Where to find great, affordable food in the capital

Abu Dhabi may be known for its abundance of five-star dining options but a good meal doesn’t have to break the bank.

Arabic food

Costs are rising, salaries are stagnant and everyone’s trying to save. But before you banish eating out to keep a little more money in the bank, consider switching up your game.

We’ve scoured the city and found budget-friendly options to keep you well fed and financially fit.

Brilliant breakfasts

Grab a quinoa bowl filled with grilled chicken, chickpeas and avocado for AED 28 at Gourmet Lab. Al Rayyana Complex, Khalifa City. Sun-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri and Sat 9am 11pm. Contact: 02 676 7060, gourmetlabuae.com

Munch on homemade granola with crunchy rolled oats, nuts, honey, raisins and dates over natural yoghurt for AED 28 at AT25. Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi, Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street. Sat 8am-3pm. Contact: 02 304 7777, marriottdowntownabudhabilife.com

Granola at AT25, Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi

Magnificent Mains

Enjoy eight pieces of falafel served with tahini dip, tomato, gherkins and Arabic bread for AED 26 or savour the crispness of vegetarian rice rolls for AED 17 at Circle Café. Mangrove Village. Sat-Wed 8am-11pm, Thu and Fri 8am-midnight. Contact: 02 666 0828, circle-café.com

Satisfy yourself with seafood paella, a mixture of prawns, calamari and mussels served over a bed of rice for AED 35 at Ikea Restaurant & Café. Yas Island. Sat-Wed 9am 11pm, Thu and Fri 9am-midnight. Contact: 800 4532, ikea.com/ae

Spice things up with a shawarma and zataar fries for AED 34 or a wrapped falafel served with house fries for AED 11 at Wheatfields. Al Rayyana Complex, Khalifa City. Daily 8am midnight. Contact: 02 550 0971, wheatfields.ae

Wheatfields

Fill up on your choice of spinach and feta, veal sausage or emmental cheese stuffed  puffs for AED 18 at La Brioche. Various locations including Abu Dhabi Mall, Al Zahiyah. Daily 7am-10pm. Contact: 02 671 4966, facebook.com/labriocheuaeofficial

Get your fill of home-cooked Lebanese food at Bait el Khetyar, boasting some of the best falafel and shawarma in the city. Grab a labneh and olive manaeesh for just AED 8, falafel sandwich for AED 11, or a family shawarma plate for AED 55. Fatima bint Mubarak Street, Najda. Daily 8am-midnight. Contact: 02 633 3200

Enjoy bits of injera soaked in a signature house sauce with lamb cubes or Ethiopian beef jerky for AED 35 at Bonna Annee. Al Salam Street, Al Zahiyah. Daily 11am-midnight. Contact: 02 491 2128, facebook.com/bonnaanne

Craving sushi? Sushi Counter offers regular promotions such as 25 percent off everything. Enjoy a hearty vegan hippie poke bowl for AED 55 or a filling veggie sushi burrito for AED 23. NYU Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island. Sun-Thu 10am-10pm, Fri and Sat noon-10pm. Contact: 02 555 0545, sushicounter.com

Grab your friends for a curry night at Tikka Tonight with dishes like palak paneer, chicken tikka masala and mutton mugalai starting from AED 11. Behind RAK Bank, Sanaiya ME11, Mussafah. Daily 10am-midnight. Contact: 02 552 5599

Get a taste of Vietnam at Hanoi Naturally with a hearty bowl of pho, a traditional broth cooked with spices, onions and ginger filled with rice noodles and other toppings from  AED 32. World Trade Center Mall, Hamdan Street. Daily 11.30am-10.30pm. Contact: 02 626 1112, hanoinaturally.com

Try a giant falafel for AED 14 or a kabob kofta served in pita or naan bread with a side of fries for AED 24 from Tarbouche. World Trade Center Mall, Khalifa Bin Zayed the First Street. Sat-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu and Fri 10am-11pm. Contact: 02 628 2220

When it’s time for lunch, Salam Bombay offers a great deal with its Maharaja thali. Enjoy one veg dish, one paneer dish, dal or kadi, a choice of bread, rice, raita, papad, pickle, a snack and sweet plus water for AED 25. Near Honda showroom, Electra Street, Najda. Daily noon-3pm. Contact: 02 677 7076, salambombay.net

Sink your teeth into diced fried potatoes and butter chicken tossed with masala for AED 15 at Biryani Pot. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island. Sat-Wed 11am-11pm, Thu and Fri 11am midnight. Contact: 02 676 6555, biryanipot.ae

Sweet Treats

Go nuts for espresso with Nutella and whipped cream garnished with hazelnut chips and cocoa powder for AED 19 at Espression Lavazza. Hazza Bin Zayed Street. Daily 7am-2am. Contact: 02 441 1885, facebook.com/lavazza.ad

Treat yourself to a classic cupcake in chocolate or vanilla flavour for AED 15 at Magnolia Bakery. Customise it with an inscription for just AED 2 more. The Galleria,  Al Maryah Island. Sun-Wed 7am-11pm, Thu and Sat 7am-midnight, Fri 10am-midnight. Contact: 02 674 9380, magnoliabakery.com

Chocolate cupcake at Magnolia Bakery

Chill out with a seriously indulgent Crème Brûlée frappé for AED 33 from The Coffee Club. Al Forsan Village, Khalifa City. Sat-Wed 7.30am-11pm, Thu and Fri 7.30pm 12.30am. Contact: 02 556 6167, thecoffeeclubme.com

Indulge in three scoops of original Italian flavoured gelato for AED 19 at Il Forno. Capital Mall, Mohammed Bin Zayed City. Daily 10am-midnight. Contact: 02 551 0118, ilfornouae.com

Support homegrown concept Shay Madhboot, an ADW favourite. Enjoy the French toast with a steaming cup of signature karak infused with cardamom for AED 38. Corner of Muroor Road and Dihan Street, near Traffic and Patrols Directorate. Sun-Thu 7am-10pm, Fri 8.30am-10pm, Sat 8am-10pm. Contact: 02 621 7323, facebook.com/shaymadhboot

Karak tea at Shay Madhboot

Kids Eat Free

Discounts are great but nothing beats free food. Grab the little ones, settle in for a meal at one of these establishments and only pay for yourself.

For every main meal ordered after 5pm, one child can eat free from the kids’ menu at Jim’s Kitchen Table. Siemens building, Masdar City. Daily 8am-10pm. Contact: 02 491 9401, jims.kitchen

Jones the Grocer

Purchase two adult entrees and get a kids’ meal on the house at Jones the Grocer. Raha Gardens Plaza, Khalifa City. Mon 7.30am-noon. Contact: 02 557 4882, jonesthegrocer.com

So APPetising

App for restaurant and food deals

Every menu is accessible with the right app. Download these applications to get deep discounts at restaurants across the capital.

The ENTERTAINER is one of the most popular ways to save on food. Enjoy 2-for-1   plus monthly offers from your favourite dining destinations and earn reward points every time you redeem a voucher. The app is available on Android and iOS and offers annual memberships for AED 345. Visit: theentertainerme.com

Zomato Gold gives you 1-for-1 on food and 2-for-2 on drinks at partner restaurants. Plus, you get to commit for a length of time that suits you best. Purchase three deals for AED 45, a six-month membership for AED 160 or a 12-month membership for AED 250. Visit: zomato.com

BonApp, a play on the phrase bon appétit, is sustainable and passes on savings. With hopes to achieve zero food waste, restaurants post real-time deals on surplus food that you can purchase for 30 to 50 percent off. BonApp is free to download on both Android and iOS. Visit: bonapp.ae

WORDS Tamara Clarke

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