The best local restaurants in Abu Dhabi showcase the finest Emirati cuisine, culture and hospitality. Dining culture in the Emirates is focused around groups and families, so expect plenty of platters generous portions intended to be shared.

    By looking out for great local cuisine, you can enjoy some of the finest dining experiences available in Abu Dhabi without it costing a fortune. Naturally, the city also has its share of first-class fine-dining restaurants, often serving a wide-ranging array of international options, but this list is especially for those who are seeking to get a true taste of Abu Dhabi.

    1

    Meylas Emirati Restaurant

    Traditional dishes prepared with passion

    • Food
    • Group

    Meylas Emirati Restaurant is all about sharing great local food. It actually started life as a food truck before moving to its great retro-styled location in Al Muneera. It was founded by a young Emirati, Shaikha Al Kaabi, whose goal was to ensure the future of traditional Emirati cuisine.

    The highlights of the menu are the Emirati breakfasts – said to be the best in Abu Dhabi. However, you’ll also find first-class salads, soups, stews and more here. Meylas translates as ‘a place that gathers people’, and the food is indeed best enjoyed with a group.

    Location: Al Raha Beach - Al Muneera - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +971 (0)2 444 8884

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    2

    Al Mrzab Restaurant

    Authentic dishes in an authentic setting

    • Food

    Al Mrzab Restaurant is a great place to feel like you’re being fed in an Abu Dhabi home. That obviously means that the menu is heavy with great traditional flavors, but the design of the place is intended to make you feel like you are sitting in the kitchen of a traditional household. That includes an area with comfy floor cushions and low tables.

    The menu is mostly Emirati, with dishes like majbous (lamb and rice), harees (boiled wheat) and the house special – mixed mutaban (spicy potato wedges stuffed with spiced meat). However, there’s also a selection of Kuwaiti options, including murabyan (rice with shrimp) and mutabbaq (stuffed pancake).

    Location: Airport Road, behind the National Theater - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Phone: +971 (0)2 666 2333

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    3

    Freej Swaileh Restaurant

    A popular hangout for locals

    • Families
    • Food
    • Budget

    Freej Swaileh Restaurant has created a reputation for being a great place for locals and expats from surrounding countries to come and hang out. A big reason for that comes from its generous portions of Kuwaiti flavors – especially the ragag (Emirati bread) with milk and honey. It’s the house specialty and a must-try, though the karak (milk tea) is also excellent.

    The restaurant started life in Kuwait and expanded to open a branch in Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi. This branch is quite large, boasting 3 floors, including one that’s especially suitable for families. The décor is traditional, with old music playing while you eat.

    Location: Villa No.101, 16th Street, Sector 13, Opposite Spar Grocery store - Khalifa City A - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 12 am

    Phone: +971 (0)2 555 8837

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    4

    Al Fanar Restaurant & Café

    Great local flavors in Yas Mall

    • Food

    Al Fanar Restaurant & Café recreates the ambience of 1960s Dubai in the super-modern Yas Mall of Abu Dhabi. It’s such a popular place that they have outlets across the Gulf (including in Dubai, Al Ain and Riyadh) as well as in London, UK. The setting is on the classy side, but prices are great and the cuisine is authentically Emirati.

    The breakfasts at Al Fanar Restaurant are particularly good, but the menu features a full range of options. Other standouts include the fish mahkboos (Saudi Arabian rice dish) and chicken biriyani. The service is very friendly, so feel free to ask the wait staff for recommendations.

    Location: The Fountains, Yas Mall - Yas Island - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +971 (0)2 877 2272

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    5

    Saudi Kitchen

    Casual eatery near Mushrif Mall

    • Food
    • Group

    Saudi Kitchen is a very down-to-earth sort of eatery in Al Mushrif. As the name suggests, it specializes in dishes from Saudi Arabia, though other Arabic flavors also on the menu. The service is welcoming, but also has an edge of business-like directness.

    Everything from the portion sizes to the booth sizes makes this a place to enjoy meals together with a group or your family. Highlights include the mathlotha (spiced chicken rice) and the fried seafood served with flatbread. Don’t forget to try a luqaimat (sweet dumpling) or 2 for dessert.

    Location: 187 Al Dhafra St - Al Mushrif, opposite Mushrif Mall - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Daily from 12 pm to 12.30 am

    Phone: +971 (0)2 665 5355

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    6

    Mosaic Restaurant

    Award-winning Lebanese cuisine

    • Food

    Mosaic Restaurant is the go-to Lebanese eatery in Abu Dhabi, standing out for its unique flavors and outstanding quality. Standouts include the tabbouleh quinoa salad, followed by arayess (meat-stuffed pita), with kunafah (cheese pastry) for dessert.

    The friendly service at Mosaic gets them some rave reviews, so expect a generally pleasant dining experience. They have 2 branches in Abu Dhabi, in Muroor and Najda. We recommend the former.

    Location: Guardian Towers, Al-Muroor Road - 31 Street - Al Aman St - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Saturday–Thursday from 8 am to 11.30 pm, Friday from 1 pm to 11.30 pm

    Phone: +971 (0)2 234 0202

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    7

    Al Maskoof Al Iraqi Restaurant

    First-class fish restaurant with a terrace

    • Food

    Al Maskoof Al Iraqi Restaurant specializes in Iraqi seafood dishes, mostly prepared in the embers of a large fire that you’ll see as you arrive. As with many Arabic eateries, it’s the sort of place that specializes in the group dining experience, with generous portions and a welcoming atmosphere.

    As the name suggests, the star dish on the menu is the masgouf (Mesopotamian carp dish), though the ghouzi (slow-cooked lamb with rice) and bacha (meatball stew) are also pretty good. The platter dishes come with free salads, beverages, mezzes, teas, and desserts.

    Location: Airport Rd, Al Etihad Neighborhood - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 1 am

    Phone: +971 (0)2 443 3387

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    8

    Najd Palace Restaurant & Kitchen

    Enjoy a wide array of excellent Arabic dishes

    • Food

    Najd Palace Restaurant & Kitchen serves a wide array of traditional and modern Gulf and Arabic dishes. Standout dishes include the madhbi (Yemeni chicken rice), shakshouka (poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce), and madfoon (Arabian lamb rice dish). There are plenty of other choices, though – each exhibiting the same high quality and distinct taste.

    Founded in 2012, there are a couple of branches of Najd Palace dotted around the city. The experience is consistent across all of them, including great service and an atmosphere of sophistication. Don’t worry, though – the prices are still reasonable.

    Location: Building 818 Al Manhal Street - Zone 1 - E18-02 - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Daily from 12 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +971 600 544546

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    9

    Yadoo's House Restaurant & Cafe

    Enjoy Arabian hospitality at ‘grandmother’s house’

    • Families
    • Food

    Yadoo’s House Restaurant & Cafe is a charming family-style restaurant where you can dine in true Emirati style. The name means ‘grandmother’s house’ and that warm, welcoming, traditional environment is exactly what you’ll find here, alongside great local cuisine.

    Noteworthy dishes include the various majboos (Emirati chicken rice), salona (chicken stew), and kofta offerings. However, just like an accommodating relative, you’ll find some more western dishes for the less adventurous, including pasta dishes and sandwiches. There’s even a dedicated kids’ menu.

    Location: Al Nasr Tower 2, Al Murror Street - Al Aman St - behind Shakespeare and Co - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Saturday–Thursday from 8 am to 11 pm, Friday from 8 am to noon and from 1 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +971 (0)2 441 1311

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    10

    Wadi Luqaimat and Chebab Restaurant

    You can’t miss the bright yellow frontage

    • Food
    • Budget

    Wadi Luqaimat and Chebab Restaurant is a vibrantly colorful, family-friendly restaurant serving classic Emirati cuisine. The setting is practically cafeteria-like in its simplicity, but the prices match the vibe, so it’s a great place to get budget-friendly eats.

    As you can guess from the name, the highlight dishes are the luqaimat (sweet dumpling) and chebab (Emirati pancakes), but you can also get savory dishes like an Emirati breakfast, samosas and thareed (flatbread in stew). The quality isn't bad, but you should set your expectations at the level of the setting and price tag.

    Location: 4 Al Banadir St - Zone 1 - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 12.30 am

    Phone: +971 (0)52 797 9787

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    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveler

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