert, Show or Festival – Mamma Mia! at Dubai Opera

The stage show of Mamma Mia! – now 20 years old – has continued to shine the brightest spotlight on Abba’s timeless appeal, and in September last year, its international tour stormed Dubai. The hilarious choreography, brilliant songs and unmistakable devotion of the touring cast, combined to create a fantastically cheesy show, with audience members warbling Waterloo all the way down Sheikh Zayed Road.


Highly Commended Concert, Show or Festival – Martin Garrix Live in Dubai, Coca-Cola Arena

Favourite Daycation – Twiggy by La Cantine

Daycations are supposed to be just that – a vacation for the day; and Twiggy by La Cantine pulls off this feat flawlessly. From the white washed walls to the sun trap decking, this luxurious spot makes us feel like we’ve been transported to St Tropez.


Highly Commended Daycation – Bla Bla

Favourite Sporting Event – Emirates Dubai 7’s

This epic event was sorely missed in 2020, so it was a real treat to have it back for 2021. Crowds were out in full-force to see the games, while the evening’s line-up included incredible acts such as Disclosure. A fun day out for all was had.


Highly Commended Sporting Event – Dubai Desert Classic

Favourite Staycation – Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort

With its collection of lagoon-facing rooms and overwater villas, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d left Dubai and jetted off to Thailand when checking in to Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort. Couple this with a gorgeous stretch of golden beach, a trio of top restaurants and a lagoon facing spa, and you’ve got yourself the best staycation in the city.


Highly Commended Staycation – Longbeach Campground


Favourite Beauty Salon – Willow Lane Hair & Beauty


With its whitewashed, boho-chic decor, coffee bar and plush salon chairs that leave you feeling like a VIP, Willow Lane Hair & Beauty is as much about style as it is about substance. The team are knowledgeable and friendly and in the year-and-a-half it’s been in operation, this stunning salon has already won a legion of fans.


Favourite Fitness/Wellness Club – Barre Effect


No one else will have you stretching, balancing, pulsing, and giggling quite like the team at Barre Effect. Through a series of slow, controlled movements participants will lengthen their muscles and tone up, leaving them with a lean, flexible figure.


Favourite Spa – AWAY Spa, W Dubai – The Palm


Shunning the typically earthy tones and traditional treatments for a statement colour palette of bold pinks, purples and neon hues, AWAY Spa is all about making an impact. Of course, you can still get your traditional massages and facials here, but you’ll also find mani-pedis, glow-up body wraps and conditioning hair masks.


Restaurants Below Dhs400

Favourite All-Day Dining Restaurant – Carluccio’s, Dubai Marina Mall


A one-stop shop for post-retail therapy grazing, casual Italian fare is served across both the ground floor restaurant and Marina-facing terrace. There’s also a range of deli items for grabbing on the go.


Favourite Asian Restaurant – Max’s Restaurant


A chain restaurant that began its operations in the Philippines, Max’s is known for its delicious, tender, juicy and crispy fried chicken. In its 77th year of operation, it’s run by the second and third generation of the family that started it. While Max’s fried chicken is still available, you will also find other Filipino favourites on the menu.


Favourite British Restaurant – The Croft, Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites


There’s a cosy feel to this British restaurant, with an open kitchen and blackboards illustrated with specials that include curry nights, quiz nights and roast dinners. An added bonus – The Croft’s outdoor terrace overlooks Dubai Marina and provides a great space for alfresco dining.


Favourite Brunch – Bridgewater Tavern, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai


Head down to Bridgewater Tavern’s family brunch and you’ll find a laid-back, family-friendly afternoon in the sun, with gourmet comfort food, refreshing drinks, live entertainment and fun games for the little ones – and all for a value price from Dhs195 with soft drinks, and Dhs360 with house drinks.


Favourite European Restaurant – Lola Taberna Española


Real Iberico, super paella and proper tapas, this little taberna hidden in Barsha Heights is a fiesta of fun. The focus at Lola Taberna is on serving simple, genuine tapas that should satisfy any and all cravings for crispy burnt rice, sangria, and ham that tastes like acorns.


Favourite Greek Restaurant – Myrra


More than cuisine, Myrra takes its Greek influences to the next level, through stunning decor, toes-in-the-sand tables and warm hospitality. Whether it’s for a long, lazy lunch, or a romantic beach dinner, this colourful spot is always a sure-fire bet.


Favourite Indian Restaurant – Masti


From the culinary to the cocktails, Masti playfully injects modern Indian flavours into each of its creations. Pull up a seat, fill your plate with colour and enjoy the lively atmosphere until late into the night.


Favourite Italian Restaurant – Motorino, JA Ocean View Hotel


On your quest for the best slice in the city, look no further than Motorino. The New York City export pours experience and love into each of its pizzas, delivering a quality dish every time.


Favourite Japanese Restaurant – Gohan


Newcomer Gohan presents speakeasy vibes meets elegant Japanese eatery that’s hidden behind the wine fridges of La Cantine Du Faubourg. Once inside, diners experience elegant Japanese street food with a refined menu of skewers, sushi and gyoza, that uses top quality ingredients.


Favourite Latin American Restaurant – Maiz Tacos


There’s a lot to love about Maiz Tacos – from the freshly pressed tortillas to the homemade salsas and carefully sourced ingredients, this JLT taco joint is one of Dubai’s finest. After starting out as a food truck, then expanding into a long-term pop-up in Dar Wasl Mall, Maiz Tacos opened its first permanent home in JLT in October 2019 to meet the growing demand for its fuss-free, affordable dishes.

Favourite Middle Eastern Restaurant – Zouzou, La Mer


Serving a fusion of Turkish and Lebanese cuisines, this fuss-free seaside spot at La Mer draws visitors time and again for its friendly service and tasty mezze dishes.


Favourite Modern American Restaurant – Buffalo Wings & Rings


Sports? Check. Wings? Check. Rings? Check. What more could you want for a chilled catch up with your pals? Buffalo Wings & Rings offers all this and more from two prime Dubai locations, DIFC and now JLT. Keep your eye out for great drinks deals, too.


Favourite Pet-Friendly Restaurant – The Duck Hook


Keep your furry friend happy with a huge stretch of green and plenty of space for zoomies. Enjoy views across the golf course with your pup, while tucking into one of The Duck Hook’s famous roasts.


Favourite Seafood Restaurant – Moana Seafood Restaurant, Sofitel Dubai The Palm


Situated on its own little island, Moana gives tropical vibes alongside a menu of fresh seafood, sushi, ceviche and more. Delicately fusing Japanese and Peruvian cuisines, Moana is a must-visit for foodies on the hunt for quality seafood in a picturesque setting.