Oak Room, The Abu Dhabi EDITION is one of many quality restaurants in Abu Dhabi | Courtesy of Oak Room, The Abu Dhabi EDITION
Pull up a chair at an establishment operated by a Michelin-star chef. Enjoy the best of regional flavours. Tempt your taste buds with the freshest seafood. There’s plenty on offer at the best restaurants in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi has long been a city of contrasts, and when it comes to food, the landscape is no different. Immerse yourself in age-old Emirati flavours at eateries owned and run by passionate restaurateurs, or opt to enliven your taste buds with an eclectic selection of internationally inspired venues. If that’s not enough, seek out the establishments with the backing of big-name chefs Tom Aikens and Enrico Bartolini – it’s all on offer in the UAE’s culinary capital.
The best Abu Dhabi restaurants for all budgets
Restaurant, Korean, $$$
Manna Land specialises in Japanese and Korean dishes | Courtesy of Manna Land
Located in the Al Nahyan area of the capital, not far from the city centre, Manna Land is popular for its Korean and Japanese menu and spacious interior, complete with a private dining room and the main dining area with floor seating or tables and chairs. The tables are all authentically Korean, kitted out with built-in lazy Susans and grills, perfect for sharing dishes like the galbi gui (thinly sliced barbecued ribs), bibimbap and yachae bulgogi (marinated and barbecued beef with vegetables). Plates start from 55 United Emirates dirhams (£12) – note that alcohol is not served here.
Each tashas is slightly different from one another | Courtesy of tashas
Owned and run by South African restaurateur Natasha Sideris, tashas is heavily inspired by the Mediterranean and is one of Abu Dhabi’s most popular casual-dining destinations. Positioned by the marina at Marsa Al Bateen, the waterside eatery has a comfortable yet sophisticated vibe and features natural tones and plenty of potted plants. The restaurant has an impressive all-day dining menu that includes sandwiches, burgers, quesadillas and pasta, as well as hearty breakfast meals, healthy dishes and ‘classic’ signature toasts with toppings. Sit in the spacious air-conditioned interior or out on the deck with views of the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Centre and neighbouring marina.
The brainchild of Sergio Lopez – one half of the popular Tom&Serg culinary duo who set Dubai’s dining scene alight with their eponymous Melbourne-inspired café in 2013 – Sanderson’s is tucked away in the Mediterranean-inspired village that is Al Seef Resort & Spa, on the outskirts of the city. Lopez’s first solo venture has island vibes and is brimming with wholesome dishes and ‘healthy mood food’ – think beetroot hummus toast and seared seabass – made with quality ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s worth noting that this is a dry establishment, but there are a variety of drinks on offer, including rainbow lattes.
Cafe, Hotel Restaurant, Restaurant, Middle Eastern
With several locations across the globe and a name meaning ‘kerosene lamps’, Al Fanar offers authentic Emirati cuisine in a traditional 1960s Emirati environment that gives off an old Dubai neighbourhood feel. You can choose from a selection of fresh salads, local fish, seafood and meats. With space for approximately 340 people, the restaurant is located on the ground floor of the Yas Mall, next to Ferarri World.
With a reputation for serving up some of the best steaks in town, Le Beaujolais is a no-frills French-style eatery with excellent food. At its relaxed location on the ground floor of the Novel Hotel on Hamdan Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, you’ll feel like you’re in a casual bistro somewhere in Paris. Enjoy a glass of red wine with your rib-eye steak, Angus beef fillet or beef bourguignon. The staff are friendly, and the prices are affordable for the city.
Eat Greek Kouzina offers traditional Greek cuisine in a welcoming environment | Courtesy of Eat Greek Kouzina
Eat Greek Kouzina at The Galleria at Al Maryah Island is where you’ll find the best Greek cuisine in Abu Dhabi. Serving up dishes from all over Greece, this cosy Mediterranean-inspired eatery features imported limestone and distressed wood floors, stone-washed walls and sea views that are certain to impress, while the open kitchen offers guests a front-row seat to all of the food preparation. The Eat Greek menu is full of flavour, with everything from dips and souvlaki to Greek specialities such as moussaka and gemista (stuffed peppers). The small restaurant is fully licensed and open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
Perhaps better known for its flamboyant Turkish owner Nusret Gökçe (AKA Salt Bae) than the food, this specialised steak restaurant is as popular as its other outposts around the world. Expect beef carpaccio, steak tartare, beef ribs, a selection of succulent steaks and beef fillets, not to mention lamb dishes, burgers and meatballs. Appetisers start at AED50 (£11), but of course, being Abu Dhabi, you can go for gold, too, with the Nusr-Et Golden Steak, which is coated in gold leaf. The establishment is part of the dining collection within The Galleria shopping mall on Al Maryah Island, positioned between the city centre and Saadiyat Island.
The most popular shawarma eatery in the capital, Shish Shawerma has been attracting its fair share of attention from visitors since opening its doors in 2011. Located in the heart of Khalidiya, one of the oldest parts of the capital, this casual eatery offers delicious Turkish-style doner kebabs meals, including shawarma (beef or chicken) with fries and a soda, and there’s also a special kids menu with prices starting from AED16 (£3). Sit in the street-style interior, and watch the food magic happen at the open cooking stations.
The owner of this popular Emirati restaurant shares her passion for the local cuisine from the promenade at Al Raha Beach, a 30-minute drive from the centre of the city. Shaikha Al Kaabi named her eatery Meylas, which is a local expression meaning majlis or gathering place. With a traditional Bedouin feel thanks to its decor and the use of a front door that previously belonged to a traditional Emirati home from the 1970s, it’s a casual, comfortable space, and every dish uses a decades-old family recipe and fresh ingredients sourced from various UAE producers. Sit down to chbaab (traditional pancakes) or dig into a balaleet (vermicelli noodles topped with an omelette).
An outpost of a globally renowned restaurant brand and designed by Florentine architect Michele Bonan, Abu Dhabi’s Cipriani Yas Island features an expansive outdoor terrace with incredible vistas of the Yas Marina and neighbouring Formula One racing circuit. In keeping with the brand, the restaurant is a uniquely designed space – this one a luxurious ship complete with portholes and a plush lounge area. The menu is as stylish as the surrounds, boasting signature dishes inspired by Harry’s Bar in Venice and featuring classic Italian favourites such as risotto primavera and veal milanese – mains start at AED86 (£18). Located a 30-minute drive from the city centre, this fine-dining restaurant can host up to 360 people and is a popular choice for couples and group dining.
Cafe Milano has expansive waterfront views | Courtesy of Cafe Milano
From its waterfront position at the Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi, Cafe Milano succeeds in offering diners a sophisticated yet relaxed setting in which to enjoy a quality Italian meal. Guests will be as impressed by the artworks that surround them in the dining room as they are by the food. The focal point of the restaurant is the large boat-shaped sculptures – reminiscent of ancient Middle Eastern dhow boats – suspended from the ceiling. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant is known for such popular dishes as the burrata affumicata and the polpo arrosto (octopus), with prices starting from AED70 (£15).
Namak by Kunal Kapur’s colourful setting complements its flavourful cuisine | Courtesy of Namak by Kunal Kapur, Dusit Thani
For an authentic Indian dining experience, Namak by Kunal Kapur is sure to impress. From its base within the Dusit Thani, a hotel in the city’s new business and government district, the colourful restaurant celebrates the best of Indian flavours, complete with theatrical presentations. Namak serves mouth-watering lunch and dinner, and the meals usually begin with a roaming gin trolley and continue with a choice of dishes that include tobiko caviar, Kerala duck roasted tart and kataifi (sweet pastry)-wrapped tiger prawns with pickled chilli cream.
No visit to Abu Dhabi is complete without a visit to the Emirates Palace, but it may come as a surprise to many tourists that this luxurious venue also plays host to the best Chinese restaurant in town. The global restaurant brand is renowned for blending authentic Cantonese fare with international influences. There’s a large outdoor terrace for guests to enjoy during the cooler months and an impressive cocktail bar. From its location on the western end of the Corniche, the restaurant has a private parking area and hosts a Friday brunch from AED318 (£68) per person.
Oak Room, The Abu Dhabi EDITION is a modern steakhouse | Courtesy of Oak Room, The Abu Dhabi EDITION
This traditional English-style steak restaurant operates under the watchful eye of British celebrity chef Tom Aikens. Described as an experience that blends “world-class ingredients with British rock ‘n’ roll flair”, Oak Room is as stylish as the hotel brand to which it belongs – The Abu Dhabi EDITION hotel in the heart of Al Bateen. A host guides guests through a cosy, sophisticated bar area where they can enjoy a drink before entering the dining room proper. The generous menu and selection of fun cocktail creations are a big part of the appeal, but it’s the meat room and in-house beef specialist that set it apart. Choose from the best cuts of meat from across the globe, and pair them with its impressive variety of quality signature wines.
This restaurant can lay claim to being the first version of the internationally renowned 99 Sushi Bar venue outside of Spain, where it was founded. The fine-dining establishment sits on the second floor of the Galleria Mall at Al Maryah Island and boasts a sushi corner, garden terrace, slickly designed dining room and a menu that will satisfy foodies with a taste for Japanese fare. As is so often the case, good food comes at a price, so don’t expect a cheap meal here. Touted as haute cuisine, this one’s great for a special occasion.
Perched in a stand-alone two-storey space at the back of the InterContinental Abu Dhabi, overlooking the nearby marina, Byblos Sur Mer serves up a variety of Lebanese grilled meats and meze platters. The food is complemented by the stylish interiors and live music, not to mention the well-positioned terrace that affords guests glittering views of the Marina Walk, the city skyline in the distance and the boats moored nearby. It’s a good choice for those keen on getting a taste of the region in a fine-dining setting.
Limo Restaurant serves Peruvian and other South American dishes | Courtesy of Bab Al Qasr Hotel and Residences
Peruvian cuisine has developed quite a following in this part of the world in recent years, and as a result, Abu Dhabi’s Limo Restaurant continues to attract its fair share of attention. This brightly furnished establishment on the ground floor of the Bab Al Qasr Hotel provides delicious home-style Peruvian meals in elegant, intimate surrounds. Ceviches, tiraditos (raw fish), anticuchos (meat skewers) and the signature fresh fish à la chorrillana (fish served on vegetables) are all popular dishes on the extensive menu. There’s also a chef’s choice menu for adventurous eaters.
Designed to replicate La Petite Maison’s Dubai branch, and one of five global cities chosen to host LPM establishments, this 140-seat eatery on the waterfront promenade at Al Maryah Island serves French bistro fare inspired by Niçoise cuisine. Signature dishes include snails with garlic butter, sea bass carpaccio with salsa verde and grilled lamb with aubergine. Diners can sit indoors or out on the terrace (weather permitting). With understated, elegant decor, La Petite Maison is right at home at The Galleria, one of the city’s most luxurious shopping malls, and focusses on finding exceptional ingredients and “cooking them with respect”.