The rich culinary heritage of Abu Dhabi

A guide to the best culinary neighborhoods in the UAE capital



Jul 14, 2023 - 3 min read

The rich culinary heritage of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi's gastronomical scene is enveloped with the Emirate’s rich cultural heritage with a touch of international delights.

It also had a boost when Michelin Guide launched its inaugural guide in 2022, wherein three restaurants from the capital made it to the list. It made a louder noise when they recently hosted Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants, a prestigious annual event that honors the culinary craftsmanship of the region’s best chefs and restaurants – a testament to the vibrant culinary landscape in the Emirate.

UAE’s rich heritage and culture are heavily engraved on this Emirate’s culinary trail. While Dubai has a more expansive dining spectrum and is generally more popular amongst tourists, a lot of the traditional and oldest Emirati restaurants can be found in Abu Dhabi. 

Expats make up the majority of Abu Dhabi's population, like its glamorous neighbor Dubai. As a result, the Emirate has a thriving gastronomic scene featuring cuisines from around the world, from Peruvian to Thai, French to Japanese, and Indian to Ethiopian.

“Abu Dhabi’s food scene has a lot of potential, and it is flourishing faster than we expected”, says Abraham John, TableCheck’s Business Development Manager. “We see so many possibilities and we’d like to be part of this booming sector in the Emirate”, he added.

With that in mind, we’ve narrowed down a list of must-visit epicurean neighborhoods that cover almost everything, from local favorites to international delights.

Yas Island

Yas Island is where adventure and doses of fun come in the form of three fantastic theme park attractions: Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi, and Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi. This island also has shopping malls and architecturally adventurous hotels that house top-notch and award-winning restaurants. 

Yas Island Rotana exudes cosmopolitan flair with its enticing selection of international cuisines and award-winning restaurants. It is located just minutes from world-famous theme attractions, making it an ideal place for tourists and event-goers.

Choices can guarantee a good and filling dining experience as one of its six restaurants. Guests are spoilt with choices with its buffet, serving the best cuisines from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Choices’ dessert buffet is every sweet tooth’s dream, offering a wide selection of modern and traditional pastries.

Saadiyat Island

Gorgeous scenic views meet cultural affairs. Saadiyat Island is hailed as one of the most sophisticated and luxurious districts in the Emirate. It is the capital’s cultural hub, with international art fairs and the presence of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. This island also offers a vast range of leisure activities, with its diverse wildlife, including Arabian gazelles, Hawksbill turtles, and bottlenose dolphins. 

Beirut Sur Mer is an elevated Lebanese epicurean experience. This crowd-favorite restaurant has well-curated menus covering myriad salads, mezze to mashawi mixed grills, and a superb selection of beverage lists. With its captivating bold eclectic decor and access to spectacular views of the Arabian Gulf, it’s no wonder this restaurant received the Bib Gourmand award from the MICHELIN Guide in 2023.

Eastern Mangrove

A reserve of beauty and biodiversity, Eastern Mangrove is one of the best places to appreciate and experience the unspoiled beauty of nature within the emirate. It is where Mangrove National Park is situated, a biodiversity hotspot that makes up almost 75 percent of the total mangrove forest area in the UAE. There is also a nearby lifestyle hub and marina where residents and visitors can shop, eat and experience water-based explorations of Abu Dhabi’s lush mangroves.

All these experiences are connected to the five-star Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi Hotel. A tranquil urban sanctuary, Anantara Eastern Mangroves has private balconies overlooking the city’s skyline or expanse of mangroves. Upon entering, this hotel emanates Arabesque opulence – scintillating chandeliers, Islamic-stay archways, and copious use of brown and cream furnishings.

Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi Hotel offers a variety of dining experiences that suits one’s mood. Guests can choose from award-winning lounges by the pool (Pool Deck), or revel in the cuisines of the world at Ingredients.

Al Ma'arid

An urbane neighborhood at the heart of Abu Dhabi, Al Ma’arid is the home of the famed copper-colored tower, Capital Gate, and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. A hub of business and pleasure, this district is the epicenter of notable fast-food cafes and sleek hotels within the emirate.

Pearl Rotana Capital Centre is a contemporary hotel designed to suit the needs of business, leisure travelers, and families alike. This hotel has 315 well-appointed rooms with a choice of one- and two-bedroom suites, along with a well-equipped gym, rooftop pool, and massage rooms. Situated in Abu Dhabi’s business district, Pearl Rotana has an option of lounges and pool bar access to cater to guests’ executive and social needs.

Authentic Italian gastronomic affair in Dino’s Bistro Italiano should not be missed when staying in Pearl Rotana. With flashes of green, white, and red throughout the space, guests can enjoy Italian home-cooking modern cuisine in a lively and casual setting. They serve the best Italian classic renditions of pizza, pasta, and antipasti, made from the finest and freshest ingredients.

A standard solution for restaurants and hotels, the TableCheck platform converts first-time diners into repeat guests, enhancing guest loyalty and revenue. For a growing industry such as in Abu Dhabi, TableCheck can surely provide the technology that is pivotal in driving growth in the hotel and restaurant businesses.

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