Whether it’s an afternoon tea party in the garden, a nightcap on a rooftop lounge or a brunch by the seaside, our selection of the island’s best restaurants has it all.
October marks the onset of winter in Bahrain. While it’s too hot to be outdoors during the rest of the year, the cooler months right up to February are pleasant and a great time to dine al fresco on the island.
Hazel Rooftop Lounge
Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Fusion, Tapas, Middle Eastern, $$$
Tucked away in Adliya, this modern and stylish lounge offers a casual yet upscale vibe. It’s a great place to share delicious platters of food, and hot and cold tapas while sipping on signature drinks. The tapas dishes include chicken teriyaki skewers, Cajun-fried calamari, ‘Hazel’s Bruschetta’ and more, while the sharing plates have everything from sliders and steaks to quesadillas. Dishes with a Middle Eastern spin such as hammour fish and chips, pea, feta and mint falafel, and lamb koftas with quinoa-tabbouleh (a Mediterranean salad made with parsley, tomato, onion and bulgur wheat and seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil and spices) are also served. Regionally popular home-grown bands serenade guests with blues and alternative music throughout the week, making this a truly local lounging experience.
This 150-year old historical monument in the heart of Manama is one-of-a-kind. It features many contemporary art galleries, an open-air amphitheatre, and a fine dining restaurant. The restaurant overlooks an outdoor dining area that can seat over 250 guests, making it an ideal venue for a wedding reception. The fountain in the centre is the main attraction and adds to the idyllic vibe. Unique architecture similar to a European chateau but with authentic Gulf Islamic features such as traditional wooden windows and flat roofs adds to the charm of the place. International artists perform here regularly. The food is great too and includes a variety of dishes from Spanish gazpacho (cold tomato soup) to Thai sizzling beef. Middle Eastern-inspired creations such as grilled crayfish with saffron rice and grilled halloumi salad are also served.
Located on the grounds of the Palace Boutique Hotel, the Orangery has a sprawling, lush garden – the perfect setting for a weekend brunch. Details like the fountain, cane furniture, and English street lamps add a rustic touch to the place. An exclusive section canopied by a glass roof is available too, and is ideal for intimate family gatherings. Apart from tea-time snacks such as sandwiches, scones and pastries, burgers, pizzas, and pasta are also served. Seafood and meat mains including grilled salmon and Levantine lamb chops are on the menu as well. Vegan diners can choose from a selection of items including salads, garden vegetables, and the vegan burger – a house favourite made using chickpeas and slathered with silky beetroot hummus and guacamole.
Cafe, Restaurant, American, Contemporary, Salad Bar, $$$
Nestled in the picturesque Block 338 area, this restaurant serves unpretentious, value-for-money food in generous portions. The restored Arab-style building with a flat roof and heritage detailing on walls offers a rustic backdrop for outdoor dining. Guests can enjoy a relaxed meal seated in the adjoining pebble-floored garden with umbrella canopies and greenery. Simple yet flavourful creations such as beef stroganoff, grilled chicken with gravy and mash, pasta and burgers are served in addition to a variety of soups and salads. The grilled halloumi salad and peach ice tea are must-tries. A heads-up – Coco’s is crowded all year round no matter what time of the day and advance bookings aren’t allowed, so, finding a table might be a challenge.
This modern Japanese fusion restaurant is a great place for drinks with friends. The rooftop offers a lively ambiance with great music and is a subtly lit, split-level space – there’s a VIP lounge area, bar seating and table dining. A popular weekend destination, Meisei is well-known for its salsa nights. The menu is extensive and features a variety of vegetarian, seafood and meat dishes. There are rice and noodle items as well as other creative mains such as saffron sea bass and black angus beef panca chili. Those sitting at the bar can enjoy from a selection of easy-to-eat, Asian-inspired tapas including wagyu crispy taco, Peking duck pizza, quesadillas, bao sliders, sushi, edamame, and tempura-style items. There’s parking available right outside the restaurant, which is a plus because this area is usually swamped with diners all week.
Resembling a traditional house in the culture-steeped city of Muharraq, this restaurant located in Adliya has one of the most creative rooftop spaces in Bahrain – there’s a wind tower, which is an exclusive dining section, a water wheel, and wooden beams and window frames. The terrace is also divided into sections, some more high rise than others, and exudes a rustic vibe with its cobbled stone divider, wooden footbridge, thatched canopies and cemented floors. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy live music and mocktails, or even one of the fruity or floral tea blends served here. The menu features a variety of contemporary style dishes from a range of cuisines, including Indian, Chinese, Italian and Middle Eastern.
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Serving some of the best Indian food across the island, this popular restaurant has a courtyard garden. Though the weather is pleasant during winter, there are outdoor coolers installed – just in case the food gets too spicy to handle. Rustic woodwork detail, cane furniture, and canopying bougainvillea add to the ambiance of this al fresco space, as do the warm, friendly staff. Diners must try the signature buffet featuring a variety of Indian and fusion dishes. A la carte options are available too. The perfect accompaniment to Lantern’s signature mocktails and cocktails, the chicken, meat and paneer (cottage cheese) grills available here are marinated in tangy yogurt and oriental spices and served over a sigri (a type of stove), which seals in the flavour.
Located on the 25th floor of downtown Rotana, this stylish urban lounge and restaurant offers panoramic views of Bahrain’s capital. The outdoor area has bar seating as well as a comfortable lounging section where you can unwind with great music and signature drinks. You could also stand at one of the cocktail tables, grooving to the lively numbers. The menu features a selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian bites such as fried calamari, pistachio kebabs with tomato salsa, and saffron chicken and leek skewers. Diners looking for a more local touch can try Arab-fusion items such as grilled eggplant with dates and feta, and meatballs with foie gras and Baharat spice. All this coupled with great service and a breezy rooftop ambiance will ensure you end your weekend on a high note.
Located at Al Areen Palace and Spa in Sakhir, Keizo is a long drive away from the city centre but worth it because it offers the most romantic outdoor dining experience in Bahrain. Perfect for a date or an anniversary dinner, the al fresco space by the lakeside has tall date palms and luscious greenery. For an additional charge, diners can also sit in one of the gazebos perched atop private man-made islands. The food is mainly Japanese, Chinese and Thai, and includes staples such as sushi and a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian tempura items. Mains such as crispy roast Peking duck, beef in black pepper sauce, and lamb cooked in red curry paste are also served.
Serving a selection of premium cuts from Japanese Miyazaki wagyu meat to Argentinian Pampa Humeda-bred beef, the Meat Co is Bahrain’s best standalone steakhouse. It has a modern and stylish rooftop offering panoramic views of the artsy Block 338. You can opt for the tables by the side or lounge on the couches in the middle with great music – this place hosts some of the best DJs on the island. Staff members are friendly and always ready to help you choose from a never-ending variety of meat options; apart from steaks, the menu features gourmet burgers, hanging skewers, and other seafood and vegetarian dishes. The salt and pepper fried calamari is a must-try and has been a house favourite for over a decade.
Offering some of the best sea views on the island, Tapas Bar and Restaurant, located in Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, serves a variety of tapas-style dishes from seafood to Spanish sausage. The menu also features other fusion creations such as bruschetta, sliders and chicken satay with peanut butter sauce. Middle Eastern-inspired meze are also served. The outdoor area is usually quiet – great music is played indoors – and ideal for a relaxed sunset drink by the Arabian sea. Low-rise rattan furniture and wooden floors combined with a low-lit ambiance make it an ideal place for a night cap too.
Located at Novotel Al Dana Resort, Fishbone offers a Mediterranean trattoria-style experience with a special focus on local seafood. It’s a home-grown idea by chef Susy Massetti, a well-known advocate of the farm-to-table concept in Bahrain – all the food is prepared using seasonal, handpicked ingredients, and the restaurant supports local farmers and fishermen through this concept. The restaurant opened in October 2018 and has a great outdoor dining area by the seaside with stunning views of the Muharraq skyline. In addition to mouth-watering seafood dishes such as butter garlic prawns, golden fried calamari, clam spaghetti and ceviche, a variety of creative meat, vegetarian and vegan options are also on the menu.
The souq (market) has many traditional Arabian cafés within walking distance of each other, some of them about a hundred years old. Danetaltawawish, Namlaitey, Haji Gahwa, and Abdul Qader are popular names to look out for. Most of them have outdoor dining spaces with a rustic feel – hand-painted wooden benches, local embroidered upholstery, and walls adorned with photos of yesteryear Bahrain. Dining al fresco at Manama Souq offers a unique cultural experience – you can tuck into Bahraini staples such as liver, meat stew, baid tamat (scrambled eggs with tangy tomato), and foul medames (black-eyed beans). Or simply people-watch as you sip on chai karak (tea laced with milk and spices). It’s best to manoeuvre the souq’s by-lanes on foot.