Abu Dhabi's The Galleria Al Maryah Island is one of our favourite places in the capital for a shopping spree, and after a huge extension opened in 2019, you can browse High Street brands as well as the most exclusive designer stores, have a casual or fancy bite to eat, see a movie at the only IMAX screen in the capital and even relax on a rooftop garden.
Here you’ll find famous, fine-dining restaurants like Nusr-Et and La Petite Maison sitting just metres away from popular chains and quirky casual venues.
Whether you want to eat from a paper box or an expensive plate, stick to a budget or really treat yourself, you can taste dishes from all around the globe in one very cool mall.
With outdoor terraces attached to many of the restaurants, it’s the perfect venue at any time of year. So next time you’re after a mid-shop refuel or a night out with some fantastic food, why not check out the following places…
99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant
This Japanese restaurant originated in Spain, and the super-stylish outlet specialises in immaculate plates of impossibly fresh sushi, with each pretty morsel prepared with care and skill by the talented chefs at the sushi bar. It oozes class from every corner, and the business lunch is a good value way of experiencing some of the best dishes. From the fresh tuna ceviche to the chicken dumplings, it’s all sublime. You can also easily spend a whole Friday afternoon working through the 11-course brunch, where the drinks keep on flowing until after sunset.
Open daily noon-3.30pm; Sun-Wed 7pm-11.30pm; Thu-Fri 7pm-12.30pm. Bar open Sat-Wed noon-1am; Thu-Fri noon-2am (02 672 3333).
If you’re after traditional no-frills Lebanese food then this is the place to come. Each dish has a proper homemade feel, and as well as having a few established branches across the city, the restaurant also appears in food truck form at various events. Its latest branch to open in Abu Dhabi is found in the Central Kitchens food court bit of The Galleria, and the dishes are all exceptionally good value. You can start your day with a traditional Arabic breakfast of labneh, falafel, foul and more, or swing by for one of the signature sandwiches or shawarmas (available for just Dhs6). There’s also grilled meats, hot and cold mezze, freshly baked breads and all the best Middle Eastern plates you can think of.
Daily 10am-10pm. www.thegalleria.ae.
This cool restaurant serves up a creative take on European dining with dishes inspired by French cuisine, but there’s also other magnificent dishes from around the world and meat lovers are definitely well catered for. The fun light bites include Cajun salmon sliders, chicken bao buns and lobster tacos, while the mains feature a range of quality steaks, huge grilled tiger prawns and European staples such as chicken schnitzel. The daily happy hour offers discounted drinks from 4.30pm to 7pm and again from 11pm to 1am. The outdoor area provides the perfect position for Al Maryah Island sunset viewing (which thankfully coincides with that first happy hour of the night).
Open daily noon-1.30am (02 626 2131).
Inside the new extension of The Galleria Al Maryah Island you’ll find the first UAE branch of Californian chain Blaze Pizza. Sports fans might be excited to know that this quirky restaurant is backed by NBA legend LeBron James, but really it’s got something to please anyone who appreciates a good pizza. It’s particularly ideal if you’re a bit fussy about how you like your pizza to be served. The build-your-own pies are created in front of your eyes by the ‘pizzasmiths’. You can choose your own toppings, seasonings and base, or simply stick to one of the signature dishes. For us it’s extra cheese and pepperoni every time.
Sun-Thu 10am-10pm; Fri-Sat 10am-midnight. Central Kitchens, www.blazepizza.com.
This vibrant Peruvian restaurant is one of the most lively eateries in the city, and it’s home to a super bar area, lovely terrace and fun and funky dining room. The food is absolutely excellent and full of colour and flavours that make the palate ping. The guacamole is a total delight, and the beef and chicken anticuchos, which come on a mini smoking grill, are delicious. The sushi and sashimi are also fresh, creatively presented and totally Instagramable and when it comes to main courses, the Chilean sea bass cazuela is one of the signature dishes that will never disappoint. The brunch is also tonnes of fun and we are very big fans of spending our Friday afternoons dancing to the live band and feasting on the vibrant dishes.
Open Sun-Thu and Sat 12.30pm-5.30pm; Sun-Mon, Wed, Sat 7pm-midnight; Tue, Thu-Fri 7pm-12.30am. Fri brunch 12.30pm-4pm. Lounge open daily 12.30pm-1.15am (02 306 7000).
Eat Greek Kouzina
This casual Greek restaurant has a relaxed, family-friendly vibe. The menu is filled with all the classics that you’ll remember from your jollies over on any one of the Greek Islands, with plates made using staple ingredients like feta, aubergine, octopus and lamb. Starters include fresh bites such as tzatziki, Greek salad and calamari, while for main courses you’ll find traditional favourites like moussaka, chicken, lamb or beef gyros and lamb chops. It’s all perfect for sharing, very good value and the uncomplicated, yet perfectly put together dishes prove that sometimes it’s the simple things that work the best.
Daily noon-11.50pm (02 309 2323).
Le Petite Maison
This French venue offers a modern fine-dining experience and once again we felt it deserved to be crowned Best French Restaurant at the Time Out Abu Dhabi Restaurant Awards 2019. The dining room is bright and welcoming, the staff absolutely never miss a beat and the menu is filled with super Niçoise specialities, meaning you get Mediterranean classics inspired by France and Italy. Dishes are designed to share and the sea bass baked in a sea salt and herb crust is one of the signature favourites. Served with asparagus and cherry tomatoes, it’s absolutely beautiful and you really need to try it.
Open Sun-Wed noon-3.30pm & 6pm-11pm; Thu noon-3.30pm & 6.30pm-11.30pm. Fri-Sat 12.30pm-4pm; 6.30pm-11.30pm (02 692 9600).
Loca Restaurant & Bar
This lively bar and restaurant is filled to capacity every Wednesday evening due to the mega-popular ladies’ night, but it also offers a fabulous menu of Mexican dishes. The traditional plates like burritos, fajitas and nachos are served in generous portions, while the guacamole is prepared and customised to your taste at the table. If you want to convince yourself you’re being healthy then try the shrimp tostada salad, which has to be the least boring salad in the whole world.
Daily noon-1.30am. (02 582 3639).
To many of you, this legendary bakery will need no introduction. The signature banana pudding alone has a legion of loyal (or slightly obsessed) fans, and we’re always delighted whenever there’s an occasion that justifies ordering some of the cute cupcakes. The branch on Al Maryah Island is also extra special, as it just so happens to be the biggest Magnolia Bakery in the world (we know, so typically Abu Dhabi). If you’re yet to experience this charming café then we urge you to stop for a sweet bite next time you’re passing, we promise you you’ll be totally hooked. Plus, as well as all the pretty desserts, there’s also all-day breakfast dishes and savoury options like loaded fries, barbecue chicken and aubergine parmigiana. If you’re still obsessing over Carrie Bradshaw and her cronies, then you probably know the characters frequented the original in New York.
Sun-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Fri 10am-midnight (050 105 8945).
Off The Hook
With several branches already well established across Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai, the popularity of this casual seafood joint just seems to grow and grow. It seems that despite our love for fancy restaurants and luxurious beach bars, Abu Dhabi residents still enjoy getting their hands dirty (well, very sticky) and eaten fresher than fresh seafood straight out of a plastic bag. Shrimps, sea bass, lobster, salmon and more can be ordered in half-kilogram and kilogram portions, and you can also add your choice of sauce and spice, too. Then just strap on a bib and dig in your bare hands the way it should be done. We find it totally invigorating.
Daily 10am-10pm. Central Kitchens (054 998 1888).
Launched in the USA in 1996, this is a spot for all the fried chicken lovers out there (that’s you isn’t it? Just admit it). With more than 400 branches across the USA and the Middle East, its formula of using high quality ingredients and cooking dishes fresh to order definitely has the desired effect, and it seems like people can’t get enough of its tasty bites. The menu is simple but brilliant, with a choice of chicken fingers or sandwiches, plus sides like crinkle-cut fries and Texas toast. Save this for a treat-day blowout.
Daily 10am-midnight. Central Kitchens (02 492 6863).
When it comes to creative Japanese cooking, nowhere does it better than Zuma, and while the entrance to the restaurant is outside of The Galleria, it's still classed as part of it. This is where the classy and good-looking crowd in Abu Dhabi hang out, and the views from the sleek dining room over the waters around Al Maryah Island are tremendous. The highlights of the Japanese-inspired menu include the signature black cod, fresh tiger prawns squeezed with lemon, bao buns and super salads like sautéed spinach with creamy sesame paste. Even the simplest things like edamame beans are exceptional. The brunch is also the best in the city, and if you’ve got a birthday to celebrate or guests from home to impress then you have to give it a go. The buffet includes sashimi, salads, maki rolls and robata, while the main courses like sticky beef are served to your table. If you’re yet to experience the Zuma, you need to sort that out as soon as possible.
Open Sat-Thu noon-3.30pm; Sat-Wed 7pm-midnight; Thu-Fri 7pm-1am. Fri brunch 12.30pm-4pm. Bar open Sat-Wed 7pm-midnight; Thu-Fri 7pm-1am (02 401 5900).
ALSO AT THE GALLERIA
Another newcomer to the capital’s retail sector is French sports store Decathlon where you can pick up a whole range of sporting goods, clothing and accessories.
IMAX at VOX Cinemas
If you’re like us and love grabbing some popcorn and seeing the latest movies then you’re in luck. The first-ever Vox Cinemas IMAX is part of the mall’s state-of-the-art 21-screen cinema that has all the big blockbusters.
Urban rooftop gardens
A series of urban rooftop parks take pride of place on top of the mall, offering a green space to relax and take in the impressive views of Al Maryah Island and Reem Island.