A belt-busting brunch to kick off the weekend is an Abu Dhabi dining institution for hungry hordes across the city. But while it is fantastic fun to munch on a marathon meal to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content, sometimes you want more from your dining experience than the usual bumper buffet.
Just in case you fear being shunned by your foodie friends and exiled from social gatherings for ever more for daring to utter such a thought, there are a plethora of alternative brunches out there for those who want to switch up their dining diary.
Whether you want to save yourself for Saturday, enjoy an evening eat, fill up on juices or salads at a detox brunch (yes, this is a thing) or live the high life by tucking into top grub over 250 metres above the ground, sink your teeth into our comprehensive guide to the best brunching destinations to fill up your weekend and beyond.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life by embarking on a gastronomic journey to Sir Bani Yas Island. Explore local traditions every Wednesday and Saturday at the Taste of Arabia evening. Enjoy warm hospitality and a wide variety of authentic Arabic dishes, all set against the gentle strains of an Oud.
Dhs280 (soft drinks, local mineral water, Arabic coffee, tea and dates), Dhs140 (kids aged four-12). Wed and Sat 7pm-10.30pm. Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Resorts (02 801 5400).
It’s time to party like its Dhs99 at international restaurant, Bistro. The World Trade Center venue serves up a pocket-friendly brunch every Thursday, with prices starting at just Dhs99. Ease your way into the weekend with an array of global cuisine, a live grill station, light salad dishes and an assortment of delicious desserts for those eager to treat their sweet tooth.
Dhs99 (soft drinks), Dhs199 (house beverages). Thu 7pm-11pm. Courtyard by Marriott World Trade Center, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Street (02 698 2222).
Caramel Restaurant & Lounge
If you feel like tackling a mega meal after leaving your office desk on a Thursday, or would rather wait until late on Friday for your blow-out brunch, this trendy eatery is happy to cater for your needs. Based in the heart of The Collection within the St. Regis Saadiyat Island resort, this lounge bar brings extra luxury to your weekend. The high-end bar snacks are the perfect snacks to go alongside your evening drinks.
Dhs199 (all inclusive). Thu-Fri 7pm-10pm. The Collection, The St.Regis Saadiyat Island Resort (02 678 3344).
If you just can’t make it to the weekend without devouring a mammoth spread of food, Jing Asia is bringing more than just a Far East flavour to your Thursday. While you may expect oodles of noodles and tastes straight out of the wok, this restaurant has broad culinary horizons. The Surf & Turf deal is a case in point. Bid a fond farewell to the working week by stocking up on sumptuous seafood and steak at a price that won’t break the weekend budget before you even get there.
Dhs199 (food only), Dhs299 (house beverages). Thu 7.30pm-11.30pm. Crowne Plaza Yas Island (02 656 3053).
Thursday is the new Friday at this sharing menu, tapas-style brunch. From one of the world’s biggest culinary names (and not just because of the letter count), Jean-Georges Vongerichten, this an evening packed with lighter bites and free-flowing beverages. With an 8.30pm starting time, you’ll have ample opportunity to head home after work and get dressed to impress before stepping out for a classy evening of fun and food.
Dhs220 (soft drinks), Dhs295 (house beverages). Thu 8.30pm-11pm. Le Royal Méridien, Sheikh Khalifa Street (02 674 2020).
The hugely popular pub already has a successful Friday brunch, but you can get the weekend up and running early at the chain’s venue at Al Raha Beach Hotel and Resort. The Treat Yourself Thursday evening brunch features an impressive buffet of tasty pub grub as well as a selection of à la carte dishes. Once you’ve filled up on food (maybe after a suitable break) you can dance the night away to tunes from the Boxtones and top beats from DJ John until the early hours.
Dhs179 (house beverages). Thu 7pm-10pm. Al Raha Beach Hotel and Resort (02 652 4333).
The Foundry Restaurant
The Southern Sun Abu Dhabi steakhouse certainly knows how to brighten up your Thursday evening. Once you clock off at the office enjoy a sizzling start to your weekend with the fantastic Thursday Steak Feast. There is every kind of steak that meat aficionados could hope to find under the (Southern) Sun but you can also fill up on freshly-shucked oysters and crisp salads to complement those top-quality cuts. For a grand selection of grain-fed, grass-fed and dry-aged wagyu beef, there’s nowhere better on a Thursday evening. Everything is served to the table so there’s no wandering around with piled-high plates either. A classy (and good value) night.
Dhs199 (soft drinks), Dhs299 (house beverages). Thu 7pm-11pm. Southern Sun Abu Dhabi, Al Zahiya (02 818 4888).
If you’re looking for a bella (that’s beautiful to those not in tune with the Italian tongue) brunch, then join up with the sophisticated Saturday set at Café Milano. Brunch Del Sabato is bringing a touch of Italian elegance to the Abu Dhabi dining scene. Guests can drink in the cultured ambience and enjoy stunning views of the city skyline while dining alfresco style. Dishes inspired by the southern coast of Italy, think hand-made pasta and fresh seafood, can be enjoyed in a classy setting designed by acclaimed New York designer Adam Tihany. This is a brunch that oozes style.
Dhs190 (soft drinks), Dhs250 (house beverages). Sat noon-4pm. Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island (02 333 2630).
We know the feeling. Sunday is looming large and you want to wind down as the weekend draws to a close. A boisterous brunch might not be on your agenda, so the chilled-out, leisurely approach of Flooka, the Lebanese-Mediterranean seafood spot on Eastern Mangroves Promenade, might prove just what the doctor (well, the chef) ordered. Choose from an abundance of seafood choices, hot and cold mezze, a paella bar, barbecued fish main courses and a selection of Arabic desserts. Throw in a live band, super views from the terrace, plus face-painting and a play area for the kids, and you are in business.
Dhs220 (soft drinks), Dhs320 (house beverages). Sat noon-5.30pm. Eastern Mangroves Promenade (02 441 8244).
This Japanese joint in the heart of the spectacular Yas Viceroy serves up traditional favourites with a modern twist at its Saturday brunch. You’ll be spoiled for culinary choice at the robatayaki gril, while the dedicated sushi and sashimi bar has plenty of raw appeal.
The dishes keep on coming thick and fast, with a wide variety of tempura, traditional handmade soba and sizzling teppanyaki dishes brought straight to your table from live cooking stations.
Dhs225 (soft drinks), Dhs375 (house beverages). Sat 12.30pm-4pm. Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, Yas Island (02 656 0600).
For those who want to stay in the weekend mood for as long as they possibly can, there is plenty of joy to be found at Koi. The Saturday Gochiso brunch features a host of Asian delicacies served right to the table. If you still feel able to let loose, the restaurant offers house beverage and bubbly packages, too.
Dhs295 (soft drinks), Dhs395 (house beverages), Dhs495 (bubbly). Sat 5pm-8pm. The Collection, The St.Regis Saadiyat Island Resort (02 678 3334).
Savour the sights, sounds and smells of Asia at this classy Ritz-Carlton outlet. The brunch showcases the best in South Asian cuisine, with an emphasis on quality over quantity. We recommend the top quality dim sum as well as the ample dessert section. With a pleasant outdoor terrace and splendid views of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on offer, this brunch really hits the spot.
Dhs170 (soft drinks), Dhs270 (house beverages), Dhs370 (bubbly). Sat 1pm-4pm. The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Al Maqta (02 818 8282).
You can be a poet for the day at Sofra Bld. But don’t fret about brushing up on your rhyming couplets and iambic pentameter, in this case it refers only to Pay Once Eat Twice (P.O.E.T). The Saturday P.O.E.T brunch features both lunch and dinner, while complimentary beach and pool access is also thrown in. Anyone well versed in Arabic and Asian dishes will be in for a treat here, while the team of chefs also conjure up delightful dishes from Iran, Morocco and India. One of the few venues that manages to serve up a healthy selection of flavours drawn from Emirati cuisine.
Dhs250 (food only). Sat 1pm-4pm. Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri, Bain Al Jessrain (02 509 8555).
Set among a series of floating pavilions looking out onto a golden beach and the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf, Sontaya serves up a feast for the eyes. There is plenty of good food to enjoy while you take in the stunning views at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort spot, too. The Asian Fusion Brunch, held every Saturday, features flavours from all across South East Asia. There is also the chance to further enrich your experience by snapping up a pool and beach pass for an extra Dhs70.
Dhs229 (soft drinks), Dhs299 (house beverages and pool and beach pass). Sat 12.30pm-4pm. The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort (02 498 8888).
Todd English’s Olives
Celebrity US chef Todd English’s eponymous restaurant chain has been a hit on all corners of the globe – from New York, Las Vegas and Washington in his native America to far-flung destinations such as Manila and The Bahamas. The eatery has found all the right ingredients for success in Abu Dhabi, too. So much so, in fact, that the venue is doubling up on its brunch. Diners can sample the venue’s fresh take on Mediterranean cuisine on Saturday or in the traditional Friday slot during Todd’s Lazy Brunch. You may have to lift a finger to pick up your food, but with a crafted three-course menu with plenty of options to choose from, this is a time to sit back and let the restaurant staff do the work.
Dhs190 (soft drinks), Dhs290 (grape). Fri-Sat 12.30pm-4pm. The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Al Maqta (02 408 7201).
You don’t need to jump on a plane to experience the rustic delights of old Italy. Now and again, just an empty plate and a set of cutlery will do. Italian eatery Villa Toscana gives guests a terrific taste of Tuscany every Saturday. The Saturday Tuscan Brunch is packed with authentic hand-crafted Italian cuisine presented at the table as well as from a string of live stations and an antipasti buffet spread, all served up alongside live music to whisk you off to another continent.
Dhs160 (soft drinks), Dhs260 (grape and hops), Dhs370 (sparkling and mixed drinks). Sat 12.30pm-4pm. The St.Regis Abu Dhabi Nation Towers, Corniche (02 694 4553).
Brunch in the Clouds at St. Regis Abu Dhabi
If anyone ever tells you to get your head out of the clouds, don’t listen. There’s nothing wrong with being upwardly mobile for Brunch in the Clouds, an unforgettable experience that will force you to suspend your dining disbelief (see our cover shot). The seasonal extravaganza takes place on the world’s highest suspended suite, spanning the Nation Towers on the 48th and 49th floors of the St. Regis Abu Dhabi. Set up for 50 diners on each seating, the culinary journey starts in the grand reception hall, where a hotel butler escorts guests to the suite’s private elevator. Upon arrival, diners are free to roam the vast 1,120 sq m suite (which would normally set you back a handsome Dhs150,000 per night) before sampling the gastronomic delights on offer, from a caviar ice-bar and oyster room to a dedicated cheese and dessert room. If all that food is leaving you feeling a bit weary, you can adjourn between tastings to the suite’s private spa for a shoulder massage by therapists from the hotel’s Remède Spa. But you better book now, as the brunch takes a summer break after the next event in May.
Dhs500 (soft drinks), Dhs750 (bubbly). Fri May 19, noon-5pm. St Regis Abu Dhabi, Nation Tower, Corniche (02 694 4553).
Helipad Sunset Supper at St. Regis Abu Dhabi
You will definitely need a head for heights for this one, but the best views in town are guaranteed. The Helipad Sunset Supper isn’t your typical brunch, that much is clear when you find out it takes place 255 metres up in the air and a rooftop helipad only accessible through the hotel’s secret back hallway and onto an elevator. The top kitchen team have a job on their hands after that memorable start to the event in order to match soaring expectations, but they give it a good go. You will be met by a fleet of chefs, butlers and waiters ready to meet your every whim, while premium caviar, fresh oysters and extravagant canapés are among the fine feeds fit for such an opulent occasion. The timing of the event changes depending on the timing of the sunset and the whole thing lasts aorund 90 minutes. The final supper of the summer season takes place on Friday, May 12. With live bubbly sabering and a saxophonist doing the rounds, this is one not to miss. And reservations are for the first 20 people so book fast or risk being brought back to earth with a bump.
Dhs400 (soft drinks), Dhs550 (bubbly). Fri May 12. Start time depends on sunset (usually about 5.30pm). St Regis Abu Dhabi, Nation Tower, Corniche (02 694 4553).
One for the morning after the night before, Nolu’s is a healthy option that won’t put too much of a strain on the purse strings or the waist band. An eclectic mix of California cooking with an Afghani twist, the restaurant prides itself on serving up fresh and healthy fare. If superfood salads, cold pressed juices and gluten-free desserts are your bag, then this Saturday brunch really fits the bill.
Dhs140. Sat 11am-3pm. Galleria Mall, Al Maryah Island (800 66587).
Pit Stop Brunch at Origins
Get geared up for an international brunch that has certainly found the formula for success. This is the ultimate refuelling spot for petrol heads thanks to its prime spot in the glittering Yas Viceroy Hotel, overlooking the world famous Yas Marina F1 circuit. Taking advantage of its enviable location, the restaurant holds a weekly Pit Stop Brunch featuring cuisines from the most famous F1 tracks in the world, from glitzy Monaco to super-cool Shanghai. So get on your starters orders for a fantastic feed. You might not be able to drive like Hamilton or Vettel, but their fitness regime means they will never get to enjoy such a lavish spread during racing season. That’s a win for us, we say.
Dhs225 (soft drinks), Dhs375 (house beverages), Dhs480 (bubbly), Dhs120 (kids aged five-12), free (kids aged four and under). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Yas Viceroy Hotel, Yas Island (02 656 0600).
Stars ‘N’ Bars
As you will now be well aware, brunch is far from just a Friday thing in Abu Dhabi. But buzzing sports spot, Stars ‘N’ Bars has introduced its own take on the institution – available from Sunday to Thursday. And while it might not be the all-you-can-eat spectacular that you usually find under the ‘brunch’ banner it does serve up a bottomless drinks package. Choose dishes à la carte-style (from pancakes at Dhs40 to steak and eggs at Dhs120 and sides such as toast, mushrooms and tomatoes starting from Dhs5) and then decide whether you want the Dhs200 drinks package or not (we’d suggest it’s not a brunch at all without it). With its top atmosphere, plenty of screens showing sports and great views looking across the Yas Marina Circuit race track, Stars ‘N’ Bars is a daily delight.
Prices vary (plus Dhs200 for house beverages). Sun-Thu 11.30am-4pm. Yas Marina, Yas Island (02 565 0101).
If you simply must indulge in a traditional Friday feast then the sheer number of options can sometimes be daunting.
Here are five spots that cater to range a of budgets and moods.
This Brit-style pub is big on atmosphere and value all throughout the week (if you need any convincing, it has a 12-hour happy hour) and its regular brunch brings all those qualities to the table. A carvery brunch complete with all the trimmings is served up at the ever-popular watering-hole. If you fancy extending your stay, there is also a three hour after-brunch party from 4pm until 7pm, with unlimited house drinks for an extra Dhs120. It seems rude not to.
Dhs125 (soft drinks), Dhs160 (house beverages), Dhs190 (premium beverages). Fri noon-4pm. Park Rotana Abu Dhabi, Al Maqtaa (02 657 3325).
With its al fresco setting, our current Best Brunch award-winner is one full of luxury in classy surroundings. Once you’ve done taking in the pleasant views, there is plenty of excellent food to keep you occupied. There is an extensive international selection on offer here and we say you can’t go far wrong with the superb seafood section and the burrata station. Just make sure to save enough room for dessert – there’s lots of it and it’s all absolutely excellent.
Dhs295 (soft drinks), Dhs395 (house beverages), Dhs495 (bubbly). 1pm-4pm. The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal, Khor Al Maqta (02 818 8282).
For a more sophisticated take on brunch, look no further than our Best Chinese restaurant Hakkasan. The stylish venue is packed to the brim with Far Eastern flavours. You can tuck into the wide variety of dim sum on offer before hitting the live stations, offering a range of delicacies such as Peking duck, before finishing off your culinary journey with the eye-catching selection of miniature desserts.
Dhs245 (soft drinks), Dhs345 (house beverages), Dhs495 (bubbly). Noon-4pm. Emirates Palace Hotel, Al Ras Al Akhdar (02 690 7999).
InterContinental Abu Dhabi
For the indecisive among us (or those who just want to try as many cuisines as they can) the InterContinental Abu Dhabi brunch is tough to beat. You can dine indoors or head outside for the Friday Marina brunch, which showcases international flavours from Circo, Chamas and Belgian Café.
Dhs275 (soft drinks), Dhs345 (mixed drinks and bubbly), Dhs495 (premium bubbly). Noon-4pm. King Abdullah Bin Aziz Al Saud Street (02 666 6888).
This culinary big-hitter is our current Restaurant of the Year and everything it offers during the week is available in abundance every Friday afternoon. Whether you are looking for fantastically fresh sushi and sashimi or exquisite main courses and decadent desserts, Zuma has it. It straddles the line between buffet and à la carte with aplomb. Zuma remains one of the top restaurants on any brunching bucket list.
Dhs345 (soft drinks), Dhs445 (sparkling), Dhs550 (bubbly and Japanese shorts). 12.30pm-4pm. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 401 5900).