When you visit Abu Dhabi, it is easy to get caught in the newness of the bustling city. New cars drive through streets peppered with metallic skyscrapers, and all around you see modernity. But sometimes it is important to reflect on tradition. Visit some of our favorite gastronomical time-hops for classical Arabic cuisine that are steeped in hundreds of years of tradition.
If it’s true Emirati cuisine you are after, then Mezlai in the iconic Emirates Palace Hotel is the restaurant for you. As the first dedicated Emirati restaurant in the UAE, the menu brims with tradition and finesse and serves up some of the finest local dishes in the city. There is classic Arabic décor to match as well as a superb outdoor terrace to soak up the stunning sea views. www.kempinski.com
It is hard to sum up what is more impressive at Atayeb – the beyond chic location of the Yas Viceroy Hotel and its views of Yas Marina and the circuit below, or the contemporary Lebanese, Tunisian, Syrian and Moroccan inspired food. Fusing flavours from the Arabian Gulf and Med, this is the place for tagines, couscous, traditional Arabic dishes, kebabs and mezze and charcoal grilled seafood and meat. www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com
Traditional Arabic dining is quite an informal affair so an Arabic café serving home style local food, in particular the Emirati Khameer bread, offers a unique taste of authentic local life in a cotemporary setting. Choose a sweet or savoury filling for your Khameer and enjoy with a traditional Karak tea, saffron milk or cold rose pista. www.mamatani.com
The Ritz Hotel, Abu Dhabi
Mijana is a restaurant that serves traditional Lebanese cuisine, with a contemporary twist. Enjoy chicken shwarma and taboleuh on their deck accompanied by shisha and classic Arabic music played by their live band. This is the type of place you could sit for hours and just enjoy the atmosphere. www.ritzcarlton.com
Located in the Sheraton Hotel, Al Mayass is focused serving high quality meals with a charming atmosphere. This restaurant has some of the most genuine food we have found in the city, with six varieties of hummus, feta-centered appetizers, and of course, lots of lamb dishes. Try the Armenian tasting (for two) which includes traditional dishes such as lentil kafta, dolma, and traditional mantee. With abundant portions, Al Mayass will leave you feeling full and happy. www.almayass.com