Most people are surprised to discover that food is a standout experience in Abu Dhabi. But, as a historically important trading post, this capital of the United Arab Emirates has always been home to fresh produce and delicious seafood straight from the water.
If you follow your nose around the city, the myriad of spices and flavors will entice you to enter every souk and Emirati-style dining hall. But, I soon discovered that dining in Abu Dhabi is not all about tradition. Mediterranean cuisine is popular here, and you’ll frequently bump into French bakeries and Chinese restaurants. If you want to plan your stay in Abu Dhabi around the food, then here is where I recommend you eat, snack, and sup.
Don't forget to stay hydrated in the dry, desert heat.
If you only have time for one thing, make it authentic Arabian shawarma.
Abu Dhabi is a melting pot of cultures and flavors. Begin day one with a picture-worthy breakfast, checking out the menus at restaurants such as Jones the Grocer, Art House Café, or Tasha’s. Afterward, tour the city’s noteworthy sights with stops in the souks so you can sample the region’s culinary delights. Learn about bedouin history, visit the Grand Mosque, and taste fresh dates.
In the evening, enjoy sunset on the water of the Abu Dhabi Creek on board a traditional dhow. Large windows mean you can soak up the views while enjoying a buffet dinner.
Rise early to take a walk at Abu Dhabi Corniche or Umm Al Emarat Park. Afterward, visit one of the city’s many malls, such as Yas or Marina, and look for one-of-a-kind items at the Liwa Center or Abu Dhabi Co-Op. If you prefer more excitement, Yas Island offers drag racing with an instructor. Opt for lunch at Li Beirut, Marrakech, or Al-Maqam.
In the afternoon, take a desert safari with dune bashing, sand surfing, and a camel ride. Safaris often include a traditional barbecue dinner with tea, shisha, and a belly-dancing show under the desert stars.
On your last day, partake in an immersive food experience with an Emirati guide who’ll teach you about the ingredients and development of local cuisine. Then, in the afternoon, visit the Emirates Palace—home to an organic beehive and vegetable garden—for tea with in-house gourmet delicacies to be enjoyed alongside a panorama of palm trees.
Build your appetite for dinner by visiting the oldest and most significant building in Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al-Hosn. Then, dine at one of Abu Dhabi’s best restaurants, such as Sambusek or BBQ Al Qasr, saving some room for dessert at Parker’s.