The best places to grab a meal outdoors in the capital, tried and tested by the What’s On team

Stunning Sea Views

01. Asia de Cuba


There’s plenty to like about this outlet, especially its Chino-Latino cuisine. But while the weather is good over the next few months, make sure you head to its neat wooden decking and comfy sofas and take in the views of the capital’s Corniche. The colourful lanterns hanging from the bar add to the ambience after sundown.

Nation Riviera, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, daily noon to 2am. Tel: (02) 6993333. Taxi: opposite St Regis, Corniche.

02. BBQ Al Qasr 


Upgrade your next barbecue meal with a visit to Emirates Palace. Offering grilled meats in an elegant setting, this eatery is situated on the hotel’s beach and an alfresco only affair. There is only a handful of cabanas on offer, meaning you’ll receive plenty of attention while you soak in views of Abu Dhabi’s coastline and the Arabian Gulf.

Emirates Palace, Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi, daily 6.30pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (02) 6907999. Taxi: Emirates Palace.

03. Beach House


Plenty of people come here for the healthy dishes (as well as a good selection of salads, it serves vegan and gluten free grub), but the scenery is what will keep you coming back. Sit outside and you have a front row view of Saadiyat Beach – and the eagle-eyed ones among you may well spot a dolphin or two.

Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel And Villas, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 10.30am to midnight. Tel: (02) 4071138. Taxi: Park Hyatt. 

04. Barfly


All the outlets at Venetian Village offer great views, but our pick is Barfly, simply because you can sit outside and admire the architecture of the Ritz-Carlton hotel on one side, and the Maqtaa Creek and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on the other.

Venetian Village, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi, Fri 4pm to 3am, Sat 4pm to 1am, Sun to Wed 6pm to 2am, Thur 6pm to 3am. Tel: (02) 4041951. Taxi: Venetian Village, by Ritz-Carlton.

05. Pacifico Tiki


Filling the spot previously owned by Ornina, the theme is not strictly Polynesian per se, more a romanticised version of the locale, with Easter Island like statues and open flame fixtures making an appearance. The lush waters of Yas Island below are why you should visit though – they are unmissable.

Al Bandar, Al Raha Beach, Abu Dhabi, daily noon to midnight. Tel: (02) 5566090. Taxi: Al Bandar.

06. Finz


The scenery around seafood restaurant Finz just keep getting better and better, thanks to the capital’s love affair with progress and construction. Dine outside and admire the waters leading to nearby Al Maryah Island.

Beach Rotana, Al Zahiyah, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Wed 12.30pm to 3.30pm, 7pm to 11.30pm, Thur and Fri 12.30pm to 3.30pm, 7pm to 2am. Tel: (02) 6979011. Taxi: Beach Rotana.

07. Boa

BOA Steakhouse Terracers

While the inside of this meat lovers’ venue is pretty slick, for a truly memorable meal head outside to the balcony for your next steak. Located slap bang in the middle of the Eastern Mangroves Promenade, the views of the waters are peaceful and tranquil and there’s plenty to take in, including the shimmering skyscrapers of Al Reem Island in the distance and the occassional kayakers or eco-donut boats gliding by. Try the goat cheese baklava while there – it’s still one of our favourite dishes in the city.

Eastern Mangroves Promenade, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, Fri to Wed 12.30pm to 1am, Thur 12.30pm to 2pm. Tel: (02) 6411500. Taxi: Eastern Mangroves Promenade.

Romantic spots

08. Cipriani


This Italian is one of the city’s best venues for alfresco dining – the Yas Marina views are spectacular and only upstaged by the nearby Yas Viceroy.

Building 1, Yas Marina, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 6pm to midnight. Tel: (02) 6575400. Taxi: Yas Marina. 

09. Sontaya


A popular choice with readers at the What’s On Awards 2016 for its magnificent Thai food, Sontaya is also worth a visit for some outdoor dining. Almost entirely surrounded by water features, it’s particularly romantic on nights when the staff release glowing Thai lanterns on to those soothing, tranquil waters.

St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur 6.30pm to midnight, Fri and Sat noon to 4pm, 6.30pm to 11pm. Tel: (02) 4988888. Taxi: St Regis Saadiyat.

10. Li Jiang


The dim sum and pad Thai at this pan-Asian are What’s On-approved, and so are the views. The thing that will
grab you attention the most? The majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque glowing in the background.

Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal, Khor Al Maqta’a, Abu Dhabi, daily 4pm to 1am. Tel: (02) 8188282. Taxi: Ritz-Carlton.

The best city views

11. Bu!


A visit to Bu!’s terrace is like taking a trip to downtown Manhattan. Its location in Abu Dhabi’s own downtown means you’re surrounded by skyscrapers on every side, and the honk of taxi horns and the murmur of traffic below make for a surprisingly soothing backdrop.

World Trade Center Mall, Airport Road, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur noon until 3pm, 6pm to 2am, Fri and Sat noon until 3am. Tel: (02) 3048179. Taxi: World Trade Center Mall.

12. Café Milano

You can read our full review of this new Italian on p34, but it earns its spot in this feature thanks to its awesome terrace, which offers views of the waters off Al Maryah Island and downtown Abu Dhabi.

Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island, daily noon to 4pm, Sun to Wed 7pm to midnight, Thur and Fri 7pm to 1am. Tel: (02) 3332630. Taxi: Four Seasons.

13. Dai Pai Dong


Taking its influences from Hong Kong street food, the venue’s alfresco area sits along the waters around the back of Al Maryah Island with the offices of Global Market Square and the Four Seasons making for an impressive backdrop.

Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Wed noon to 11pm, Thur to Fri 6pm to midnight. Tel: (02) 8135550. Taxi: Rosewood Abu Dhabi on Maryah Island. 

14. Up & Below


Up & Below’s location in WTC means you really are living the high life, with great views of Abu Dhabi’s skyscrapers pretty much every way you look. The simple, tasteful white stools and neon lighting adds to the overall effect. It’s one of the coolest bars in the capital.

Courtyard By Marriott World Trade Centre, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, daily noon to 1am. Tel: (02) 6982222. Taxi: Courtyard By Marriott.

High and mighty

15. Helipad Sunset Supper


This one is the most extravagant entry on our list. The St Regis Abu Dhabi has launched a special sunset supper on the hotel’s very own rooftop helipad. That means you’ll get to nosh on nibbles while standing 255 metres in the air and taking in the views of, well, pretty much every part of Abu Dhabi. The menu features caviar, fresh oysters and canapés.

St Regis Abu Dhabi, Al Khubeirah, Abu Dhabi, second Friday of every month, start time dependent on sunset, Dhs400 to Dhs550. Tel: (02) 6944553. Taxi: St Regis Abu Dhabi, Corniche.

16. 18 Degrees


Not many all-day dining restaurants have made it onto this list, but few are as flashy as 18 Degrees at the Hyatt Capital Gate. Its alfresco area is a small one, but a cracker – the views of the ocean around the uninhabited Al Hudayriat Island are breathtaking.

Hyatt Capital Gate, Al Khaleej Al Arabi St, Abu Dhabi, daily 6.30am to 10.30am, noon until 3pm, 7pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (02) 5961234. Taxi: Hyatt Capital Gate.

Embrace Emirati Culture

17. Arabian Nights


Explore a little bit of traditional Emirati life by heading out into the desert for a stay at this Bedouin style hotel/encampment. Dinner is served retro-style as well – you eat outside on the floor on comfy, low sofas while a bellydancer performs.

Arabian Nights Village, near Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi. Tel: (02) 6769990. Taxi: Arabian Nights Village or Khalifa Park (for bus pick-up).

18. Al Fanar


Sitting outside at this outlet in the Venetian Village is the best option – again, displays of Emirati culture are in abundance. Diners can eat on low Arabic cushions surrounded by walls made with dried palm leaves for a meal that will take you back in time. Plus the blue Land Rover and statue of a camel near the entrance only add to the charm.

Venetian Village, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, daily 8.30am to 10am. Tel: (02) 4481144. Taxi: Venetian Village, next to Ritz-Carlton.

19. Al Falaj


You’ll find this Bedouin style oasis in the rolling red sand dunes of Abu Dhabi’s Western Region. The venue is entirely alfresco and as a result, opening hours are subject to the weather, but it’s an incredibly romantic place to visit – you’ll feel like it’s just you and Mother Nature in attendance.

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort By Anantara, Liwa, Abu Dhabi, Tue to Sun 7pm to 10.30pm. Tel: (02) 8862088. Taxi: Qasr Al Sarab Resort by Anantara, Liwa.

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