Al Fanar

Review: Traditional Emirati eatery will take you back in time Discuss this article

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There can be no doubt the face of Abu Dhabi has changed immeasurably since the oil boom.

Along with it came an influx of people from across the world and they brought their cuisines with them – from Indian to Chinese and Italian to Mexican.

Thankfully, the capital has been able to cherish and celebrate its Emirati roots and in no place is this more true than Al Fanar restaurant, in the Venetian Village.

It’s got a cosy outside seating area with traditional Arabic majlis, and the dining room oozes throwback charm at every turn with its rustic décor and traditional menu.

Step inside and you could be in any decade. The giant tree in the middle of the floor is definitely a show-stopper, while the ceiling is painted in the style of a beautiful cloudy sky.

Even the name of the place, meaning ‘kerosene lamp’, the kind used to light homes back in the day, is a nod to history.
The menu is packed with Emirati favourites such as lamb, dates and flatbreads.

For starters, we have a small mixed appetiser platter consisting of a tasty vegetable samboosa, delicate koftat samak (deep fried crumbed fish) and tough-textured hobool, deep-fried fish roe.

The place is quite busy, mainly with Emiratis, which is obviously quite a good endorsement.

Our main, robyan magli, or pan-fried shrimp with onion, is cooked in a gorgeous, lightly spiced sauce and served with rice. It’s a generous portion and tastes great, if a little bit dry.

Our favourite part is dessert, basboosat al fostoq. Three delicious pistachio semolina cakes, filled with a tiny dollop of fresh cream, have just the right balance between sweet and savoury, moist and dry.

It’s all decent value for the quality, too, so if you fancy trying something a little bit different, pay this place a visit.

The bottom line
A delicious throwback in modern Abu Dhabi.

By Time Out Abu Dhabi staff
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.


  • Location: The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi
  • Tel: 02 448 1144
  • Travel: Venetian Village, Grand Canal
  • Website
  • Cuisine: Emirati
  • Times: Open daily noon-midnight

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