The arty hub of Al Quoz has become a second home for lifestyle content creator Tjaša Džafić, who visits Alserkal Avenue and the surrounding streets for interiors inspiration and a caffeine hit.
A cafe-meets-wellness centre, Hapi has become a defacto office for freelancing Tjaša. “This is one of my favourite places to work. I bring my laptop and sit here, enjoying a coffee or a bowl of bone broth,” says Tjaša. “I feel right at home because it reminds me of the cafes back in Slovenia, where everything is homemade and they use fresh, seasonal ingredients.” Hapi also runs fitness classes in their on-site Movement Facility, covering everything from soothing yoga to high-energy parkour and capoeira sessions.
Warehouse 42, Alserkal Ave, Sat-Thu, 8am-10pm, (04) 225 1807, alserkalavenue.ae/en/neighborhood/hapi.php
The Flip Side
While record stores may be a common sight in Europe, they’re something of a rarity in the UAE. Filling the void is The Flip Side, a favourite haunt of Tjaša’s. “I feel like records are making a comeback, but for me this is more a place of inspiration – I love to go in and be inspired by the old-school covers,” she says. “That’s what I love most about Alserkal Avenue – it offers an atypical shopping experience in that it’s ok just to browse… most of the stores are run by owner-operators who are passionate about their business and their niche, so they take the time to speak with you.”
Unit 71, Alserkal Ave, Al Quoz, Sat-Thu, 12pm-9pm, facebook.com/theflipsidedxb
Follow your nose to Mirzam, a bean-to-bar chocolatier using traditional techniques to create single-origin bars and truffles. “You can smell it as soon as you walk in the door, and I love watching them make chocolate in the factory,” says Tjaša. “They sell their chocolates here, along with coffee, hot chocolate, cakes and brownies.” For design-mad Tjaša, it’s not just about the sweets. “Mirzam teams up with local designers to create their beautifully illustrated wrappers, including bars and hampers Ramadan, festive gifting and Valentine’s Day,” she says.
Warehouse 70, Alserkal Ave, Sun-Tue, 10am-7pm, Wed-Sat, 10am-9pm, (04) 333 5888, mirzam.com
When Tjaša wants a hit of interiors inspiration, she hightails it to Ikonhouse (right) for a spot of window shopping. “This isn’t your typical furniture store: it’s always on-trend when it comes to the latest colours and styles, and they source designs from all over the world, including big statement pieces such as sofas and chests of drawers, plus cutlery, plates and decorations from smaller artisans,” says Tjaša. “These are investment pieces, but I’m all about interiors so I’d much prefer to buy a nice piece of furniture for the home over a designer handbag,” she adds.
Unit 85, Alserkal Ave, Al Quoz, Sat-Thu, 10am-7pm, (04) 388 1848, ikonhouse.ae
Tjaša and her husband share a love of good coffee, and spend their weekends seeking out new cafes and roasters. “We first visited Raw Coffee Company about four years ago, and it was one of the few places at the time where you could buy freshly roasted beans. They’d make you a coffee to try the beans, and because so many people started coming there, they opened a cafe section as well,” Tjaša explains. “It’s a proper coffee experience here – all you smell is the roasting beans, and the space has a warehouse feel, with simple tables and chairs, and big bags of beans lining the walls.” Like much of Al Quoz, Raw Coffee Company can be hard to find. “I’ve been there so many times and yet to this day I still cannot find it without Google Maps,” says Tjaša.
Warehouse 10, cnr 7A and 4A sts, Al Quoz 1, daily, 8am-5pm, (04) 339 5474, rawcoffeecompany.com
For quirky homewares and one-of-a-kind artworks with a Japanese accent, Tjaša steers us towards Chi-ka. “I was shook when I first came across this kimono and art space near Mirzam,” says Tjaša. “They have Japanese-style art, kimonos, jewellery and trinkets, plus they host photography exhibitions and events throughout the year.”
Unit 69 Alserkal Ave, Al Quoz, Sat-Thu, 10am-7pm, (04) 345 0000, chikaspace.com
For freelance stylist and content creator Tjaša, her office is wherever she opens her laptop. “I’m always discovering new coffee places, and I was first drawn to Seven Fortunes via its Instagram page,” Tjaša reveals. “It serves good-quality coffee and it’s a lovely place to work. I work a lot from home, so if I can settle into a nice place for a few hours, I feel more motivated and inspired.”
Warehouse 12, Al Asayel St, Al Quoz 2, Sat-Thu, 9am-6pm, 050 625 2265, sevenfortunes.com
To add a splash of colour to her home interiors, or when shopping for a gift for a friend, Tjaša heads to The Habitat in Al Quoz, the location for this month’s cover shoot. “It’s like a hidden garden in The Courtyard, tucked inside Boston Lane cafe. They have a lovely range of indoor plants and cacti with beautiful pots that are really affordable and perfect for gifting,” says Tjaša. “The owner, Denae, also runs these cool terrarium workshops. She sources everything herself and will happily help you choose the right plant for your home and share tips on caring for your plants.”
The Courtyard, 4B St, Al Quoz, daily, 8am-7pm, habitatplantshop.com
Georges of Dubai
Another of Tjaša’s favourite places to shop in Al Quoz is Georges of Dubai, also in The Courtyard. “You can find so many different things in this concept store, but for me it’s great if you need a unique gift for a friend that has more meaning than something you’d buy in a mall. It’s also a place I go if I want to treat myself with an individual piece for the home,” says Tjaša.
The Courtyard, 4B St, Al Quoz, daily, 9am-6pm, 050 558 6746, georgesofdubai.com
Amid the coffee roasters of Al Quoz lies Avantcha, a specialty tea boutique with a sleek monochrome interior. “Essentially, they are a tea purveyor, but they are happy to pour you a cup before you buy so you can try their different blends,” Tjaša explains. “You can choose one of their single origin teas or make your own blend – they’ll find the right tea for your taste, whether you like sweet, fruity or bitter brews.” Avantcha offers a range of loose-leaf teas from around the world, from Sri Lankan orange pekoe to Japanese genmaicha (green tea with roasted rice), and the chic packaging makes this another fab option for festive gifting.
Warehouse 12, 4A St, Al Quoz, Sun-Thu, 9am-6pm, 054 436 6886, avantcha.com
The warehouses, galleries and workshops of Alserkal Avenue have become a magnet for Dubai’s creatives. In the evenings, film lovers flock to Cinema Akil to watch movies you won’t find at the local multiplex. “This cinema shows independent, art-house films, rather than big Hollywood productions. They’re always screening something new, and the people who come here are real movie buffs – they don’t chat or look at their phones throughout the film; they are mature and genuinely interested,” Tjaša explains. Before the film starts, grab a cup of karak or a snack from the tea shop, Project Chaiwala (open daily from midday until 10pm).
Warehouse G59, Alserkal Ave, Sun-Thu, from 7.30pm, Fri-Sat, from 5pm, cinemaakil.com
Toil & Tinker
If you’re in the market for a new logo or invitations for your next event, Tjaša suggests a visit to Toil & Tinker. “They offer a bespoke printing and design service, and can create invitations, stationery, business cards and logos from scratch. It’s a lovely, boutique experience, as you sit with them in their amazing space while they work with you to create something unique,” says Tjaša.
Warehouse 11, Al Asayel St, Al Quoz 2, Sat-Thu, 10am-6pm, (04) 341 0977, toilandtinker.com