Sometimes the old favourites are exactly that, favourites. And they are so for a reason.
Claw BBQ is an American crabshack and grill where the food is good, the drinks are strong and the vibe is fun. For a night (or day) of unpretentious indulgence, Claw BBQ, located within the beautiful Souk Al Bahar, is right up your street.
Popular for it’s legendary Friday brunch and it’s vast portion sizes, we descended on Claw BBQ on a busy Friday night to see if it’s reputation really was still going strong amidst a sea of new restaurant openings in Dubai.
First impressions count and walking into Claw is like stepping into another world entirely; neon signs plaster the exposed brick walls, American flags and memorabilia decorate the bar and red & white table clothes adorn the dark wood tables, it’s so not Dubai. And that is exactly why we love it.
One look at the queue outside the door and the packed interior and its clearly obvious that Claw’s reign has never been more supreme, offering a welcome respite from formal, fussy dining and a place where drinking from a giant cocktail glass is anything but frowned upon. In fact, it’s actively encouraged. There’s even a terrace overlooking the Dubai fountains and the glossy architecture of Downtown just in case you start to panic.
Service is attentive with baseball jersey adorned wait staff keen to recommend their personal favourites on the menu. Before we get into the nitty gritty we should mention, if you are on a lifelong diet then you might as well stop reading now, for Claw is as much about the delicious food as it is the buzzing atmosphere. This is a place where just for a night, it’s allowed to abandon the calorie counting and feast, all washed down with one of Claw’s signature (potent) cocktails.
Best enjoyed with a group of friends, Claw is not so much about sharing as it is about stealing french fries off other people’s plates from across the table. Such is the diversity of the menu, decisions are hard to make and that’s why at Claw it’s almost acceptable to pinch a bite of your neighbour’s dish when they’re not looking.
For appetizers, our waiter helpfully suggested that we ‘share’ the Nacho Libre and a plate of Buffalo Hot Wings. Not quite sure whether we had a choice or not here, and in all honesty, not really caring, we promptly agreed. Nachos are a great way to start off your meal at Claw. A mountain of tortilla chips topped with creamy guacamole, beef chili,cheese, jalapenos, black olives and sour cream arrived at our table and we wasted no time in tucking in. It’s hard to describe Nachos as a culinary dish but these really were exceptional. The Buffalo Hot Wings are tossed in hot sauce (not too spicy don’t worry) and accompanied by celery sticks and a blue cheese dip and top off the first course nicely.
Now for mains, such is the choice, you’re tempted to order more than one thing from the menu but we warn you, don’t. The portion sizes are generous and it’s best to save your second choice for your next visit. The Plank Roasted Salmon is a favourite dish of the chefs and whilst we personally didn’t tuck into this ourselves we did spy the next table enjoying this, served with hearty smashed potatoes, green salad and almost, obligatory corn. A great choice for those that don’t want to group their entire month’s cheat days into one hour.
In our opinion, you simply cannot visit Claw without having shellfish in some shape or form. The seafood buckets are legendary and feature mounds of fresh crab, crawfish and shrimp and come with all the hammering and snapping utensils needed to break the claws themselves and scoop out the succulent meat inside. You’ll soon be thankful for the plastic bib that is promptly tied around your neck upon presentation of this dish, and this only further adds to the fun. Spaghetti has never looked so boring! Opting for the King Crab, this dish received “ooohs” and “aahs” from fellow dinners as it was plonked center stage on our table. Enormous pink crab legs protruded nestled against juicy yellow corn and accompanied by sweet potato fries. King Crab is a delicacy and the price reflects this, but is some of the best seafood your dirhams can buy and we promise, it’s worth every cent. For even more flavour, the Baja King Crab is deep fried and a great take on this crabshack staple.
The Sizzling Fajitas are great for novices and give you the options between chicken,steak, shrimp and vegetables and come with warm flour tortillas, mixed bell peppers and all the necessary toppings you could wish for, all on a sizzling skillet.
Hamburgers also proudly feature on the menu as you would expect from an American diner, and the Classic Burger is perhaps the easiest option for less adventurous diners but is no less delicious, featuring the finest USDA beef cooked exactly to your preference and topped off with a variety of garnish options. For meat rebels, the Jalapeno Bacon burger is a great choice with beef bacon and blue cheese packed tightly under the crispy, toasted bun.
Of course, for meat eaters there is almost too much choice. From Wagyu Ribeye Steak to Smoked BBQ Chicken, Beef Short Ribs to Southern Fried Chicken, the options really are endless and each dish an even better reinvention than the last.
Even the list of sides are good enough to eat all on their own. Enjoy belly busting Mac N Cheese, nostalgic Mash N Gravy or loaded baked potatoes.
If you’re still hungry after all of that food, and even if you’re not, the desert menu is well worth a look. Just about still sitting upright comfortably, our table of four decided to opt for a sharing giant cookie topped off with vanilla ice-cream to send us over the edge. It worked and it was worth every single bite. Of course, more traditional dishes such as Apple Pie, Chocolate Brownie and Ice-Cream Sundaes are also available.
Now, let’s come to the drinks. All this food needs to be washed down and when visiting Claw it’s practically illegal not to try one of their signature drinks. Before we’d even looked at the beverage menu, a giant strawberry margarita with an upside down bottled beer inside and four straws appeared at the table. Do not be afraid, this is just the Claw way. The giant cocktail glass was followed by another Instagram worthy glass in the shape of a fish and filled with ominous blue liquid (Rum we seem to recall) that immediately makes anyone that takes a sip think they are Britney Spears and start singing along to the old school tunes that the resident DJ is rocking out from his BBQ booth. Yes, you did read that right.
The drinks menu at Claw is an experience all on its own, and if you don’t want to eat at all, we still recommend you visit for the unrivaled selection of traditional and signature drinks alone. Did you know that Claw also has one of the widest selections of tequilas and ‘sippin whiskeys’ in the city? Well we didn’t either but we sure do now.
Classics still feature so those looking for a traditional Daiquiri and that all American favoruite, the Manhattan, won’t be disappointed, in fact there is just about every cocktail you could ever imagine and then a few more inventions thrown in just for good (strong) measure.
We managed to escape the famous Shooters but at exactly 20:13 each night ‘Shot O’Clock‘ happens and the menu consists of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The Good are refreshing concoctions of sweet liquour and fresh fruits, the Bad are for the slightly more daring who wouldn’t say no to a Sambuca and the Ugly, well it’s best to leave those to the pros!
Everything about Claw is fun; the decor, the music, the food and most definitely, the drinks. It’s a little bit of escapism in Dubai, a place where you go in one person and come out someone else entirely. It’s well worth a visit and in our opinion is easily still one of the best original restaurants in the region.