The restaurants that feature in Lonely Planet's first Abu Dhabi culinary guide

A new book dedicated to the capital's food scene highlights 100 places to eat, from fine-dining spots to hidden gems

Included in the guide is Mediterranean restaurant Alba at the Abu Dhabi Edition. Photo: Abu Dhabi Edition
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Lonely Planet has launched its first guide to Abu Dhabi’s culinary scene. Created in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Culinary, an initiative by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, the guide shines a light on the capital’s leading dining spots. It was launched to coincide with Abu Dhabi Culinary Season, which is running until December 9 and includes events and dining opportunities across the city.

Lonely Planet’s The World of Abu Dhabi Cuisine includes 100 culinary destinations, from fine-dining restaurants to off-the-beaten-track eateries. It features street food, quick bites and dessert spots “for every budget, taste and mood”, as well as a “need to know” section that advises newcomers to the UAE on local customs and traditions relating to food.

“Food delights our taste buds and fulfils our appetites, but more than that, every meal tells an incredible story of culture, history and humanity,” writes Ali Al Shaiba, executive director of tourism and marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi, in the foreword to the book.

“Here in Abu Dhabi, we know and understand the power that food holds in every community, and we make sure we can always serve the best and authentic food from every part of the world to our visitors and residents.”

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 31 OCTOBER 2018. Michelin Star Chef Tom Aikens at Market At Edition in the new Edition hotel in Al Bateen. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Melinda Healy. Section: Weekend.

The book’s first section is dedicated to fine dining and includes an interview with chef Tom Aikens of steakhouse Oak Room, Mediterranean-style Alba and the healthy living-inspired Market at Edition Abu Dhabi. Faisal Naser of the artisanal fast-food concept Lento is also profiled, alongside Khaled al Saadi of Fa’e Cafe and Balveer Balkissoon, chef at Fouquet’s Abu Dhabi.

The guide’s listing of fine-dining restaurants is dominated by international concepts such as Coya, Cipriani, Cafe Milano, Zuma, Hakkasan, Buddha-Bar, Nusr-Et and Marco’s New York Italian.

International names such as Cipriani dominate the fine-dining section of the book. Photo: Cipriani Yas Island

A section dedicated to “Abu Dhabi’s best-kept secret restaurants” is broken down by neighbourhood, covering downtown, the waterfront and Al Zahiyah. “The hidden gems that dot Abu Dhabi’s streets offer dirham- and waistband-stretching sustenance you will be glad you discovered,” the guide says.

Diners in downtown Abu Dhabi are advised to start at Al Markaziyah, where they can feast on everything from Indian subcontinental cuisine to Nepalese momos and Jamaican jerk chicken. The food court at Madinat Zayed Mall is listed as a must-visit, despite not making it on to most tourist maps. In Al Zahiyah, or Tourist Club Area, diners can sample Afghan treats at Khyber Darbar, Ethiopian specialities at Sheger and Indonesian delights at Bandung.

Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe in the Venetian Village at The Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal, Abu Dhabi. Photo: Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe

The guide also has a section dedicated to Emirati cuisine, highlighting spots such as Al Fanar Restaurant and Cafe, Yadoo’s House and the aforementioned Fa’e Cafe. Al Mina Fish Market, Mezlai, Meylas, Al Areesh and Najd Palace also get a mention.

Updated: October 20, 2021, 2:23 PM