Abu Dhabi might be partly known for its decadent steakhouses and fancy sushi restaurants, but it also has loads of venues suitable for younger diners too.
Across the city you’ll find casual chains, chilled-out cafés and quirky restaurants with fun features, healthy dishes and loads of treats suitable for all ages.
Children are even encouraged to scribble all over the tablecloth in one venue, and we’re certainly not short on kids’ corners or playgrounds either.
So here are our top family-friendly restaurants in Abu Dhabi.
Stopping here is a must if you or your children have been for a horse riding lesson at Mandara Equestrian Club, but it’s also worth going out to Rabha Farm just to go to this kitsch café. There’s an awesome rooftop terrace where you can watch the horses at work, and the beverages include child-sized hot chocolates, juices made from fruits picked straight from the Mandara organic farms and amazing milkshakes. The food is made with very evident passion too, with a wide choice of wraps and sandwiches to suit all tastes.
Mandara Equestrian Club, Rahba Farm, Al Shahama (05 689 05776).
Who doesn’t love pizza and pasta? A world-famous chain from late chef Antonio Carluccio, this is a popular option for families, especially mid-shop at Yas Mall. There’s loads to choose from for little eaters with mini versions of pasta dishes on offer and more.
Various locations including Yas Mall, Yas Island, www.carlucciosme.com.
Dino’s Bistro Italiano
With a vintage bicycle filled with flowers by the door and an American diner-style ‘Dino’s’ sign up on the wall, this modern Italian restaurant has a cool and casual vibe. The staff are super-friendly, and kids (and parents) are encouraged to scribble away on the tablecloths with the chunky crayons provided. It’s excellent fun and the fresh pizzas and top-notch sundaes will please even the pickiest of eaters.
Pearl Rotana Capital Centre, Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street (02 307 5591).
Leen’s Casual to Gourmet
Formerly known as The Surf Café, this fresh and funky restaurant has a chilled-out Cailfornia vibe and a varied menu that boasts fresh salads, sushi platters, healthy breakfast bowls, burgers and vegan-friendly options including poke bowls, soups and mushroom tacos. The wonderfully wacky signature milkshakes are just the thing to get you all through a day of shopping at the mall.
The Mall at the World Trade Center, Abu Dhabi, Al Markaziyah (02 632 5980).
Jim’s Kitchen Table
The cool café is hidden away in Masdar City, and it’s one of those places that everyone in the UAE capital raves about. The fresh cakes and muffins are sensational, and the kids’ menu includes creative dishes like teddy bear toast and Nutella and banana sushi (actually pancakes). With comfy sofas and a spacious dining area, it’s the perfect place to make yourself at home and escape the heat for a few hours.
The Incubator Building, Masdar City (02 491 9401).
Jones the Grocer
This Aussie chain is popular across the capital, thanks in part to its top deal where kids eat free with every two adult meals bought. But it’s also a family favourite due to its special kids’ menu, friendly service and chilled-out vibe. Plus, you can buy goodies to take away to enjoy when you get home.
Various locations including Etihad Airways Centre, Al Muneera, Al Raha, www.jonesthegrocer.com.
As a globally popular chain, part of the appeal with PizzaExpress is in that you always know what you’re going to get. Mountains of piping hot dough balls? Check. Family-friendly service with a smile? Check. Tasty, freshly cooked pizzas with toppings that suit even the fussiest of eaters? Check. This is a classic with good reason, and families in Abu Dhabi can’t get enough.
The Mall at the World Trade Center, Abu Dhabi, Al Markaziyah, www.pizzaexpress.ae.
Once the weather starts to cool down, kids’ will love running wild on the playground located right next to this very stylish café, but it has loads to offer inside too. The dishes are all homemade and full of goodness, and whether you want breakfast, lunch, dinner or a sweet treat to keep you going, you’ll find loads of options. The pool pass deal gets kids access to the pool at Al Seef Resort (behind the café), a kids’ meal and juice for Dhs90.
The Walk at Al Seef Resorts & Spa by Andalus, Khalifa Park area (02 222 1142).
With a name like Sugar Factory, you know what you’re going to get with ths one. And with a legion of celebrity fans such as Britney Spears and Kylie and Kendall Jenner, sweets have never been as cool as they are at the Sugar Factory. But as well as selling the famous Couture Pops, the American-style eatery also serves up classic dishes such as eggs benedict, burgers, pizzas, steaks and pastas. Among the decadent sweet treats are also elaborate sundaes, huge stacks of pancakes, and waffles loaded with toppings. Eating here is a real treat
The Mall at the World Trade Center, Abu Dhabi, Al Markaziyah (02 491 4123).
With a gorgeous spot at Al Bateen marina, there’s often a bit of a wait for a table at this popular café. There’s a no reservation policy but you can keep your little ones entertained by taking them for a walk to look at the gorgeous waters and boats that surround the café. The food is worth waiting for as well, with everything from huge bowls of pasta, sandwiches, ramen bowls and a great range of international dishes, there’s something to satisfy every member of the family.
Al Marsa, Al Bateen (02 445 0890).
The Cheesecake Factory
This world-famous chain is a top spot to head to with kids on treat days, as there’s loads of tasty, kid-friendly food. Nachos, burgers, pastas and more are all served up here, and portions are big enough to share. There’s also a range of “skinnylicious” dishes for when you’re being more calorie conscious. And for when you’re not there are always those
Yas Mall, Yas Island (02 304 8326).