From restaurants to bars, these are the best dining experiences in the capital.
The eighth annual FACT Dining Awards Abu Dhabi ceremony took place earlier this month and 57 awards were given out across 29 categories, covering over 150 hotel and independent restaurants.
The FACT Dining Awards Abu Dhabi recognise brilliance in the food and beverage industry, with winners awarded based on both public votes and critics’ opinions. Each category was given two awards, the BEST and the FAVOURITE. The latter is the result of a popular choice decided through online public voting, and the former is the critic’s choice determined by the FACT editorial team.
Without further ado, here are your 2022 winners:
- All Day Dining
- Casual Dining
- Afternoon Tea
- Business Lunch
- Beach / Pool Bar
- Culinary Staycation in Abu Dhabi
- Al Fresco Dining
- Pan Asian
- Latin American
- Middle Eastern
- Italian Casual Dining
- Italian Fine Dining
- Saturday Brunch Casual Dining
- Saturday Brunch Fine Dining
- Restaurant Of The Year 2022
All Day Dining
Best: Garage – W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island
The all-day-dining restaurant Garage is so appealing, that it has team FACT returning time and again. Winner of Best All Day Dining and Best Friday Brunch Casual Dining at the FACT Dining Awards Abu Dhabi 2021, Garage is most definitely a restaurant for culinary gourmands. Not only does the venue offer multiple cuisines in a lively and hospitable environment, but the trackside location overlooking Yas Marina Circuit is unrivalled in the capital.
Favourite: Graphos Social Kitchen – Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island
Under Executive Chef John Buenaventura’s guidance, the hotel’s all-day-dining restaurant, Graphos Social Kitchen, redefines the way we think about day-to-night dining. Offering a plentiful buffet of international favourites, from live stations for dim sum and sushi to quirky salads presented in flower pots. The multi-levelled restaurant space is colourful, welcoming, and offers a unique breakfast, lunch, and dinner experience.
Best: Pickl – Mamsha Al Saadiyat
Located at Al Mamsha on Saadiyat Island, the latest branch of this beloved burger joint is a must when in Abu Dhabi. Take your pick from comfort food classics ranging from chicken tenders to spicy fries. We recommend digging into the Impossible Double Cheese Burger with two plant-based patties, cheese, a potato bun and toppings of your choice. When the food is this good, it’s not impossible for us to finish.
Favourite: Pizza Di Rocco – Salam Street
This former FACT Award winner is bringing it again. We love this authentic, rustic-styled Italian pizzeria. Dig into premium, light, thin and delectable pizzas, which include a mix of classic and speciality options. As the hand-tossed dough has been made up to 48 hours in advance, it allows for complete fermentation, plus a light and crispy crust. Grab a slice of the action.
Best: tashas – Al Bateen
Come for the breakfasts (which are served until 6pm), and stay for the speciality coffee. The FACT team love tashas café, whether it’s for a virgin cocktail with friends or a spot of remote working, the ambience is oh-so chilled. Plus, the breakfast options are some of the best in the UAE – the hummus toastie with rocket, avocado, roasted feta and poached egg hits the spot.
Favourite: Café 302 – Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana
With the tagline “eat, drink and chat”, it’s clear that Café 302 is a place to take it easy. The venue prides itself on its casual atmosphere, which is fitting for a quick coffee or an evening meal. The menu boasts an all-day breakfast, and the chance for you to create your own omelette. Plus, there are soups, salads and sandwiches.
Best: Lobby Lounge – Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi
The Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi is a five-star property with enchanting architecture, sophisticated décor and palatial surroundings. The Lobby Lounge is where to go for an Arabic-inspired afternoon tea. Indulge in pastries, sandwiches and take your pick from a selection of fragrant teas and Middle Eastern coffees.
Favourite: The Lounge – The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa
Head to The Lounge at The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa for a chic afternoon tea overlooking the fairways. Expect a selection of sweet and savoury delights, freshly baked scones and a selection of teas and coffees. It’s the perfect way to while away a few hours with friends.
Best: Zuma – Al Maryah Island
Oh, Zuma. This FACT favourite can do no wrong and is loved in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. FACT’s Editor-in-Chief is what he calls a semi-regular – he even hunts it down in London – and praises it as being one of the most decadent dinners. The business lunch is a great way to enjoy the same luxury at a more affordable price.
Favourite: 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant – Al Maryah Island
99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant have done it again and impressed us with their finesse and fine dining. The Japanese restaurant has become synonymous with its avant-garde cuisine and premium ingredients. We love the venue for its seafood selection, which includes Atlantic bluefin tuna and caviar. We’d recommend sitting at a spot where you can enjoy the waterfront views of Al Maryah Island.
Beach / Pool Bar
Best: Eclipse – Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island
Eclipse overlooks the Al Maryah waterfront and has healthy spa vibes. The health-conscious menu includes salads, sushi and nigiri. Whether you’re going for a sun-soaked swim on the rooftop pool or relaxing in the lounge-style seats, it’s a prime spot to enjoy the city’s skyline. We love the hip venue and recommend checking out the daily happy hour from 4pm to 7pm or the Thursday ladies’ night.
Favourite: Nasma Beachfront Bar – Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas
Nasma notches up another FACT Award, as it’s a firm favourite among the team. The sea views are epic and the vibes are effortlessly cool. Whether you want to chill on a beanbag or rest in a private cabana, the beach bar is a vibrant spot to enjoy drinks, shisha and the sea. Oh, and the Caribbean beats will help you get into the groove.
Best: Lock, Stock & Barrel – Yas Bay
Lock, Stock & Barrel is a cool hangout that is famous for its live music, delicious food and party vibes. With happy hours and buy one get one free offers, this is a great value for money option. Plus, it’s the kind of pub where we take our mates and a drink or two turns into an evening out.
Favourite: PJ O’Reilly’s Irish Pub – Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi
Quiz nights, live music and a beer garden where we like to chill are just some of the things we love about PJ O’Reilly’s Irish Pub. The menu includes pub favourites such as pigs in blankets, nachos and beef burgers, plus there are brand new food trucks. Whether you grab a stool at the bar or throw some darts, you know you’re at a local favourite.
Best: The Warehouse Wine & Tapas Bar – Pearl Rotana Capital Centre Abu Dhabi
Winner of Best Bar at the Fact Dining Awards Abu Dhabi 2020, The Warehouse Wine & Tapas Bar offers a compelling reason to visit every day of the week, as there are offers to suit your budget and drinking needs. Settle in the chic interiors and order some small plates, then you just have the tough decision about which glass (or, of course) bottle of wine to order.
Favourite: Hidden Bar – Rosewood Abu Dhabi
The atmospheric and intimate Hidden Bar is the ideal spot for sundowners overlooking the waterfront and twinkling Abu Dhabi skyline. The venue has one of the biggest gin selections in town – 200, to be precise. If you want to explore its collection, we’d recommend going to the Bottomless Gin O’Clock on Saturdays from 6pm to midnight.
Best: Iris – Yas Island
A classy night out can start and end at Iris. Popular as a post-work hangout, it’s great for light bites, artisan drinks and live music from local and international DJs. Oh, and the Yas Marina views are stunning, too.
Favourite: Siddharta Lounge by Buddha-Bar – Yas Bay
Siddharta Lounge by Buddha-Bar knows how to raise the roof. Located on the rooftop at Yas Bay, the bar serves Mediterranean tapas and fun cocktails. Oozing relaxed yet chic vibes, it also boasts views of the waterfront.
Culinary Staycation In Abu Dhabi
Best: Ghadeer – Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara
Ghadeer knows how to create food with a pool, and not just any food, but mouth wateringly-good food. The Mediterranean menu includes salads, soups, pastas, pizzas and risottos, alongside a creative cocktail list. Make sure you come at sunset – it’s next level romantic, as in the middle of the desert.
Favourite: Terra Secca – Al Wathba, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Abu Dhabi
Terra Secca is a wonder in the desert. The upmarket Italian restaurant, which draws its inspiration from Tuscany impresses us with its live kitchen, alfresco seating and, of course, its scrumptious menu with pizzas and pastas.
Best: West Bay Lounge – Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort, Abu Dhabi Corniche
When it comes to settings, the spectacular sunsets and soft sea breeze, put this on the map. While the Mediterranean fusion food keeps it there, as it includes everything from lobster linguine to baked seabream. Plus, you can make a day and night of it, as there are water sports, pools, zip lines and an adventure park.
Favourite: Fresh Basil: Dining In The Dark – Bab Al Qasr Hotel & Residences
The food is the focus at Fresh Basil: Dining In The Dark. As guests dine, well, in pitch black, it’s a chance to enjoy the three-course meal flavours to their fullest. There’s no doubting that this is a one-of-a-kind experience, which visitors won’t forget anytime soon.
Al Fresco Dining
Best: BBQ Al Qasr – Emirates Palace
The iconic Emirates Palace is packed with first-class dining venues. BBQ Al Qasr had us at its romantic location, which is outdoors with a view of the Arabian Sea. Serving grilled meats on the beach, it’s a relaxed yet elegant experience. We can’t get enough of the old-school Arabic vibes, and dining under the stars.
Favourite: Filini Garden – Radisson Blu Hotel, Abu Dhabi Yas Island
The gorgeous Filini Garden is so sophisticated, it’s easy to see why this is loved in Abu Dhabi. The open-air Italian restaurant and lounge has uninterrupted views across Yas Island and the golfing greens. Guests can dig into a range of pizzas, risottos and seafood-inspired pastas.
Best: Buddha-Bar Beach Abu Dhabi – The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort
If you’re in the mood for, well, almost everything, then Buddha-Bar Beach Abu Dhabi hits those spots. Experience a fusion of influences at this funky venue – Mykonos meets Maldives meets Asia and so on. Eastern and western touches are bought together across its music, food and drink. Ceviche, dumplings or sushi? Take your pick.
Favourite: Teatro – Park Rotana Abu Dhabi
It can be tough to satisfy different palates, but not at this FACT favourite Teatro. This people-pleaser of a restaurant serves international cuisines – we’re talking Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Italian. Your mouth will water as you watch the chefs at the live cooking station, especially the sushi bar.
Best: Catch at St. Regis – The St. Regis Abu Dhabi
Oysters, sushi, crabs and caviar make this a haven for seafood lovers. Catch at St. Regis is a sophisticated spot to enjoy top-quality seafood, sushi and sashimi. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any classier, it also hosts dining collaborations – most recently it was a wine pairing with M Chapoutier. We’ll raise a glass to that.
Favourite: Fishmarket – InterContinental Abu Dhabi
You may well smell Fishmarket before you see it. An institution in the capital, it has been running since 1989. The menu-less restaurant might scare some people, but trust us you will love the personalised experience. All you have to do is choose your fish and vegetables from the counter, then watch as Chef Luthfi and his team cook them to suit your tastes.
Best: Hakkasan Abu Dhabi – Emirates Palace
Hakkasan Abu Dhabi previously won Best Pan Asian restaurant at the FACT Dining Awards Abu Dhabi 2020, and has excelled again in this category. With more than a decade under its apron, the restaurant is located inside the world-famous Emirates Palace. We’d recommend nabbing a spot on the terrace, which has views of the Abu Dhabi skyline. Then all you have to do is decide between the world-famous dishes, which include Peking duck, dim sum, soups and salads.
Favourite: Dai Pai Dong – Rosewood Abu Dhabi
Dai Pai Dong is a master at modern Cantonese food. Chef Dong brings his sixteen years’ of experience as well as passion to this classy restaurant. Cutting no corners, there is a dedicated hot pot, dim sum and vegan menu. If, like us, you want to try everything, we’d recommend the All You Can Eat Street Style Lunch on weekdays. Your stomach will thank us.
Best: COYA Abu Dhabi – Al Maryah Island
Go on a culinary journey at this FACT favourite, which combines Japanese, Chinese and Spanish cooking techniques together. Once you’ve tucked into the flavoursome tacos, maki rolls, slow-cooked beef ribs or just about anything here, you’ll understand why we rate it so highly. The Peruvian powerhouse is a must when in Abu Dhabi.
Favourite: VaKaVa – Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers
VaKaVa, at Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers, comes to you from celebrity chef, Richard Sandoval. Set apart from the luxurious hotel in a separate building that juts out into the ocean like the bow of a ship, it’s a vibrant restaurant. So bring along your mates and order from the sharing menu, which includes Mexican, Latin-Asian, Peruvian and Pan-Latin dishes.
Best: Alba Terrace – The Abu Dhabi EDITION
The Abu Dhabi EDITION is easily one of the most talked about hotels in the UAE capital. On the FACT Editor-in-Chief’s stay, he fell in love with its chic aesthetic, understated sense of luxury and restaurants. British chef Tom Aikens is behind Alba Terrace, which serves Mediterranean-style sharing plates and decadent dishes in a sumptuous alfresco setting. Alba Terrace, you had us at the sunken poolside booths.
Favourite: Beach House – Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas
Sangrias by the sea are a winning combination at Beach House. The relaxed Mediterranean-inspired restaurant serves a mix of Italian, Spanish and Middle Eastern cuisine. Enjoy dishes including pastas, risottos and fish dishes ranging from beef tagliata to a seafood platter.
Best: Tean – Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort
Humble Levantine cooking is elevated to a thing of beauty at Tean. Whether you’re after chicken shawarma or kibbeh bill laban, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to local traditional dishes. Plus, when a place has ten hummus options ranging from prawn to lamb, you know it has its Middle Eastern specialism down to an art.
Favourite: Beirut Sur Mer – Mamsha Al Saadiyat
Enjoy the taste of Lebanon in the heart of Abu Dhabi. At this fun, casual restaurant, diners can enjoy salads, grilled meats, seafood and hot and cold mezzes. Plus, the dessert menu is spectacular in its own right, as it boasts kunafa, baklawa and drinks ranging from a lotus cream frappe to a pistachio shake.
Best: Butcher & Still – Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island
Butcher & Still is a must-visit in Abu Dhabi. Regardless of whether you’re a steak person or not, the venue is so impressive with its 1920s Chicago speakeasy vibes. We’re talking soft leather seats, dark wooden floors and a flawless service to match. The menu includes prime cuts of American beef and Prohibition-era cocktails.
Favourite: Oak Room – The Abu Dhabi EDITION
It’s not often that a steakhouse labels itself as rock n roll, but when it is as effortlessly cool as Oak Room, we can why. Tom Aikens is behind the renowned restaurant, which may have photos of rock bands on the wall but puts classic British food in the spotlight. The menu includes salmon wellington, lamb saddle and striploin of beef. Plus, there’s a Bloody Mary trolly.
Best: Paradiso Abu Dhabi – Yas Bay
Nicole Rubi and Pierre Gagnaire have come together to create this gem of a restaurant. Transporting relaxed Mediterranean vibes to the Middle East, the menu includes pasta, pizza, meat and fish dishes, which range from a truffle pizza to sea bass steak. We’d recommend dining on the terrace, which has been designed by the Italian architects Vudafieri-Saverino Partners, and enjoying the views.
Favourite: Bentley Kitchen – The Galleria Al Maryah Island
Bentley Kitchen fuses the best of French influences with European flavours to create an exciting dining experience. The menu ranges from salads to sliders, bao buns to butcher’s boards. The modern, industrial-chic décor includes long wooden tables, leather booths and a relaxed terrace. Plus, there’s a top-notch cigar list.
Best: LPM Restaurant & Bar – Al Maryah Island
Whenever we visit the multiple FACT Dining Award winner LPM Restaurant & Bar, it’s a masterclass in French fine dining. The brand has foodie fans across the world, as it has been serving customers in Hong Kong, London, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. The Al Maryah Island restaurant is beautifully romantic, and is situated directly on the promenade with tranquil sea views.
Favourite: Fouquet’s Abu Dhabi – Louvre Abu Dhabi
An iconic location, an iconic restaurant. The original venue was born in Paris in 1899, and has welcomed greats from Marlene Dietrich to Edith Piaf. This white tablecloth of a venue brings the best of a French brasserie to the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The world-renowned restaurant makes us swoon with its French finesse and food, which includes roasted veal chops, carrot velouté and salmon fillet.
Best: Indigo – Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi
Indigo puts the spotlight on North Indian food. The menu gives classic Indian dishes a modern twist. There are so many delicious delights to choose from: kebabs, chaat, biriyani or the signature sikhandari raan, which is a pot-roasted leg of baby lamb. Plus, if you’re after something a little more romantic or private, book the gold banquette with silky curtains.
Favourite: Namak – Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi
Namak is a vibrant venue with bright green seats, orange walls and ornately carved wooden doors. Serving Indian dishes from across the country, it draws on traditional cooking techniques. All of the plates are beautifully presented, and the breakfast buffet keeps us coming back for more.
Italian Casual Dining
Best: Antonia – Mamsha Al Saadiyat
We agree with Antonia when it describes itself as “not just another pizza place”. With its dough fermented for 72 hours, each pizza is baked to perfection. The pizza tray options include classics like margherita and diavola, but also focaccia al rosmarino, patate and rosmarino, and quattro formaggi. Plus, the pastas feel like the real deal, as they are all served al dente.
Favourite: Dino’s Bistro Italiano – Pearl Rotana Capital Centre Abu Dhabi
Dino’s Bistro Italiano has been a FACT Dining Awards Abu Dhabi favourite for the last three years. Loved by the public, the casual restaurant serves classic pastas, meats and fish dishes. We dare you to try one of the unconventional pizzas – there’s white truffle, charcoal and even Hawaiian on the menu.
Italian Fine Dining
Best: Mare Mare – Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort
Mare Mare is so good, they named it twice. The fine-dining Italian restaurant serves salads, risottos, pizzas and pastas, which range from a tagliatelle duck ragu to a slow-cooked veal marrowbone. We’d recommend getting a seat outdoors, so you can soak up the sea views.
Favourite: Villa Toscana – The St. Regis Abu Dhabi
Indulge in the taste of Tuscany at Villa Toscana. Dig into pastas, pizzas and risottos, which include specialities from the region. Tuscan highlights include a penne pasta with four Tuscan pecorino cheeses, Tuscan-style ribollita soup, Tuscan-style seafood soup, and panzanella with avocado.
Best: Zuma – Al Maryah Island
Zuma has notched up the most accolades at this year’s FACT Dining Awards Abu Dhabi. If it’s good enough for FACT’s Editor-in-Chief, it’s good enough for you. Follow his lead and order the chutoro tarutaru kyabia zoe of fatty tuna belly adorned with Oscietra caviar and slathered across a buttery miso bun. You won’t regret it.
Favourite: NIRI Restaurant & Bar – Mamsha Al Saadiyat
NIRI Restaurant & Bar is led by a trifecta of talent: Managing Director Imad Obeid, Head Chef and sushi master Yasuyuki Takemoto, and Chef Omaka Orubu. Probably the most elevated dining concept in Mamsha, it offers instant appeal from the moment you enter into the stylish, minimalist interior. Make like the FACT Editor-in-Chief, and order the hot soft-shell crab, toro sakusaki nori and wagyu tataki.
Saturday Brunch – Casual Dining
Best: The Chef’s Brunch at Giornotte – The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
The Mediterranean meets the Middle East at Giornotte. The brilliant brunch includes live cooking stations, fresh seafood and delicacies from all over the world. Take a seat in the massive dining room with garden views and brunch away.
Favourite: Fairmont Saturday Brunch – Fairmont Bab Al Bahr
Why settle for one type of cuisine, when you can enjoy multiple cuisines at–– Fairmont Saturday Brunch? Guests can experience the best of three restaurants at this epic brunch. Whether you’re after steaks from Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill, Italian dishes from Marco’s Italian, or international cuisine from CuiScene, there’s something to suit every taste.
Saturday Brunch – Fine Dining
Best: Zuma – Al Maryah Island
When the words “Zuma” and “brunch” are in the same sentence, our stomachs start rumbling. This FACT favourite excels at whatever it turns its chopsticks to, which is why we can’t help falling in love with its Saturday brunch. A must-visit in Abu Dhabi, the dishes are served straight to your table and include the famous miso marinated black cod, jumbo tiger prawns and spicy beef tenderloin.
Favourite: Nahaam – Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers
Those with a taste for the finer things in life will want to try Nahaam’s popular brunch. The chic poolside venue comes to vibrant life each weekend. The restaurant is currently running a British-themed Pardon My Brunch, which showcases the best of British dining. The British mood is enhanced with playful live entertainment and staff in royal-inspired uniforms.
Best: Talea – Emirates Palace
Emirates Palace is bringing it with standout venues. The hotel is a multiple FACT Dining Awards Abu Dhabi winner, and it has impressed us with its elegant new Italian restaurant, Talea. With Antonio Guida at its helm, menu highlights include the artisanal pizzas, chilled veal, truffle bruschetta and spaghetti carbonara. Plus, the Italian wine and prosecco help.
Favourite: Din Tai Fung – The Galleria Al Maryah Island
Sure, it’s a chain, but it’s a brilliant one. Din Tai Fung started life in Taiwan in 1980, and now has restaurants across the world from Sydney to Singapore. The newcomer has made its mark on the Abu Dhabi dining scene, and now we can experience those world-famous handmade dumplings. Thank you, Din Tai Fung.
Restaurant Of The Year Abu Dhabi
Butcher & Still – Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island
Butcher and Still is precisely what you’d expect from a haven to all things meat. Loved by FACT Editor-in-Chief and residents galore, it’s a firm favourite in the capital. We adore the small touches, from the bullet casings embedded into the grout in the bathroom stalls to the meat cleavers included in the cutlery. Since the venue continues to impress on repeat visits, it stands out as the leader of the pack in the city. Above all, the restaurant remains consistent and sets the bar for steakhouses in Abu Dhabi.