A Piece of Cake: The name pretty much says it all and Piece of Cake is rumoured to have the very best carrot cake in Bahrain. Who are we to argue as owner Kim strives to maintain that home-baked feel for a business that started out as a hobby in her own kitchen. Open Sat-Thu 9am-9pm and Fri 9am-1pm, 5-8pm. Shop 2474, Road 1348, East Riffa, Bukawarah area (17 777 909). Budaiya branch open Sat-Thu 8am-6pm, Fri 11am-1pm for pre-ordered collections (17 596 055).
Butcher Shop and Grill meat counter: Yes, you could argue that this is more a restaurant than a shop but if you venture inside, at the back you’ll find a small meat counter selling a selection of the choice cuts you enjoy from the menu plus some rather wicked looking meat knives and other accessories Open daily from 9am, Bahrain City Centre (17 172 323).
Central Market & Fish Market: Everyone’s time in Bahrain should include a visit to these, particularly if a big proper market is something you haven’t experienced before. Be warned though, you’ll need to be up at the crack of dawn but it’s worth it as there are amazing bargains to be had. Bear in mind they aren’t air-conditioned and, not surprisingly, the fish market can be rather smelly. Make up for the pong with breakfast at one of the corner curry vendors in the vegetable market. Open daily from 4am, Manama centre (17 331 638).
Creolate: Hidden away down a backstreet in Zinj, this is the chocolatier of choice for locals, who know a thing or two about calorie-laden treats. They’ll make to your design or you can choose from the huge range of deliciousness on display. Open daily 10am-1pm and 4-9pm, Zinj on the road leading to the American Embassy (77 777 447).
Crescendo: If high-quality oils and vinegars are your thing, then this is the place for you. Here you’ll find olive oils, nut oils, seed oils and herb and spice oils, a selection of fine vinegars and other bits and pieces such as gourmet salts, peppers chillis and other seasonings and they all look so beautiful, it seems almost a shame to cook with them. Open daily 10am-10pm (11pm Thu/Fri), Seef Mall (17 582 060).
Haute Cupcakes & Sugar Factory: We can’t tell you how excited we were when this place opened just round the corner from our office! Haute Cupcakes does exactly what you would expect, really, really good cupcakes, straight from the oven to eat in or takeaway. That it’s teamed with the first international branch of US favourite Sugar Factory is, if you’ll excuse the pun, the icing on the cake. With interiors that themselves look good enough to eat, it specialises in couture sweeties and childhood favourites plus funky mugs and gift ideas. Open daily 8am-6pm, Seef area near the Ritz-Carlton (17 582 246).
Organic Foods & Café: It may look like a café but keep walking and you’ll find a large, well-stocked shop selling everything from organic meats to fruits, vegetables and all sorts of supplements and healthy stuff such as posh honey and great organic baby foods. It’s not cheap but, if you want to eat clean, this is the place and it also does a rather tasty range of cooked foods to take away. Open daily, 9am-10pm, Seef Mall (13 333 285).
Sage & Sirloin: Tucked away over in Hamala, this place sells Wagyu beef and all manner of other high-end goodies from its butchery and superb deli counter. Again, it’s not cheap, but it’s worth pushing the boat out for this kind of quality. Lots of people have heard of Sage & Sirloin but don’t know where it is - head towards the Saudi Causeway and take the turning before you reach the tolls, it’s signposted for Janabiya. Go left at the traffic lights at the top of the slip road and then just go straight until you find a parade of shops on your right – you’ll need to u-turn to get back to it. Open daily, 10am-8pm, Hamala (17 611 949).
Spice row: Not one shop but a whole row of little stores at the rear of Manama Souq selling a whole range of spices. This is our idea of what a souq should really look like with Arabs in traditional garb selling big piles of cardoman, ginger and all sorts of other pungent and tasty goodies. Open Sat-Thu from around 10am-1pm and 4pm-10pm, Fri 4pm-10m.
Tea Club: Tea Club has one of the best selections found anywhere in the region. From a BD5 pack of English Breakfast to a BD200-per-kilo stash of treasured Chinese silver needles! The café’s rather lovely too. Open daily 9am-midnight,The Lagoon, Amwaj Islands (38 887 107).