Where to eat in Abu Dhabi: places I spend my money

So, where to eat in Abu Dhabi? In my honest opinion, there’s just no beating a home cooked meal, my Mum is a great cook and I grew up with really good home cooked food around me so I’m pretty fussy these days when it comes to eating out. There’s a lot of restaurants in Abu Dhabi to choose from, but there’s also a lot of restaurants in the capital that are overhyped and overpriced. And as a blogger, I’m often asked about the best places to eat in the city, and not just where I would go given the opportunity or where I have had a good meal, but where I actually spend my own money. So here it is: here’s where I spend my own hard-earned in Abu Dhabi, these are the places I go back to again and again when I don’t want to cook…

Hakkasan

My number one in the city has to be Hakkasan, there’s just no beating it, especially if you love high-end Cantonese food. Yes, it’s expensive, but check out their Friday brunch (excellent value all things considered) or the early evening drink and bites deals and you don’t have to empty your bank account to do it.

Read more about my experience at Hakkasan Friday brunch here.

Zuma

Miso marinated black cod

Another pricey one I’m afraid but it’s blooming good. I’ve never been in the evening I must say as it’s just too expensive. Again, either the Friday brunch or the Ebisu business lunch are the best deals. The Ebisu business lunch offers three courses for Dhs140, and that includes an option to get my favourite dish their by far – the miso marinated black cod.

Read more about the business lunch at Zuma here.

Roberto’s

I adore Italian food. In fact I love everything Italian. Perhaps I was Italian in a past life or something, but if I had to choose to eat only one type of cuisine for the rest of my life, it would absolutely be Italian. The menu is extensive and has something for everyone – soup, pizza, pasta, meat mains, fish mains, salads, risottos and just about anything you can dream of. And it’s not just that there’s a good range of options, it’s blooming delicious too. Not long ago I interviewed visiting Chef Vincenzo Guarino from Michelin Starred restaurant Pievano in Tuscany and he reckoned that Head Chef Andrea Falcone’s eight course degustation menu was Michelin worthy (if only the system operated here), so if that doesn’t speak volumes for the standard of food you’re getting at Roberto’s, I don’t know what does.

Read more about my experience at Roberto’s here.

Cho Gao – Marina Walk / Crown Plaza

I love a bit of Cho Gao it has to be said. It’s good value, the Asian flavours are great and it’s not too fancy. The branch at Marina Walk is bigger and has a much nicer outlook over the Marina, and the menu is slightly different. The drinks menu is also better at Marina Walk. I’ve been to both branches a number of times and it’s been brilliant, I even chose Marina Walk Cho Gao to have one of my own milestone birthday celebrations. That said, honestly speaking my last couple of visits (once to each branch) this year have both been a little disappointing. Not sure if it’s down to staff changes or what, but I hope they up their game again as it can be soooo good.

An alternative for Asian cuisine is Sontaya. It’s a beautiful spot and it has flavourful and healthy options on the menu. It’s where I chose to take my husband for one of his milestone birthdays and it’s also a good place to go if you’re watching your weight!

The Cheesecake Factory

Groan, I know… You know, I used to really dislike this place when it first opened. It’s nice enough inside for a mall restaurant but I found the size of the portions frankly just disgusting. I didn’t get it at all. I’ve heard so many Americans raving about how much they love The Cheesecake Factory and I just could not figure it out. You just cannot possibly even begin to eat so much food, it’s crazy. Even when people told me that many of the dishes are designed for sharing I couldn’t get my head round it, it was still way too much food and there’s no way (with just two people) you can order more than one dish without horrible wastage, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s wastage of anything. And who wants to eat the same dish as their partner anyway?! BUT. Then my son was born, and we gave it another try, and that’s where my new found love of the place started. The place is just so good for kids! As the parents among you will know, eating out with kids can be hard, and waiting for food to come with hungry kids is like trying to tame excited monkeys at the zoo. But at The Cheesecake Factory they immediately bring out a little plate of bread and banana for the little ones, thus those excited monkeys are easily tamed. Happy kids means happy parents, and any place I can eat a meal in relative peace with a happy child next to me is a place I’ll go back to again and again. And I’ve since worked out the items on the menu that aren’t ginormous and avoid the ones that are. I’m a big fan of the breakfast menu, of the sandwiches and of the starters and my all time favourite thing to order is the Chicken Potstickers from the Skinnylicious menu. As for the cheesecake, well, let’s just say it’s not my kind of cheesecake – except for the Oreo one, that is delicious!

Salt

Everyone loves a good burger, oui? Well, I just don’t think there’s anything better than Salt at Mushrif Park. This is the burger (and milkshake) place of my dreams. Housed inside a beautiful airstream trailer, it’s beautiful on the outside and when it comes to the food. It’s simple enough and there’s not a huge amount of choice, but the burgers are juicy and delicious and the buns are soft and fluffy (I find many burger places in the city serve dry, horrible burger buns which I just cannot forgive no matter how delicious the contents of said buns). I love the Chicken Cheetos sliders and their Lotus milkshake is one of the best, if not the best in the city. The only problem with Salt is that they don’t deliver!

India Palace
Oh, I enjoy a good Ruby Murray these days as much as the next person, and of course in Abu Dhabi we are spoilt for choice of good cuisine of the Indian variety. But India Palace has long since been a favourite in the capital for good reason, and happily for me, they also deliver to my home. Actually, with a number of locations all over Abu Dhabi (and Al Ain!) now you can be fairly certain that they also deliver to your home too. Whilst I may not be the most adventurous Indian eater, India Palace is somewhere that I can’t help but keep returning to for the odd takeaway treat. The menu has a wide range to choose from and the food doesn’t feel junky or too heavy on the stomach. The humble Murgh Makhani (butter chicken) is among my favourites along with a cheesy bharwan kulcha (stuffed naan), yum.

Sushi Central

Ocean black tiger special

Whilst I’ve eaten this in their Mina Port restaurant, this is one that we call on from time to time for takeaway. It’s reliable and tasty and one of the healthier takeaway options that are available. Their ocean Back Tiger is my absolute favourite and I can’t say no to a bit of gyoza too.

I wrote this post about them back in 2014 and nothing has changed, the food is still just as good.

Zaytinya

Zaytinya is located in the Al Seef Village Mall and it’s the one place we keep going back to when we want Lebanese food. It’s a bit more modern and more nicely decorated than many of the others around town so it’s appropriate for taking family and visitors who aren’t looking to see the more ‘raw’ places that exist in the city. The food is also delicious. They have all of the usuals you’d expect but also a few of their own twists on these too. Try the Zaytinya Taouk – marinated in yoghurt instead of the usual tomato, this is one of my favourite dishes. Zaytinya is also a great place for kids, the staff are very welcoming and when you order lots of plates to share there’s something for everyone to eat.

Read my previous more detailed post on Zaytinya in general here and here in relation to their friday family brunch.

The Club

The Club is located down by the Mina Port and has more than 10 dining outlets within the premises. They all offer great food and some of the best value in the city, plus there’s always additional offers and promotions on too making the price and offering hard to beat. They also serve pork dishes and the only pork bacon butty that I know of in the whole city. The Club is a private members club but frankly speaking, their bacon butties are almost worth the membership alone! 😀

Let me know your thoughts and comments here!

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