Dubai: They are an integral part of the thriving urban culture in Abu Dhabi and have been a part of the Emirate’s local scene for over 20 years.
Little bakeries on busy roads, long-standing restaurants that become landmarks you refer to when giving someone directions around the city or quaint sweet shops tucked away in neighbourhoods, Abu Dhabi has recognised 11 eateries in the Emirate as ‘urban treasures’.
If you want to get a taste of city life in Abu Dhabi, here’s how you can check out these food outlets:
Apart from eateries, the awards also recognised tailor shops, fabric stores, perfumeries, jewellers and photography studios, all of which have in some way contributed to Abu Dhabi’s cultural and social narrative for more than 20 years.
1. Al Aqssa Sweets
Al Aqssa sweets specialises in Arabic desserts from kunafahs to baklavahs, basbousahs and more. The main branch on Salam Street in Abu Dhabi’s Tourist Club Area opened in 1980 and the eatery opened another branch three years ago in Khalidiya.
Location: Salam Street, Tourist Club, Al Zahiyah - Abu Dhabi
2. Al Ibrahimi Restaurant
Known for its massive buffets on a budget, Al Ibrahimi restaurant has six branches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with the first shop opening in Electra Street in 1993. The restaurant chain specialises in Pakistani cuisine.
Location: Electra Street, Abu Dhabi
3. Al Raiqa Date and Fruit Trading
While Al Raiqa has several branches across the UAE, the main branch is in the Mina Fruit and Vegetable Market in Abu Dhabi. The establishment sells fresh and dry dates, nuts, saffron, Arabic coffee, honey and more.
Location: Shop 59, Mina fruit and vegetable market
4. Al Sultan Markets and Bakeries
With the first branch opening in the Baniyas area of Abu Dhabi, Al Sultan Markets and Bakeries has 12 shops across the UAE, specialising in Arabic sweets like kunfahs and qatayefs, freshly baked breads, cakes and pastries.
Location: Al Ain road, Baniyas, Abu Dhabi
5. Corniche Automatic Bakeries and Markets
Another popular bakery in Abu Dhabi, Corniche Automatic Bakeries and Markets has five branches in the Emirate, with the first one opening in Musaffah in 1992. You can even pick up some groceries while you are there to grab a quick bite, as the bakery has an accompanying supermarket area.
Location: M-37, Musaffah, Abu Dhabi
6. Bu Tafish Restaurant
This seafood restaurant is over half a century old. Established in 1968, Bu Tafish has two branches in Abu Dhabi, one in Al Ain and one in Dubai. From the calamari rings to grilled Sherry fish, the restaurant specialises in seafood grills and Arabic cuisine.
Location: Al Quffal Street, Al Bateen
7. Tripoli Sweets
If you are in the mood for an upgraded Kunafah experience, how about trying an ‘Osmaleya’? Imagine two crunchy layers of vermicelli cushioning a lush centre of fresh cream or cheese, you could call it a kunafah cake. Established in 1989, Tripoli Sweets specialises in Lebanese desserts, and you can enjoy sweet treats like the Osmaleya, or mamoul sweets, halawat alrez (rice pudding with nuts and cream) and namoura (Semolina cake).
Location: 17 Al Atnab St - Al Hisn - W4 - Abu Dhabi
8. Lebanon Flower Bakery
With a wide variety of manakish, fatayers and pizza, Lebanon Flower Bakery has three branches, with the main branch in Al Dhafrah, Abu Dhabi.
Location: Zayed The First Street Behind Al Fardan Exchange - Abu Dhabi
9. India Palace Restaurant
Specialising in Mughlai cuisine, the first India Palace Restaurant was branch set up in 1997, along the busy Al Salam Street in Abu Dhabi. Today the restaurant has 12 branches across the UAE, offering a wide range of popular Indian dishes, from tandoori kebabs to curries and biryani.
Location: Opposite Adnoc Distribution Head Office, Al Salam Street
10. Al Dhafra Restaurant
Visitabudhabi.ae, the official website of Abu Dhabi DCT, describes the Al Dhafrah region as the place where ‘the desert meets the sea’. The Al Dhafra Resturant, which was established in 1993, claims to be the culinary representation of that idea. The seafood restaurant, which is located in Abu Dhabi’s Heritage Park, also offers the option to have a dhow cruise dinner experience, with Emirati and International cuisine.
Location: Heritage Park, Corniche Abu Dhabi
11. Zahrat Lebnan Cafeteria and Restaurant
Set up in 1983, Zehrat Lebnan has seven retail establishments across Abu Dhabi, with a focus on Lebanese cuisine. If you visit any of their branches you can enjoy authentic Lebanese food from cold mezzehs and shawarmas to the more indulgent mixed grill.
Location: Behind HSBC Bank, Al Zahiyah, Block E16-02