Yas Island is in the middle of a Gastronaissance…

Located on the southern Al Raha facing edge of Yas Island, the first phase of multi-billion dirham leisure and entertainment district, Yas Bay is now alive and cooking.

It’s currently limited to Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island (and its three restaurants), and the Etihad Arena, but there’s a Yastronomical amount of new restaurants scheduled for launch in the last quarter of 2021.

We now know 12 of the quoted ’20 food and beverage’ outlets headed for the Bay, and these are they…

The restaurants coming to Yas Bay

La Carnita

This street-style Mexican eatery conceived and raised in the mighty culinary forge of Toronto. As you might expect, coming from Drake’s backyard, the soundtrack at the Latin cantina’s network of venues is straight up, golden age, hip hop and R&B. This Abu Dhabi outpost follows on from the success of the Dubai location, found at the InterContinental Dubai Marina. As with much of Yas Bay’s ‘coming soon’ collection, we have no firm numbers on an expected due date (although, if we were to guess based on current momentum, lead times and wild conjecture, we’d say Q4 2021). We’re hoping it takes much the same format as its Dubai cousin. Which offers one of the best Taco Tuesdays in the city (three hours unlimited tacos for Dhs150), fiesta brunches, loco ladies’ nights and mixology masterclasses. @lacarnita_dxb

Akiba Dori

Dubai Design District’s (D3) electric Japanese restaurant and pizzeria, is making its way to the new multi-billion dirham Yas Bay development. With its neon stripes, honour badge from the academy of chic interiors, and innovative artworks, we feel Akiba Dori will fit into the neighbourhood seamlessly. This new outpost of the devastatingly cool Tokyoite diner, Akiba Dori is expected to open around the middle of September 2021. The restaurant will be located on Yas Bay’s Pier 71, and will feature a terrace with some pretty incredible skyline views. We’re too early to get confirmation on the final menu but, we have been told to expect some returning favourites from the Dubai collection. @akibadori

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse Restaurant & Concept Store is coming to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Bay, it’s likely to launch in the last quarter of 2021, it’ll have space for 145 diners and excitingly, it will be licensed. As you might expect from the delightfully and deliberately quirky engine of innovation that is D3, The Lighthouse isn’t your conventional restaurant. Conceived by Hashem Montasser and Hany Bassiouny and launched in 2017, the brand blends a gastro dining experience with a boutiquey retail space. They’ve got a great selection of books, scents and objects of curiosity that make gifts for those people that are ‘really hard to buy for’. The menu is a little bit hipster, and we mean that in only the kindest sense. That guarantees you great breakfasts and top quality coffee, imaginative food creations, health and nutrition will be a strong part of menu identity, and you’ll be able to go vegan if you want. @thelighthouse_ae

Hunter & Barrel

Aussie steakhouse Hunter & Barrel, which recently opened a Dubai location at Vida Emirates Hills, will be bringing a much needed ‘meating place’ to the capital’s new leisure and entertainment district. Here’s what What’s On had to say when they recently visited the Dubai venue:

“The bar area is cool and contemporary with a huge oak table. Dishes are plentiful at Hunter & Barrel, and very reasonably priced, with steak prices starting at Dhs120 for a fillet steak.”

“The Hunter’s sharing platter (Dhs150) comes piled high with some serious comfort food in the form of sticky, smoky chicken wings, lightly battered prawns, spicy calamari and, our favourite, the three cheese dip, served hot and gooey with a helping of fresh-baked pita bread for dunking.”

Rob De Villiers, Middle East Managing Director for Seagrass BHG (the group responsible for Hunter & Barrel), said: “We are excited to share our exceptional charcoal roasted dishes and tender cuts of beef with the greater Yas Island residents and visitors”.


Cannes-born haute hub of gastronomy, Paradiso will also be making its way to the Bay. This UAE outpost of the globally-acclaimed Mediterannean restaurant arrives bolstered with the backing of Michelin-endorsed culinary double act of Nicole Rubi (the woman behind Nice’s La Petite Maison) and Chef Pierre Gagnaire (Fouquet’s). Expect exquisite understated luxury for the interiors (and terrace, if present), pastel tan parasols and a menu of intelligently-tweaked Pan Mediterranean freshness. Speaking about the ‘coming soon’ news, Julien Huel, Senior Vice President Strategy & Development, Barrière Group, said: “The atmosphere and menu are full of truth, full of life, and its chefs are the most simplistic, generous and passionate of adventurers”.

Asia Asia

Asia Asia

Solutions Leisure Group, the team behind Dubai mega hospitality projects such as Lock, Stock and Barrel, STK and Asia Asia has announced that the latter will open in Yas Bay. The What’s On Award-winning pan-Asian restaurant is known for its party atmosphere and excellent fusion of Asian and Middle Eastern flavours. Let’s hope for a gorgeous terrace overlooking the new Bay, too. asiaasia.com

The Central

Initial renderings of new entertainment destination The Central suggests that an arcade complex, complete with Pac Man, air hockey and simulators, is headed to the new Yas Bay development. There’s also a retro diner inside, which we predict will serve up a selection of American comfort food. There’s even been (and we stress: Unconfirmed) whispers that it might include a bowling alley.

Lock, Stock and Barrel

Another solid hit from the Solutions Leisure Group, Lock, Stock and Barrel has been the go-to party-into-the-early-hours venue for a few years now. Restrictions-permitting, we can expect live music, ample dancefloor space, and a menu of international bites, including its signature metre-long flatbread at this Yas Bay venture. lsbabudhabi.com

Siddharta, Zeera and Bushra by Buddha Bar Abu Dhabi

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Capital Motion, the team behind Siddharta Lounge Abu Dhabi by Buddha Bar says that it’ll be a “dazzling rooftop playground complete with a Mediterranean menu, clever mixology, jaw-dropping views and state-of-art concept events.” Big statement. But judging by the success of its counterpart in Dubai, it should live up to the hype. We’ve also heard rumblings of two more exciting Buddha Bar concepts (Bushra and Zeera, reportedly with Michelin Star/celebrity chef backing)  making their way to Yas Bay. More to come on WhatsOn.ae.

Emmy Squared

The capital’s dining scene is taking a giant bite out of the big apple, with New York-based pizzeria Emmy Squared, making its way to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Bay. Set to open in the final quarter of 2021, this purveyor of fine carbs, deals in Detroit-style pizza — a destinct, square-shaped pizza with “a crispy bottom, fluffy focaccia-like dough, caramelised cheesy “frico” crust, and signature sauce stripes.” Despite being a little over five years old as a brand, Emmy Squared has 13 locations across the East and South East of mainland USA. They offer a mix of traditional and more innovatively-topped red and white pizzas such as the Colony² (Ezzo pepperoni, pickled jalapeños, honey), and the Big Ang (house sauce, ricotta, double pecorino, meatball, banana peppers). It’s not just abot the ‘za either, according to the website their double-stack burger, the Le Big Matt, was named ‘number one Best Burger in Nashville’ by The Tennessean and Nashville Lifestyles; one of ‘The Best New Burgers In NYC’ by Gothamist; and one of the ‘20 Best Burgers in NYC’ by The Infatuation. And because it will be a licensed venue, you’ll be able to pair your crust-stuffing with a collection of adult beverages including signature mixology.

Still rumbling around the rumour mill

Cafe Del Mar

The original Balearic apres-rave hub, Cafe Del Mar (pictured) is the stuff of Ibizan legend. During its 40 year non-stop party manifesto, it launched an uncountable number of ‘chilled house’ playlists, hosted almost every DJ hall-of-famer, and established itself as an essential strand of the tapestry of the Ibiza music phenomenon. New Cafe Del Mar venues have sprung up in Phuket, Tenerife, mainland Spain, and there’s even one offering warm welcomes and fond farewells at Ibiza Airport. Back in 2015, there was a UAE location penciled in for Dubai, which sadly never got the greenlight, but our neighbour’s loss is likely our gain. The word on the grapevine is that its next Cafe Del Mar adventure will be right here in the capital, at the new Yas Bay development.

Images: Provided/What’s On Archive