Abu Dhabi: ‘Spoilt for choice’ is an understatement if you are hungry and happen to be in Khalidiya.
The sheer number and variety of eateries in this busy neighbourhood make it the food basket of Abu Dhabi. Their bright neon signs beckon at every corner and some streets have over a dozen restaurants.
Khalidiya is a foodie’s paradise as there is every conceivable cuisine on offer – from Lebanese, Indian, Mexican and Chinese to Iranian, Filipino, Emirati and International.
According to Zomato, an online foodie platform, Khalidiya offers 42 cuisines in 335 restaurants. “As of August 2016, Abu Dhabi had over 4,000 restaurants, 520 of which have opened in the past six months. Out of that, the Khalidiya area accounted for 10 per cent of the new openings,” said Rohin Thampi, regional director, Zomato MEA.
Among the latest to enter the fray is Emirati restaurant Goozy Al Shabi. Its owner Saeed Saif Al Suwaidi, says he decided to launch the restaurant in Khalidiya because of its eclectic population. “This area is ideal for restaurants as there are people of every nationality living here,” said Suwaidi. “But the competition is tough as people have plenty of options. If your food is not good or too pricey, you will immediately lose your customers to a competitor.”
A few metres away is Tablayet Falafel, an eatery that opened three months ago. Owner Sally Omar from Jordan says business is brisk. “The first month was a little tough. But now we are getting lots of takeaway orders,” said Omar.
Jaffer Ali Jergis, manager of the all-new Automatic Restaurant that opened round the corner last month, says the restaurant relocated to Khalidiya from Hamdan in the hope of better business.
“It is a different ballgame in this area. Competition is tough, but if you know how to run a restaurant, you can make it big,” said Jergis who has been in the restaurant business for 15 years.
According to him, eating out is a way of life for residents and visitors at Khalidiya.
“One main reason why restaurants flourish here is because we cater mainly to the middle class. Good quality food at affordable prices is what makes them thrive,” said Jergis.
Moidutty of House of Tea cannot agree more. Selling more than 2,500 cups of tea daily from his small cafeteria, he says customers get hooked when you serve them “the best”. “People go to different restaurants in Khalidiya to eat. But to drink tea, they will come here as it is our speciality,” he said.
For Khalidiya residents, the variety of restaurants available at their doorstep is as appealing as it is addictive. “If you have lived in Khalidiya you cannot go anywhere else,” says long-term resident Sameer Aboud from Lebanon. “You step out of the building and you have two dozen restaurants to choose from.”
Pakistani Mohammad Jaleel who lives in Khalidiya says there is something to suit every palette and pocket. “You can get a good meal for any budget, even for as little as Dh10 a head,” he said.
Most restaurants have a loyal customer base. “I have been coming to just two restaurants here for four years and can’t imagine a Friday meal anywhere else,” said Shanmugam, another resident.
What do you think of Khalidiya and its restaurants?
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