Whipping your phone out to photograph your dish is a rite of passage while on holiday. After all, if your Instagram feed isn’t peppered with bright culinary delights weeks after you land home, did you even go away at all?
If you’re like me and choose where you spend your precious annual leave based on the calibre of food at the destination, you’ll appreciate Abu Dhabi as one of the big foodie hotspots of 2019.
Here’s what to eat in the UAE capital …
The mixed grill
A quintessential Middle Eastern dish for the carnivorous foodie. Best enjoyed with sea views, the mixed grill at Jumeirah Saadiyat Resort’s Tean restaurant will give you the meat sweats in the best way with a plate of succulent saltbush lamb cutlets flown in from Australia, grilled spiced chicken, perfectly medium rare lamb rump and Lebanese kofta. Don’t forget the whipped garlic cream, roast potatoes and crunchy salad of fennel and fig.
With all the fancy-pants eats in Abu Dhabi, it’s nice to know the hole-in-the-wall classics hit the mark when it comes to satisfying meals in the desert city. Get your Uber driver to recommend his favourite Shawarma place downtown for an authentic food experience. We like Al Kalha Cafeteria and Restaurant for fresh kebab-style chicken wrapped in a pastry-roti-type bread and a bowl of pickles. Local and delicious.
Cheese pudding with gold flakes
Sweet cheese pastry-style pudding AKA Knafeh is a big mood back home in Aussie Lebanese restaurants so I was happy to find a high-end take on the dessert at Tean restaurant. The Kunafa Cheese pudding has a nice golden crust and honey taste, topped with pistachios and pretty gold flakes.
Gold camel burger
Experience the real taste of Arabia with the 24K gold camel burger at the Emirates Palace Hotel. It’s camel mince patty infused with local spices and truffle mayonnaise on a gold-dusted bun. So extra.
There’s a large Moroccan influence in Abu Dhabi and one of the best restaurants in the centre of town is Marrakech at the Millennium Corniche Hotel. The elegant surroundings make it feel like you’re dining in a sultan’s great hall while belly dancers tie the enchanting atmosphere together. Mondays are seafood buffet night but the tagine menu is even more impressive with the showstopper being the casserole quail tagine with onions, black pepper, saffron, ginger, cinnamon and toasted almonds.
Persian fairy floss topped cocktails and dreamy drinks are all the rage on social so those keen on an over-the-top cuppa will find the coffee menu at the Lobby Lounge at Jumeirah Etihad Towers a real treat. The themed afternoon tea in the lobby overlooks the water and is a good spot for killer sunset views.
Every breakfast buffet in town offers a quality dip of whipped chickpeas, tahini, lemon and garlic. We like the extra smokey version from Tean restaurant with pillowy pita bread and a side of stuffed vine leaves with Egyptian rice and Kebbeh Nayye – an Angus beef tartare. So many delicious plates … so little time.
Want a free stopover holiday in Abu Dhabi? Etihad Airways is offering two free nights of hotel accommodation in Abu Dhabi for all guests booking flights to and from all Etihad destinations via Abu Dhabi. You must fly from 21 April and 15 July 2019.
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