All that fantastic food can take a strain on the wallet as well as your belt buckle, however. But if you are looking to conserve a few dirhams, that doesn’t mean you have to be short-changed in the search for a good meal.
Art House Café: English breakfast combo – Dhs49
This super cool culture spot makes for a picture perfect start to the day. The vibrant décor and impressive artwork aren’t the only things to catch the eye here as staff really know how to decorate a plate. While less is often more in the art world, staff haven’t taken a minimalist approach to meal time. The bumper English breakfast is a stunning display featuring grilled beef bacon and mushrooms, tomato, omelette and toast with a glass of fresh orange to boot.
Open daily 9am-11.30pm. Al Huwelat Street, Al Bateen (02 666 0175).
Tawa Bakery: Belgian waffles – Dhs35
Everything on the menu at this health-conscious venue is 100 percent gluten free, so there’s no need to feel too guilty about demolishing these Belgian waffles. The waffles are drizzled with home-made chocolate sauce and served with strawberries and whipped cream. You can even add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream for just Dhs10 and still come out with change from a crisp Dhs50 note. A breakfast dish you can feel good about.
Open daily 8am-11pm. Al Muneera Plaza, Al Raha Beach (02 556 6900).
Café 302: Hot smoked salmon salad – Dhs47
If you have got a salad day planned, then fit Café 302 into your schedule. The laid-back hangout at Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana has lots of healthy choices on the menu, perfect for those counting their dirhams as well as their calories. The hot smoked salmon salad packs in plenty of flavour, too, with asparagus, baby gems, boiled egg, pickled red onions and mustard, all brought together with a zesty citrus dressing. There’s a ‘bowl’ load of fantastic tastes to enjoy in one meal.
Open daily 6am-11pm. Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana, Fatima Bint Mubarak Street, Al Markiziya (02 610 6666).
Fado: Fish and chips – Dhs45
This traditional treat is cheap as chips (and you get a fish thrown in, too). The Irish-style venue is a great spot for some hearty pub grub any time of the day. The tasty fish and chips is offered as a lunchtime special portion, so if you are stretched for time and want a quick bite that doesn’t scrimp on quality, you will be hooked on this old favourite. The wild-caught cod comes served with crispy chips, tartar sauce and coleslaw. You will definitely feel like you’ve had the luck of the Irish after this lovely lunch.
Open Sat-Wed, noon-2am. Thu-Fri noon-3am. Oryx Hotel, Zayed the First Street, Al Khalidiya (02 692 2218).
Jones the Gocer: Three cheese and pomegranate-fig jam toastie – Dhs43
Now, this is the big cheese. The trusty old sandwich staple has been given a major makeover by the talented kitchen team at jones the grocer. This souped-up snack comes with three separate types of high-quality dairy product. Savour cave-aged cheddar, brie and goat’s cheese, accompanied by spinach and a finely sliced onion. A cheese sandwich can be pretty sophisticated, you know, and here is the proof. It is also made to order at the eatery so you are in for the freshest taste possible. Nobody does healthy comfort food quite like this Australian gourmet chain.
Various locations, including Pearl Plaza Building, Khalidiyah. Open Sun-Thu 8am-11pm, Fri-Sat 9am-11pm (02 639 5883).
Lazeez: Blaster prawns – Dhs49
Cheap and cheerful can get a bad name. This colourful Indian restaurant, based in bustling Hamdan Bin Mohammed Street, offers great value and lots of fun thanks to its quirky décor and warm and friendly staff. If you like a little extra spice in your life, this is a top spot to visit. It’s not just the plentiful curries that pack a punch either. The blaster prawns are just as explosive as the title suggests. Fresh prawns are marinated in authentic homemade spices and deep fried until perfectly crispy and crunchy. Fresh seafood with an Indian twist is money well spent.
Open daily noon-midnight. Hamdan Bin Mohammad Street (02 677 7070).
Al Fanar Restaurant : Deyay Nashef – Dhs49
You will feel like you’ve been transported back in time when you visit a branch of this authentic Emirati restaurant themed around the UAE of the 1960s – and a lot of the prices thankfully seem to have come from a bygone era, too. One such pleasure is the deyay nashef, a traditional UAE dish comprised of chicken cooked in a rich traditional sauces and special spices concocted in the Al Fanar kitchen. The tasty meat comes with a choice of white rice or bread. Enjoy a blast from the past without breaking the bank.
Open daily 8.30am-10pm. Venetian Village, Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Al Maqta (02 448 1144). Also at Yas Mall, Yas Island (02 877 2272).
Amerigos: Achiote marinated chicken quesadiila – Dhs46
Here’s how you make friends (or should that be amigos) and influence people. One of the city’s most vibrant Mexican hot spots is serving up a spicy treat that won’t turn up the heat on your finances. Flour tortillas
are crammed with chicken, marinated in an achiote sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream and pico de gallo (a palate-pleasing salsa). Make your next visit to Amerigos a sizzling success by getting your hands on this dish.
Open daily noon-4pm, 6pm-11pm. Park Inn by Radisson, Abu Dhabi, Yas Island (02 656 2000).
Barbacoa: Tacos – Dhs35
This authentic Mexican joint has the appearance of a fast food place, but don’t be fooled, the beef (where the restaurant gets its name from) is slow-cooked for 12 hours, meaning a fair bit of work goes into the food before you taste it. The tacos consist of three soft-shell bites, filled with fresh toppings and your choice of fillings, but our favourite is the barbacoa itself. Delicious and filling.
Open daily noon-10pm. Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Masdar City (02 639 4226). Other location: Mushrif Mall (02 444 4722).
Burger28: Dynamite Double UP – Dhs47
Imagine burgers so good they make you change your way of life. That’s what happened to the founder of this cool chain who went from being a vegetarian of 20 years to a meat convert who went on to open his own burger business. For anyone who loves a beefy bite, the Dynamite Double UP really hits the spot. Two juicy Angus beef patties are lathered in special sauce, cheddar cheese and jalapenos and, for the inspired final touch, topped with Chips Oman. All burgers are marinated for a full 48 hours and every sauce is handcrafted. While one too many of these might lead you to pile on a few pounds, you won’t lose too many dirhams along the way.
Open Sun-Thu 11am-midnight, Fri-Sat 1pm-1am. Mohammed Bin Zayed City, off 28th Street (02 631 5738). Also at Al Mushrif, off Old Airport Road (02 631 5738).
Flooka: Prawns with vermicelli, deep fried at Flooka – Dhs49
Stunning views and fine seafood are what draw many to this pretty waterside restaurant but you can also catch a bargain or two, too. This unique plate, with chunky prawns laced in vermicelli, almost looks too good to eat, but we reckon we can give it a try. As well as a delicious meal, you can soak up the chilled out ambience and look out onto the beautiful, calm waters of the Eastern Mangroves. That fits the bill for us.
Open daily noon-midnight. Eastern Mangroves Promenade, Dhafeer Street (02 441 8244).
Lemongrass Thai restaurant: Ped Sam Rod Kapraow Krob – Dhs47
This meal doesn’t just sound like a mouthful, as you are in no danger of going hungry if you order from this cozy Thai spot. Sliced roast duck is covered in spicy, sweet and sour sauce and topped with crispy basil. When done right, duck is a hugely flavoursome piece of meat and with all the extra ingredients on offer here, you will be longing for another taste of Thailand. The generous portion at a low price is hard to beat for those keen to take their taste buds on an Asian adventure.
Various locations, including The Galleria, Al Maryah Island. Open Sat-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu 10am-noon, Fri 10am-noon (02 677 0100).
Oregano: Gnocchi Polpettine – Dhs43
Potato dumplings and meatballs on the same plate? Has a food hug ever been so comforting? The two are combined well in this dish from this Italian newcomer based in pretty Al Forsan Village. Lots of the main courses here are under Dhs50 and come in portions big enough that you might have to consider asking for a doggy bag (we did, we don’t feel any shame). The generous supply of gnocchi and meatballs comes in a nicely spiced tomato sauce and are very filling.
Open daily 11am-midnight. Al Forsan Village, Khalifa City (02 554 0144).
Ortego’s Deli: Chicken tower – Dhs49
It might actually be a bit of a tall order finishing the chicken tower – especially as it comes with unlimited rice. The Instagram-worthy chicken is barbequed to sizzling perfection and served with Ortego’s secret sauce along with as much white rice as you can handle. This casual eatery, based in the heart of bustling Hamdan Street, gives a modern twist to Filipino cuisine in the emirate.
Open daily 11am-11pm. Hamdan bin Mohammed Street (02 677 0740).
Panda Bao Bao: Chong Quing Noodle – Dhs28
The top kitchen team aren’t just pandering to the animal lovers among us (though if you love the cute creatures you are in luck as they are everywhere from the bowls and spoons to a giant image on the wall) but also those of us who love a bargain, too. The chong quing noodles are a delight and you won’t believe your eyes when you see the price. The thin, flat noodles are submerged under crushed peanuts, Chinese greens and beef mince with sesame seeds and chilli floating at the surface to make for a taste sensation. There really is no excuse not to.
Open daily 11am-10pm. Old Airport Road, Al Karamah (055 512 7461).
Peppermill: Murgh Malai Tikka - Dhs48
Indian food is produced with flair and at a very fair price at this colourful eatery. Like many restaurants specialising in Indian cuisine, Peppermill places a modern twist on traditional dishes from the country without losing any of the key ingredients that make them such favourites. The murg malai tikka is a prime example. The tender chicken is cooked in a rich and creamy marinade that is crammed with flavour. Peppermill has a number of eateries across the city and is easy to see why it is such a culinary hit.
Various locations, including Al Wahda Mall (second floor extension), Hazza Bin Zayed Street (02 622 5586).
Pizza Di Rocco: Fiorentina pizza – Dhs48
We always want a slice of the action at Pizza Di Rocco. The Italian creations here are fresh, authentic and full of flavour. There are plenty of different offerings for under Dhs50, but we just think the Fiorentina pizza is cracking. It’s hard not to have a sunny disposition when your pizza comes with a golden-yolked egg on top of a fresh base covered in mozzarella, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and gorgonzola. All of the ingredients are imported from Italy and the dough is hand-pulled. Try to top that.
Open daily 11am-midnight. Al Salem Street, Al Dhafrah (02 641 8300). Also at Etihad Plaza, Khalifa City (02 885 3222).
Salam Bombay: Vada Pav – Dhs5
Could this be Abu Dhabi’s cheapest bite to eat? You will have to hunt far and wide to get a better value dish than this we reckon. Not only could you order nine of them and still not break the Dhs50 barrier, but they are rather tasty too. The Bombay street food favourite is now a hit in Abu Dhabi, thanks in no small part to this bustling Indian eatery. The dish is a simple creation, involving a deep fried potato patty with coriander and spices. At these prices, you can certainly keep piling your plate up.
Various locations, including: Electra Street, Al Markaziya. Open daily 8am-11.30pm (02 677 7076).
Seven Hotpot Restaurant: Hotpot buffet – Dhs49
Unlimited food, drinks and sauces for Dhs49? Yes, you really did read that right. We can’t quite get our heads round this deal but having been there, we can safely say we didn’t dream it. The Chinese-style hot-pot includes a spicy or mild broth, a wide variety of sauces, plus mushrooms, potatoes and vegetables, meats, prawns and more. If you are keen to change up your dining routine and try something new, it’s lucky Seven Hotpot for you.
Open daily 11am-1pm. Hamdan bin Mohammed Street (02 443 0771).
Soulfull: Courgette with kale and Brussels sprout – Dhs43
Food for the mind, body and soul (and the wallet) is on the menu at this healthy eatery. The dedicated kitchen team aim to produce innovative dishes made from the freshest and finest ingredients, such as the vegan-friendly courgettes with kale and Brussels sprouts. The colourful bowl is packed with goodness and flavour, with carrot, sun dried tomato, kale pesto, chopped onion and sweet potato all tossed into the mix. As well as being light on the dirhams, the hearty meal comes in at just 259 calories, too. The restaurant’s ethos is clearly hitting home, as they already have two branches in Abu Dhabi with a third at Boutik Mall on Reem Island on the way.
Open Sun-Thu 8am-midnight, Fri-Sat 10am-midnight. Green Emirates Building, Muroor Road (02 666 1841). Also at Al Raha Mall (02 666 1841).
SushiSan: Crispy Rainbow Roll – Dhs35
You don’t expect to get one of a restaurant’s signature dishes for just 35 dirhams, but casual Japanese eatery is serving up plenty of cheap eats that are high on quality. One of the top bites on the menu is the colourful crispy rainbow roll. The tasty morsels of sushi are tightly packed with lovely lobster, avocado, asparagus, radish and capped off with a delicious spicy mayo. The fresh and surprisingly filling dish is full of Far East flavour. The warm and friendly welcome and laid-back ambience at this Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi spot make this an evening well spent.
Open daily 11am-11pm. Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi, Dhafeer Street (02 657 4888).
Zahrat Lebnan: Chicken shawarma platter – Dhs45
You might not expect to spend a fortune on a street food classic, but you feel you have definitely got your money’s worth when you sink your teeth into this shawarma feast. Zahrat Lebnan, also widely known as Lebanese Flower, has been part of the Abu Dhabi dining scene for over thirty years – which means they know a thing or two about cooking up shawarma. This is a refined take on a Lebanese favourite that will keep you coming back for more.
Various locations, including: Global Tower, Electra Street, Al Manhal. Open daily 7am-8pm (02 665 8700).
Amorino: Ice cream cones – from Dhs19 (small) to Dhs35 (large)
Ice cream comes in all shapes and sizes these days. It can be presented in a hail of liquid nitrogen and can even include chicken (no, we haven’t made that up), but sometimes you can’t go wrong with a trusty cone. The team at Amorino have it down to a fine art. The signature flower-shaped cones can be filled with a host of flavours, from the traditional to the more obscure. Whether you are after an old favourite such as chocolate, hazelnut or banana or want to mix it up with some coffee beans, lime basil or tiramisu, you will get your just desserts at this Italian gelateria brand.
Open Sat-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. Yas Mall, Yas Island (02 235 6632).
Central Grounds: Freakshakes – Dhs45
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, the offerings here will really make you freak out. There are a magnificent seven freakshakes to try out at the Marriott Hotel Downtown’s cool coffee shop, each with their own fillings and toppings. The hardest thing will be deciding what to for first. We think we will kick off with the mud pot, with chocolate brownie and fudge. Come to think of it, the citrus shake with lime-flavoured ice cream, lemon curd and lemon meringue sticks sounds great. Or how about the gingerbread man freakshake? Actually, they all sound great, maybe we should give them all a fair shake?
Open daily 6am-midnight. Dhs45. Marriott Hotel Downtown, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street (02 304 7430).
Vasa Vasa: Sicilian brioche with ice cream – Dhs35
It’s a very fancy ice cream sandwich, basically, and how cool is that? You can get an authentic taste of Italian gelato with a wide range of flavours at Vasa Vasa and the best thing is all is that they are as natural as can be. There are no preservatives in any of the ice creams, including the delicious Sicilian brioche. The soft bun is filled with the ice cream of your choice to make for a sandwich break with a difference. Just don’t keep it in your lunchbox, okay?
Open Sun-Thu 2pm-10.30pm, Fri-Sat 9am-10.30pm. Al Muneera, Al Raha Beach, Al Raha (02 555 6484).