33 of the most exciting new restaurants, bars and cafes in Abu Dhabi
New and exciting places that are doing things a little differently…
Abu Dhabi has witnessed the arrival of some absolutely gargantuan new gastronomy projects in 2022. And what we’ve featured here below is by no means a full list, these are just some of our favourite locations, venues that are doing exciting things with food (not playing with it, Saltbae, we’re looking at you), and brands that have just got a bit of that underground buzz around them. Bon appetite Abu Dhabi.
Penelope’s Brasserie & Jazz Bar Américain
I’m going to come right out and say it, Penelope’s Brasserie & Jazz Bar Américain on Yas Marina is one of the coolest, most exciting Abu Dhabi openings of 2022. That short waterfront stretch of terrace performs a Herculean effort in accounting for its name, serving unmistakably Riviera vibes, a red hot Mediterranean menu, suitably chic cocktails and unlike some other ‘claimants’ in the country, actual jazz. Penelope’s has some particularly glittery marrow in its bones, it’s owned by locally-based hospitality legends Layla Kardan (Papillion, Dubai) and Hamdan Al Khafaji (La Carnita), and is a concept conceived by Eddie Ghazal (Canary Club, Dubai). And the mark of this All-Star trio is already clearly stamped into design touches across the venue. You can read the full review here.
Yas Marina, Yas Island, 6pm to 2am daily. Tel: (02) 635 1116, @penelopes.ae
Food halls probably aren’t the first destinations that come to mind when you’re in the mood for a plateful of fancy food, but the brand new Huna at Yas Mall is all about dismantling those prejudices, with a Gourmet-Unit of casual-to-fine dining fire now serving in the capital. You’ll find Huna on the ground floor of the mall, towards the main entrance, opposite Hamley’s. Visually, it cuts a sharp design split from the mall — with softer lighting and a hawker-style community of restaurant fronts, a distinct ‘Asian Kitchen’ section and an Art Deco terrace dominated by an alfresco Habib Beirut counter. And, full disclosure, it does account for a substantial quantity of the body count referenced in the title. Restaurants include H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai-approved BB Social Dining; the second outlet of Tazal, the homegrown Mediterranean x Middle Eastern restaurant that opened at Al Qana earlier this year; Vietnamese food specialists, Saigon; maestros of Mexican street food, Taco Ville; A-star chicken burgers at Blu Fried Chicken; on-trend suave cafe stuff from Elixir Bunn; the dynamic, meat-treaters at Maxzi The Good Food Shop; regional flare from Habib Beirut; and Chic Greek mezze and grills from Philotimos. There’s also the lush dessert of Orush; Al Rifai; Crazy Brownie; Royce Chocolate; Orient Delight; Simply Chef; SugarMoo; and Bella Delizioso.
Ground floor, Yas Mall, Sun to Thu 10am to 10pm, Fri to Sat 10am to midnight. @hunayas
The Bollywood Bronx
The headlines of the Bollywood Bronx cuisine concept are that, the restaurant is committed to the use of seasonal products, applying “precise, exquisite technique and beautiful presentation”. Culinary flair with all the glitz and glamour of its namesake, fusion dishes, and experimental gastronomy delivered in a concept that invites sharing, community degustation and an exceptional night out. The Bollywood Bronx is an unashamedly modern affair, with sophisticated styling and chic design. The open kitchen provides a theatrical window to the fire and spice poured into your food, there are exotic sips available at the venue’s well-stocked bar and the resident DJ’s soft soulful beats provide the perfect soundscape pairing for the Bronx’s nuanced eats.
The Bollywood Bronx, The Hub, Level 6 WTC Mall Abu Dhabi, @thebollywoodbronx
Bord Eau, Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi’s fine French dining restaurant is back. A grand return to the canal views, charcuterie sharing milieu, and spectacular French dishes from a refined menu.
Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi, Culinary Masters menu available Oct 20 to 23, priced from Dhs448. Tel: (0)2 509 8555. firstname.lastname@example.org
Champagne and Caviar
When we first heard about the new Champagne and Caviar bar at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, the whole thing just felt like one of those exclusive UAE experiences that were meant for another stratum of society, the PJS (private jet set) for example, or the people that pay the extra Dhs6 for guac. It’s a permanent pop-up, within the hotel’s Signature 3 Lounge — uniquely offering, as you may have deduced from the name, Champagne and caviar. Then there are the elevated desert Island sea views, and the fact the bar is only open for a 5pm to 7pm sundowner session. Seated within the Signature 3 set up, the Champagne and Caviar bar occupies a tiny space — a Fabergé-esqe kiosk of wood panelling, gold and a glass display cabinet showing off a variety of caviar tins. Read the full review here.
The Signature 3, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Island, 5pm to 7pm. Tel: (02) 498 8443, email@example.com
Turquoise at Rixos Marina Abu Dhabi
The huge ‘Atlantis on stilts’ hotel mega project across the way from the Corniche’s breakwaters is now open. That’s the good news. The slightly less exciting news is that there’s only one restaurant currently open, and it’s Turquoise, the all-day diner. Once the full flotilla of hospitality concepts is o[en, we can expect another nine places to graze and, hopefully, praise. Venues such as Vero Italiano, who’ll be feeding guests with the flavours of southern Europe; The Flame — is all set to start searing prime cuts as the resort’s “five-star” steakhouse; The Bakery Club is designated to deliver diners freshly baked bread, cakes and pastries; there will be an international melange on offer at People’s Restaurant; sweets desserts at Godiva Café; with Cuba Cigar Lounge, Privé Lounge and bar — Anti-Dote rounding out the culinary portfolio.
The much-loved Jumeirah-born restaurant hails from Dubai, and proved so popular in the emirate that it expanded with a second Dubai location in Gate Village, DIFC back in April. The capital-based cousin of Mamafri in Sheikha Fatima Park marks the third installment of the beloved Asian-fusion restaurant. On the menu, diners can fill their bellies with dishes like brioche buns with crispy fried chicken and sambal sauce, Japanese ramen, Malaysian shrimp curry, and kimchi fried rice for a few aromatic examples. The interiors are a sharp contrast to the urban oasis outside, a segmented cocoon-scape of mandoline soundwaves hangs from the ceiling — ignore a few decorative details and we could be in the belly of a blue whale, or the hull of an intergalactic spacecraft. You can read the full review here.
Mamafri, Sheikha Fatima Park, Al Bateen, now open. @lovemamafri
The duo of Cipriani Dolci’s in Dubai have become must-visit mall eateries, and now the chic Italian concept is bringing a slice of Venetian charm to Abu Dhabi with the opening of Cipriani Dolci Marina Mall. Marina Mall, located just off the Corniche, took to Instagram to share that the third UAE branch of Cipriani Dolci was now open within its perimeters, inviting diners to enjoy a ‘great selection of Cipriani classics.’ A luxurious take on the Italian Pasticceria, guests can expect decadent favourites from torta di cioccolato, ice cream freshly whipped to order, lemon tart, tiramisu and more. A must-try at all Cipriani’s is the vanilla meringue cake, so we can’t wait to dig our spoons into this capital dessert in Abu Dhabi. Read the full review here.
Cipriani Dolci, Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi, open Mon to Thurs 10am to 10.30pm and Fri to Sun 10am to 12am, Tel: (0)50 903 9722, @ciprianidolci
Em Sherif Sea Café
Em Sherif made a dazzling capital debut at West Bay earlier this year, and now its sister venue — also a luxurious Beiruti import — Em Sherif Sea Café has now landed in Abu Dhabi. You’ll find it at refined house of style, Rosewood Hotel Abu Dhabi on Al Maryah Island, offering dreamy waterfront views, a sophisticated Lebanese-Mediterranean design theme and a menu populated with award-winning Levantine cuisine. Highlights from the kitchen include the raw red sea bream; shrimp Provençale; samak rass asfour; whole roasted cauliflower in tahini and spicy pickled walnut dip; and hindbeh bil zeit. If you prefer your meals styled with a more meaty cut — the restaurant also comes complete with its very own beef bar offering a selection of grilled fare, prepared a la minute including aged cote de boeuf, ribeye, striploin, and Wagyu tenderloin.
Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island, daily 1pm to 11.30pm, @emsherifseacafe.abudhabi
The Lillet Sundown Bar
The second entry in this polished pairing, is the brand new alfresco poolside haunt, Lillet at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal. It’s got Ritz Riviera chic in its design DNA, with Parisian style furnishings, Cote D’Azur beach club vibes, a liver DJ curated soundtrack — and views over the infinity pool and the hotel’s lush gardens. Its specialist subject is craft mixology, offering a range of clever beverages for that elevated sort of sundowner session. The menu goes hard on modern Mediterranean classics and there’s a special ‘Aperitif’ experience (the details of which are still TBC) available daily between 7pm and 10pm.
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, 11am to 10pm. Tel: (02) 818 8203, firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite the fact it’s been open since February of this year and that it’s co-helmed by one of the UAE’s best known Emirati chefs, Faisal Alharmoodi alongside super talented Syrian pastry chef Fadi Kurdi — there’s a fair chance you won’t have heard about Let’s. It’s been busy, often booked out in fact — purely on word of mouth of it being one of Khalifa City’s best polished hidden gems. And it’s because of this whispered reputation along with the allure of a menu that lines up all-day breakfast dishes back-to-back with innovative Emirati fusion concepts — that my internal curiosity gauge was pushed over the line from ‘you have my attention’ to ‘this sounds like a job for me’. You can read the full review here.
Khalifa City, 8am to midnight. Tel: (02) 886 7740, @lets.uae
Now open at Marriott Al Forsan, UVA is a brand new wine bar and lounge —and it brings a further dimension of sophistication to the hotels F&B portfolio. Weekly promotions include Winesday, Aperitivo, and there’s also a ladies’ night. The menu goes hard on charcuterie and sharing plates with options including green olive pistachio tapenade, single pan chorizo, garlic mussels, crispy corn tacos, and meatballs.
Marriott Al Forsan, open Wed to Sun 4pm to 1am. Tel: (02) 201 4131, marriottalforsanlife.com
Din Tai Fung
The denizens of dim sum. If you’re a fan of Chinese food, there’s a strong chance you’ll already be well acquainted with Din Tai Fung. The brand began its journey in Taiwan, but the appeal was enough to see it spread to 12 countries worldwide. Two separate branches in Hong Kong have even been awarded Michelin stars. Din Tai Fung offers a range of Taiwanese and Chinese food, occasionally with an occidental twist. Their often open-kitchens are probably perhaps best known for a range of flavour-filled dim sum. Dumpling devotees can knock chopsticks against meat, seafood and veg wontons, potstickers, shumai and juicy Chinese buns. But what really brings the boys and girls to the yard is the signature collection of XiaoLongBao, 18-fold puckered pastry wraps packed with juicy bundles of mutton or chicken and crab, served with a selection of dipping condiments. And Abu Dhabi’s first location recently
The Galleria Al Maryah Island @dintaifungae
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The first Montauk Boutique Cafe & Restaurant opened in Al Bateen in March last year and has been treating the capital’s coffee connoisseurs to a ‘Hamptons-inspired’ experience ever since. The new Yas Mall location follows through with that same energy, along with a menu made for the Instagram age, beautiful breakfasts, extravagant mains and interiors fit for fashion mag shoots.
Yas Mall @montaukabudhabi