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Nestled in the basement of the Armada Avenue Hotel in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Nola can be found in what feels like a secret location. The laid-back New Orleans-inspired restaurant and bar offers all the downtown feels without the hustle and bustle.
Short for New Orleans, Louisiana, Nola provides guests with the lively atmospheric feels of the French Quarter. As we walk up to the entrance, we’re met with the sounds of live entertainment, after-work chatter and a beaming smile from the hostess – this joint is always packed and for a good reason.
Nola captivates diners with an energetic atmosphere created by the singer and musicians. Open from 12pm until 1am, this day-to-night spot boasts generous seating along the large marble bar (perfect for a swift after-work drink), a selection of mismatched leather and wooden seating and a cosy outdoor terrace. This FACT Award-winning restaurant is a popular JLT spot with those seeking a soul food fix. Whilst many come for the colourful and flavoursome happy hour cocktails, there’s no doubt Nola’s is a cool venue with top service that makes you want to stay out far too late for a weeknight.
Nola plates southern comfort food such as jambalaya and gumbo (pots usually made up of rice, chicken, shrimps, sausage and vegetables) with precision and plenty of flavours. The resulting food is one of the most significant talking points for diners. We start with baked camembert, oven baked in filo with drunken figs (AED 76) and Bayou shrimp beignets, beer-battered and finished with Cajun spice and served with creamy horseradish dip on the side (AED 79). Both dishes were highly recommended by our waiter. Other popular choices include the hot spinach cheese dip served with sourdough crostini (AED 46) and the Guacanola, avocado dip served with tortilla chips (AED 53).
We love that our table is near the stage, and between courses, we are entertained with the sweet sounds of wild, jubilant jazz music whilst sipping on our Nolatails aka cocktails. The cocktails you should have on your radar include the Ragin’ Rita (it’s as fierce as it sounds) and the Louisiana Lemonade (something a little easier to drink). The latter is mixed with Cajun spices and a touch of gold dust.
After a short break, we move on to our mains. By this point, we’ve had enough time to scan the room to see the dishes served to other diners. They all look great, so we’re going with the waiter’s recommendations of seafood gumbo (mussels, sea bass, shrimps, crab and beef chorizo stew) with white rice (AED 90) and spinach barley-risotto with tomato, roasted pecans and lemon essence (AED 63) which makes for a tasty vegan option. We accompany our mains with a Nola Salad, comprising mixed greens with apple, avocado, roasted pecans, sautéed mushrooms and parmesan (AED 50).
It’s ladies’ night when we visit, which means ladies receive four cocktails and a 50% discount on food. We’d suggest you book in advance as it gets full pretty quickly.
At this point of the night, Nola’s is in full swing. The live musicians turn it up a notch and really give it their all. Within seconds they have the diner’s full attention, with lots of clapping and toe-tapping from the seats. For a mid-week night out, Nola’s ticks every box. It’s affordable, entertaining and offers a menu bursting with hearty food.
GO: Call 04 399 8155 for reservations and more information.