When you’re drinking in some of the world’s best bars, (even if us Abu Dhabians do say so ourselves) you might as well take the opportunity to tuck into some of the best bar snacks, too.
We know it’s a struggle to overlook yet another handful of nuts (especially when they won’t cost you a fil), but with this guide on where to find Abu Dhabi’s sensational sliders and winning wings, you’ll be going nuts for these instead.
Beef and mushroom sliders at Back Yard Bistro
It goes without saying that sliders are going to feature on a list of the best bar snacks somewhere. However, these aren’t any ordinary sliders: they’re beefy, they’re bold and they’re blue.
That’s right, the filling of beef burger, melted cheese, tomatoes, mushroom and truffle are sandwiched in a bright blue bun. And, they’re brilliant. We could happily sit here and munch them hour after hour while watching the big game on the array of big screens.
Even if your team suffers another dismal loss, these burgers are on hand to never leave you feeling blue.
Dhs40. Daily noon-3am. The Hub, Mall at the World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (050 114 3666).
Calamari at Velocity
From sports, live DJs and a variety of brilliant bar bites, there are many reasons to visit Velocity – but perhaps the best is the Dhs12 drinks deal on Thursdays to usher in the weekend (we’re regulars down here after work).
Not only that, but the calamari is some of the tastiest we’ve had in town. Sprinkled in salt and pepper and served with a hearty pot of lemon and herb mayo they’re simply delicious. You may just find yourself staying until closing time, reordering and reordering them.
Dhs50. Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street (02 304 7777).
Chicken nubs at Cooper’s Bar & Restaurant
This classic watering hole is our reigning Pub of the Year, and with good reason: the wood-panelled walls, smiling staff, cracking drinks deals and top snacks all combine to make this place a real favourite.
While we’ll admit the complimentary nuts here are often devoured in handful after gluttonous handful, it’s the menu of small bites that really is the winner. Everything from a proper Scotch egg, spicy chicken drumsticks and soft beef tacos are worthy stars.
However, our favourites are the chicken nubs. Think chicken nuggets, but better. Dunked in barbecue sauce and washed down with
a pint, they’re unbeatable.
Dhs40. Open daily noon-2.30am. Park Rotana, Khalifa Park area (02 657 3325).
Chicken lettuce bites at Caramel Restaurant & Lounge
Given its location in The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, it’s obvious that Caramel’s bar snacks would make an appearance on a list of the best. For us, the greatest hits here are the chicken lettuce bites – beating the Kobe beef tacos and sliders, truffled mac ‘n’ cheese and truffled fish and chips (which aren’t as un-British as they sound).
Marinated in shiitake mushroom and hoisin sauce, the minced chicken is wrapped in a perfectly circular lettuce leaf – a healthier alternative to a taco/pancake/naan it could easily be served in. And trust us, the crunchy leaves makes them even better.
Dhs75. Sun-Wed 6pm-2am; Thu-Fri 6pm-3am; Sat 1pm-2am. The Collection, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort (02 678 3344).
Halloumi fries at The Warehouse
The menu here at this funky tapas bar is full of modern twists on classic bites and tapas dishes – and they’re not stingy with the portions. Plus, there’s a whole section of the menu called “Cheesy Moments” (cue excessive salivating).
Not only that, but the “Unordinary Fries” section boasts one of our favourite food inventions of the decade: halloumi fries. Chunky slices of cheese, battered and fried, served with herb yoghurt and pomegranate molasses. It’s all about the funk here.
Dhs50. Open daily 4pm-1am. Pearl Rotana Capital Centre, Khaleej Al Arabi Street (02 307 5591).
Loaded nachos at Sportsman’s Arms
Sitting in the shadows of Zayed Sports City is the Sportsman’s Arms, our chosen place to cool down after kick-about with pals or to recover from another humiliating defeat to your boss on the tennis court.
The food menu is top-notch, too. Just grab a spot at the bar or sink into one of the many squishy leather sofas and load up on loaded nachos.
They need no introduction, but for the sake of initiating your drool-buds they’re corn tortilla chips topped with melted Monterey Jack cheese, sliced jalapeños and fiery tomato salsa. With guac and sour cream, of course.
Dhs55. Open daily 8am-11pm. International Tennis Center, Zayed Sports City (02 447 1066).
Meatballs and hummus at St. Regis Bar
It’s the greatest culinary combination you never even knew you wanted. The lavish St. Regis Bar serves up a tasty pairing of meatballs and hummus every Tuesday at a newly-launched theme night.
You can choose from a superb selection of five juicy meatballs, to be enjoyed with the chickpea dip. After all, the best things do come in twos.
Dhs55 (per portion), Dhs120 (three types of meatballs). Tue 8pm-11pm. The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Nation Towers, Corniche West (02 694 4553).
Mozzarella wedges at Stars ’N’ Bars
Clear your diaries, clear your sofa and prepare to instantly slip into a food coma after eating these mighty snacks – smiling as you go. The mozzarella wedges at this Yas Island favourite are absolutely divine. But beware: they’re enormous.
If you like fried stuff with cheese (Joey Tribbiani, anyone?) then these are for you.
Eat them as soon as they come out of the kitchen and see how long you can stretch that golden, gooey goodness before it falls. Or just be normal and dunk them in the marinara sauce. Both methods are totally acceptable.
Dhs50. Sat-Tue 11.30am-2.30am; Wed-Fri 11.30am-3.30am. Yas Marina, Yas Island (02 565 0101).
Roast duck pumpkin puff at Hakkasan Abu Dhabi
If you find yourself knee deep in class and opulence at the Emirates Palace head over to the bar and lounge in Hakkasan for a mixed drink.
While there, you can enjoy one of the most delicious snacks known to man – a roast duck pumpkin puff. While not as delicate and intricate as its beef truffle cousin, the duck version is still mouthful after mouthful of pure joy.
It comes as part of a platter of four small eats including har gau, Chinese chive dumpling and salt and pepper squid – plus, two mixed drinks. We told you you’d forget about the free bar nuts.
Dhs96. Sun-Fri 6pm-8pm; Sat 6pm-11.30pm. Emirates Palace, West Corniche (02 690 7999).
Wagyu flank steak sandwich at Ray’s Bar
Whatever the occasion, if you find yourself in Ray’s Bar you’re going to be in high spirits – mainly because it’s 62 floors up in Jumeirah at Emirates Towers.
Spectacular sweeping views aside (and they really are spectacular at night), the classy spot also serves up some excellent bar food. With sister steakhouse Ray’s Grill upstairs, you can of course expect top quality steak dishes.
So sidestep the flatbreads and the deep-fried whitebait and head straight for the wagyu flank steak sandwich. Tender pieces of steak on warm ciabatta, covered in sautéed mushrooms, onions and Ray’s steak sauce with a side of Ray’s fries… Prepare to have your night elevated to new heights.
Dhs110. Food available daily 5pm-11pm. Level 62, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Corniche Road West (02 811 5666).