Gastronomic exploration is now a thing among young travellers. They are no longer about seeing popular tourist destinations. They make sure to include “foodie” stops because they know that food is a clear reflection of a country’s unique culture.

Among the rising destinations for gastronomic exploration is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi.

This cultural melting pot boasts an impressive selection of restaurants specializing in both traditional and international cuisines. Apart from the restaurants, there are also small food vendors that attract foodies because of their special family recipes.

Needless to say, if you want to go on a food adventure, Abu Dhabi can easily provide you with this experience. But if you are looking to elevate your dining experiences in the capital – you know, to make your visit even more special – veteran gastronomes have the following tips for you.

  1. Dress up

Abu Dhabi is a fancy city because a lot of professional expats live here, and you will feel less like a tourist if you dress up in a more elegant way, especially when you dine at a restaurant.

A nice outfit makes dining at any restaurant feel more intentional and a little out of the ordinary. So, wear your best garb when you head out to eat.

  1. Split your meal

Try having your appetizer, main entrée, and dessert at different restaurants.

This may seem like a lot of work just for a meal, but you are likely to get more enjoyment out of doing it. Also, by doing this, you are not settling for just whatever is available at a restaurant. Instead, you get to design a meal according to what you want.

Say, there is this restaurant that is known for its amazing pumpkin soup and best-selling pomelo and shrimp salad. Why not have these options as your appetizer?

For your main entrée, try the best steakhouse in Abu Dhabi, which only uses USDA prime cuts. Take your time here before heading to a different location for dessert.

When it comes to desserts, European-inspired cafés and small family-owned food kiosks are worthy stops. You can have everything from éclairs, macarons, Portuguese tarts, and traditional Emirati sweets such as Cake Al Tamor (date cake), ferni (rice pudding with saffron), and chebaab (cardamom and saffron pancakes).

  1. Ask the server for recommendations

Trying new dishes can be fun but not many people are keen on it due to the fear of not liking what they order. What you can do to avoid the “booboo” choices when trying something new is to speak with the server and get his or her recommendations.

Display trust in your server or the chef (if you have direct access to him or her) and go with their recommended dishes especially if you know very little about the restaurant.

Say, you’re trying contemporary Japanese cuisine for the first time, there may be an exciting fresh take on the Japanese food that you had sampled before elsewhere. You just may end up enjoying the new version more than the original one.

Relinquishing control can yield beautiful results; so, give it a try when checking out a restaurant, particularly for the first time.

  1. Take pictures and then stash away your phone

Store the memory in your phone by taking pictures and then put away your phone.

Taking pictures will allow you to revisit the memory and even share it with friends. This way, if your pals find themselves in Abu Dhabi, they can share in your delight by sampling the same dish during their visit.

  1. Take the time to discuss your order with the server or the chef

Inquire how you order is best eaten from the people who know it best. Their recommended way of eating can take your dining experience to a whole new level.

Your server or the chef can educate you about the best pairings or condiments to enhance flavors, or how to correctly use the utensils the meal is served with.

Food you are trying for the first time when travelling is great on its own most of the time, but with a few deliberate efforts, you can definitely get more delight out of it.


Jenene Bronwin Batts is the Senior Marketing Coordinator at Tourism Development & Investment Company or TDIC. She oversees website maintenance, PR requests, marketing initiatives and all general guests’ enquiries for the company’s destinations, including KOI Restaurant & Lounge and Boa Steakhouse in Abu Dhabi.

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