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Abu Dhabi and Muscat dining and coffee bars

Abu Dhabi and Muscat dining and coffee bars

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Old Jun 13, 19, 1:47 pm
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Abu Dhabi and Muscat dining and coffee bars

This will be my first time having actual time in between business meetings to go outside of the hotels and actually eat in more local places.

While its great to be put up in beautiful hotels in both cities I also really enjoy being able to have less fancy and really good local food, coffee, hookah in laid back/quieter settings.

Are there some websites or names of restaurants/cafes in both Abu Dhabi and Muscat that would be worth checking out in the evenings for local food specialties like kebabs/kabsa and coffee outside the traditional hotel settings?

Thanks from IAD!
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Old Jun 14, 19, 11:02 am
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Mumtaz Mahal in Muscat is probably my favorite Indian restaurant in the world. They have alcohol too.
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Old Jun 14, 19, 6:40 pm
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Originally Posted by mecabq View Post
Mumtaz Mahal in Muscat is probably my favorite Indian restaurant in the world. They have alcohol too.
Thanks that a great suggestion, would you say its even better than typical excellent street food you might get in India like chaats, pani puri, different masalas etc? What are some of your favorite dishes the restaurant serves?
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Old Jun 16, 19, 8:22 am
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Originally Posted by Fly_IAD View Post
Thanks that a great suggestion, would you say its even better than typical excellent street food you might get in India like chaats, pani puri, different masalas etc? What are some of your favorite dishes the restaurant serves?
It's different. It's a mid-/upscale-level pan-Indian restaurant like you'd find in the U.S. but better than most. I like all of their curries and tandoori dishes. As you know, Indian food is essentially local food in Oman, so there is plenty of street food and basic curries of all kinds (especially south Indian). I can't recommend a specific place for that but it should be easy to find. They are hit-or-miss, though.

Ditto for Abu Dhabi, which has a wide variety of Indian, Arabic, Turkish, and Iranian food. There is a local chain (it's in India too by way of UAE) of Kerala restaurants called Calicut Notebook. The one in Dubai is among my favorites; I see that they have an outlet in Abu Dhabi. This is lower-/mid-level, also sit-down, but with some contemporary versions of what you might call street food. I love the fish curries (they have lots of different varieties) there.

There are a lot of "Gulf" food places (Emirati or Omani) popping up, some very traditional, like where you sit on the floor, and others more upscale. I honestly haven't found one in the UAE or Oman that I would recommend. I don't think that this is one of the world's great cuisines, like Indian or Lebanese/Syrian are, but you might poke around and try it for fun.

An excellent shisha cafe in Muscat is across the highway from the Sheraton. I don't recall the name [edited to add: Al Dar Cafe], but Ramsa Cafe is on Google maps, and this place is right next door up a half a flight of stairs. (Ramsa is not great.) It's open 24 hours, a real dump, and the shisha is like 1.000 OMR. Abu Dhabi is not a great shisha town, and many of the local places are clustered on one street (which the taxis will know as "shisha street") though others are scattered around.

Last edited by mecabq; Jun 17, 19 at 6:47 am Reason: More info
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Old Jun 17, 19, 2:04 pm
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Originally Posted by mecabq View Post
It's different. It's a mid-/upscale-level pan-Indian restaurant like you'd find in the U.S. but better than most. I like all of their curries and tandoori dishes. As you know, Indian food is essentially local food in Oman, so there is plenty of street food and basic curries of all kinds (especially south Indian). I can't recommend a specific place for that but it should be easy to find. They are hit-or-miss, though.

Ditto for Abu Dhabi, which has a wide variety of Indian, Arabic, Turkish, and Iranian food. There is a local chain (it's in India too by way of UAE) of Kerala restaurants called Calicut Notebook. The one in Dubai is among my favorites; I see that they have an outlet in Abu Dhabi. This is lower-/mid-level, also sit-down, but with some contemporary versions of what you might call street food. I love the fish curries (they have lots of different varieties) there.

There are a lot of "Gulf" food places (Emirati or Omani) popping up, some very traditional, like where you sit on the floor, and others more upscale. I honestly haven't found one in the UAE or Oman that I would recommend. I don't think that this is one of the world's great cuisines, like Indian or Lebanese/Syrian are, but you might poke around and try it for fun.

An excellent shisha cafe in Muscat is across the highway from the Sheraton. I don't recall the name [edited to add: Al Dar Cafe], but Ramsa Cafe is on Google maps, and this place is right next door up a half a flight of stairs. (Ramsa is not great.) It's open 24 hours, a real dump, and the shisha is like 1.000 OMR. Abu Dhabi is not a great shisha town, and many of the local places are clustered on one street (which the taxis will know as "shisha street") though others are scattered around.

Thanks, I really appreciate all this information, its great. As much as I can enjoy being in high end restaurants I grew up with more traditional street style food and it remains my favorite. Good to know about "shisha street" in AUH. I was hoping somehow I just missed out and I'd find an equivalent of pretty much anywhere in Cairo
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Old Jun 19, 19, 3:35 am
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Originally Posted by mecabq View Post
An excellent shisha cafe in Muscat is across the highway from the Sheraton. I don't recall the name [edited to add: Al Dar Cafe], but Ramsa Cafe is on Google maps, and this place is right next door up a half a flight of stairs. (Ramsa is not great.) It's open 24 hours, a real dump, and the shisha is like 1.000 OMR. Abu Dhabi is not a great shisha town, and many of the local places are clustered on one street (which the taxis will know as "shisha street") though others are scattered around.
Didn't Oman crack down on shisha joints and hike shisha prices last year?
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Old Jun 20, 19, 10:21 am
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Originally Posted by IAN-UK View Post
Didn't Oman crack down on shisha joints and hike shisha prices last year?
Not sure, but my most recent experience at Al Dar among others in Muscat is from April 2019. It's possible that, like everywhere in the region, the rules are subject to intermittent implementation and/or reversal. Or maybe the OMR 1.000 shisha is a price increase.
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