Most people visit Abu Dhabi for the capital’s rich collection of cultural and historical sights, natural attractions, sports hubs and shopping options. It’s here that you’ll find the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, The Louvre Abu Dhabi, Eastern Mangrove Lagoon National Park, Yas Marina Circuit and Marina Mall, among other excellent tourist attractions.
Abu Dhabi is also a foodie paradise, featuring establishments offering a wide variety of international cuisines such as Arabic, Indian, Mexican, French, Italian, British, American, Pakistani, Filipino, Thai and Chinese.
From the best restaurant in Abu Dhabi to a curated list of must-eat dishes, read on for five tips for foodies visiting Abu Dhabi in 2020.
1. Make the necessary reservations
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When you are planning your Abu Dhabi travel itinerary, make sure you are prioritizing meal times and making reservations at restaurants. This is especially important as a foodie because you don’t want to miss out on a chance to dine in the best restaurants in Abu Dhabi!
Despite it being the local cuisine, there aren’t too many places where you can find Emirati food because it is still mostly made and eaten at home. However, at Yadoo’s House, you can experience what it is like to dine like an Emirati family. This restaurant is modeled after a traditional Emirati grandmother’s house and feels warm and intimate. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, giving you a few opportunities to taste authentic local cuisine.
Additionally, the best brunch in Abu Dhabi can be found at Boa Steakhouse.
Offered every Friday from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm, this brunch features a special a la carte menu and free-flowing house beverages. Some examples of the offerings include a sharing seafood platter (oysters, tuna tartare, prawns, and rock lobster louie) and sharing appetizers (burrata and heirloom tomatoes, pepper-crusted beef carpaccio, goat cheese baklava, and classic caesar). The main courses include Black Angus ribeye, braised beef short ribs, and herb-crusted salmon fillet.
2. Curate a list of must-eat dishes
To ensure you are making the most of your time in Abu Dhabi, you should make a list of must-eat dishes before you arrive. By doing this, you know that you can hit the ground running and start tasting all the dishes as soon as you land.
One of the essential Abu Dhabi dishes is al harees, a traditional, elegant dish that consists of meat, wheat, and a pinch of salt. With only a few ingredients, the recipe may sound simple; however, the truth is that it requires lengthy preparation and cooking time.
Another local specialty is shawarma, which, in Abu Dhabi, includes a piece of soft pita bread with succulent shredded meat and spicy sauces. You will also find some french fries in the center as an extra flavorful treat.
The best shawarma in Abu Dhabi can be found at Zahrat Lebnan, where it comes in both the traditional bread form and in a platter form. Other restaurant options you can try include Al Afiya Turkish Village, Azkadenya, Bait el Khetyar, and Broasted King and Fresh Shawarma.
Finally, hummus is a staple in every local’s diet – which means you have to try it as well! Hummus is a dip made from blending chickpeas, olive oil, tahini paste, lemon juice, salt, and garlic, and it’s served in most Arabic and Mediterranean restaurants.
3. Don’t overlook dessert
Just as important as the main dishes is what comes at the end of the meal, the dessert. Luqaimat are petite fried dough balls that come sprinkled with sesame seeds and date syrup, and are a local favorite in Abu Dhabi. Another traditional option is khabeesa, which comprises roasted flour bread crumbs mixed with sugar, rose water, cardamom, saffron, ghee (clarified butter), and crushed dates. Both of these deserve to be on your must-eat list.
Other stand-out desserts in the emirate include the Signature “Ermahgerd” from No.57 Boutique Café, which is made of toffee crumble and roasted marshmallows. You also don’t want to miss out on the dessert offerings at Four Seasons Abu Dhabi and the chocolate and hazelnut puck at Barfly By Buddha Bar. All of these desserts are divine for anyone with a sweet tooth, and you will be pleased to know they look just as beautiful as they taste and sound.
4. Take a food tour
One of the best things about traveling is learning more about the food culture of a destination, and the best way to learn is through a food tour.
No matter where you are traveling, taking a food tour is always a good idea because it leads you all around the locale and often enables you to see a lot of the sites as you roam the streets in between eating. This provides plenty of inspiration for what you want to do for the rest of your trip!
Moreover, taking a food tour allows you to try new foods risk-free as you will get tastings from various eateries that have been specially selected by locals who are in-the-know. You don’t have to commit your time and money to a restaurant that isn’t for you. Plus, you won’t be worried about whether you have ended up in a touristy eatery that is the opposite of authentic.
During your Abu Dhabi food tour, your local guide will teach you things that you won’t find in a guide book. Plus, you will have the opportunity to learn from the local food vendors and restaurant owners, ensuring you gain a food-based perspective on the culture and history of Abu Dhabi.
5. Get an alcohol permit
As a traveler to Abu Dhabi, you are going to have to get an alcohol permit if you want to buy a drink. You can obtain one of these permits from a licensed venue, such as an African + Eastern store. Once you have filled out the paperwork and shown your passport, you will be granted an alcohol permit that is valid for 30 days. As long as you are over the age of 21 and non-Muslim, you are eligible for one of these free permits.
That being said, even with the permit, you are not allowed to consume alcoholic beverages in public places. You can, however, purchase alcohol from licensed establishments such as restaurants and hotel bars. If this is the case, make sure to go to one of Abu Dhabi’s many happy hour venues as the prices are friendlier and you need not worry about drinking in a place where alcohol is prohibited.
Have you ever traveled to Abu Dhabi? If so, do you have any advice to bestow upon other readers? If not, is it somewhere you are interested in going? Why or why not?
Let us know your views in the comments below!