99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant
A Japanese restaurant that originated in Spain, this super-stylish restaurant has added an extra touch of glamour to the already-glistening Al Maryah Island dining scene. From the atmospheric bar area as you enter, to the immaculate plates of sushi that are so impossibly fresh, this place oozes class form every corner. Watching the chefs work meticulously to prepare the stunning plates of food is a joy, and as those dishes come out – one-by-one, each with its own comprehensive explanation – you’ll instantly be wowed. Even the bathroom doors that open at the touch of a sensor are way more entertaining than they should be. You can easily spend a whole Friday afternoon working through the 11-course brunch, where the intriguing Japanese-style tuna pizza is the clear highlight. It’s also blessed with a wide terrace that boasts dreamy views over the waters surrounding Al Maryah Island. With palm trees waving in the breeze and speed boats zooming past, the sight of the sun disappearing behind the skyscrapers and reflecting on the water is just breath taking.
Open daily noon-3.30pm; Sun-Wed 7pm-11.30pm; Thu-Fri 7pm-12.30pm. Bar open Sat-Wed noon-1am; Thu-Fri noon-2am. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 672 3333).
Butcher & Still
“Just so cool” is possibly the most commonly used phrase to describe the prohibition-themed steakhouse Butcher & Still. However it’s not all about nice slabs of meat at this Chicago-style eatery, but also about the overall experience. The 1930s theme is carried out to brilliant affect. It’s glamourous yet edgy and very sophisticated all at the same time. Slide into a plush-leather booth, and experience a new intimate and special way of high-end eating. Here there’s no fuss where it isn’t needed. But where extra attention is dished out by the staff, it’s incredibly charming and helpful. Restaurants around the city should send their servers here to see how it’s done. It’s not all about the style, however, as the quality of food and drinks are brilliant here too. It’s always a good sign when the side dishes, such as the potato gratin, cheesy roast cauliflower and creamy spinach are just as fantastic as the mains. On leaving this place you know you’ve experienced a night that you’ll be eternally desperate to relive. The bar is also a way of totally immersing yourself in a trendier time. Get dressed up in your finery, let the conversation flow and lose track of where you are and how late it’s getting.
Open daily 6pm-midnight. Bar open 4pm-2am. Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 333 2444).
Byblos Sur Mer
Split across two floors and overlooking the picturesque marina on InterContinental Abu Dhabi, Byblos Sur Mer boasts an elegant dining room that is accented with gold trim. The menu is just as impressive as the setting, offering a wide variety of traditional Lebanese dishes at affordable prices. For starters, the tabbouleh is fresh and comes served in a huge portion that provides plenty enough to share, while the hummus is deliciously creamy and comes with copious amounts of freshly baked bread. For the main courses, there are plenty of recognisable grills, but here you also have the chance to stretch your palate and try some more unusual dishes such as pan-fried quails, chargrilled pigeon and red snapper kibbeh nayeh. The fried pistachio Kunafa is also well worth the calories. Adorned with candy floss, lemon flowers and pistachio sticks, it’s almost too perfect to break apart. This sophisticated restaurant has perfected traditional Lebanese cuisine and is one of the best places in the city to experience an authentic taste of the Middle East. While you’re in the city you should definitely give it a go.
Open Sat-Wed 12.30pm-1.30am; Thu-Fri 12.30pm-2.30am. InterContinental Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Street (800 423 463).
While you’re exploring the capital you might be looking for a place where you can enjoy a chilled-out lunch and quality cup of coffee, and perhaps most importantly, take a selection of envy-inducing snaps for Instragram. Café 302 is one of these impossibly cool places. From the moment you walk in you feel that bit more like trendy hipsters. Decorated in a predictably stylish fashion, it’s all about wooden furnishings, tempting food displays and minimal fuss. You just know that every cushion has its own proper place. It also sells its own range of homeware. So if you’re feeling really inspired, you can attempt to make your own kitchen look just as incredibly chic. Breakfast dishes are worth a look, salads are vibrant and filled with top ingredients and the good-value steak is brilliant. Even the really healthy options are still filling and extremely satisfying. For instance the Superfood Bowl is packed with protein (pan-seared salmon, roasted chicken, seared tuna or grilled shrimp), a ‘base’ option (quinoa, cauliflower rice or moghrabieh) and loads of delicious, fresh and interesting veggies. It goes a small way towards making up for all the race weekend parties you’ve been attending.
Open daily 6am-10.30pm. Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana, Hamdan Street (02 610 6666).
This swish and stylish restaurant has a prime location on Al Maryah Island, overlooking the waters flowing back towards the city. If the terrace and dining room are lovely, then the food is twice as good. Here you’ll find a menu that changes regularly, with dishes being tweaked to include seasonal ingredients and flavours. Service is excellent, and carried out with all the panache you’d expect from an Italian joint that is popular with presidents and celebrities alike at Franco Nuschese’s flagship Washington DC branch. But that doesn’t mean that it’s outrageously expensive. The Monday pizza night lets you enjoy two drinks and unlimited pizza for Dhs190. Pizza fans won’t be able to hold back when they taste how delicious these authentic creations are. The very cheesy Santa Babiglia variation is particularly unmissable. The terrace is also the perfect spot for watching the sun set over the towering sky scrapers and the sparkling waters that surround Al Maryah Island.
Open Sun-Thu noon-5.30pm; Sat-Wed 6pm-11.30pm; Thu-Fri 6pm-12.30pm. Fri-Sat brunch noon-4pm. Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 333 2630).
Wonderful waterfront views are complemented by fresh tastes taken from the sea to your plate at this stylish eatery. The eye-catching Nation Riviera spot serves up a wide selection of seafood, showcasing Asian, European and Middle Eastern cuisine, with a generous sprinkling of flair. Top tastes on the extensive menu include the delicious crab burger, pan-roasted sea bass, a big roll call of sushi selections, innovative dishes such as yellowtail pizza and seafood truffle pasta, plus a number of options for meat-lovers among the dining party, including braised wagyu beef cheek, lamb cutlets and barbecue corn-fed baby chicken. Superb food, chilled-out vibes and a beautiful setting make for a fantastic culinary experience. Afterwards you should head upstairs to continue the party at Catch Rooftop. This is the perfect late-night bar. It’s talked about a lot in Abu Dhabi and with very good reason. If you’ve planned a big night out, make sure you save this for your final destination. Boasting a, you guessed it, cooler than cool rooftop terrace, the views over the gulf and bright lights of the city are simply stunning.
Open daily noon-1am. Nation Riviera, Nation Towers, Corniche Road West (02 611 0909).
The Peruvian restaurant opened in early 2017 and didn’t take long to cement itself as one of the most happening venues in the city. Already a big hit (and award-winner) in Dubai, the Abu Dhabi version is fun and funky, with a super bar area, lovely terrace and vibrant dining room. The food, is absolutely excellent and full of colour and flavours that ping off the palate. The red snapper and truffle ceviche is a favourite, as is the yellowtail tiradito. The guacamole, made at the table, is exactly how you would want it to be, and the anticuchos, which come on a smoking grill, are delicious. When it comes to main courses, it can be very difficult to choose. Pick anything from the Chilean sea bass cazuela to the wagyu sirloin and the king crab, and you’ll not be let down. End the meal with the quina con leche and you’ll leave very happy indeed.
Open Sun-Thu and Sat 12.30pm-5.30pm; Sun-Mon, Wed, Sat 7pm-midnight; Tue, Thu-Fri 7pm-12.30am. Fri brunch 12.30pm-4pm. Lounge open daily 12.30pm-1.15am. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 306 7000).
Dai Pai Dong
This bustling, atmospheric restaurant brings a real flavour of Cantonese street food to the capital. The dining room is brilliantly decorated and most seats have views of the busy kitchen, filled with chefs cooking with woks, hand-pulling noodles and forming dainty dim sum. It’s a spectacle that really whets the appetite for what’s to come. Guests can order from the dim sum menu to start with, before moving on to the great selection of mains. The all-you-can-eat dim sum lunch is available from Sunday to Thursday from noon to 3pm. The steamed and fried varieties come stuffed with every type of filling you can imagine. Meanwhile, the Friday evening hot pot brunch features free-flowing traditional tea or sparkling grapes. Once you’ve finished eating you should pay a visit to the restaurant’s super-cool bar The Dragon’s Tooth. The small, dark room, all moodily lit and atmospheric, is hidden down a corridor from the dining room.
Open daily noon-3pm. Sat-Wed 6pm-11pm; Thu-Fri 6pm-midnight. Bar open 4pm-1am. Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 813 5552).
Even if you’re yet to visit Emirates Palace, we’re sure you can imagine how incredibly gold and flashy it is. So in comparison to the rest of the hotel, the Chinese-style interior of Hakkasan is practically modest. But the food is utterly sensational. The very posh Cantonese plates include specialities such as the tofu and aubergine claypot, braised Wagyu beef ribs and sha cha seafood toban. The brunch is a firm favourite amongst Abu Dhabi residents for several reasons. The menu features starters such as baked, fried or steamed dim sum, while the main courses include a live Peking duck station. Meanwhile, the daily Taste Of Hakkasan menu lets guests enjoy four courses for Dhs298 per person. This includes delights such as crispy silver cod with XO sauce and edamame-fried rice. It has also recently unveiled its stunning new outdoor terrace and it is all kinds of luxurious. The plush new area features a gorgeous décor, comfortable cabanas and amazing views of the city. There are few better spots for ending another successful day in the capital than here.
Open Daily 6pm-2am; Fri noon-4pm (brunch). Emirates Palace, West Corniche Road (02 690 7739).
It doesn’t get much more grand than drinking gold-sprinkled coffee in the Emirates Palace. It’s the kind of experience that should be on every Abu Dhabi visitor’s bucket list. French patisserie-inspired lounge Le Café is one is so popular that you need to book several days in advance to be in with a chance of bagging a table for its famous afternoon tea. The traditional version comes stacked with mini quiches, sandwiches and cakes, or you can also for an Arabic version instead. With soft furnishing and an up-market feel, it’s the kind of place that makes you feel very fancy indeed. It has recently opened a retail outlet, where visitors can buy the outlet’s freshly-baked pastries, cakes, artisanal chocolates and ground coffee. So even if you don’t have time to linger around and relax in one of the immaculately upholstered chairs, you can still take a sweet treat away with you. If you pack carefully, you might even have room in your case to take home a bag of freshly ground coffee as a souvenir.
Open daily, 6.30am-1am. Emirates Palace, West Corniche (02 690 7999).
La Petite Maison
When it comes to French food in the capital, there aren’t a lot of options. Bord Eau is high-end, white-tableclothed and prim, Le Beaujolais is rustic, checked-tableclothed and relaxed, and La Brasserie at Venetian Village sits somewhere in between. But La Petite Maison, while resolutely fine-dining, feels more modern and welcoming than all three. This approach has proved a big hit since the classy restaurant opened in the foodie hub of Al Maryah Island. The bright dining room is a delight to spend time in and the staff – from the welcome to the goodbye – never miss a beat. When it comes to food, the menu is filled with Niçoise specialities, meaning you get Mediterranean classics inspired by France and Italy. Dishes are designed to share, meaning you can push the boat out or reign it in. It can get pricey, but everything you eat will be superb. The sea bass baked in a crust made of coarse sea salt, herbs de Provence and egg white is one of the signature dishes. Served with asparagus and cherry tomatoes, it’s absolutely brilliant.
Open daily noon-3.30pm; 6pm-11pm. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 692 9600).
If sunsets are your thing, then this is the place to head. Sitting out over the waters of The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, the Asian restaurant offers al fresco food and drinks, surrounded by palm trees and pools. Sontaya means sunset in Thai, and this is one of the most romantic and beautiful places to watch the sun disappear. The dishes are primarily Thai and Indonesian, and while the setting is far more fancy than the rustic market where you may have eaten during your last visit to Thailand, the flavours are just as authentic. The salads are fresh and interesting and include pretty banana blossom and classic papaya varieties. The mains range from seafood specialities such as the Vietnamese seabass fillet, to traditional favourites like yellow chicken curry. With a comprehensive menu of meat-free options, including wok-fried tofu and vegetable pad thai, this picturesque restaurant is also a big hit with vegetarians.
Open daily noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm. The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island (02 498 8443).
It isn’t hard to find a restaurant or bar in Abu Dhabi that seems to buzz because the atmosphere is so electric. But while those venues tend to be dozens of storeys high, have beachy views or jut out over the shimmering waters of the Arabian Gulf, they don’t usually exist in a mall offshoot. Step forward Tamba to buck the trend. Based in The Hub, at the Mall at World Trade Center, it’s not the slightly awkward location that makes this place special, but the quality of what goes on inside. This is the kind of spot where you catch yourself taking photos of lamp shades. But when they’re really cool and shaped like huge copper bells, that’s ok isn’t it? The Thursday night ladies’ night sees women exchange four Jenga block-style tokens for complimentary drinks. The dishes are designed to be shared, appreciated and obviously also photographed. Places like Tamba prove that it’s possible to provide plenty of style and substance.
Open Sun-Wed noon-1am; Thu-Sat noon-2am. The Hub at The Mall, World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (02 672 8888).
Todd English's Olives
While Mr English might not be that familiar to those from, erm, England, in the US he’s a big TV star and, on the evidence of his Abu Dhabi venue, it’s easy to see why. This is a restaurant that does great, comforting, homely food very well. Portions are generous and the ingredients are top notch. Whenever you eat here it’s like going back for your favourite home-cooked food. The menu is mainly Mediterranean, with excellent flatbreads and hearty pastas. The interior is also impressive. Set out in a maze-like formation, each area has a different feel to it. So whether you’re in the mood for sophisticated or very casual dining, you can find the environment that suits you. Head here on a Monday evening to indulge in some serious carb loading and make the most of the unlimited flatbreads and pasta offer. Or if you fancy starting your evening with a light bite and sunset views over the Grand Canal and Grand Mosque, the aperitivo offer runs from Sunday to Wednesday from 6pm to 8pm for Dhs100 per person.
Open Sun-Thu 12.30pm-11pm; Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Venetian Village, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Khor Al Maqta (02 404 1941).
This long-established restaurant is one of the few places in the city that will never, ever let you down. If you ever need proof that some things just get better with age then Zuma is it. This joyous Japanese restaurant has sated even the most fussy foodies for a number of years now and it certainly isn’t resting on its super-cool laurels as it’s still the place to be seen in the capital. On experience, food and service it is impeccable. When it comes to creative cooking with Japanese techniques and ingredients, nowhere does it better. In a restaurant that sets such high standards and expectations, to fail at brunch would be unforgivable. Thankfully, Zuma excels in this regard as it does in every other. Again service is top and value-wise this offering is superb. Here you’ll find almost all of the restaurant’s big hitters available at sashimi, robata and teppanyaki counters and in mouth-watering main courses that are served to your table. Simply unbeatable.
Open Sat-Thu noon-3.30pm; Sat-Wed 7pm-midnight; Thu-Fri 7pm-1am. Fri brunch 12.30pm-4pm. Bar open Sat-Wed 7pm-midnight; Thu-Fri 7pm-1am. Al Maryah Island (02 401 5900).
In Partnership with Time Out Abu Dhabi