11 weird and wonderful Abu Dhabi cafe experiences
Planes, owls and automobiles…
We like our coffee, like we like our weekends — chilled and topped with a dollop of whimsy. And Abu Dhabi always provides.
The capital is home to a thriving bean scene, with a variety of cafes offering home-roasted blends and internationally-applauded gourmet brews. But there are some venues, that pour their Java lava in such deliciously extra surroundings, they make for 24 karat Instagram gold.
Design and Art Home
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This Al Bateen cafe holds a series of themed rooms, each with their own heavily stylised decor and design vignettes. There’s a Royal Room, decked out in majestic baroque trim for an appropriately regal way to enjoy high tea. The Garden is overflowing with botanical excess, water features and a faux manicured lawn underfoot. The LP room is awash with petals and floral highlights and the ice cream bar provides a perfect perch to enjoy luxurious spoonfuls of craft dessert.
Bateen Street, (next to Republic of Ireland embassy), 8am to 11pm. @design_and_art_home
DNA Board Games Cafe
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This new cafe in Abu Dhabi is more than just a recaffeination station, it’s a grand homage to the art of board games. You can browse the shelves for a wide collection of dice-y distratcions, including more than 200 classic board games, card games, roleplaying games and more. If you want to play, you will have to pay but it’s just Dhs19 for an hour, Dhs29 for two and Dhs39 for an all day pass. On the menu, you’ll find a strong community chest of cakes and pastries, hearty breakfasts and other tasty bites.
Al Montazah tower, Khalidiyah, 8am to 11pm Mon to Thu, 8am to 1am Fri to Sat. @eat.play.dna
Meow Cafe is Abu Dhabi’s first cat cafe and that makes it litter-ly the purrrfect (yep, it’s going to be one of those listings) coffee shop for animal lovers. Found in the Al Muneera district of Abu Dhabi, it’s open daily from 10am to 10pm and we have a feline it might just be… the cat’s pajamas. Meow is home to some very photogenic, pedigree-class animals — visitors will get the chance to meet a cast that includes Kiwi, Luna, Caramel, Candle, Ola, Yuki and Yuri, Cloud, Cora and others. One thing that is worth mentioning, a small claws in the access contract as it were, there is a cover charge for entering — Dhs45 per hour for adults, and Dhs35 oper hour for kids under 10. Really not that ex-sphynx-ive and presumably all to help keep the fur babies in the manner they’ve become accustomed to.
Meow Cafe, Al Muneera, 10am to 10pm. @meowcafe.ad
Boomah in Abu Dhabi casually refers to itself as ‘the region’s first owl cafe’. Admittedly the connection between the celebration of Hedwig and primo frothy frappuccinos is a tenuous one but, in the grand tradition of pioneering spirit, so what? The adorable set of hooters at Boomah is comprised of 10 different species, each with those deep soulful eyes, possibly rendering them the ultimate therapy animal. The cafe takes care of their beaked baristas with a team of qualified specialists, the owls are also free to fly at night, and because the cafe only opens at 2pm, they get a proper lie-in during the day. Importantly, you can also get pretty good coffee there, croissants, acai bowls and cookies.
Boomah, Next to AlSeef Village Mall, open daily 2pm to 10pm, Dhs70 entry fee. @boomah.ae
Transit Terminal Food
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This new capital cafe offers an homage to the part of air travel that is almost nobody’s favourite – the dining experience. On the plus side, the meals here look far more substantial and carefully prepared than the sort of microwaved panini you’d expect from an Easyjet red-eye to Faliraki. The menu is pretty varied too, based as it is, on the international passport of world cuisine. In a clever detail, the dishes come attached with airport codes (There’s currywurst (Dhs35) from Berlin (BER) for example, and khachapuri (Dhs30) from Tbilisi (TSB)). It’s a lot cheaper than international travel, the leg room looks pretty thic, there are no last minute visa panics involved and no confusing the fives with 500s in a wad of foreign currency. There’s also next-to-nil possibility of turbulence, and the cafe’s faithful replica cabin interior will make for some great ‘gram snaps. But why did they have to recreate those foldaway handrest tables?
Transit Terminal Food, Center Ville hotel building – Hazaa Bin Zayed The First St – Al Nahyan, 7.30am to 12.30am. Tel: (02) 550 0443, terminaltransit.cf
Brunch with big cats at Emirates Park Zoo
Emirates Park Zoo has an incredibly diverse population of animal inhabitants, some of them cuddly, some of them decidedly less so. They also have awesome opportunities to get up and close and relatively personal with certain species. The Big Cat Brunch lets you eat lunch in the company of an actual leopard (because, UAE), you can pose questions, take photos and there’s even a private expert-led tour (the leopard featured above is a little bigger than the one you’ll be doing lunch with). Too willd? Why not book up the famous ‘breakfast with a giraffe’?
Emirates Park Zoo, 12th St – Al Bahyah, 1pm to 2.30pm, Dhs156 per person (minimum of four people) which includes zoo admission. Tel: (02) 501 0000, emiratesparkzooandresort.com
Forever Rose Cafe
The stunning Forever Rose Cafe sketches out a flat monochrome 2D environment from 3D tables and chairs, giving it a real fairytale feel. And their menu is just as whimsical, with gourmet coffees, elegant pastries, and sophisticated sweets such as the New York Cheesecake (Dhs30) and Pistachio Milk Cake (Dhs38). Find your happily ever after there, at The Galleria Mall. A second capital branch also recently opened in Yas Mall in the new Town Square retail and dining hub.
Forever Rose Cafe, Lower Ground Level, Opposite Art Hub, The Galleria Mall, Sat to Wed, 10am to 10pm, Thur to Fri, 10am to midnight. Tel: (02) 4937400. Yas location: Forever Rose Cafe, Level 1, Town Square in Yas Mall, Yas Island. Tel: (050) 210 0139. @foreverrosecafe
Dmitriy Grekhov spent time at the handsome Café Rider in Dubai before branching out to Abu Dhabi. His stylish two-storey café in Al Rawdah combines his love for coffee and cars with both an in-house roaster and a collection of rare classic cars encased in glass. The baristas roast their own beans sourcing from the best farms from around the world. Food options run the gamut from shakshouka to acai bowls, but we suggest you take full advantage of the in-house pizza oven and order something doughy. A new branch has just opened on Hudayriyat.
Al Rawdah and Hudayriyat. Tel: (02) 441 7774, @drvn_coffee
Local isn’t just your casual neighbourhood coffee shop. It offers fresh fades and fresh kicks along with its freshly ground coffee. It’s a community. This super-trendy chop shop wears its street style all over the walls – find skate paraphernalia, limited-edition urban fashion pieces and arty little nick-nacks dotted all over the place. Haircuts start at around Dhs110 for a basic back and sides, and beard trims begin at Dhs60. Like the speciality coffee (from Dsh15) that is served in-house, the products used in the styling are all top-quality brands. Local has just opened its second capital location at Mamsha Al Saadiyat, also serving elite cuts, cappus and creps.
Local, Al Raha Beach, Sun to Thur 11am to 9pm (closed Mon), Fri to Sat 8am to 10pm, Mamsha Al Saadiyat 8am to 11pm. Tel: (02) 5553339. @_localuae_
Art on the walls, art on the plates, art in their heart. Abu Dhabi’s Art House Cafe is all about providing a passionate experience, and the dining element is at the core of that. They’ve got a massive menu but their famous shakshoka is probably our pick of the brunch. Every inch feels, and smells like a truly inspirational, creative space, surrounded by botanical greens and abstract scenes. And because its a place that celebrates the creative spark, you can go full Picasso on a plate for Dhs20, there’s the option to paint masks (Dhs30) or a miniature brick painting (Dhs10).
Al Huwelat St, Bateen Area, Opp Al Bateen Villa No 15, 10am to midnight. Tel: (02) 666 0175. @arthousecafead
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You may have noticed a new green food taking over your Instagram feed. That’s matcha, one of the buzziest food trends going. Matcha lovers say the powder has loads of superfood-like benefits so why not give it a try at Soo Matcha, the UAE’s first all matcha inspired café located on Al Banadir Street, Muroor. You’ll find everything on the menu from matcha morning yogurt, matcha ice cream, matcha and coconut milk iced lattes, and more, all which use ceremonial Japanese grade of matcha green tea.
20 Al Banadir St, Sat to Thu 11am to 11pm, Fri 2pm to 11pm. WhatsApp: (050) 566 8085, @soomatcha.uae