As part of a series of culinary guides to various areas in the UAE by The National, we explore Abu Dhabi’s Mamsha Al Saadiyat, a new, up-and-coming destination in the capital that’s all set to become a hub for gourmands.
While there are numerous restaurants scheduled to launch soon in the area, including UAE’s home-grown burger spot Pickl and Dubai’s popular Caribbean-themed lounge Ting Irie, there are many that have already opened their doors in the beachfront community.
Here are some of the best and most exciting.
The gourmet pizza spot, sporting red, black and white interiors, makes traditional Roman pizza al taglio, which is customarily sold in rectangular or square slices. Here, Grandma Antonia’s 50-year-old sourdough is fermented for 72 hours and mixed only with 80 per cent water, Italian flour, olive oil and salt.
Antonia also has a range of salads, pastas and desserts on the menu, alongside classic, cold and sweet pizzas. There are also some weekly specials, such as vongole on Mondays, gnocchi on Tuesdays and sea urchin on Wednesdays.
Open daily noon-11pm; Soul Beach, Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island; 02 667 2554; antoniarestaurant.com
Raclette Brasserie & Cafe
French fare meets Amazonian vibes at the restaurant, which offers a Parisian-influenced menu and jungle-inspired interiors. The venue is located by the beach, offering plenty of sea views, while the decor features wooden and tropical elements.
Expect plenty of dishes oozing with gooey raclette cheese, such as burgers, as well as options including escargot Provencale, steak tartare and crepes suzette prepared table-side.
Open daily 9am-midnight; Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island; 02 546 2277; instagram.com/racletteuae
Beirut Sur Mer
“A culinary escape to the Levant at the sandy shores of Mamsha.” That’s how the restaurant describes itself – and that’s exactly what it is. The beautifully decorated eatery, which is at Soul Beach, has an expansive menu full of authentic Lebanese food, from breakfast favourites to staple mezze plates and tempting desserts.
While the colourful, foliage-strewn interiors are picture-perfect, the terrace offers excellent beachside views.
Open daily 9am-midnight; Soul Beach, Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island; 025 464 0004; beirutsurmer.com
This is one for the health-conscious diners.
Zen interiors with natural materials and earthy elements set the tone for this “feel-good concept” founded by Nagham Al Zahwali, reportedly after discovering that wholesome foods helped her with her own digestive issues.
Expect all the usual suspects, from chia pudding to acai bowls and avocado toast, but there are some more unique concoctions, such as the eggplant shakshouka, scramblegg croissant (made with vegan sourdough) and a cauliflower pizza topped with cashew “cheese”. Burgers, wraps and refined sugar-free desserts also feature.
Open daily 9am-10am; Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island; 054 449 1547; instagram.com/alkalime_uae
Local Mamsha, founded by Jackson Brett and brothers Jasim and Zayed Al Khouri, opened its second location on Saadiyat Island earlier this year. It incorporates the venue’s original barber and beverage services, but also incorporates a homeware and fashion element.
In keeping with the beachy feel, the airy store retails tees, slides and shades interspersed with coffee pots, cups and strainers. The interiors incorporate contrasting tactile elements in the form of rough and smooth surfaces, warm wood and cold concrete, and cacti plants and palm trees. The neutral palette is offset by wooden elements, and greenery abounds above and beside each seated area.
Customers can grab a coffee, sweet or even an acai bowl at the cafe, too.
Open daily 8am-11pm; Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island; 02 555 3339; localco.ae
Coffee Architecture is described as an Emirati artisan cafe, as it “offers the expertise of a local and accredited coffee connoisseur while providing a space designed around minimalism, passion, art and love”.
Owner Nooran Albannay is on a mission to make people love her beans, but also fashion a place where customers feel part of a community. “I wanted to create space that added value to ourselves and each other,” it says in her mission statement on the cafe’s website.
With that in mind, all manner of coffees are available to order, from cappuccino to cortado and cold brew. You can also enjoy a slice of cake, some brioche, a brownie or cookie.
Open Saturday-Wednesday, 9am-10pm, Thursday-Friday, 9am-midnight; Jacques Chirac Street, Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island; 02 554 4467; thecoffeearchitecture.com
TEN 11 Beach
There are six branches of TEN 11 Coffee Boutique across the UAE, in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, but there’s only one TEN 11 Beach.
You can’t miss its neon-pink signage, which belies the rather neutral colour palette inside, nor the inviting outdoor terrace. While the focus for the brand is undoubtedly on coffee, there’s also a decent food menu here, with everything from healthy acai bowls to more indulgent pizza.
Open daily 7am-midnight; Jacques Chirac Street, Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island; 050 567 4735; ten11cafe.ae
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes
The popular New York burger joint, which also has branches in Dubai, now has a beachfront home in the capital, too.
Expect all the burgers – from the Texan to the Cuban and even a vegan bean one – plus CrazyShake milkshakes and craft hops. Enjoy these in the stylishly designed venue, with its black and white tiles and graffiti-strewn walls, and vibrant atmosphere to a playlist of cool tunes.
Open daily noon-midnight; Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island; 02 446 5128; blacktap.com
NIRI Restaurant & Bar
Get your sushi fix at this home-grown licensed Japanese restaurant. After a six-month pop-up at Yas Mall, NIRI Restaurant & Bar moved into its permanent home at Mamsha Al Saadiyat in July.
Stylish, minimalist interiors are enhanced by neutral tones and earthen materials.
Find sushi, sashimi, robata grills and more on the authentic but contemporary menu.
Open daily noon-11pm; Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island; 02 546 8886; nirirestaurant.com
The Steak Room
This unlicensed carnivore’s paradise opened on Mamsha Al Saadiyat in July, offering “a new approach towards meats”, according to its Instagram profile description.
Dry-aged cuts, a Wagyu tomahawk, tenderloin rossini and Canadian lamb chops are only a few of the entrees you can expect. Brisket empanadas, beef gyoza, short rib bao and Wagyu sando, meanwhile, make up a few of the standout starters. Even the sides are interesting, with Peruvian purple mashed potatoes and polenta goat’s cheese among the options.
Open daily 11am-midnight; Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island; 02 444 6674; instagram.com/thesteakroom