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Food in Abu Dhabi: Restaurants to Eat Traditional Emirati Food

Food in Abu Dhabi: Restaurants to Eat Traditional Emirati Food

Travelling to a new country means experiencing all the place has to offer. For many of us, that experience comes with consuming mass amounts of the countries’ local food. When it comes to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), you’ll find yourself diving into an array of dishes that will leave you satisfied, but also craving more and more. Because food in Abu Dhabi is as diverse as delicious. From the most tender steak in Abu Dhabi to the equally famous and delicious falafel and hummus.

The uniqueness of UAE cuisine is in its traditions and culture. With such a multitude of nations residing here, the food undoubtedly comes to reflect all of those influences. You can find a lot of diversity through its neighbouring countries which are India, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. Although you can also find the likes of Italian, Japanese, Mexican, and American food, the real joy comes from the food of the locals. 

When it comes to food in Abu Dhabi, you’ll be able to discover the most delicious local cuisine here, made and served by some of the nicest people you could come across. Below, we have listed some traditional foods you should try while visiting. 

1. Shawarma

 

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There is nothing more satisfying or more popular than the local shawarma. Inside this flatbread, you will find thinly sliced pieces of meat, with additions like tahini, pickles, vegetables and even french-fries. It’s tough to pinpoint one good location as you will literally find a stall selling these on any street-side, local food outlets or even inside supermarkets. However, Shish Shawerma seems to be seen as the best spot in the City. So, whether you need a quick bite or a full-blown meal, you will be so satisfied with this authentic Lebanese favourite. 

2. Falafel

 

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If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, don’t think that food in Abu Dhabi doesn’t have something perfect for you too. The falafel remains a quintessential meat-free option that includes chickpeas mixed with fresh herbs and spices and rolled into small balls before being deep-fried. The crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside snack can be eaten inside a flatbread like shawarma or eaten on its own. Either way, you’ll be so satisfied with this meatless option that you’ll most likely consume it every day. However, just like the shawarma, it can be found on nearly every street corner, but if you’re seeking a specific spot to visit, the Lebanese Mill is a great affordable place to go. 

3. Al Harees

 

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As a traditional dish usually made during the month of Ramadan, Ed al-Fitr, or at a wedding and special occasions, you know you’re eating something special when you’re eating this. Using wheat and meat of choice (usually lamb or chicken), the overnight soaked wheat is then boiled in water with butter until it is thick like porridge. Chunks of meat can then be added, along with cinnamon, salt, peppers and other spices. Although not super pretty and a lengthy process to cook, the outcome is extremely delicious and totally worth the wait. Harees Al Waldha is the place to go to try this authentic dish and apparently the huge portions will leave you very well satisfied. 

4. Al Machboos

 

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As one of the most simple and delicious meals you can eat, it also comes with quite a process. Let’s just say, it’s a medley of meats, seafood, vegetables, spices and the interesting ingredient, lemon known as loomi. You can look at this dish as kind of a one-dish wonder, with the rice and vegetables’ being cooked in the same stock as the meat was boiled in. This massive meal can be shared amongst friends and family and is definitely traditional must try while visiting. So, head over to Al Fanar Restaurant & Café to get yourself a plate. 

5. Hummus

 

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With hummus becoming exceedingly popular around the world, it’s hard to think of something you would want to eat while here. But in all seriousness, this is a must-try in this part of the world. You have never tasted hummus as creamy and olive oil as fragrant as you will when eating hummus here. Head over to the Zahrat Lebnan restaurant for their famous hummus. 

6. Luqaimat

 

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A little sweet sensation is always great after a meal and these little balls of deliciousness are a great option to reach for. As the most popular Emirati dessert, you’re looking at little small crunchy doughy dumpling covered in sticky date syrup. I don’t think too much more explaining needs to be done here. The spot to go to is the LGYMAT & RGAG and eat a few extras for us over here. 

7. Esh Asarya

 

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A truly unique dessert coming out of Abu Dhabi. Think cheesecake, but Emirati style. This beautiful dish, also known as ‘bread of the Harem’ is made with lemon juice, rose water and orange blossom water-soaked bread, and then is topped with cream. Another must-try food in Abu Dhabi for after meals. And will most likely be a dessert available in many restaurants. 

There are many incredible dishes to find here and the list above will help you get on the right track for trying as much local cuisine as you can. If you are here for a short time, rent a car in Abu Dhabi to whisk yourself from one place to another. You will be sure to leave here with full and satisfied stomachs. 

About Maria Onzain

Maria Onzain is the founder of Travel for Food Hub. She is a content marketing enthusiast and a digital entrepreneur. Maria is on a full-tilt mission to make local and street food accessible for young travellers. When she is not writing about food and travel, startups or social media, she is enjoying her time with her toddler in sunny Spain.

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