(Bloomberg) -- When do people go out for brunch? In Dubai, it’s not just Sundays at noon. It’s now Monday evenings. Tuesday afternoons. Or Thursday nights. Really, whenever.

Restaurants in the city increasingly serve “brunch” far outside the traditional midday weekend zone. Josette, a French restaurant that opened last year in Dubai’s financial district, this year started hosting a Tuesday evening brunch. Kiza Restaurant and Lounge, a pan-African restaurant in the financial district, now offers what it calls an “inception” brunch on Thursday evenings. The Lighthouse Restaurant & Bar on Jan. 31 began serving brunch late on Wednesdays at its Dubai branch. And the Alpine-themed Publique restaurant advertises “all day every day brunch,” with a three-course meal and bottomless booze.

The meal has become a staple of the modern Dubai social scene—at least for the expatriates who make up more than 90% of the population. It’s offered in pizza places, Michelin-starred restaurants and anywhere between. It’s not, however, what people in other parts of the world expect from the meal that’s a portmanteau—both linguistic and culinary—of breakfast and lunch.

Rather than offering a weekend hangover cure of eggs Benedict and Bloody Marys, these are typically all-you-can-eat-and-drink affairs that feature a vast buffet of cuisines from around the globe. (In fact, the only thing the Dubai incarnation might have in common with some American brunches is the bottomless booze aspect.)

“If you have a tourist coming in who is more familiar with the conventional definition of a brunch, they might be confused as to why you’re doing it at 8 p.m. on a Monday night,” says Ross Matthews-Smith, owner of Fibber Magee’s, an Irish pub. “It’s about going a bit wild, consuming and being as indulgent as you can in a short period of time, to get the value for money that you’ve paid for. It’s nothing to do with the time of day or what you’re eating.”

The typical cost for brunch is around 400 dirhams ($109) per person for house alcoholic beverages and perhaps an additional 100 to 200 dirhams to upgrade to Champagne or higher-shelf liquors. Wine packages are sometimes called “grape” options because of laws that restrict alcohol advertising. Post-pandemic, and with food waste in mind, some restaurants have moved away from serving buffet-style in favor of endless a la carte.

Dubai’s version of brunch became popular in the late 1990s as a way to cater to expats who wanted to drink a lot, cheaply. For decades, the Islamic emirate was a place where alcohol was expensive and typically served only in select hotel bars and restaurants. A bottle of Budweiser could easily cost 50 dirhams. The city has since loosened regulations and removed a 30% tax on alcohol imports, though this hasn’t brought the deflationary effect some drinkers had hoped for.

With brunch proving to be such a moneymaker, some Dubai restaurants began pushing the limits. They started offering “night brunch”—basically the same alcohol and food free-for-all, but during evening hours. Thursday and Friday evening brunches became common, which made sense when the United Arab Emirates followed a Friday-Saturday weekend before shifting to Saturday-Sunday in 2022.

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Dubai restaurants have long offered “theme nights,” an all-you-can-eat option during the week, says Victoria Solovieva, who started the Dubai brunch directory BrunchCrunch.ae in 2019. “Probably for the ease of use, people started calling it ‘evening brunch,’” she says, which served to communicate the concept to diverse immigrants, many of whom don’t speak English as a first language.

Solovieva and her partners debated what to do about midweek or night brunches when building their database. “Technically speaking, you shouldn’t call something that takes place in the evening a brunch,” she says. But, they figured, why not?

And so Dubai arrived at a place where the meal has lost almost all connection to the historic origin of the word. The concept of brunch is traditionally credited to Guy Beringer, an Englishman who proposed in 1895 that a novel meal be served on Sundays, starting at 12:30 p.m. and consisting of tea or coffee, breakfast foods, fish and meat. At the end of the essay, he notes: “Beer and whiskey are admitted as substitutes for tea and coffee.”

What would Beringer think of the latest promotion from Josette? Its Tuesday brunch runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and costs 450 dirhams for the nonalcoholic package, or up to 850 dirhams for the Champagne package.

“We want to bring some sparkle and uniqueness to DIFC [Dubai International Financial Center] on weekdays, when people want to have fun after work,” says Giovanna Altomare, a spokeswoman for Orange Hospitality, which runs Josette.

At Kiza, the Inception Brunch runs from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, with a menu of African-inspired dishes such as prawns with sweet chili sauce and jollof risotto. It’s priced at 195 dirhams for the nonalcoholic meal and 295 dirhams when served with house beverages. The meal deal officially began being offered in January.

To be sure, the vast majority of brunches in Dubai still take place on weekends. Fibber Magee’s, however, did away with its Sunday brunch last month after finding that customers preferred a 99 dirham lunch deal that included a traditional Sunday roast, plus a pint. The pub now hosts evening brunches called Thirsty Thursday and Monday Madness.

“It’s good fun, if you can brave a hangover and go into work Tuesday morning,” Matthews-Smith says.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.