With laid-back beach vibes, tropical drinks and old-school Polynesian décor, there are a lot of reasons to like Trader Vic’s. Created by Vic “The Trader” Bergeron in 1934, the brand has become massively popular all around the world, and nowhere more so than in the UAE. There are now six across the emirates, with Trader Vic’s JBR the newest addition to this list, having opened in March.
We choose to get an early evening drink, and the terrace area is where it’s at. It’s packed, and we have to wait indoors in the (empty) bar until a space is available for us to move to.
The terrace is a prime spot on JBR with views across to Ain Dubai. And if you’re not on holiday you’ll feel like you are once you’ve had your first sip of the bar’s signature Polynesian mixed drinks.
Inside, the space is massive, and disproportionately in favour of dining. There’s a long, non-smoking bar, but not much space to sit, which, when the weather heats up, could prove problematic. There’s also a stage for live music.
Drinks are, as you’d expect, on the pricey side, though there’s a daily happy hour from 5pm until 8pm, which helps.
The team has gone all out with the interiors, with canoes from the Taiwanese Orchid Island hanging from the ceiling, tribal masks from Papua New Guinea, fishing net orbs from Japan and hand-crafted tiki statues. It’s the kitsch Trader Vic’s you know and love, though there’s something lacking that other branches have. Maybe it’s the huge, empty dining space that misses that fun vibe, or maybe it’s the service, which isn’t on point. We’re not writing it off, but there are better branches in the city.
The bottom line Has potential, but is more restaurant than bar.
Trader Vic’s JBR