Now that the weather is finally showing signs of cooling down it’s time to abandon the country’s indoor dining spaces and head outside. There’s nothing like that first meal on the balcony, in a park or on a terrace to really let you know that the winter months are here.
So, to celebrate the turn of the seasons, we’ve pulled together a list of brilliant places to eat outdoors across the whole country.
From beach-side spots to places by the pool and a few rooftop restaurants, we’ve got you covered. There’s nothing as wonderful as dining outside in the fresh air is there?
We love all three of the restaurants at stylish yet understated hotel The Abu Dhabi EDITION, but Alba Terrace is one to head to when the weather is perfect. It’s lucky enough to have a pretty outdoor area right by the infinity pool, and some of the booths are sunk right into the water. But don’t worry, you won’t get wet as you tuck into the fresh and wholesome Mediterranean plates like calamari with squid ink, spinach and kale risotto or indulgent Sicilian cheesecake. The staff are real characters, too and they really know their stuff. Whether you’re here for the Friday brunch, the business lunch deal (offering two courses for Dhs95) or an evening meal, you’ll have the best time in this pristine venue.
Open daily 11am-11pm. The Abu Dhabi EDITION, Al Bateen Marina (02 418 2506).
The terrace at this seafood restaurant is just steps away from the blue waters and super yachts of Yas Marina, and the views over towards Yas Marina Circuit are absolutely lovely whether it’s the middle of the day or late at night. It’s a fabulous spot for people watching too, and you’ll be kept entertained seeing revellers passing by to some of the capital’s most lively spots like Mr Miyagi’s. The food is cracking too, and the Sunday sushi buffet has a legion of loyal fans. Offering an endless supply of maki rolls, nigiri, sashimi, noodles, salads, soups and more, there’s no mystery about why people flock to this cool terrace at the start of the working week.
Open Sat-Wed noon-1.30am, Thu-Fri noon-2am. Yas Yacht Club, Yas Island (050 696 9357).
Azura Panoramic Lounge
Few lounges in Abu Dhabi are as fancy as this one. But as it’s located at The St Regis Abu Dhabi, what else should we expect? From its elevated position at Nation Towers you can gaze along the whole length of the Corniche. Basically, if you’re looking to impress someone or show off Abu Dhabi at its best, this is the place to bring them. If there should be a group of you heading for dinner here (or just two very hungry mouths), then you should order one of the signature table grills for a taste of what Azura’s best at. Otherwise the tapas-style sharing plates always hit the spot.
Open daily noon-midnight. The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Corniche Road (02 694 4553).
BBQ Al Qasr
We don’t hand out our Time Out Abu Dhabi awards lightly and so it was with our usual care and consideration that we crowned BBQ Al Qasr our reigning Best Outdoor Restaurant. But you’ll immediately understand why we’re so taken with the place as soon as you tuck into some of the prime steaks and take in the beauty of this spectacular date night venue. A visit to Emirates Palace is always a special occasion, and this might just be the best venue in the hotel.
Open daily 1pm-midnight. Emirates Palace, Corniche Road West (02 690 7999).
With so much competition on Saadiyat Island, you really have to stand out from the crowd and Beach House certainly does with its marvellous Mediterranean food and lovely sea views that make the experience all the more pleasurable. The weekend breakfast deal is also a favourite of ours, where you can enjoy a spread of pastries, yoghurt, fruit and a hot main course just steps away from the pristine sands of the beach at the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi.
Open daily 12.30pm-11.30am. Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas, Saadiyat Island (02 407 1138).
Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE
While this legendary spot is known as one of the UAE’s biggest Friday party hubs, during the rest of the week you can head here for sharing-style Mediterranean bites in the beautiful open restaurant. The Saturday brunch is also an amazing day out, and we recommend taking the party to the sunbeds on the sand. Here you can groove to the house tunes as spreads of nibbles, including sashimi, sushi, burrito bowls, antipasti and more, are delivered right to you, along with a selection of fruity mixed drinks. It’s one of the most stylish ways to spend your Saturday in the UAE, and surprisingly family friendly.
Brunch: Dhs310 (restaurant), Dhs340 (beach and terrace), Dhs580 (bubbly). Sat 1pm-4pm. Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel & Resort, Ghantoot (056 113 3400).
Okay, a big chunk of this place is inside, and although it’s a lovely space, with a lounge, bar and dining room, for us it’s the outdoor area that keeps us coming back. This spot overlooking Saadiyat Beach is incredibly atmospheric. With regular live music and international DJs, it’s a bit of a party venue but don’t let that fool you into thinking the food isn’t also a focus. From sushi and sashimi to Asian main courses and on to quite amazing desserts, there’s a whole brilliant menu to explore here.
Open daily noon-4pm, 7pm-midnight (bar open Sat-Wed noon-1am; Thu-Fri noon-2am). The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi (02 498 8888).
Iris Yas Island
With brilliant ladies’ nights on Sunday and Wednesday and regular appearances from world-renowned DJs, Iris has so much going for it. But it’s also a super place for a meal, and the outdoor terrace gives you stunning panoramic views of Yas Marina. The very cool Friday Le Brunch event is not to be dismissed either. Filled with the usual young and very trendy crowd, decorated with trailing vines and offering chilled-out tunes mixed by the resident DJ, the food is seriously on point. The live stations serve up fish and chips, spicy chicken wings and pasta, while the colourful sushi spread is one of the many highlights. The venue is undergoing a revamp at the moment, but it will be reopening in the Autumn. We can’t wait.
Open Sat-Sun; Wed-Thu 6pm-3am; Fri noon-3am. Yas Marina, Yas Island (055 160 5636).
As al fresco eating experiences go, the one you’ll find at Filini Garden is hard to beat. Arrive early enough for a sundowner to fully appreciate just how serene the setting is, and take in the lovely views over Yas Links and out towards Al Raha Creek. The Filini Sunsets deal offers Italian mixed drinks for Dhs30 in the early evening, and the crispy pizzas and sharing antipasti boards are just some of the highlights from the extensive menu. The Thursday and Friday brunches are always packed out too, and we recommend you try them ASAP if you haven’t already.
Open Sat-Wed 5pm-1am; Thu 5pm-3am; Fri noon-3am. Radisson Blu Hotel, Abu Dhabi Yas Island (02 656 2000).
While not just an outdoor venue, this seafood restaurant has a brilliant outdoor space. Finz is based at the end of the beach at Beach Rotana, jutting out over the water. The terrace is one of the prettiest places to enjoy a meal in the city, with great views over towards Al Maryah Island. Sitting out here, whether for dinner or during the Saturday brunch is a real treat. We recommend trying one of the seafood platters or incredible roasted sea bass. Or you could just pop in for a few oysters and a glass of bubbly. Why not?
Open Thu-Fri 12.30pm-3.30pm; Sat, 12.30pm-6pm; daily 7pm-11.30pm. Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi, Al Zahiya (02 697 9011).
When you’re relaxing on a beautiful Abu Dhabi island, surrounded by the clearest blue waters you’ve ever seen and eyeing up the wooden swings that are just begging to be Instagrammed, freshly caught seafood is a must. In fact, seafood restaurant Hooked plays a key part in making Zaya Nurai the dreamlike, serenely perfect location that it is. You can take in the view over the blue waters that surround the island while you feast on hot and cold mezze like grilled octopus, baby squid, batata harra, fatayer and halloumi, and follow it up with platters of fresh fish.
Open daily noon-4pm, 7pm-midnight. Zaya Nurai Island (02 506 6222).
This Mediterranean restaurant at Jumeirah Saadiyat oozes coastal chic and it specialises in taking traditional Italian dishes and giving them a modern twist. The terrace is also one of the most pleasant spots in the city. It’s got a real holiday vibe, and make sure you keep an eye on the Gulf infront of you in case a pod of dolphins happen to pass by. The burrata pizza is on another level of deliciousness.
Open Sun-Wed noon-11pm, Thu-Fri noon-midnight. Jumeirah Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island (02 811 4444).
Puesta del Sol
Strewn with fairy lights and positioned out on a pier over the Grand Canal, Spanish-themed bar and restaurant Puesta del Sol is an awesome place to spend an evening. The menu is split into Arabian and Spanish dishes, meaning you can switch between the two cuisines as the night goes on. We recommend starting with some avocado hummus and fire-grilled steak bites, before moving on to the dajaj mashwi chicken.
Open daily 5am-1pm. Fairmont Bab Al Bahr (02 654 3238).
When the weather is cool, there are few better places to go for a bite to eat than this swanky Japanese restaurant by the Grand Canal. The view of the illuminated Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and its reflection in the water is tremendous, and the Wednesday ladies’ night (offering free-flowing sparkling and selected mixed drinks) always draws a crowd. The maki rolls are always guaranteed to be fabulous, and the shrimp tempura and salmon teriyaki are also up there with our favourites.
Open Sat-Wed noon-1am, Thu-Fri noon-3am. Souk Qaryat Al Beri, Bain Al Jessrain (02 558 1117).
We’re back at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, which is a hotel that really makes the most of its beachfront setting. Sontaya is a pan-Asian restaurant that has a light and airy dining room that’s perfectly lovely, however, the real selling point is the outdoor area. Here you’ll find tables sitting over bright blue pools, almost floating like water lillies. There’s also one partially submerged, so you step down into it and are surrounded by the pool. We like it so much we put it on this week’s cover.
Open daily noon-3pm, 6.30pm-11pm. The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi (02 498 8088).