16 restaurants that have opened in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in 2021

The first quarter of the year has been chock-full of exciting launches

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

In the UAE, new restaurant openings seem to happen around the clock.

However, it already looks like 2021 is going to be busier than usual as many restaurants, previously slated to launch in 2020 but postponed because of the pandemic, are now turning up their ovens.

With the first quarter of the year over, here's a look at some of the coolest new openings that have caught our eye.

In Abu Dhabi

1. Brunch & Cake

Guests can enjoy their meals with water views at the first Brunch & Cake outlet in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Brunch & Cake

This year, Brunch & Cake opened its third (and largest) UAE location in Marsa Al Bateen Marina, so residents of the capital can sample superfood smoothies, colourful pizzas, pastas and burgers with water views.

The Abu Dhabi outpost serves some exclusive items, such as New York cheesecake-style ricotta pancakes, pepperoni pizza with chilli honey jam, deep-fried pizza bites and burrata toast.

Sundays to Wednesdays, 8am-10pm, Thursdays to Saturdays, 8am-10.30pm; Marsa Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi; 800 472 6362, brunchandcake.com

2. Kingston 21

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - ÔJerk Barbecue WingsÕ served at Kingston 21 Jamaican Restaurant at Al Raha beach. Khushnum Bhandari for The National

Fans of Jamaican food can now head to this new venue at Al Raha Beach for their fill of ackee and salt fish and jerk chicken. Kingston 21 opened doors mid-April, and prides itself on being the first authentic restaurant of its kind in the capital, as it is Jamaican-owned and run.

On the menu are plenty of hearty Jamaican dishes such as jerk barbecue wings and jerk chicken, curry goat, plantain chips, oxtail stew and traditional toto. Meanwhile, the interiors are laid-back and casual, with reggae posters and outside seating area with water views.

Mondays to Thursdays, noon-11pm, Fridays and Saturdays, 9am-11pm, closed on Sundays; Al Raha Beach, Abu Dhabi; 02 546 8500, kingston21.ae

3. Montauk Boutique Cafe and Restaurant

Montauk Boutique Cafe and Restaurant has a dining room reminiscent of a living room. Courtesy Montauk Boutique Cafe and Restaurant

Serving up Long Island beach house vibes, this restaurant features a living room-style dining area on the first floor, and a bakery and terrace on the second.

The menu pays tribute to Arabian heritage and incorporates wholesome ingredients and minimal sugar. Think spicy grilled garlic prawns, harissa and sun-dried tomato chicken, double-stuffed baked sweet potato, grilled Canadian lobster, and spiced lamb chops. Dishes can be customised for vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free and low-fat diners.

It looks like Montauk has all the makings of a breakfast hot spot, too, with the menu featuring everything from avocado and beetroot cheese toasties, to scrambled egg shakshuka.

Open daily, 3pm-3am; Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi; 02 546 6255, www.instagram.com/montaukabudhabi

4. Medi Terra

This new haunt serves up Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and serene waterfront views. The family-friendly restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and serves simple, wholesome food, with a focus on Italian cuisine.

Head there if you're craving dishes such as calamari with lemon aioli, basil arancini filled with cheddar and mozzarella, or hearty pizzas, pastas and even sliders.

Sundays to Wednesdays, noon-11pm, Thursdays to Saturdays, 10am-midnight; Marsa Al Bateen Marina, Abu Dhabi; 02 633 6366, www.instagram.com/mediterra_ad

In Dubai

5. Cipriani Dolci

Cipriani Dolce serves a selection of sweet treats. Courtesy Cipriani Dolce

This new concept by Cipriani is the perfect pit stop for hungry shoppers at The Dubai Mall. Other than an assortment of tramezzini, focaccia, bomboloni, cannoli and other traditional Italian baked goods, it also has takeaway services, gift baskets and a hearty breakfast menu.

This marks Cipriani’s third launch in the region, after successful restaurants on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and in Dubai International Financial Centre.

Open daily, 10am-1am; The Dubai Mall Fashion Avenue, Dubai; 050 949 7371, ciprianidubai.com

6. Dishtrict

Volcano Maki at the newly opened Dishtrict restaurant in Wasl 51.
Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National

Founders of Dubai fusion concept Moshi launched yet another restaurant this year called Dishtrict, and it's all about the most unlikely food combinations. Head to this quirky, travel-inspired restaurant at Wasl 51 for dishes such as tahini nachos chaat, red curry flatbread, zebra fries, chicken katsu biryani, Thai green curry risotto, and mango and edamame chaat.

It's perfect for those can’t quite settle on any one cuisine for their evening meal.

Sundays to Wednesdays, noon-midnight, Thursdays to Saturdays, noon-11pm; Wasl 51, Jumeirah 1, Dubai; 055 961 0966 

7. Hunter & Barrel 

Hunter & Barrel’s design draws inspiration from local customs. Courtesy Hunter & Barrel

Steak restaurant Hunter & Barrel opened its first international outpost in Dubai's Vida Emirates Hills this year – and it's the perfect spot for barbecue lovers. According to head chef Kamil Bouloot, its menu pays homage to the hunter-gatherer traditions of the past.

Expect dishes such as open-fire prawns, smoky chicken wings, chargrilled chicken and kale salad, and charcoal roasted skewers. In a nod to regional flavours, there is also a five-grains kebab with hummus tahini dip, while vegetarians have pumpkin and cauliflower croquettes, a vegan burger and more.

Open daily, 11am-1am; Vida Emirates Hills, Dubai; 04 589 0970, hunterandbarrel.ae

8. La Coco

California coast meets Mexican riviera sunset at La Coco on Palm Jumeirah. Courtesy La Coco

If you’re looking for a way to travel without stepping on a plane, you can escape to La Coco, a new hangout at Andaz Dubai The Palm, where the coast of California meets a Mexican riviera sunset.

There’s plenty to choose from on the California-Mexican fusion menu, with signatures including chargrilled octopus, lamb tacos, lobster rolls, pizzas, a vegan menu and a number of grill options.

The restaurant features an Instagram-worthy setting, with pops of colour and water views, and a hanging egg chair in front of a wall of succulents.

Open daily, noon-midnight; Andaz Dubai The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; 050 107 3766, hyattrestaurants.com

9. La Fabbrica Italiana

La Fabbrica Italiana can seat 26 guests at a time. Courtesy La Fabbrica Italiana

Another milestone for Dubai's culinary scene: La Fabbrica Italiana became the first focacceria to open in the Emirates, at Wasl 51.

The humble cafe is dedicated to the delicious Italian bread, with 15 freshly baked varieties on offer as well as bread infused with local flavours, such as zaatar. While you’re there, you’ll want to check out the restaurant’s original tiramisu, too.

Open daily, noon-11pm; Wasl 51, Jumeirah 1, Dubai; 050 827 9629, lafabbricaitaliana.com

10. Lucky Fish

Lucky Fish is located at West Beach, Palm Jumeirah. Courtesy Lucky Fish

For seafood lovers, new Mediterranean restaurant Lucky Fish is quite the catch. The restaurant works with local fishermen to present a daily display of fresh seafood on ice, along with a plethora of seafood specials.

Together with the beachfront setting and whimsical interiors (think linen curtains and 19th-century French chandeliers), this is well worth a visit.

Open daily, 11am-3am; West Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; 04 569 3447, luckyfishdubai.com

11. Oporto

The whole grilled chicken with chilli basting from Oporto. Courtesy Oporto

Aussies craving a taste of home will be glad to know that this much-loved Australian franchise has arrived in the UAE.

Oporto, which set up shop in Dubai Festival City Mall, was started by the Portuguese Antonio Cerqueira and is known for its flame-grilled chicken, Portuguese-style burgers and flavourful sauces.

On the must-try list are its whole, half-chicken or quarter-chicken boxes and creamy Prego sauce and chips.

Sundays to Wednesdays, 8am-10pm, Thursdays to Saturdays, 8am-midnight; Level 1, Dubai Festival City Mall, Dubai; oportome.com

12. Phileas Fogg's

Based on the character from the Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days, this quirky new restaurant in Address Montgomerie is all about travel vibes. And its interiors are proof of that, with an assortment of knick-knacks – from telescopes and leather-bound books to globes.

It's a fun place to kick back, relax and sample a global menu, with everything from kung pao chicken and American burgers to Thai green curry.

Open daily, 8am-2am; Address Montgomerie, Montgomerie Golf Academy, Al Thanayah, Dubai; 04 572 4477, www.addresshotels.com

13. Rumba Dubai

There's a lot to love about a Cuban restaurant trying to bring a glimpse of 1950s Havana to Club Vista Mare.

Guests can expect dance-inspired decor and classic Cuban dishes such as ceviche, tacos and traditional Cubano sandwiches from the beachfront joint.

Open daily, noon-2am; Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; 04 570 8111, rumba.ae

14. The Orangery

This is another creative venue that takes inspiration from Around the World in Eighty Days. The interiors feature green and copper hues, while guests are sure to enjoy the display of vintage suitcases and the "passport" they receive with their bill at the end of the meal.

Guests can expect to find international dishes such as fish and chips, Madras barbecue tiger prawns, Egyptian-inspired lamb ribs and more – so they can travel the world without ever leaving their seats.

Open daily, 6pm-midnight; The Academy, Montgomerie Golf Club Dubai, Emirates Hills, Dubai; 04 572 4473, theorangery.xyz

15. Vibrissae

Named after the whiskers of a feline, cat cafe Vibrissae opened in Dubai earlier this year, combining the cuteness of the furry animals with delicious beverages.

While it doesn't serve food, there are a range of signature iced and hot rose lattes, hot chocolate, Spanish latte and the internet sensation, dalgona coffee. But the real stars at this venue are its 15 fluffy residents, of course.

Sundays to Wednesdays, noon-9pm, Thursdays to Saturdays, noon-10pm; Al Safa Park Complex, Dubai; 056 966 6571, vibrissaecafe.com

16. Zeta Seventy Seven

This new restaurant sits next to Address Beach Resort's record-breaking infinity pool on the 77th floor, which means it offers some of the best views of the city.

Zeta Seventy Seven has two options – a poolside menu with light snacks, poke bowls and sandwiches, and an a la carte menu with Asian-inspired dishes such as sushi and sashimi.

While the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, the pool is for hotel guests only.

Open daily, 11am-1am; Address Beach Resort, Jumeirah Beach Residences, Dubai; 04 879 8866, addresshotels.com


Read more:

From burritos to quesadillas: a tasty guide to Mexican cuisine

Hari Nayak on popularising Indian food and opening Sona with Priyanka Chopra