The 30 best dishes in Abu Dhabi

The definitive list of what you need to eat in the capital

Sweet potato waffles at crustique
This is breakfast – but not as you know it. The sweet potato waffles are a tasty enough proposition on their own, but when they come with a cracking combination of classic eggs and eggs florentine this really becomes a great start to the day. The perfectly poached eggs are smothered in a homemade Hollandaise sauce. A streak of crispy beef bacon and sautéed spinach nestle lurk underneath the eggs to add even more top tastes into the mix. This is a dish that rises (and shines) to the occasion.
Dhs39. Ground Floor, Ministry of Energy Building, Al Falah Street (02 677 7004).

Banana pudding at Inakaya
Keep your eyes peeled for this creative take on the traditional Japanese pudding at Inakaya. Usually served as a winter treat its warm, steamed banana-flavoured custard provides the substance while the cool factor is delivered in the form of a refreshing scoop of homemade black sesame ice cream. Assorted berries add a tart touch of freshness and an extra splash of colour to the dessert, which successfully blends contrasting flavours. We love the unique presentation, too.
Dhs55. Venetian Village, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal (02 404 1921).

Heirloom tomato and burrata at JW Steakhouse
We all know cheese and tomato make for a brilliant combination – and not just in a hunger-busting toastie. This superb sphere of burrata, sourced from the Puglia region of Italy, is sprinkled with Kalamata olive dust and paired with heirloom tomatoes from France, seasoned with salt and an oil comprised of rocket and basil. A tomato and balsamic dressing and the sweet surprise of a refreshing sorbet complete the dish.
Dhs72. Marriott Hotel Downtown, Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street (02 304 7777).

Black pepper beef at Shang Palace
Contemporary, simple and classy; three words which sum up Shang Palace and this exquisite addition to its menu. The team at the Cantonese eatery have taken a stripped-down approach to their black pepper beef. Rather than overpowering the dish with too many flavours, the tenderloin is marinated and seared in a pan to retain its natural juices, then tossed in the rich sauce with roasted pearl onions, crunchy garlic and spring onion. The main ingredients are given room to shine here.
Dhs150. Shangri-La-Hotel, Abu Dhabi, Qaryat al Beri (02 509 8888).

Seared tuna burger at Appaloosa
You might think you have seen it all with burgers, right? Well, cool Marriott Hotel Al Forsan bar Appaloosa is creating a fresh flavour for an old favourite. The seared tuna burger sits on a bed of fresh lettuce and tomatoes with wasabi mayonnaise in a squid ink bun. The beautiful burger serves up a taste of the sea that you can wrap your hands around. If you are tired of the same old options, take a pass on beef patties and try out tuna.
Dhs60. Marriott Hotel Al Forsan, Al Forsan International Sports Resort, Khalifa City A (02 201 4000).

Half-metre hot dog at Stars ’n’ Bars
They actually do do things by halves at Stars ‘N’ Bars – half metres that is. The funky American-inspired sports bar has a humongous hot dog on the menu for those with an appetite to match its sheer size. The custom-made classic beef sausage fills out the massive French baguette quite nicely, with mustard-mayo spread over the entire feed, along with spiced crisps of beef bacon. Still think you haven’t bitten off more than you can chew? Well, there are curly fries, onion rings and a host of other sides, too.
Dhs65. Yas Marina, Yas Island (02 565 0101).

Kit kat brownie at waterlemon
Have a break, have a Kit Kat brownie. That could really catch on, we reckon. If you are looking to satisfy your sweet tooth then look no further. This delicious dessert is choc-a-block with flavour, boasting no fewer than six Kit Kat fingers set up Jenga-style between homemade brownie slabs made with 70 percent dark chocolate. A cool scoop of vanilla ice cream sits atop of the treat tower, which is garnished with crushed and whole hazelnuts, dreamy chocolate sauce and a dusting of cocoa powder.
Dhs42. Al Bateen Wharf Retail and East Marina, Al Bateen (02 635 5050).

Beef Kofta at The Grill
Food cooked from the heart makes for a contented stomach. The classic Turkish appetiser is prepared with a little extra dash of love by Aytekin Ergun, chef de cuisine at The Grill, who found inspiration for his version of the meal in Sivas, a city near his hometown in Turkey. Four cuts of beef are marinated with palate-pleasing Turkish spices and the rich flavours are allowed to seap in for a couple of days in a fridge. The tender meat is then minced, shaped and grilled until just right before being set on a spoon of tahini sauce and topped with a pulse salad. This really is a Turkish delight.
Dhs55. Marriott Hotel Al Forsan, Al Forsan International Sports Resort, Khalifa City A (02 201 4000).

Ceviche platter at barfly by Buddha-bar
There are plenty of brilliant dishes to choose from at this venue, which picked up a Highly Commended Asian accolade at the Time Out Abu Dhabi Restaurant Awards 2017. Our favourite, just, is the ceviche platter.
It looks great, we’re sure you’ll agree, and the four kinds of ceviche – yellowtail with pink grapefruit, tuna with Thai sauce, sea bass with wasabi and onion, and prawn with spicy shallots – all taste super fresh and zing with vibrant flavours.
Dhs125. Venetian Village, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Khor Al Maqta (02 404 1951).

Kasas City Strip at Butcher & Still
Butcher & Still has dozens of delicious dishes on the menu that we couldn’t recommend more, but the one cut of meat we return to time and again is the Kansas City Strip. The beef is prime, USDA Black Angus. It's a boneless centre cut from the striploin, seasoned with Maldon sea salt and toasted black pepper before being grilled and then finished in a charcoal Josper oven. There’s so much flavour in every bite, with the seasoning (and a fair amount of butter) permeating through the meat. Try this one, and you won’t be disappointed.
Dhs280. Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 333 2444).

Octopus salad at Café Milano
Our Best Italian restaurant 2017 had to make it on this list, and one dish we’ve returned to time and again is the octopus salad. It has evolved throughout the seasons, based on ingredients that are available at the time, and the current version, with diced pumpkin, rosemary and olives, is just as delicious as the others. It comes with a punchy olive purée that cuts through the tender octopus, which is tenderised with lemon, salt and vinegar before being poached. It’s simple, great value and one of those perfect plates of food that’ll make you come back for more.
Dhs40. Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 333 2630).

Buffalo wings at McGettigan’s
Things are about to get a bit messy and we love it. Chicken wings are a pub favourite all over the world, but we can’t recall many places who do them quite so finger-lickingly good as this hugely popular Irish haunt. The incredibly moreish wings are slathered in a spicy, tangy sauce that will end up everywhere, but you really won’t mind. The meat is juicy and tender and you will cherish every bite. Here is just another reason to pay more than a flying visit to McGettigan’s.
Dhs59. Al Raha Beach Hotel & Resort, Channel Street, Al Raha (02 652 4333).

Ceviche de huachinango at Toro Toro
A buzz surrounded Richard Sandoval’s pan-Latin restaurant when it opened and while our first visit was a little haphazard service-wise, when it came to the food there were no complaints at all. There are dishes from across the continent here, but the classic sea bass ceviche shows the kitchen’s skills to superb effect. Cubes of sweet potato, roasted corn kernels, slivers of onion and an avocado purée all feature alongside the cubes of fish, given just enough bite by the leche de tigre. Simple but stunning.
Dhs55. Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Corniche West (02 811 5882).

The French-mexican sandwich at Sports Café
French because its in a baguette, Mexican because it’s stuffed with chilli con carne, topped with melted cheese, onions, jalapeños and queso fresco. It’s more than a mouthful (it’s absolutely massive) and the flavours, spice levels and textures are all spot on. The venue is a top place to head to catch a game and while chicken wings might be the obvious choice from the menu, don’t overlook this fantastic beast. We don’t know what possesed them to put it on the menu, but we’re certainly glad they did.
Dhs70. Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Khor Al Maqta (02 654 3238).

Arroz Nikkei at Coya Abu Dhabi
Sometimes a dish can be more than the sum of its parts. Much more. That is definitely the case with the Arroz Nikkei. Don’t get us wrong, the ingredients of Chilean sea bass, rice, chilli and lime are lovely, but put them all together under the expert guidance of Coya’s chefs and you end up with something very special indeed. It is served in a cast iron bowl, with the plump fillet of marinated fish resting on silken rice, flavoured with chilli and lime. Your waiter will ask if it can be all mixed together and your answer should be yes.
Dhs192. Coya Abu Dhabi, The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 306 7000).

Golden egg sauce bao at Panda Bao Bao
One of our favourite budget places that we discovered this year, Panda Bao Bao serves a mean noodle dish, but it’s these sweet, warm, fluffy buns that linger longest in the memory. Hand-made in house, all the bao are worth checking out, but these, filled with duck egg yolk, mixed with carrot and butter, make for a confusingly sweet sensation. Try not to spill the filling down you – you’ll look silly and will have wasted a delicious mixture.
Dhs18 (three pieces). Near ADNOC petrol station, Airport Road, Al Karamah (02 304 8151).

Lamb cutlets at La Petite Maison
This classy continental eatery was one of the most-anticipated openings in a massive year of new beginnings on the Abu Dhabi dining scene, and here is one of the reasons why. The fine-dining spot really allows all of its ingredients to shine. The juicy, charred lamb chops pack together an astonishing amount of flavour in every bite.
As ever with the talented culinary team at the Al Maryah Island venue, the presentation is flawless, too. Style and substance are married together wonderfully at La Petite Maison.
Dhs230. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 692 9600).

Salmon Maracuya at BU!
Now we know this plate looks so perfect it really seems a shame to disturb it, but you really must. The almost-too-pretty-to-eat meal features a show-stealing salmon tiradito, which is a raw, sashimi-style fish, drizzled with drops of lime juice, with some crunchy goodness provided by the tapioca crackers, infused with squid ink to add another tasty texture. A sweet hit is delivered by a passion fruit sauce, while the fresh mint oil brings another exotic layer to the dining table. You simply must try this.
Dhs65. The Hub, The Mall at World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (02 666 8066).

Temptsuyu maki at 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant
Rather embarrassingly, we weren't going to order this dish. Our waiter suggested it and when it arrived we were absolutely delighted he did. What we know now, however, is that it is perhaps the best thing we've eaten all year. The sensation of warm maki rolls, with a crispy fried outer coating, is one that we weren’t expecting but absolutely loved. Bonito flakes dance on the top of the rolls, with the earthy umami broth bringing them to life. There is unbelievable skill on show here, with an unbelievable understanding of flavours and textures to go with it. Just amazing.
Dhs80. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 418 2567).

Roasted duck red curry at Cho Gao Marina Walk
We are big fans of the Crowne Plaza’s Cho Gao – so when they doubled up their Abu Dhabi presence we were chomping at the bit to try out the newcomer. Cho Gao Marina Walk is already turning heads, and dishes such as this fantastic roasted duck red curry are a big part of the reason why. Chao Gao’s intriguing take on the authentic Thai red curry is filled with slices of rich meat, offset with pineapple and grape to give the meal a lovely balance of sweet, spicy and sour flavours.
Dhs85. InterContinental Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street (02 666 6888).

Activated charcoal pancakes at No.Fifty Seven Boutique Café
Black food is all the rage in the UAE these days, whether it involves a burger bun, a pizza or even, as is the case here, a trusty pancake. Innovative No.Fifty Seven Boutique Café has gone to the dark side with its scrumptious pancakes. Ricotta cheese and activated charcoal are added to the staple pancake ingredients and garnished with fresh blueberries, blackberries (of course) and homemade cream. This breakfast delight will only brighten your mood.
Dhs55. Building Two, Al Marasy, Al Bateen Harbour (02 441 6100).

jones wagyu burger at jones the grocer
Ground wagyu beef, juicy and full of flavour. Smoked beef bacon. Melted cheddar.
Crisp green leaves. Caramelised onion. Need we go on? This burger, served in a soft brioche bun and alongside skin-on fries, is absolutely delicious. Great value, too, considering the sheer brilliance of it. Sure, you might end up with a good portion of it down the front of your shirt, but any mess you make is totally worth it for the sheer flavour of this meaty masterpiece.
Dhs79. Various locations, including Muroor Road, Al Nahyan (02 443 8762).

Moussaka burger at Eat Greek Kouzina
Capital newcomer Eat Greek pays homage to plenty of authentic dishes – but there are a few quirkier tastes on the menu, too. A great example of the venue’s playful approach to cuisine is the moussaka burger.
A homemade bun is filled with a beef patty, a slice of tomato, caramelised onion, grilled aubergine, béchamel sauce and a slice of potato to top off the magnificent melting pot of flavours. Go on a culinary journey to Greece in just a few bites.
Dhs75. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 309 2323).

Paella negra de calamar at Bravo Tapas Bar & Restaurant
We love Spanish food here at Time Out Abu Dhabi, but it’s one cuisine that we feel is under-represented in the capital. Maybe Spain will get its day in the sun in the same way Peru and Turkey has recently. Until then, we can take comfort that there are a handful of places in which you can feast on tapas and paella in the city, Bravo being one of the best. Squid ink gives the rice its colour in this paella, and prawns, mussels and calamari provide the meat within. This twist on the classic is well worth a look, but if you prefer your paella the more traditional way, fear not, there are three other versions available: seafood, chicken and vegetables, all with white bomba rice.
Dhs134. Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort, Corniche Road East (02 677 3333).

Chilean sea bass at Zuma
It doesn’t matter how many times we dine at Zuma, the great dishes remain great.
The Chilean sea bass is one of the signatures that is just perfect. The meaty fish’s big flakes slide away from one another, the green chilli sauce that it comes with has just the right amount of spice to lift the clean taste of the sea bass and the golden grill on the outside of the fish makes it look so tempting, but also adds depth to the flavour. Zuma does everything it touches with absolute class and finesse, this perennial favourite is no different.
Dhs182. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 401 5900).

Malabar paratha at Tamba
If you think you need meat for a culinary treat, this vegetarian malabar paratha with Singhalese spice will give you food for thought. This is a refined version of a humble street food classic, featuring a chilli and herb curry with cumin, coriander, mint and curry leaves, with peppers and snow peas tossed in before the tasty mixture is layered with big, bite-sized pieces of paratha. The colourful meal is capped off by a salad of carrot, beetroot and radish. This is Tamba at its best.
Dhs58. The Hub, The Mall at World Trade Center, Al Markaziyah (02 672 8888).

Meat board at Ray’s Grill
You might just “meat” your match with this huge feast, but you will have plenty of fun trying to polish it all off. This is play time for carnivores, with the made-for-two platter (we wouldn’t recommend going it alone to be honest) including Australian wagyu rump beef, USDA flat-iron steak, Cajun chicken breasts, lamb kebabs and two types of beef sausage – Lebanese soujouk and Spanish chorizo. The mightily meaty treat comes with four sauces to help you along the way and, if you are not full enough, you can select two side dishes, too.
Dhs385. Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Corniche Road (02 811 5666).

Lobster pizza at Berri’s
We love pizza and we really love lobster too, so the idea of having the pair together is a little slice of perfection for us. Al Raha Beach eatery Berri’s was transported to the capital from the celebrity-laden streets of LA and is responsible for this brilliant crustacean creation. A rich sauce is spread over a tasty base with fresh mozarella before the star of this foodie show, lovely lobster meat, is piled on along with shrimp and some extra-special seasoning. Enjoy a “pizza” the action as soon as you can.
Dhs89. Al Muneera, Al Raha Beach (02 643 9555).

Brioche French Toast at Tashas
This light and bright breakfast dish might just be the best thing since, well, sliced bread. The continental favourite is served with lashings of style at this vibrant eatery, along with a few other sweet treats to keep you happy. Two thick slices of eggy bread are served with a fresh berry preserve and crème anglaise. It’s a delicious combination that will give you an extra spring in your step as you kick off the day.
Dhs48. Unit BO2 Café, Marsa, Al Bateen (02 445 0890).

Shrimp tempura MAKI at Café Sushi
The title of the restaurant tells you all you need to know about what this Fairmont Bab Al Bahr eatery specialises in. Whenever you roll in, you are guaranteed a rich supply of sushi, maki, nigiri and sashimi. While diners are always spoiled for choice, we always like to get our chopsticks around the shrimp tempura. The fresh and flavoursome maki roll is topped with shrimp tempura and packs an extra punch thanks to the addition of avocado and eel sauce. The only question you will face is whether one portion is enough. At these prices you will be tempted to go for second helpings.
Dhs41. Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Khor Al Maqta (02 654 3238).

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