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In city as cosmopolitan as Abu Dhabi, it’s unsurprising that you find flavours from all over the world served in truly spectacular settings. Dine on frogs legs while gazing at the Grand Mosque or satisfy your Chinese cravings in a pink palace. Try authentic Emirati cuisine on the floor of a barasti booth or savour sushi with a side order of sea views.

Internationally renowned chefs and restaurants have flocked to the UAE capital over the past decade, thrusting the city onto every gourmand’s radar. It speaks volumes that the much-loved and respected Taste Festivals has hosted its final, Taste the World, here for the last four years.

We’ve navigated Abu Dhabi’s dynamic food scene and picked out 10 of the best restaurants for when hunger strikes and you’ve got a few dirhams to splurge.

Asia de Cuba

The eclectic Chino-Latino restaurant from St Martin’s Lane in London made its way to Abu Dhabi in 2015. Here, Asia de Cuba’s alfresco deck and cool cabanas make the most of its beachfront location. By day, dine on a marriage of Asian and Latin flavours against a backdrop of white sand, blue sky and bluer sea. Expect zesty ceviches, salads, small plates, signature wok dishes and Asian paella, washed down with crafted cocktails or botanical virgin “cleansers”. Come weekend, the atmospheric bar draws the city’s beau monde with rhythm-pumping DJs and bottomless brunches.

  • +971 2699 3333
  • Go to Website
  • Corniche Road
    St Regis Hotel
    Nation Riviera Beach Club

Finz

It’s easy to see why this seafood restaurant is such a catch. Amble along the shore to this bright, modern dining spot in which a floor-to-ceiling window offers vistas across Al Reem Island and the sea beyond. Finz’s menu showcases the region’s freshest seafood prepared in a Mediterranean style – the salt-baked sea bass for two is a signature. Yet it’s the nibbles that steal the show here. Try oyster tartare with cucumber, brown-butter scallops or the chilled lobster and crab cocktail with grilled avocado.

  • +971 2 697 9011
  • Go to Website
  • Beach Rotana Hotel & Towers
    10th Street
    Al Zahiya Area

BU!

This Latin American newcomer made a huge buzz when it opened in 2016. Drawing inspiration from Peru’s Pacific Coast to Argentina’s plains, BU!’s menu offers a broad spectrum of dishes: wagyu tacos with smoked avocado, octopus adorned with passion fruit and habanero syrup and chipotle-chocolate molten cake. Little wonder the restaurant’s name derives from the Spanish “buenisimo”. The food is served up in stripped-back, relaxed, industrial setting with neon slogans, communal tables and a sprawling terrace. Head to BU! in the evening, when a live band puts a Latino twist on everyone’s favourite tunes, and on Thursday for the South American-themed Lunar Street Eats brunch. Expect unlimited ceviche, arepas and churros. Arrive hungry.

  • +971 2 666 8066
  • Go to Website
  • The HUB
    World Trade Center Mall
    Khalifa Street
    Al Markaziya

Hakkasan

In a desperately modern city, it’s unusual for a restaurant to stick around for more than a few years. Having opened in 2010, Michelin-starred Hakkasan ranks among the city’s veteran restaurants – but that’s not to say there’s anything old fashioned about either the food or the location. Tucked in the sprawling Emirates Palace, amid touches of millennial pink, marble and (real) gold, Hakkasan offers an intimate, moody setting with refined Chinese cuisine. Signature dishes include Peking duck with caviar, Szechuan-style french beans and grilled wagyu beef with king soy sauce. And while you’re at the Palace, head to Le Café for a cappuccino sprinkled with 24-carat gold. Modesty is so overrated.

  • +971 2 690 9000
  • Go to Website
  • Emirates Palace
    Corniche Road
    Abu Dhabi

Bord Eau

If Abu Dhabi is an epicurean’s fairground, Bord Eau is as one of the main attractions. A go-to for fine French gastronomy, the restaurant offers an opulent setting in the Shangri-La Hotel, where floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the Grand Mosque. Making use of ingredients imported directly from France, the seasonal menu sings with authentic, perfectly executed plates of escargot, frogs’ legs and soupe de poisson. If you’re in the mood for splashing out, we recommend trying the five-course blind tasting menu. And when the waiter asks if you’d like to see the cheese trolley, say yes.

  • +971 2 509 8511
  • Go to Website
  • Shangri-La Hotel
    Khor Al Maqta
    Qaryat al Beri

Al Fanar

Abu Dhabi’s restaurants take visitors on an adventure across the world, from fine French dining to Cuban-style street food. With such globe-spanning options, it’s easy to overlook the city’s own dishes. Luckily, restaurants such as Al Fanar are bringing Emirati cuisine out of the home kitchen and onto our plates. Immerse yourself in a stage-set old UAE neighbourhood – all barasti booths and mud-brick rooms – and dig into traditional dishes such as deyaya nashef (spiced chicken) mopped up with ma khoboz wagafi (a fluffy flatbread). Those with a sweet tooth should hold out for luqaimat – fried dough balls drenched in date syrup.

  • +971 2 448 1144
  • Go to Website
  • Grand Canal
    Ritz Carlton Hotel
    Venetian Village
    Al Maqta

Jones the Grocer

Don’t expect to grab a pint of semi-skimmed at this grocer. The Australian emporium for gourmands has five branches across the UAE capital (and counting), each offering great coffee, gourmet groceries – including a cheese room – and freshly baked patisserie. Hungry hipsters flock here to lap up inventive, organic salads and artisanal sweet treats against a palette of earthy woods and stainless steel. Pick up some of Jones’ own-label coffee and chocolate or some design-forward kitchen accessories as a memento.

  • +971 2 443 8762
  • Go to Website
  • Al Mamoura
    Corner 4th Muroor & 15th Street

Zuma

With branches across the world, this high-end Japanese restaurant won’t be news to any foodie worth their salt. Nestled within Abu Dhabi’s business district, the award-winning Zuma offers Izakaya-style dining in which sharing dishes are steadily brought to the table throughout the meal. It’s an informal yet elegant affair, marked by quality ingredients, bold flavours and understated presentation. Book ahead to enjoy roasted lobster in ponzu butter, miso-marinated black cod or wagyu beef fresh from the robata grill.

  • +971 2 401 5900
  • Go to Website
  • Sowwah Square
    Al Maryah Island
    Abu Dhabi

Li Beirut

A mandatory stop for lovers of Lebanese cuisine. Widely considered one of the city’s best restaurants, the award-winning Li Beirut has revolutionised traditional Levantine dishes. Signatures include foie gras kebbeh, zaatar-crusted rack of lamb with truffled sweet potato and a decadent chocolate globe infused with Arabic coffee and rose. Each course is expertly paired with libations hailing from Beirut, making it oh-so easy to linger over the mezze while sinking into the restaurant’s plush leather chairs.

  • +981 2 811 5666
  • Go to Website
  • Jumeriah
    Etihad Towers
    Corniche Road West
    Post Code

Atayeb

In Abu Dhabi’s cooler months – October to March – when temperatures peak around a more manageable 30 degrees, the city’s dining scene moves outdoors. And that’s exactly the time you’ll want to visit Atayeb. It sits within the Yas Viceroy hotel, the architectural gem of Yas Island, which hovers over land, water and the Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit. Pull up a chair on the chic terrace and tuck into Levantine cuisine while the desert sun reflects off the mirrored building and onto white yachts bobbing on the nearby marina. We recommend trying one of Atayeb’s signature tasting menus themed around earth and fire, water and nature.

Asia de Cuba

Finz

BU!

Hakkasan

Bord Eau

Al Fanar

Jones the Grocer

Zuma

Li Beirut

Atayeb

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