Your next culinary crush in the capital is probably in the list below…

Yas Bay and Mamsha Al Saadiyat are two Abu Dhabi destinations set for meatier-ic growth in the next few months. One of the destinations can be found on the southern lip of Yas Island next to the new Hilton and the Etihad Arena, the other is found on the north west corner of Saadiyat Island just a short distance from Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Then there’s the upcoming canalside location of Al Qana, and new restaurants opening up in the city’s malls (Reem Mall is due to open soon, but the details of their reported 85 food partners are a closely guarded secret). These gastro grub hubs will be carrying some big names into Abu Dhabi’s imminent dining future, these are just some of the confirmed ones we’re most looking forward to…

The Galleria Al Maryah Island

TVM

TVM (The Virgin Mary) Abu Dhabi is coming to The Galleria Al Maryah Island, via MBT Restaurant Management and should be launching some point soon. And although an Irish bar without adult beverages might seem like a bit of a strange concept, TVM has proved a popular pull in its native Dublin, where, after opening in May 2019 it became Europe’s first completely alcohol-free bar. Expect gastro pub grub, sophisticated mocktails, a place where everyone knows your name… With a ready-made regional market for dry establishments, this is an opportunity for your local to feel a little more local. The menu at the Dublin venue offers a big range of elegant, intelligently crafted mocktails including ‘watermelon cooler’, ‘tiki street’ and the exotic sounding ‘jungle bird’ — each composed of blended fruit and alchemic infusions. the Irish outlet, and so we can reasonably assume the capital’s branch may follow, also serves alcohol free hops, ciders and grape varieties.

Al Qana

Grand Beirut

This will be the fourth UAE outlet of the popular Lebanese restaurant chain owned and operate by MBT Restaurant Management. The group has had a busy year, with new concepts Beirut Sur Mer and Raclette opening on Saadiyat Island to grand appraisal. The brand reputation for authenticity and consistency makes this announcement worth getting very excited about.

Otoro

Set to offer a modern Japanese dining experience, Otoro’s (the name comes from a prized cut of tuna) menu will feature ‘quirky sushi’, Japanese wagyu steaks and a collection of sharing style dishes.

Mado

With a collection of branches across the UAE, this seventh outlet of the purveyor of fine Turkish cuisine marks the first Abu Dhabi location. They’re known for their signature Kahramanmaras ice cream (made from goats milk), koftas, kebabs and Turkish ravioli.

Oii

Describing the cuisine at this restaurant, Ayesha Al Mansoori, founder and CEO at Oii said: “Al Qana’s unique blend of modernity and tradition makes it the ideal fit to introduce our Mediterranean fine dining concept which adds a signature contemporary twist to traditional recipes passed down from generations”.

Pinky Fish

Yet another concept from MBT Restaurant Management, this seafood focused diner promises a “unique signature interactive tableside experiences”. We don’t know for sure, but from the whispers we’ve heard, it sounds like this menu will have a Mediterranean flavour. Could we see plateless servings of paellea, like a sort of European version of the Dampa serving ritual? We can’t wait to find out. 

Wing It

We don’t have much information on Wing It, but we presume it will sell chicken wings or there’s a massive wasted opportunity there. We’re also told the menu will include kebabs, wraps, and fries — so it sounds like a neat little fast food stop for those in search of the quicker, less fussy bite.

Space Café

Speaking about the big second step for the brand, general manager, Abdulla Alhesbi said: “Building on the success of our first store opening in Ras Al Khaimah two years ago, we are taking great pride in expanding our local brand in the capital, in one of the most sought-after locations.

“Al Qana is the ideal location for our guests to find their perfect space where they can enjoy their time over a variety of food and beverages in a unique friendly ambiance.”

Joud Café

 

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Already serving brews and delighting cafe crews in three other Abu Dhabi locations, this brand is a known and well loved capital quantity. Talking about the upcoming Al Qana launch, Keshar Pacchai, Area Manager of the innovative chain said: “Our partnership with Al Qana is part of our strategy to expand the Joud Cafe brand into key leisure and tourist destinations in Abu Dhabi.”

“We are thrilled to be a part of Al Qana’s expanding culinary offering and we look forward to serving our customers the finest selection of specialty locally-roasted coffee, a full-service dining menu including our signature breakfast dishes, as well as a diverse selection of sweets and pastries at Al Qana soon.”

Cartel Coffee Roasters

A household name on the capital’s coffee connoisseur circuit, these home-grown roast masters will be switching things up for this new outlet. The brand’s founder Nasser AlMaskari, said: “Being Abu Dhabi’s leading specialty coffee roaster, we are delighted to open our new flagship store at Al Qana, a new prestigious culinary destination in the capital.”

“Our new concept mirrors Al Qana’s aspiration to create social entertainment and human connections through uplifting experiences as Abu Dhabi’s go-to urban dining destination. We would like to thank Al Qana for their commitment to supporting local entrepreneurs & are excited to showcase a coffee experience unparalleled in the UAE.”

Notorious Café

A name that you won’t likely to be forgetting, Samer Mashal is the founder of an entirely new cafe concept, debuting in Al Qana: ” We are very excited to begin our journey in Abu Dhabi. We believe that Al Qana’s vison, dynamic offerings and waterfront location makes it the perfect spot to introduce our dramatic, wild, and unconventional brand to the world.

The Notorious Cafe has been conceived as a retro-styled brand inspired by New York City in the 1960s. It was essential for us to create a unique and unforgettable experience for our customers, to inspire them with our coffee brewers and live roasters, all of which are sourced directly from farmers and roasted in-house and retail offerings“

At 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”.

Paradiso

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

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.

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 now our gain.

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.

At Mamsham Al Saadiyat

Society

 

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The original Society Cafe, in Dubai’s own chic-eats community, Jumeirah pretty quickly gained a devoted following. It set the glass-ceiling standard for coffee shops in the area and their signature patisseries are still the talk of the town. An Instagram post on the brand’s main channel teases opening in October 2021. We wait with bated breath.

Niri Restaurant and Bar

 

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A note on this Japanese eatery’s Instagram page says ‘sayonara Yas Mall, konichiwa Mamsha Al Saadiyat’ and as honour graduates from the school of ‘binge watching Kobra Kai’, we can be 65 per cent sure that this means ‘goodbye Yas Mall, hulllllllo Saadiyat’.  Expect a lot more than sushi and ramen (though there is nothing wrong with either of those), Niri is all about providing a fine dining dive into the food haunts of Osaka. And when we head down to try it out, we wil strike first, we will strike hard and we will show our waistlines no mercy.

Wake n’ Bake

 

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The cafe that supplies other cafes with perfect patisseries looks like its getting its own direct counter to face store. They’ve been offering home delivery orders for a while now on Tel: (058) 5420 420 (nice), but it looks like we’ll finally be able to cut them off at the source. Let’s go get that bread.

Ethr

We know hardly anything about this place, other than the fact it too is likely to serve speciality coffees in — what has fast become the latest cafe trend — an earthy stripped back setting.

The Steak Room

We’re guessing steak? Right? The IG page for this new concept claims it will be taking a “new approach towards meat” — we hope it’s not radically different from the established, cooking it and then giving it to us to eat in exchange for a previously agreed upon sum of money. It maybe a tired tradition, but it works. @thesteakroom

Ting Irie Pon Di Beach

The Abu Dhabi version of Dubai’s popular Caribbean-themed lounge is not open yet, the interior is currently undergoing a thorough Jamaicafication, but when it does, you’ll be able to walk in off the beach at Mamsha Saadiyat. If you’ve already visited the Dubai location, you’ll have some idea of what to expect, and therefore are entirely forgiven for being more than a little excited. It’s all about those good island vibes, soulful reggae music, dancehall bangers, authentic Caribbean cuisine and comes pretty close to replicating carnival feels all year round. This new venture is a skank step closer to its spirit land, being just a few steps away from Saadiyat’s gorgeous Soul Beach. There’ll be no dress code (no pressed shirt, no shoes — no worries) and a terrace space offering island shoreline views, and Arabian Gulf blues. @tingirieuae

Pickl

 

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Back in June What’s On broke the news that homegrown-UAE burger peddlers, Pickl would be coming to the capital’s new beachfront foodie hub, Mamsha Al Saadiyat. Why are we so excited about it? Their core menu is tightly packed with customisable potato-bunned chuck patty beef burgers combos, messy fries and obnoxiously-proportioned chicken sandos (their Nashville hot option has a devoted fan base all of its own), that are by all objective measures — up there with the best in the UAE. Pickl has form when it comes to slow seductive teases on information about their new projects, and their social media posts often contain little clues about what’s next. So even with there currently being no official word from Pickl HQ about the opening dates, we’ve managed to dig up the month of November from one of their IG Posts.

Images: Provided