When it comes to travel, one of the most exciting experiences and a sure way to become better acquainted with a city is through its culinary landscape.
Like in African communities, when it comes to dining, the breaking of bread remains a communal celebration of culture and community in the Middle East.
As African Fashion International (AFI) heads to Abu Dhabi for the Forbes 30/50 summit, another way to enjoy the leading destination is by exploring the many reputable restaurants the city has to offer.
For travellers looking for an exciting gastronomic experience, here are five restaurants we recommend, no matter your appetite.
Global iconic brand Zuma boasts presence in some of the world’s top destinations including the Maldives, Rome and Miami. The Abu Dhabi outpost which opened in 2014 has shown why the franchise continues to thrive. With its trendy take on Japanese dining, the popular restaurant offers the best of Japanese with its raw to robata (fireside cooked) dishes. Located on the Al Maryah Island, it offers breathtaking views of the waterfront. Modelled on the izakaya style of eating, Zuma is perfect for groups looking to share. Make sure to book ahead however as the popular spot fills up quickly.
Award-winning Li Beirut is a favourite stop for those who enjoy Lebanese cuisine. Located at the luxurious Conrad Hotel inside the Etihad Towers, Li Beirut is considered one of the top restaurants in Abu Dhabi. Either than offering panoramic views of the sea, the restaurant is also famed for its traditional and contemporary take on Lebanese dishes. With European influences, the menu also includes dishes such as foie gras kibbeh, an Arabic mixed grill, charcoal grilled tiger prawns, pistachio milk pudding and the decadent chocolate sambousak (fried pastry).
This chain of restaurants makes for an exciting experience with its combination of Afghani cuisine with a Carlifornian touch. Founded by Marjon Andesha who trained in the US, the restaurant’s name is the abbreviation of her children’s names. The touch of family is carried through into the dishes which are inspired by the meals Andesha enjoys preparing for her family. Look out for decadent French toast, lamb shank and a variety of salads. The popular eatery has a number of restaurants across the island, offering casual dining with a homely feel.
A local favourite, Faé Café is the brainchild of Emirati chef Khaled Alsaadi who co-founded the popular eatery in 2020. The new-kid on the block has gained popularity thanks to its inventive interpretations of local dishes. The young chef who left his previous career in finance to become a restaurateur trained in several five-star establishments. His own offering, a popular breakfast spot, can best be described as a laid-back café that offers dishes such as Emirati scrambled eggs, shakshuka and signature coffees. One of the key attractions is that the restaurant uses locally sourced seasonal ingredients, with a menu that also offers vegan and vegetarian option.
Popular chef and owner of Nusr-Et, Nusret Gokce, is more popularly known as “Salt Bae” for his flamboyant salt-sprinkling skills which have won him thousands of fans on social media. His Turkish steakhouse has attracted notable patrons including international football stars, Lionel Messi, David Beckham, model Naomi Campbell and award-winning actor, Lionardo DiCaprio. The restaurant describes an experience at one of their several establishments across the world as a “feast”, with patrons getting to choose between several cuts of meat that include the popular gold covered Tomahawk steak that costs in excess of R30 000. Don’t forget to follow the AFI journey in Abu Dhabi, register HERE.