Start your day the right way with Bahrain's best breakfasts
Time Out Bahrain staff
Do you like your eggs fried, scrambled or poached? Or perhaps you’d prefer a stack of pancakes drenched in maple syrup for breakfast? It doesn't matter whether your morning meal consists of a full English, an Indian dosa, French crêpes or Bahraini balaleet, because the island’s cafés have got you covered when it comes to the Most Important Meal of the Day. These are just 21 of our favourite spots for a delicious and amazing kick-start to the day.
When there’s a “butty” on the breakfast menu, it’s not hard to convince us to check a place out. And if it’s this North American restaurant, with cuisine influenced by Ireland, then it’s even easier. Bennigan’s might not be the type of place that would immediately spring to mind when deciding where to go for breakfast – it’s not a humble, quaint café, but more of an all-day diner, complete with a bar – but it certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. Especially when said butty makes an appearance, with your choice of filling and a selection of sauces. If that’s not your thing (we’ll forgive you), you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of other staple early-morning options, such as French toast, a full Irish, omelettes, waffles and even a whopping breakfast burrito served with fresh salsa. The kids’ menu includes the breakfast platters, but for children under 12 they’ll serve a half-portion (for almost half the price). Wash it all down with some fresh juice or your pick of coffee or tea, and you’ll be raring to go for the day. Oh, and it’s worth noting they do delivery, so you could even have your butty in bed. Served daily 6am-11am. Al Safir Hotel, Juffair (17 813 750).
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 spot. 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 influence from numerous world cuisines creeps 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 – but there are also more international choices, including French toast, waffles and pancakes, all with a delicious array of condiments and toppings. Our favourite aspect of the menu, however, is the attention to Bahraini cuisine, with a gourmet twist. In particular, we love the mahyawa toastie – a riff on a savoury French toast – when sliced bread has been dipped in a sweet eggy mixture, drizzled with the fermented fish paste (it’s much tastier than it sounds) and then perfectly toasted. Best of all, every dish on the breakfast menu is less than BD3, so not only is it an enjoyable experience with memorable food, but it’s also incredibly easy on the purse strings. Served Sat-Thu 8am-noon. Royal University for Women, Riffa (17 002 700).
Café Lilou 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 Parisian-inspired Café Lilou. Luckily, you won’t be disappointed at any time of day and particularly in the morning. Similar to the regular lunch and dinner menu, the breakfast options are well-thought-out, creative and beautifully presented. From decadent French toast, garnished with ingredients such as mascarpone, mixed berries and caramelised hazelnuts, to the poached eggs with labneh, crispy vermicelli and sriracha butter, everything on the breakfast menu is delicious. In particular, we highly recommend the foul, served on a wooden board, topped with fresh onion and parsley, with a side of sweet, fluffy bread rolls (we dare you not to finish them all). Also on the menu is a wide selection of rich coffees, tea blends and healthy juices and smoothies. Whether you’re in Adliya, Seef or Riffa, you won't regret a trip to Café Lilou. Served daily 8am-noon. Block 338, Adliya (17 714 440). Other locations: Al A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef; Royal University of Women, Riffa.
Chai Café When you can get your karak served in an edible cup made out of biscuit, visiting Chai Café in the morning is a no-brainer. The idea behind this Bahraini restaurant is to serve all the childhood favourites of its owner – that’s why you’ll find options such as a roti with cream cheese and Chips Oman on the menu, as well as khubz (flatbread) with fig jam and a Nutella bagel. While these are our favourite dishes to order in Chai Café, you can also find more traditional options like shakshouka and balaleet (sweet vermicelli noodles topped with an omelette). We suggest ordering a selection to share with friends and family to enjoy, while sitting in the contemporary but cosy venue in Sanabis, where you have a choice of indoor and outdoor seating over two levels in a spotlessly clean, but characterful environment. Alternatively, you could order your food for home delivery, but it’s just not the same. Make the trip and we’ll bet our last fil you won’t be disappointed. Served daily 6am-noon. Sanabis, opposite Bahrain Mall (17 001 727).
Dome There’s no denying the popularity of Dome, an Australian café chain, and if you don’t believe us then just pop to the Juffair branch on a weekend morning. Whether you’re heading down alone, with a group of friends, or with the whole family, there’s always something on the menu to keep even the fussiest of eaters happy, especially at breakfast time. We’re talking omelettes, eggs Hollandaise, a big English-style breakfast (complete with hash browns), waffles, pancakes and even a simple bowl of muesli with fresh fruit and yoghurt. There’s a great selection for kids – from a bowl of cornflakes to simple toast with condiments – and a huge array of beverages, including coffees, teas (both hot and iced), smoothies, juices and more. If you’re looking for something rustic and homely, then we wouldn’t recommend Dome, as the quality of food is certainly not going to blow you away. But for the value, selection and easy-breezy atmosphere, it earns itself a spot on this list. Served 24 hours a day. Awal Avenue, Juffair (17 810 180).
Go back to basics at Emma-Wash, a down-to-earth Bahraini restaurant, where you’ll find some of the island’s best local breakfast food. You might have to wait for a table, particularly on weekend mornings, but it’s worth it, as the kitchen rustles up seriously good Khaleeji comfort grub. Tick off what you want on the small menus and then wait as fresh, fluffy khubz and pans fly out of the kitchen holding dishes such as the surprisingly flavourful baked beans with parsley, the hearty eggs with tomato, or the moreish mahyawa with cheese. Your khubz is your cutlery, the pans are the plates and there’s a very simple plastic tablecloth, but that’s what we love about this place – the focus is on the food and friendly service and it’s more than enough to keep you coming back almost every week. Served daily 6am-1pm. Budaiya Highway, near Fish World (17 309 030). Other location: Hamala.
jones the grocer
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, the Amwaj-based eatery is a foodie haven, with inventive dishes on the menu, using high quality ingredients, as well as a selection of products you can buy and take home with you. For breakfast you can be as indulgent or as healthy as you like. There’s a traditional full English available, as well as a must-try banana pecan French toast. On the other hand, go light with the dairy-free coconut porridge or poached eggs on sourdough toast with herb salad. Sure, for those of us who don’t live in or near Amwaj, it’s a trek, but everything is prepared to a high standard, served by friendly wait-staff and reasonably priced considering the quality. Served Sun-Thu 8am-12.30pm, Fri-Sat 8am-2pm. Floating City, Amwaj Islands (77 770 055).
Le Chocolat One might immediately think of excellent wood-fired pizzas and even better cakes when thinking of Le Chocolat, but this popular, home-grown café has more than two strings to its bow – we also recommend visiting one of its numerous branches for breakfast. You’re bound to find something that takes your fancy. For instance, for the really hungry, 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. Got a sweet tooth? Then try the caramelised banana crêpes. And if you like to keep breakfast simple, then you can’t go wrong with some cheese on toast, sprinkled with basil and served with a side of nutrient-packed salad. Don’t worry, you can always grab a pizza or cake to go, if you’re still hungry. Served daily 8am-2pm. Seef District (17 111 144). Other locations: Riffa and Saar Mall.
My Cafe’s reputation as a top-tier restaurant is well established. Its evening fare is a real labour of love, with a team of individually skilled chefs attending to each aspect of your meal. Sure, the prices aren’t cheap, but quality is guaranteed. And as a breakfast joint, the quaintly, comfortably decorated My Café continues to impress, with more reasonable prices. On the menu you’ll find that most pleasing of combinations: the necessary and the inspired. Alongside the expected eggs and pastries, there are a few novel twists to pique the interest. But it’s the Arabian breakfast that comes highly recommended by staff and it doesn’t let them down. The elements are all there, but with finesses to set them apart – eggs fried in garlic (avoid morning meetings after this one); foul that is crisper and less stewed than you might be used to; mahyawa that – no doubt cowed by the strongly flavoured eggs – doesn’t overpower the palate; all combined with labneh and olives for a perfectly balanced plate. Add to that some of the best coffee on the island and you’re good to go. Most dishes range from BD3-5, which is comparable to other breakfast places in the area, but for a perfect lazy start to the day My Café is still out-thinking (and out-cooking) the rest. Served daily 8am-noon. Road 3831, Block 338, Adliya (77 344 444).
Naseef Café It might be home-made mango ice-cream that made Naseef Café famous over 100 years ago, but now it’s the Bahraini breakfast that keeps all the customers coming back for more. Conveniently located in Bab Al Bahrain Mall, it’s the perfect spot for long-term island residents and visitors to pass by while on a traditional shopping spree. The quaintly presented platter, which comes with a brightly coloured dellah full of delicious karak chai (some of the best on the island), includes generous portions of foul, balila (a dish of chickpeas), balaleet, eggs with tomato and more. Each dish is just as delicious as the last and the fact that you’re enjoying it all in the heart of Bahrain’s most popular marketplace means it’s a cultural, as well as culinary, experience. Plus, once you’ve had your fill, you can walk it off while meandering the labyrinthine souq alleyways (mango ice-cream in hand, of course). Served daily 8am-10pm. Bab Al Bahrain Mall, Manama Souq (39 622 882).
Pastel Chocolatier & Tea Room 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 balanced with a freshly cut onion garnish, 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, but if you have the friends (or the appetite) you’ll find a sumptuous selection of local dishes to start the day with. Served daily 8.30am-7pm. Wadi Al Ahd Highway, Hamala (17 616 188).
Paul Bakery & Restaurant
Everybody 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. Because, let’s face it, you can’t beat a morning shopping spree when it’s combined with a comforting, continental breakfast. 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. For “petit dejeuner” (that’s breakfast in French, in case you didn’t know), it’s all about the eggs, croissants and pain au chocolats (yes please). You can eat it all at the Parisian-inspired venues, order it fresh from the deli to take away, or even test out the new home delivery service – Paul never disappoints. Served daily 8am-noon. City Centre Bahrain (17 172 321). Other location: Seef Mall.
Saffron by Jena Bakery
Considering Saffron by Jena Bakery has been named Best Bahraini Restaurant two years in a row at the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards, it’s no wonder that the food is excellent, and when it comes to finding a stand-out Bahraini breakfast, there’s no better place to look. The original branch of Saffron (or Za’fran in Arabic) is located in the heart of Souq Al Qaysariya, a renovated area of Muharraq, and was conceived by Narise Qambar, who is also behind the hugely popular Jena Bakery, in collaboration with the Bahrain Authority of Culture and Antiquities. This particular venue is a transformed, traditional Bahraini house, which boasts a glass floor under which a traditional date press lies preserved. Elsewhere, in Manama, you’ll find a smaller, more modern branch in the Bab Al Bahrain Mall and another located in the magnificent Riffa Fort, where you can spend hours working your way through the fantastic food, gazing out at the surrounding Haniniya valley. You have one choice of breakfast, but one platter is more than enough to feed two hungry patrons. It comes with eggs and tomato, foul, balaleet and plenty more traditional choices, which are delicious and flavourful. For a unique, cultural experience and a true taste of what Bahrain has to offer, Saffron should be your first choice. Served daily 8am-10pm. Near the NBB strip, Muharraq (1362 3191). Other locations: Riffa Fort; Bab Al Bahrain Mall, Manama.
Sash Café As Sash Café is connected to a state-of-the-art, ladies-only health and wellness centre, you’d expect some decent fare to keep energetic gym bunnies going in the morning. And you’d be right, although there’s plenty on the iPad menus for a less-than-healthy breakfast, too. Prettily presented egg dishes, pancakes and French toast are the order of the day, but there are also lighter options. Our recommendation has to be the eggs Benedict – the eggs are perfectly poached, the sauce is light and creamy, and it’s the perfect portion to see you through until lunch. Meanwhile, the coffee and tea menu is just as comprehensive, with light tea blends next to stronger caffeinated options, as well as juices and smoothies to choose from if you’re so inclined. Laze about on the comfortable chairs – the décor itself is rather plush and opulent – and let the hours slip away, as you allow the friendly, professional servers to take care of you. We could get used to that. Served daily 8am-11.30am. Mashtan Avenue, Riffa (17 899 990).
Swagat We’ve had eggs, pastries and waffles, but what about breakfast from the sub-continent? Dosas, pancakes made from rice and urad beans are a popular breakfast and snack food all over India, particularly in the south, and, thanks to a large South Asian expat population, right here in Bahrain, too. One of the best spots to have one rolled up with a side of chutney and sambar is Swagat, a seriously budget-friendly restaurant hidden in the back alleys of the Manama Souq. The restaurant itself is very basic – spread over two levels, families and ladies are welcome to grab a table upstairs – but the menu is authentic and made up of complex South Indian vegetarian cuisine. The dosas, which are mostly eaten for breakfast, are almost the size of your arm and come with a colourful combination of condiments to choose from. The best part of a meal here is that you’d be hard pressed to spend over BD1 per person. Served daily 6.30am-10pm. Building 1261, Road 428, Manama Souq (17 263 096).
The Gallery The Palace Hotel has become synonymous with quality due to the successes of Masso and The Orangery in recent years. Likewise, its Polo Gastropub has brought a welcome change to Bahrain’s bar scene with its unique menu and live music. With all these establishments jockeying for position in the same compound, The Gallery can afford to take a back seat and focus on the basics. You won’t find devilled quails’ eggs or haddock kedgeree here, but you will find a decent, affordable breakfast buffet to set you up for even the most strenuous of schedules. Service is as efficient and polite as you’d expect – coffee and egg orders are taken quickly and then it’s just a case of grabbing a plate and filling up on a small but well-balanced range of morning staples. There’s the usual cereals and fruit, a small cheese board and a number of Arabian and English breakfast choices for those who want something a more substantial. It’s quiet and it won't blow you away, but it doesn’t have to. In the shadow of its stylish partners, The Gallery plays its bit-part adequately. Served daily 6am-11am. Palace Boutique Hotel, Block 338, Adliya (16 196 350).
The Great American Bagel
Bagels. Arguably the breakfast of champions. And, in Bahrain, a trip to The Great American Bagel is a must if it’s something you’re hankering after. First of all, you’ve got 13 varieties of bagel to choose from, such as the four grain, cheddar-herb, chocolate chip and apple-cinnamon, to name just a few. Once you’ve managed to make a decision on that, then you’ve also got an endless array of toppings to pick from. Do you prefer something easy? A simple cream cheese bagel could do the trick. If you’re a sucker for flavour, then try the Texas Omelette, with scrambled egg, jalapeño, salsa and cheddar cheese. Or, you might want to opt for the Bahrain Sunrise, which comes with scrambled eggs, plenty of cheese and crispy rashers of beef bacon. Enjoy your hearty breakfast in one of the light, airy venues, grab it to go, or even order it for delivery. Open daily 7am-5pm. The Bahrain Financial Harbour, Seef (17 211 164). Other locations: Juffair Mall; Fontana Residence, Juffair.
The Orangery tearoom & Patisserie
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. Known for taking classic dishes and making them exceptional, the kitchen team has managed to fill the breakfast menu with familiar favourites. With items like Proper Belgian Waffles and The Orangery French Toast it is easy to imagine that Chef Susy Massetti will provide a decadent version of what might otherwise be standard breakfast fare. And you wouldn't be wrong... Served on gold trimmed china, each dish is a delight from start to finish. The Nutella Pain Perdu is perfect for a serious sweet-tooth, and the Croque Madame is a tasty twist on the French favourite. Thanks to the great service, quaint setting and outstanding food, this is officially a breakfast must-try. Served daily 9am-1pm. Palace Boutique Hotel, Block 338, Adliya (17 369 696).
The Ritz Gourmet Lounge
Inspired by the Belle Epoque, aka the Beautiful Era, The Ritz Gourmet Lounge wholly embraces this period in French history through the table settings, authentic décor and even the waitress’ uniforms. It’s pink, it’s frilly, it’s velvety, and this cutesy venue, with its sophisticated aura, attracts the ladies-that-breakfast crowd from every corner of the island and across the causeway. Yet, generally speaking, an experience here isn’t always reflective of the high standard that is synonymous with The Ritz-Carlton. For instance, while the breakfast menu includes the usual suspects, with a few gourmet twists, the dishes often don’t match their descriptions, and are average in quality. The health breakfast, which is said to come with “healthy toast”, comes with brioche. And the French toast, served with “berry compote”, came with a sliced strawberry on one visit. Having said that, the servers are friendly, if a little unversed on what the kitchen is actually offering, and, let’s face it, enjoying tea with a view of the garden and pool at this premier hotel is not a bad way to spend a morning. Served daily 7am-11.30am. The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain, Seef (17 586 499).
Tilly’s Cafe Tilly's is a cute little place, located in Jawad Dome, that's highly convenient for anyone living in the Saar or Budaiya area. And just because it's in a shopping centre known best for its supermarket, don't think this is some run-of-the-mill café. The lovely outdoor area, which is surrounded by greenery, is great in cooler weather, while the conservatory spaces are perfect for when it is too hot. Meanwhile, inside is a quieter space, perfect for reading and relaxing. The menu here is straightforward and has something for everyone – you've got your eggs, pastries, porridge, pancakes and waffles – and the selection of smoothies is a plus. With quick service, decent flavours, reasonable prices and its convenient location, Tilly's should be on your breakfast radar. Just one note, there is a strict no-child policy here. Served daily 7.45am-10pm. Jawad Dome, Barbar (17 691 358).
Villa Mamas One of the first places in the area to bring the now very popular Bahraini breakfast to the table, Villa Mamas is still known for being a good place to start your day. Friendly staff help you pick the best dishes on the iPad menus and you can sip on delicious juices or karak chai while you decide on your meal. The food is all about sharing, mezze style, and traditional Khaleeji options. In particular, we love the balaleet, eggs in tomato sauce, plus anything with mahyawa in it. Admittedly, it’s fairly pricey here, but it has a pleasant atmosphere, with homely décor and comfortable seating. Make sure you get there early though, as it's always busy. Served daily 10am-1pm. Saar Avenues, Saar (17 305 031).