Break the routine and travel through food by taking breakfast on tour…

By now, the majority of us have probably accepted the fact that, due to the global pandemic, our summer holidays are on hold for 2020.

And we’d like to argue the case that this is cause for celebration. It gives us an opportunity to go out and explore the many reasons we fell in love with Abu Dhabi in the first place. Take the world-class international dining scene, for example.

It’s something that’s very close to our hearts here at What’s On, which is why we’ve teamed up with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism’s (DCT) Abu Dhabi Culinary Season, and a number of the capital’s leading restaurants, to bring you the Big Brekkie Adventures, shining a light on the incredibly diverse culinary scene right here in the UAE capital and to give you a taste of the world we all love.

Between July 15 and August 31, 18 Abu Dhabi restaurants will each offer a special, limited-edition breakfast dish, inspired by 18 different countries.

Sweet or savoury, healthy or fried, we’re taking you on a grand global tour of the most important meal of the day.

Sanderson’s Cafe

Travel to: Indonesia with a Traditional Balinese Breakfast

Bali takes the yearbook award for ‘most likely to chill you out’. And for a limited time, you can start your day the Indonesian island way with a traditional Balinese breakfast at laidback-meets-luxe Sanderson’s Cafe. Find equilibrium in the chilled black rice pudding with baby banana tempura, coconut ice cream, toasted nuts and blueberry caramel.

Al Seef Compound, Behind Al Seef Village Mall, Khalifa Park Area, 8am to 8.30pm, Dhs57. Tel: (02) 222 1142. @wearesandersons

Café 302

Travel to: Belgium with a Big Belgian Waffle

Belgium is Europe’s secret weapon. Despite having a population not much bigger than the UAE, it frequently outperforms its larger neighbours in football, chocolate, beer and, of course, waffles. And Cafe 302 will be flexing its Brussels muscles for the next six weeks with a special Big Belgian Waffle. These crispy, golden breakfast cakes come with deep pockets for holding onto toppings of mixed berry compote, wild berries and vanilla mascarpone.

Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad St, 8am to 2pm, Dhs37. Tel: (02) 610 6666.


Travel to: Afghanistan with an Afghani Breakfast Set

Afghanistan sits at a crossroads between ancient civilisations. Its diverse cultural heritage can be enjoyed today in examples of its ceramic art, poetry, music and, of course, cuisine. Nolu’s is a proud ambassador of these culinary traditions, fusing secret Afghan family recipes with contemporary Cali flair, all presented in a chic, modern environment. The Afghani breakfast includes sunny-side-up eggs, cooked in a skillet with tomatoes, onions and coriander, served with potatoes, veggies, cheese and a pot of traditional tea.

The Galleria Mall, Al Maryah Island, breakfast available 9am to noon, Dhs79. Tel: (800) 66587. @nolusrestaurant

Art House Cafe

Travel to: UAE with an Emirati-style Shakshuka

What better place to celebrate the culinary creativity of the UAE than in Abu Dhabi’s Art House Cafe. The light and airy interiors are a carnival of colour, but for breakfast, all we’re interested in is the red, green, white and black of the UAE flag. Enter the Emirati beidh wa tomat, a local variation of the popular Middle Eastern shakshuka. Strap in for a one-skillet dish that’s full of flavour: tomatoes, minced jalapenos, spices, and cracked eggs topped with crumbled feta and coriander, all served with toasted bread.

Al Huwelat St, Bateen Area, Opp Al Bateen Villa No 15, 9am to midnight, Dhs38. Tel: (02) 666 0175. @arthousecafead

Joud Cafe 

Travel to: Spain with a Spanish Frittata

Welcome to Costa del Joud. This trendy cafe has a menu packed with international inspiration and a dazzling collection of quality coffees. But it’s all going a bit ‘Sergio Ramos’ this summer, because they’ll be offering a ‘real Madrid’ breakfast as part of the Big Brekkie Adventures. Tuck into a Spanish frittata filled with potatoes, onions, cheese and sour cream, served with a side of sourdough. 

Al Bateen Park Plaza, breakfast served 8am to noon, Dhs65. Tel: (056) 525 8235. @joudcafe

Keki Japanese Bakery ケーキ

Travel to: Japan with Mango Cloud Pancakes and a mango smoothie

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a Japanese bakery, Keki is giving us a true taste of Tokyo for the Big Brekkie Adventures. Diners can enjoy a pair of limited-edition summer mango pancakes. Two Japanese-style, souffle-esque pancakes served with a trinity of mango: custard, puree and fresh fruit. Diners will also receive a delicious vegan smoothie with mango and banana to accompany it. When the morning starts this sweetly, it makes it so much harder to have a bad day. Even in 2020.

Gate No 1, Al Bateen Park, 8am to 10pm, Dhs65 for the combo breakfast. Tel: (02) 309 3999. @kekiuae

Majlis Lobby Lounge

Travel to: Brazil with a Traditional Acai Bowl

Acai bowls have exploded in popularity over the last few years, primarily because of their rare ability to straddle superfood status and downright deliciousness. The culinary wizards at Rosewood Abu Dhabi’s Majlis Lobby Lounge have put together their own interpretation of the Amazonian dish, which includes freshly cut mangoes and bananas, with a sprinkle of almond flakes.

Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Next to The Galleria Al Maryah Island, 7am to 10.30am, Dhs65. Tel: (02) 813 5550.

Urban Kitchen

Travel to: Thailand with a Thai-inspired Omelette

For fans of spicy food, there are no days off. And to help sate this unquenchable thirst for fire, the Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi has come up with a breakfast special specifically for spice girls (and boys). The Thai omelette has umami depth courtesy of soy sauce and comes packed with aromatic herbs and one large red chilli. It’s served on a bed of jasmine rice with a garnish of… chilli sauce.

Lobby Level of Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi, 925 Sultan Bin Zayed The First St, 6.30am to 10.30am, Dhs50. Tel: (02) 698 8137.

Café 28 @ Abu Dhabi Golf Club

Travel to: England with a Full English Breakfast

The perfect English breakfast is still a matter of impassioned contention. Should mushrooms be included? Just how crispy ought the bacon be? What is the etiquette around using bread as a sauce mop? Thankfully, Abu Dhabi Golf Club sidesteps the murky politics of the Full English to deliver a singular, decisive plate of hope and glory. Morning visitors can opt-in for a fried egg, chicken sausages, beef bacon, sauteed mushroom, hash brown and baked beans, along with a side of toasted rustic bread.

Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Khalifa City A, Dhs89. Tel: (02) 885 3555.

Hawksbill Restaurant @ Saadiyat Beach Golf Club

Travel to: Ireland with an Irish Breakwich

There’s no doubting Ireland’s disproportionately large contribution to the arts. A nation rich with poets, playwrights, painters, authors, singers and stand-up comics. And all that creativity must surely have been anchored in a stout breakfast. Stout as in big, not the ‘black stuff’. Introducing the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club’s Irish Breakwich: Bacon, corned beef scramble, chicken sausage, tomatoes, avocado, mayo and hash brown, lovingly parcelled in a (face-sized) soda bread sandwich. It comes with a choice of tea or coffee, and the opportunity to work on your short game (or your tan) within close proximity.

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Sheikh Khalifa Highway, Dhs89. Tel: (02) 499 8100.

Sofra Bld

Travel to: Greece with a Six-Course Greek Brekkie

If you’re in the mood for a leisurely European feast, Sofra has created a six-course Greek breakfast with your name on it. The Aegean odyssey begins with marinated kalamata olives and feta cheese, followed by tyropita – a Greek cheese pie. Next up, there’s scrambled eggs with fresh tomato and smoked beef, followed by dessert courses of preserved grapes with cinnamon; rice pudding with mastic; and a sesame bar with tahina and honey. We might not be able to holiday in the Greek Isles this year, but this breakfast has got enough Mykonos energy to carry us through.

Shangri-la Abu Dhabi, Khor Al Maqta, Qaryat al Ber, 6am to 10.30am (11.30am on weekends), Dhs120. Tel: (02) 509 8505.

No. FiftySeven Boutique Cafe

Travel to: USA with Buttermilk Waffles and Fried Chicken

Trust the wonderful team at No. FiftySeven Boutique Cafe to come up trumps for their breakfast offering. Noor and Buthaina invite diners to experience the heartwarming flavours of America’s Deep South with this drool-worthy buttermilk waffle and potato chips fried chicken combo. Indulgent, crispy and picture-perfect, you’ll be begging the ladies to keep this dish on the menu forever.

Building Two, Al Marasy, Al Bateen Harbour, Dhs45. Tel: (02) 441 6100. @no57cafe

Coffee Architecture

Travel to: Turkey with Baklava Brioche

We would give our right arm to be sitting in a cafe in front of Istanbul’s beautiful Topkapi Palace right now. A close second would be indulging in Coffee Architecture’s baklava brioche special. The uber-trendy coffee connoisseurs, who typically only serve coffee, have put a fabulous spin on the traditional Turkish dish, combining layers of filo pastry with organic butter, crushed pistachios and syrup, served hot. Guests can enjoy this delicate brekkie item with an ibrik coffee, a deliciously sweet but heavy-bodied cuppa prepared in a small pot (cezve). So kind are the team at Coffee Architecture that they’re actually serving free Arabic coffee (qahwa) to all guests, as well.

 Mangrove Place, Reem Island, Abu Dhabi, Dhs45. Tel: (055) 446 3433. @coffee_architecture

Larte Abu Dhabi (from 12pm)

Travel to: Italy with a Brekkie Pizza

Let’s be honest, breakfast pizza conquers all your morning cravings: bread, eggs and loads of cheese. Hot-foot it to Larte Abu Dhabi from 12pm and order its Big Brekkie Adventures special – pizza dough topped with mozzarella cheese and eggs, then baked to bubbling perfection.

Manarat Al Saadiyat, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Hwy, Saadiyat Island, Dhs55. Available noon to 2pm. Tel: (02) 657 5888.

Salama’s Restaurant (from 12pm)

Travel to: Morocco with Moroccan Eggs and Pastilla

If it’s a culinary journey around the world you’re after, enter elegant eatery Salama’s. For Big Brekkie Adventures, get a taste of medina life, thanks to its delightful Moroccan breakfast special. Enjoy a late brekkie Moroccan baked eggs with traditional tea and a slice of pastilla. The food of royalty, pastilla – a traditional meat pie laced with cinnamon – is one of the stars of this North African city’s cuisine.

Al Quffal St, Marsa Al Bateen, noon to 11pm, Dhs95. Tel: (02) 563 9484. @salamasrestaurant

Central Grounds

Travel to: Mexico with a Bulky Burrito

There’s more than one way to add Latin swagger to your morning, but a breakfast burrito is the best one we know of that requires zero hours of dance class. The team at Abu Dhabi’s Central Grounds has created a limited-edition dose of morning Mexicana that is straight fuego: scrambled eggs, beans, avocado, tomato, cheddar cheese and turkey bacon, all wrapped in a flour tortilla and served with home fries.

Marriott Downtown, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed St, 6.30am to 7pm, Dhs65. Tel: (02) 304 7777. @marriottdowntownad


Travel to: Lebanon with a Four-Course Sharing Meal

Fairmont Bab Al Bahr’s CuiScene is flying the flag for the Levant in the Big Brekkie Adventures. Their epic four-course sharing meal starts with fresh vegetables, olives and pickles, followed by two eggs cooked to your liking. The climax of the breakfast is a platter containing foul medames, cheese sambousek, grilled haloumi, falafel and tahina, hash brown potatoes, zatar saj, labneh and Arabian bread. Good for two hungry foodies.

Fairmont Bab Al Bahr Khor Al Maqta, 7am to 10.30am, Dhs130. Tel: (02) 654 3238.

Alba Terrace

Travel to: France with a Special Edition French Toast

‘Let them eat brioche’ — a phrase that didn’t win the last Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, many friends, but is now perfectly acceptable when ordering breakfast on behalf of your pals. And you can do just that at Alba Terrace, with their very special French toast. It’s soaked in pumpkin milk, egg, almond essence, vanilla and cinnamon, pan-fried and served with blueberry compote, labneh and more fresh blueberries. Enjoy it as part of the restaurant’s unlimited breakfast deal.

The Abu Dhabi Edition, Al Bateen, Dhs85. Tel: (02) 208 0000.

What’s On Big Brekkie Adventures runs from Wednesday July 15 to Monday August 31 across the above participating outlets. Please share your breakfast dishes tagging @WhatsOnAbuDhabi, @ADCulinarySeason and using the hashtag #TravelThroughFood. 

Abu Dhabi Culinary Season is a year-round F&B programme, increasing the destination’s appeal to domestic residents and visitors by delivering inspirational F&B moments throughout the year. More info at

Images: Roel D’Cunha and others supplied