7 of the best new restaurants in Abu Dhabi

Claudia de Brito - 09/11/2022

2022 has been a busy year for Abu Dhabi’s culinary community. Starting strong by hosting the inaugural Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in February, the UAE capital has continued to flex its culinary muscles with several novel concepts launched by homegrown talents as well as openings by globally renowned chefs. They run the gamut from refined hotel-managed venues to laid-back, family-run spots.

As the capital readies itself to welcome the region’s best culinary talent again on 30th January 2023 for the second edition of MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants, discover the new spots to add to your list while dining in the city

In a nutshell: Modern Japanese; minimalist; ingredient-led

Having opened in April in Abu Dhabi’s Al Qana district, sleek Japanese concept Otoro has been making waves in the city with its ‘less is more’ approach to refined dining. Produce is sourced directly from various prefectures of Japan, with wagyu beef from Kagoshima, otoro tuna from Tokyo and uni sea urchin from Hokkaido. Premium ingredients take centre stage on Otoro’s menu: signature dishes include the Duo of Handrolls, one filled with tuna and truffle, the other bursting with wagyu and caviar.

Managed by White Rice, a boutique hospitality company founded by chef Akmal Anuar of Dubai’s 11 Woodfire, Otoro marks the team’s Abu Dhabi debut. Perched amidst the city’s iconic landmarks with views of the Grand Mosque, it is open all day and can also be booked for private events – plus, a Chef’s Table is launching soon.

GF, Block M, South, Al Qana, Al Maqta Street, Abu Dhabi

BB Social Dining
In a nutshell: Eurasian; small plates; sustainable

Launched in Dubai’s DIFC district five years ago, BB Social Dining’s second standalone location will shortly open at Abu Dhabi’s Rosewood Hotel. Staying true to its original concept, influenced by both European and Asian cultures, this new iteration of BB Social Dining by chef and co-founder Alexander Stumpf will introduce its signature bites, baos, bowls and barbecue bites to Abu Dhabi’s diners.

And the restaurant is taking its ethos seriously – in the words of co-founder Spero Panagakis: “Nothing makes us prouder than grabbing a local tomato and cucumber from our bio-farms and developing our menus, when before this would have never existed. Farm-to-table is just the beginning for all to come to the UAE, as the simplicity of sustainability is not only a belief, it is a constant for a better tomorrow."

Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi

Talea by Antonio Guida
In a nutshell: Refined; immersive; authentic Italian

Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi welcomed Talea, by acclaimed chef Antonio Guida, back in March. Splitting his time between two-Michelin-starred Seta at Mandarin Oriental in Milan and this latest concept, Guida has curated a selection of seasonal and authentic Italian dishes in an elegant setting with a vibrant open kitchen.

The menus draw on Guida’s distinctive culinary style to offer a fresh and innovative take on cucina di famiglia, or family-style cooking, from handmade ravioli, spaghetti alla carbonara and artisanal pizza to ossobuco and vitello tonnato. The restaurant’s interiors are layered with art inspired by the landscapes of Italy – ports, palaces, lakes and Roman ruins. In cooler months, guests can opt to sit on the equally chic outdoor terrace for a decadent alfresco dining experience.

Emirates Palace, West, Corniche Rd, Abu Dhabi

In a nutshell: Homegrown; artisan; eclectic

Founded by longtime friends Emirati chef Faisal Alharmoodi and Syrian pastry chef Fadi Kurdi, Let’s opened its doors in February. Located in Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa City, the artisan bakery, café and restaurant is a hidden gem in the city’s culinary scene.

Open all day, Let’s serves dishes featuring a combination of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences. The space is home to a bakery, while the open kitchen showcases a traditional clay oven and a glass cabinet displays house-made pastries and desserts. Menu highlights include Let’s Balaleet, burrata za'atar flatbread, musakhan pizza, tart aseeda and faloda milk cake. An olive tree takes centre stage in the 55-cover restaurant’s main dining area, fostering a sense of calm in this tranquil escape from the city.

Al Saray St, Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi

Em Sherif Sea Café
In a nutshell: Laidback; social; Levantine cuisine

Em Sherif Sea Café made its UAE debut in October with waterfront views from the Rosewood Hotel on Abu Dhabi’s Al Maryah Island. This is the latest evolution of Mireille Hayek’s seafood-focused Levantine concept, which pays homage to Lebanon’s historic ties to the Mediterranean and was first founded in Beirut in 2011.

Menu highlights include an extensive mezze selection, raw red sea bream, shrimp provençale and samak rass asfour, as well as vegetarian options such as a whole roasted cauliflower in tahini, hindbeh bil zeit and lentil kibbeh. From à la carte dining to coffee, shisha and late-night bites, Em Sherif Sea Café is as much a place to socialise as it is to dine. With current outposts in Manama and Abu Dhabi, Em Sherif Sea Café Riyadh will follow suit before the end of the year.

Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi

In a nutshell: Sleek; Asian-inspired; street eats

A passion project created by Emirati cousins Rashed Belhoul and Saif Al Romaithi, Mamafri offers Abu Dhabi’s diners an exciting and vibrant take on Southeast Asian cuisine. Located in the newly developed Sheikha Fatima Park in Al Bateen, the homegrown restaurant’s first location in the UAE capital is already well on its way to becoming one of the hottest culinary destinations in the city.

Open daily for lunch and dinner, the venue boasts a chic and minimalist dining room and a tempting menu of dishes inspired by the founders’ travels and adventures across Europe, America and Asia. With two highly successful branches in Dubai, Mamafri’s signatures include Indonesian Mee Goreng, Mama’s Special Rice with chicken and vegetables, and the famed Mamafri Wagyu Sando.

Sheikha Fatima Park, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi

Mazi Abu Dhabi
In a nutshell: Rustic; communal; Mediterranean flavours

Located at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort Abu Dhabi, Mazi specialises in Greek cuisine. With the restaurant named after the word for ‘together’ in Greek, dishes are served family style and are inspired by the childhood memories of founders Christina Mouratoglou and Adrien Carré. Having launched Mazi London in Notting Hill to tremendous success, the pair of passionate food connoisseurs brought their innovative style of Greek dining to Abu Dhabi in March.

Boasting a menu curated by Mazi London’s own chef, highlights include kavourosalata, grilled calamari, feta tempura, shredded lamb shoulder tacos and sea bass tartare. Those on a gluten-free diet can also select appetizing options from a dedicated offering, featuring chicken thigh souvlaki skewers and artichoke risotto a la polita.

St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi

The upcoming edition of Middle East & North Africa's 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, will be announced on Monday, 30th January 2023. To be the first to hear about the latest news and announcements, browse the website, follow us on Instagram, find us on Facebook, visit us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.