Marakesh is, as its name suggests, a delightful Moroccan restaurant in the prestigious millennium hotel on Khalifa Street. This place is the real deal. You’ll probably recognize the name as it’s been in every restaurant guide book since the place has been open and for good reason. You won’t find a better tajine and couscous anywhere. Not to mention, your evening is bound to have you entranced with wonderful music by the live band that plays to the beat for an in-house belly dancer. If what you want is an intimate dinner and a show, this is the place to go.
Millenium Hotel, Khalifa Street, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates +971 02 614 6000
Located only a short stroll from Al Husn Fort, the Lebanese Folower is a local legend. This diamond in the rough only attracts the most international clientele in the area. With the fare on offer, it’s easy to see why. Not only do they give massive portions, but you can have all your traditional favorites such as the fried haloumis and tabouli. Upstairs there is a family section, making it a perfect spot post-sightseeing in the desert.
Muroor Rd,Al Zahraa, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates +971 2 448 8130
Al Asala Heritage Restaurant
Unfortunately, Al Asala Heritage Restaurant is often overlooked. For a long time it was the only real option around Heritage Village, while the Abu Dhabi Louvre was being built. Now in the midst of several restaurant openings, this establishment has stepped up its game and opened the doors to an even wider selection and more to offer. Here you’ll get Emirati food and in great quantity and quality. While there, try the traditional jasheed (minced shark) and umm all (Crab bread pudding). You can order mains off the menu or opt for the buffet during lunchtime. After your meal check out their beach. Here you can get the most magnificent views of the Abu Dhabi skyline for miles while relaxing in one of their beach chairs or hammocks.
Heritage Village, Abu Dhabi, UAE +971 02 681 2188
Mezlai believes in sticking close to home. All their ingredients are local and organic and they use only the best sources in the area. The restaurant is as traditional as it gets. Although it’s one of the most expensive restaurants in the city, located in the Emirates Palace, you’re sure to get bang for your buck. Before ordering main meals get the hammour mafrook to share. This is a whitefish spread served with bread. For a main, if you love lamb there is no better option than the lamb medfoun. This is a shoulder of lamb, slow cooked in a banana leaf. Your tastebuds will thank you.
Mezlai, First Floor, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, UAE +971 02 690 7999
If you’re craving a Lebanese option that is slightly out of the ordinary, with a touch of decadence then your best bet is to try Mijana. Expect contemporary updates to traditional Lebanese dishes with some exciting twists. The beetroot moutabel, for example, was a rich addition to the traditional smoked aubergine dip. Another unexpected change came in the habla niyah, which is a raw minced lamb dish, in this case there were hints of mint and garlic that gave the dish a little bit of extra flavor. After your meal, head out to the terrace where you can have sheesha and listen to live Arabic music. If you’re not feeling too stuffed try the camel’s milk smoothie to top off an incredible experience. However, you wouldn’t expect anything less when you walk into a Ritz Carlton.
Ritz Carlton, Grand Canal, Abu Dhabi, UAE+971 02 8188282
Al Arish Restaurant
There is something exceptionally charming about the Al Arish Restaurant. Could it be the washed-out Arabian decor that resembles something out of an Indiana Jones film? Or perhaps the hand-carved furniture adorning the barasti ceiling? This aged gem is a staple in the United Arab Emirates. Al Arish has played host to princes and sheiks alike, who frequent the venue based solely on its impeccable reputation. The best way to experience this gem is to go for the lunch or dinner buffets. With these, you can sample Emirati dishes such as the majboos, which is a chicken dish baked in rice. Given the sterling status, impeccable service, and the scrumptious food, you can forgive a few faded adornments.
Al Mina, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Al Dhafra Restaurant and Dinner Cruise
One of the most incredible ways to experience Abu Dhabi is at night. With a skyline unlike any other, taking a night boat cruise is one of the best ways to see a truly magical city. Al Dhafra is a restaurant on Al Mina, with a dinner cruise service on offer. This turns it into a floating restaurant on board a traditional Emirati dhow, or long boat. Every night Al Dhafra leaves for a dinner cruise from Al Mina to Breakwater and back. With such a memorable setting it’s a difficult one to pass up. Here you get to sample time-honored Emirati fare with some of the most majestic vistas for two hours. Take great care not to be late. The boat leaves promptly at 8pm.
Dhow Harbour, Al Mina, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates