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The city has a reputation as a cosmopolitan melting pot, and Abu Dhabi's restaurants are no exception to this rule. A wide variety of choices is available to suit all palates, ranging from cheap and cheerful curry and Chinese takeout to five-star French restaurants. One great thing about the restaurants in Abu Dhabi is that diners need not go out to enjoy them; nearly every establishment will deliver, usually for free.
Dining out in Abu Dhabi becomes more complicated during the month of Ramadan. As Muslims are fasting during daylight hours, restaurants are obligated by law to close at this time. Fines are given to anyone eating or drinking anything (even water) in public. Some large hotels catering to Westerners will keep one restaurant open for non-Muslim customers however, and it's a good idea to check with your hotel on arrival.
Many high-end restaurants in Abu Dhabi add a service charge of around 10 percent to the bill, while hotel restaurants may also add a tourism levy of 6 percent. These charges are sometimes included in menu prices. Tips of 10 percent are customary for waiters.
Travellers to the UAE should keep in mind strict regulations regarding the consumption of alcohol, meaning the only restaurants that are licensed are in hotels and private clubs. Some restaurants are segregated into 'family sections' where men and women must sit separately.
Beach Rotana Brunch City
Friday brunch is an institution in Abu Dhabi and this five star hotel sets the bar very high with an epic brunch spread, combining the food selection of a number of its restaurants to provide customers with a dazzling array of culinary choice. Beach Rotana's relatively high prices are offset by the exceptional food and complimentary champagne.
Bam Bu! is a Chinese restaurant that overlooks the yachts of the Marina Club. They offer great food and a fun atmosphere that is popular with expats. Their Dhs 150 "All you can eat and drink" special including house beer and wine gets a lot of support from locals.
Asian / Garhoud area, opposite Deira City Centre
This traditional Afghan restaurant is a newcomer to the cosmopolitan Abu Dhabi restaurant scene, and features lush decor with lots of pillows, curtains, and sheesha pipes. The menu features Afghani staples like kebabs, pallaw, and korma. The seating area is segregated into sections for VIPs, families, and sheesha smoking.
Local / Al Dhafra, Dhow Harbor
Al Mina is a relaxed restaurant on the harbour serving traditional Iranian cuisine, with a special focus on local seafood like lobster and squid. Try one of the starter platters, overflowing with hummus, tabbouleh, and dolmades. The restaurant has both an Arabian-style indoor section and an outdoor patio with waterfront views. Open daily from 4-11pm.
Automatic and Lebanese Flower
Middle Eastern / Near the corner of Hamdan & 4th Streets, Al-Manhal, Khalidia
These restaurant chains offer a good local variety of fast food at a low price. They do shawarmas (roast meat rapped in pita bread), hummus, falafels and roast chicken. The mouth-watering fare and local cultural inspiration makes them a must try.
Local / Al-Khalidiya
Considered the best place to eat Persian food in Abu Dhabi, Pars Palace is tucked away in a small backstreet behind Corniche Towers, near the marina. A wide selection of authentic Middle Eastern dishes, including saffron chicken and spicy kebabs, is accompanied by complementary fresh loaves of flat bread with sheeps-milk cheese. One of the best-value restaurants in Abu Dhabi, Pars Palace is busy for lunch and dinner. Open 11am to 3:30pm and 6pm to midnight.
French / Marina Mall, Ras Al Akhdar
This elegant French patisserie is popular over lunch for its excellent people-watching and relaxed environment. Linger over a cup of coffee and a petit four, or indulge in a leisurely meal of French fusion cuisine. Located in the Marin Mall, Hediard is open daily from 9am to midnight.