Reviews, pictures, contact and booking details for the best cafés in Bahrain, part of the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards.
Casual dining doesn’t have to mean anything less than a good range of dishes and of course value for money. Time Out has visited each and every restaurant listed to put them through their paces, assessing factors including quality of food, ambience and service. Popular or relatively unknown, we’ve gone undercover to find out what you’re getting for your money at each venue.
As the recipient of numerous Best Café accolades at the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards, you’d expect a high level of service and food quality at Café Lilou. Luckily, you won’t be disappointed at any time of day. The Parisian-inspired décor and well prepared international café fare are what has made it one of Bahrain’s most popular spots. The menu is filled with tempting, gourmet dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which combine international flavours with an Arabian twist, and service is always efficient no matter how busy the branch gets. From decadent French toast with mascarpone and caramelised hazelnuts for breakfast, to pastas, risottos and burgers for lunch and dinner, it’s not hard to find something you love on this menu. Sure, it’s pricier than other places, but the quality and dining experience is always worth it.
At The Orangery, your experience starts from the moment you drive up, as you admire the classic conservatory-style structure and quaint British influence. It's easy to feel that you are treating yourself, as you get comfortable among the cushions and begin to peruse the menu designed by award-winning restaurant Masso’s master Chef Susy Massetti. Known for taking classic dishes and making them exceptional, the kitchen team has managed to fill the breakfast and all-day menus with familiar favourites boasting gourmet twists. From the trio of delicious hummus to a particularly divine Nutella pain perdu and award-winning afternoon tea – what’s not to like at this pretty little spot?
This Australian gourmet café seems to have taken over the world and Bahrain’s only location opened just last year to much fanfare. After all, it won our coveted Best Newcomer accolade at the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards 2015 for good reason. Morning, noon and night, this Amwaj-based eatery is a foodie haven, with inventive dishes on the menu, using high-quality ingredients, as well as a selection of products on display, which you can buy to take home with you. Amwaj Islands might be a bit of a trek for many, but everything is prepared to a high standard, served by friendly wait-staff and reasonably-priced considering the quality.
Anyone who’s been in Bahrain for more than a few weeks will know of this spot. Positively buzzing on weekends, the Arabian setting attracts every stripe of society – from young men watching football to couples dining in cosy booths and large families out for a special meal. It’s a comfortable labyrinth of a place to get lost in after a busy week. In 2016 the team revamped the hefty menu and now reaches out more to Bahrain’s foodies. A combination of hot and cold classic Middle Eastern mezzes feature, while charcoal grills, fresh seafood and other regional and international dishes make up the bulk. The knockout dish is a tagine – tender veal is slow-cooked in a traditional earthen pot and served on a bed of couscous. The spices are bold, invoking the intoxicating aromas of the souk, while the butter-soft veal collapses off the bone, spilling its fragrant juices into the vegetables below. It’s not just a casual hangout anymore, but also a culinary destination.
Butter Café may be hidden away at the Royal University for Women in Riffa, but it’s certainly worth the journey to visit this unique and cosy eatery. With indoor and outdoor seating, Butter Café offers a lovely space to while away the early morning hours and an extensive, varied menu to boot. Breakfast is served from 8am until noon and influences from numerous world cuisines creep into the inventive dishes on offer here. Eggs are a major focus – have them sunny-side up, scrambled or tossed into a customised three-egg omelette with your choice of two tasty fillings (there are ten to choose from). There are also more international choices, as well as our favourite, the mahiawa toastie – a take on a savoury French toast – where sliced bread is dipped in a sweet eggy mixture, drizzled with fermented fish paste (it’s much tastier than it sounds) and then perfectly toasted. For lunch and dinner, the menu is far more international and eclectic, with salads to burgers and pizzas to pastas, and everything is incredibly easy on the purse strings.
One of Bahrain’s best known culinary gems, Coco’s is always consistent in its quality of food, generous portions and well-balanced flavours. It has a certain rustic charm, from the wooden, natural interiors, to plate presentation and wholesome dishes, which include everything from fresh and tasty salads to hearty sandwiches and creative mains. For homely dishes and a buzzing atmosphere, it’s among the best. Just watch out during peak times when service is notoriously slow.
Humble Darcha Tea House is a quirky café that combines traditional Eastern tea blends with Far Eastern cuisine. Giant rope “chandeliers” hang from the ceiling, books for both adults and kids are dotted around, and great little tea gadgets are for sale from towering shelves. The menu is fairly simple but boasts some great Asian dishes with contemporary twists, using very fresh ingredients, and also caters to all tastes – meat eater, fish lover, vegan or gluten-free. Plus, the tea selection is outstanding with options from across the world – from South Africa to Asia. The freshly prepared food is a riot of colour and flavour, while the quaintly decorated venue is cute and very family-friendly, and it's handily located right next to one of the country’s most popular British schools.
Cute, pastel, shabby-chic inspired interiors and a lovely garden setting is what initially attracts diners to Florence restaurant, based in a humble Adliya villa. Meanwhile, the extensive menu of 60-odd dishes, which can be pretty overwhelming, is full of Mediterranean classics that are presently rustically and inspired by the team’s travels (and even their grandparents, we hear). It’s new and still finding its feet. For instance, while staff are friendly they’re not as well-versed on the menu as you’d like on our visit. Also the food can be disappointing and the ingredients served can differ from what’s on the menu. But there’s plenty to like about this kitsch little restaurant and we have higher expectations from the quaint café throughout 2017. Given the excess of quality venues nearby, it’s going to have to up its game to get a seat at the top table, however, especially at these prices.
Fusion restaurant Hévéa Café, which can be found at Al A’ali Shopping Complex, might have escaped your notice. But it shouldn’t have. Or at least it shouldn’t any more, as in 2016 the team revamped the menu, introduced a new chef and launched a business lunch, afternoon tea and cake-to-go service. The team, led by head chef and general manager Guy Gateau (you can’t make this stuff up), has certainly been busy. Usually, Hévéa Café is known for fusing Indo-Chinese dishes with French techniques and Middle Eastern influences across its vast savoury menu. And many of the pastries attempt to be a reflection of this innovation, offering unique takes on familiar desserts such as the Paris-Brest (one of France’s oldest, most traditional pastries), Floating Island (think steamed meringue floating on a bed of custard) and the delicate pastry dish mille-feuille (meaning “a thousand leaves”). Whether you’re a lover of fusion cuisine or you’re more of a traditionalist, you’re bound to find something for you here.
La Ventana is a refreshing and honest café. Healthy home-cooked food is what it’s known for and that is what you get. Generous portions of salads, sandwiches, baked potatoes and quiche are served. La Ventana might have a more simple approach than that of other cafés, but that does not mean it is any less special. The kitchen is generous with its ingredients, staff are friendly, and the ambience is cosy and relaxed. Based in an old-style villa in Adliya, which are fast becoming a dying breed, La Ventana is a gem and it has retained its quality over the years.
Le Chocolat has gone from strength-to-strength in recent years, expanding from its original Seef branch to include more venues in Saar and Riffa. And no wonder, as it’s always busy and the food is enjoyable, from those tasty wood-fired pizzas to the simple salads and the elaborate desserts and cakes, which are often the centrepiece of any good celebration on the island. We also recommend visiting one of its numerous branches for a spot of breakfast. It doesn’t matter how hungry you are, you’re bound to find something that takes your fancy. For instance, for the really peckish, or for a sharing experience, go for a traditional Middle Eastern, English or Continental platter. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a healthy start to your day, we’d recommend the veggie omelette or the organic oatmeal. Don’t worry, you can always grab a pizza or cake to go, if you’re still hungry after all that.
Mother-of-four Mrs Hasoun discovered a passion for food through her Lebanese roots. This love of creating authentic, homely dishes is what inspired the re-opening of Lukmatina Café, after a four-month hiatus, in the heart of Muharraq. Set in the quaint courtyard of a restored traditional Bahraini house, and located diagonally opposite the entrance of the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Centre for Culture and Research, Lukmatina Café serves a selection of savoury and sweet Lebanese treats, under Mrs Hasoun’s watchful eye. Lukmatina is the Arabic word for “small bite”, reflecting the wide array of delicious mezze plates available here. Staple breakfast favourites are all on offer here, including items such as falafel, foul, kibbeh, cheese sambosek, fattoush, tabbouleh, and “bahsalino” for dessert. This is alongside dishes of the day, including a notable meat “pizza”, also known as “laham ib ajeen”. Everything is made-to-order and baked fresh every day, so you can count on a wholesome foodie experience. Prettily presented plates of classic Lebanese cuisine, which use traditional flavours and ingredients sourced from the region, are what you can expect here. Returning with a mission, the café offers a fresh concept merging old Bahraini heritage with traditional Lebanese cuisine and a contemporary vision.
If there’s ever a place that epitomises the decadent luxury of many of Bahrain’s restaurants, it’s Pastel. With a name like that you might hope for muted tones and subtle touches, but you would be wrong. Instead, this place goes big with gilt-edged, faux-snakeskin chairs, white leather sofas and massive glittering chandeliers in what is a fairly small eatery. Unfortunately, the service is slow and not as friendly as you’d expect when you’re paying good money for an enjoyable dining experience. Thankfully, the food fares a little better – eggs are light and in plentiful supply, foul is flavourful and the coffee is pleasingly strong. The range of bread is disappointing but generally speaking the quality of the food is good enough to justify the price. Some options like the Bahraini breakfast are only available as sharing platters – solo diners beware – but if you have the friends (or the appetite) you’ll find a sumptuous selection of local dishes at this eatery.
Almost everyone has heard of Paul Bakery & Restaurant, an eatery which began as a humble bakery in France more than 125 years ago. Since then, this family-run business has taken over the world, and now has more than 500 shops in 30 countries, as well as two branches right here in Bahrain, which are conveniently located in two of the island’s most popular shopping malls. First and foremost, Paul is known for its baked goods, which are freshly prepared each day, the smells of which waft around the vicinity, luring you in for a bite to eat. From breakfast to burgers, fresh salads to healthy grills and creamy pastas to creative quiches, you can order it all at the Parisian-inspired venues, pick it out fresh from the deli to take away, or even test out the home delivery service – whichever way you choose to do it, Paul never disappoints.
Poke your head around the door at this dainty Riffa café with extreme caution. There is every chance you’ll be lured in by a tempting waft of chocolate cakes, handmade chocolates, chocolate crepes, chocolate sauces and the many other sweet treats that are on offer. For savoury lovers, there are also lovely breakfast dishes, pastas, salads and plenty of tea. But it is the chocolate which makes the headlines (as it you'd expect, judging by the name). Sink into a deep sofa and enjoy the chintzy décor with other sweet-toothed diners.
A hidden gem in Riffa, Sash Café is connected to Sash Spa, an impressive and luxurious wellness centre for ladies only. The café, however, admits both genders and is a great place for a bite of breakfast, lunch or dinner with some friends and family. In particular, the breakfast menu is impressive, with plenty of eggs (try the Benedict), pancakes, French toast and more tempting dishes, alongside a wide array of juices, coffees and tea blends. Meanwhile, the lunch and dinner menu boasts a dazzling array of food that’s available after 11.30am with items such as beef sliders, a trio of mac ‘n’ cheese (with a moreish, original, tender minced beef and indulgent truffle), a club sandwich with turkey ham and a particularly delicious pumpkin and spinach ravioli. We also love the salads, which come presented in a mason jar so you can shake them up and pour the top-quality ingredients, such as baby spinach, grilled chicken and quinoa, onto your plate. Admittedly, some of the dishes don’t exactly blow us away, but others are the kind to induce a craving that will see you trekking out to Riffa on a weekend just to order one dish (or the entire dessert menu – trust us, it’s that good).
We love this quaint, little café located in Barbar’s Jawad Dome, which boasts cosy indoor seating and a lovely outdoor area surrounded in greenery. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu is straightforward, with fresh salads, decadent pancakes, hearty sandwiches and even a reasonably-priced afternoon tea offering. While it’s not exactly family-friendly, due to a no-child policy, for the older among us Tilly’s should certainly be on your must-try list.