The best restaurants and bars at Yas Bay around the Etihad Arena
The best places to go out, before the curtains come up…
Whether you’re a stand-up comedy connoisseur, a season ticket holder for the rock n’ roll hall of fame, an absolute glutton for musical theatre or you jusr collect concert wristbands like they’re Infinity Stones — we’re certain you’ll already have made the journey to Yas Bay’s Etihad Arena. But if you’re just punching in and then heading straight back out after the show, you’re really missing out on some of Abu Dhabi’s best-in-class leisure and entertainment venues. These are just some of our favourite Yas Island legends…
Best for vibes
Lock, Stock and Barrel
Located a few short steps away from the grand Etihad Arena, this homegrown house of leisure time excellence and wild revelling is the perfect partner to a night out at Etihad Arena. You can get involved with daily promotions and themes, the food is always at the classier end of pub grub classics and the vibe, although forever lit, goes double hard for concert nights. The only downside, if you don’t get in early you may have to queue.
Yas Bay, Yas Island, 4pm to 2am Mon to Thurs, 12pm to 3am Fri to Sun. @lockstockuae
Cafe del Mar
Also along the waterfront (just next to the Pier), the UAE outpost of rave enclave, Café del Mar, already seems to have built up quite the following. The lagoon pool, boutique beach, and big Ibizan beats are a rare but very welcome combination for the scores of Abu Dhabi vibe-chasers and one of the most popular weekly appointments is the Saturday Barbecue Pool Party. This aquatic-fiesta takes place between 1pm and 5pm every Saturday and includes free-flow select beverages, unlimited plates from the barbecue, pool access, towels and a lounger.
Yas Bay Waterfront, 10am to 11pm weekdays, 10am to 12am weekends. Tel: (0)50 402 2283. @cafedelmarabudhabi
The sparkling F&B jewelry box of Yas Bay was given a new emerald glow with the opening of McCafferty’s Irish pub. Operating out of Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, this absolutely mammoth capital craic shack is now pouring pints of the black stuff, and generally adding some good ol’ Galway cheer to the vibrant leisure scene on the southern tip of Yas Island. In addition to a top tier tipple selection, McCafferty’s has a reputation for serving up the customarily warm brand of Emerald Isle hospitality, live music, audacious happy hour deals (daily midday to 8pm) and a menu of unadulterated pub grub classics.
Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Yas Bay, 9am to 2am daily. Tel: (058) 598 3623, @mccaffertysyas
La Carnita, on Yas Bay’s Pier 71, has a Latin attraction to it that can’t be cultivated without sincerity — people see through gimmickry and move on if there’s nothing meaningful behind it. Add to that, promotions such as Tuesday’s taco and margaritas night (Dhs250), Thursday’s ladies’ night (which also comes with bottomless margs), the Saturday brunch (soft Dhs199, house Dhs299) and the Monday to Friday 4pm to 7pm happy hour and the canvas on which La Carnita’s popularity is painted on comes alive with colour.
Yas Bay, Yas Island, daily midday to 2am (Sat 1pm to 2am). Tel: (050) 185 8068, @lacarnita_auh
Super trendy Asiatic decor, strong promotions a menu of Asian dishes that really has no business slapping as hard as it does and a handy Pier 71 position makes this restaurant a sensible stop for those in search of pre or post-concert atmosphere.
Yas Bay, Yas Island, 6pm to 1am weekdays, 2pm to 1am weekends. Tel: (02) 235 8663, abudhabi.asia-asia.com
Best for families
Central is without a doubt one of the most exciting locations along the Yas Bay waterfront (found right next door to its cousin venue, Lock Stock and Barrell). Why? It’s a triple threat — great American fast food, on site bowling within striking distance of the licensed bar and there’s a collection of modern and retro arcade games — VR stuff, a full size air hockey table and ‘paly and earn’ token trades. A massive hit for the littl’uns and a likely a similar hit to the wallet. Still if you’re going out out.
Central, Yas Bay, Yas Island, 4pm to 12am Mon to Thurs, 12pm to 3am Fri to Sun. @central_uae
When we heard the news that popular Dubai eatery The Lighthouse was expanding to the capital, it was music to our ears. Since then The Lighthouse has gone on to win the hearts of many an Abu Dhabi resident, thanks to its fresh, varied menu options, cheerful service and handy location in Yas Bay Waterfront.
Yas Bay, Yas Island, 8am to 12am Mon to Thurs, 8am to 1am Fri to Sun. @thelighthouse_ae
Best for entertainment
Penelope’s Brasserie & Jazz Bar Américain on Yas Marina is one of the coolest, most exciting Abu Dhabi openings in the last twelve months. It’s a little bit removed from Yas Bay, entirely walkable but a taxi makes sense in warmers month. Penelope’s serves up 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
Your winner of ‘Favourite Bar’ in the 2023 What’s On Awards Abu Dhabi, 2023 – Siddharta Lounge by Buddha-Bar at Yas Bay demonstrates a lightning strike of laidback luxury with charismatic rooftop views and a menu filled with big contemporary flavours as its big sister in Dubai. Couple that with edge-surfing, cool-as-funk beats, flamboyant entertainment and the refined Buddha-Bar mixology and menu, and you’ve got yourself an award-winning venue.
Yas Bay, Yas Island, 5pm to 2am weekdays, 5pm to 3am weekends. Tel: (050) 601 1194. @thetrilogybybuddhabar
Best for Pizzas
If you haven’t tried the pizzas at Japanese street food phenomenon Akiba Dori yet, well *shakes head*. Look we’re not mad, we’re just disappointed. Here you can enjoy Tokyo-style Neapolitan pizzas, alongside red hot dim sum and sandos. The waygu gyoza is fire. Mama mia san *gestures in Japanese-Italian*.
Pier 71, Yas Bay Waterfront, Fri Dhs179, midday to midnight. Tel: (04) 770 7949, @akibadori
New York-based pizzeria Emmy Squared is now open and serving up epic slices of US-style ‘Za at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Bay. 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.” When we visited, we were huge fans of the innovative topping range and the deep buttery flavours of the Detroit base.
Yas Bay, Yas Island, daily midday to midnight. Tel: (02) 235 8763, @EmmySquaredPizzaUAE
Best for foodie experiences
One of Yas Bay’s leading culinary lights, Paradiso is the latest Abu Dhabi project from Groupe Barrière, a restaurant built on the culinary vision of three Michelin Star awarded talent, Chef Pierre Gagnaire (Fouquet’s) and French-cuisine queen Chef Nicole Rubi (the woman behind LPM), with a gastronomic identity of ‘somewhere along the shorelines of the Mediterranean’.
Yas Bay, Yas Island, daily 12pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (050) 437 2869. @paradisoabudhabi
It might be just over a year old, but Zeera has been deliberate about its intentions to conquer the capital’s South Asian cuisine scene from the jump. As part of Yas Bay’s Trilogy by Buddha-Bar, it guarantees you the razor’s edge of refined style, a soundtrack of exceptional taste and big Pier 71 views, but its menu is what’s had most of Abu Dhabi talking in excited whispers.
Yas Bay, Yas Island, daily 1pm to 2am. Tel: (050) 601 1193, @thetrilogybybuddhabar
Hunter & Barrel
Aussie steakhouse Hunter & Barrel, was one of the most popular ‘meating places’ in Dubai, and now the capital has its own destination for down under steak-ations. In the running for best value-for-money steakhouse in the capital.
Yas Bay, Yas Island, daily 11am to 1am. Tel: (0)2 886 8299. @hunterandbarreluae
One of Dubai’s most popular ramen joints is now providing solicted noods for customers on Yas Bay’s Pier 71 location. Known for its hio, miso, and shoy broth rocking feats of noodle gloriousness, this authentic Japanese ramen-ya is an electric addition to the capital’s Asian cuisine scene.
Yas Bay, Yas Island, 12pm to 12am weekdays, 12pm to 2am weekends. Tel: (058) 124 1529. @daikanizakaya_ae