Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards 2016 shortlist revealed
Time Out Bahrain staff
It’s that time of year again, when we crown the island’s best restaurants, cafés, lunches, brunches and afternoon teas in a bid to award high standards in an ever-evolving industry. Just in time for the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards 2016, which takes place at the Four Seasons Bahrain Bay in November, we nominate the island’s most deserving venues and dining experiences, some of which will take home our most coveted awards next month.
These awards are different to any other in the region because, firstly, they’re independent. There’s no advertiser influence, no external nominations and no public vote. Every year, we anonymously review more than 200 restaurants in Bahrain, paying for each and every meal ourselves, comparing venues based on criteria including value for money, service, setting, décor and quality of food.
Restaurants must be more than eight months old to qualify unless it’s for the Best Newcomer award, in which case they must have been open between two and eight months.
It is our mission to offer our readers reliable advice on where to spend their money, and we take this very seriously. So, without further ado, this is our 2016 shortlist of best restaurants...
Best Afternoon Teas Bay View Lounge In terms of atmosphere, the Bay View Lounge is hard to beat. Beautiful olive trees line the lobby lounge, while large, floor-to-ceiling windows offer clear views of Bahrain Bay beyond, and a pianist regularly performs. Understandably, it’s a popular option to enjoy the traditional-style afternoon tea. Four Seasons Bahrain Bay (17 115 000).
Domain Privé Based on the 36th floor of The Domain Hotel & Spa, the stunning views through the floor-to-ceiling windows are a real highlight here. Order the regular afternoon tea, with its selection of sandwiches and jams, or the Deluxe, which comes with unlimited coffee and a couple of glasses of sparkling grape. The Domain Bahrain Hotel & Spa, Diplomatic Area (16 000 000).
Tea Garden Feminine, with floral patterned walls, pastel colours and oversized, cushioned chairs, the Tea Garden is perfectly set up for an afternoon tea experience. A selection of dainty finger sandwiches and beautifully presented cakes are served with top-notch scones and refills of your choice of tea. Ramee Grand Hotel & Spa, Seef (17 111 999).
The Gallery Lobby Lounge Numerous afternoon tea options are on offer at Art Rotana’s lobby lounge, which boasts stunning views and offers a calm and relaxed atmosphere. It’s not your regular over-the-top affair, but a more casual spot, with a high quality offering. It’s a great introduction for those who haven’t had a tea before. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111).
The Lobby Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton Around the world, The Ritz-Carlton offers a renowned afternoon tea experience and in Bahrain it’s no exception. A traditional selection of tea blends, sandwiches, scones and desserts is served in typical fashion in the lobby lounge, where beautiful views of the landscaped gardens can also be enjoyed. The Ritz-Carlton, Seef (17 580 000).
The Orangery Patisserie & Tea Room English-style tea room The Orangery exceeds our high expectations. It’s easily the most authentic offering on the island – the atmosphere is light and airy, and the servers are extremely helpful, while the selection is fairly old-fashioned. The traditional afternoon tea for two is a must-try. The Palace Boutique Hotel, Adliya (17 369 696).
Tilly’s Café Low-key is the best description for casual, cosy Tilly’s Café’s humble afternoon tea offering. It’s an authentic, traditional selection of rustic, homemade sandwiches, scones and pastries that are simple yet wholesome and appealing. Plus, it’s the most reasonably priced on this list at just BD5. Jawad Dome, Barbar (17 691 358).
Noor Lounge Squishy, over-sized couches make an afternoon tea experience in the InterContinental Regency’s lobby lounge a very comfortable, cosy affair. The offering focuses primarily on the sweet stuff – cakes, pastries and macarons, with some quiche and bite-sized sandwiches on the side. It’s decadent, rustic and generally very pleasant indeed. InterContinental Regency Bahrain, Manama (17 227 777).
Best Bar Food Blue Moon Lounge Firstly, the views from the 50th floor are stunning in this award-winning bar. Then add to that the chic ambience, the creative beverage menu and sophisticated Wolfgang Puck food, which boasts a medley of Asian fusion flavours, and you have a serious contender in the bar food category. Four Seasons Bahrain Bay (17 115 000).
Corners Corners is a down-to-earth local that has an eclectic menu of international favourites, from burgers to sushi, curries to salads. Regular drinks deals and discounted food platters drive down costs, while a quiz night, sports screenings and pub games entice you to stay. Dragon Hotel, Amwaj Islands (16 031 113).
Cut Lounge There’s plenty to like about this lounge, located just beneath Wolfgang Puck’s notable steakhouse Cut. It’s a sophisticated place, perfect for pre- or post-dinner drinks, but also a destination in its own right. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried their jumbo lump crab rolls. Four Seasons Bahrain Bay (17 115 000).
Downtown Lounge From crispy calamari to herb-crusted salmon, casual burgers to the obligatory nachos, the American-inspired bar menu at Downtown Lounge is a real crowd-pleaser. As are the spacious, vibrant interiors and regular, affordable beverage deals. InterContinental Regency Bahrain, Manama (17 227 777).
JJ’s Irish Restaurant This hotspot never goes out of style. For years, it’s been the place to be for expats to unwind, and the sizeable pub grub menu continues to offer all the classics. Portions are gargantuan and, if you’re looking for stodgy, comfort food, then JJ’s is still the place to go. JJ’s Irish Restaurant, Gudaibiya (39 329 083).
Polo Gastropub Gastropub food was a new(ish) concept here when this unpretentious venue was reinvented two years ago. Since then, the team has served insanely succulent burgers, an awesome po’boy and even deep fried Mars bars. Now they’re also supporting Bahrain’s music scene with performances by local bands. Kudos. Palace Boutique, Adliya (17 725 000).
Tapas Bar & Restaurant You’ll get a raft of eclectic tapas dishes boasting flavours from around the world, at this beautiful seaside venue. While you enjoy the food, you can also kick back to Cuban tunes by the live band and relax on the terrace, which has some of the best sea views on the island. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (17 636 363).
Thai Lounge Sophisticated interiors, a buzzing vibe, professional and friendly staff, and a great menu of Asian fusion dishes are what awaits you at The Ritz-Carlton’s poolside Thai Lounge. The chic atmosphere, regular drinks deals and great food attracts classy diners. The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Seef (17 580 000).
The Warbler Cobbled streets and a bright red telephone box greet you at The Warbler, one of Bahrain’s most famous British pubs. It’s a massive place, with a food menu of great British classics. It’s most noted for its pies, but you’ll find most pub grub favourites here. Ramee Baisan International, Hoora (17 290 600).
Trader Vic’s Jalapeño cheese balls, crab Rangoon, beef cho cho – let’s face it, we’ve all had some of Trader Vic’s notable island tid-bits and bar bites. For sharing plates and creative beverages, this Polynesian-themed stalwart is wildly popular, and for good reason. The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Seef (17 586 555).
Best Brunch Absolutely Fabulous Friday Brunch at Crowne Plaza Crowne Plaza's Friday brunch spans four different venues and is known as one of the island's top party brunches. The food offerings tick all the boxes and then some, featuring several global cuisines, including fresh seafood and plenty of live cooking stations. Crowne Plaza Bahrain, Diplomatic Area (17 531 122).
Baharat Located in busy City Centre Bahrain, but cocooned in five-star tranquillity, this elegant venue delivers above expectations during its buffet-style brunch. No effort is spared in ensuring that all elements, from food to service, the kids’ corner to the unobtrusive live entertainment, delights the guests. Le Méridien City Centre Bahrain (17 171 000).
Bahrain Bay Kitchen As the winner of the Time Out Bahrain’s Best Brunch accolade in 2015, it’s hard not to have high expectations of this buffet brunch. And you’ll be pleased to know that Bahrain Bay Kitchen meets these standards with abundance. It’s family friendly, sophisticated yet fun, and serves excellent international food. Four Seasons Bahrain Bay (17 115 000).
Bushido Bushido’s brunch is a laidback affair. The staff are charming and helpful, and it’s hard not to immediately be drawn to the colourful sushi rolls and authentic Japanese cuisine on the buffet. With a beautiful setting, serene atmosphere and delicious food, Bushido’s brunch is a triple treat. Bushido Restaurant, Seef (17 583 555).
Choices Highly Commended Best Brunch in our Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards 2015, Choices has maintained its quality. There is a kids’ corner, but also plenty for grown-ups across the international buffet, live cooking stations and on the terrace, where a DJ entertains. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111).
Le Domain  and Le Sauvage These sister venues, the French-inspired Le Domain  and steakhouse Le Sauvage, offer a relaxed, contemporary-style brunch strictly for grown-ups only. The venues are bright and fresh, with a modern twist on art nouveau décor, and boast stunning panoramic views. It’s a part à la carte, and part buffet brunch, and the food is fresh and flavourful throughout. The Domain Hotel & Spa, Diplomatic Area (16 000 000).
Masso The à la carte weekend brunch at Masso typifies chef Susy Massetti’s philosophy of substance over flash. Many ingredients are locally grown in the venue’s own organic garden and, though the weekly changing dishes are well presented and generously portioned, it’s the memorable flavours that linger. Palace Boutique Hotel, Adliya (17 725 000).
Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain Over the years, the Mövenpick’s multi-venue Friday brunch has consistently drawn in a large, fun crowd. Not only is the food offering among the largest we’ve seen, there’s also a wide array of beverages on offer, alongside live entertainment and great service. It’s huge and eclectic, indulgent and lots of fun. Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain, Muharraq (17 460 000).
Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa This is another one of those massive buffet-style brunches which you need to take time to explore. Main buffet offerings, live cooking stations and barbecues offer everything from Italian to Vietnamese and Middle Eastern cuisine. The quality is excellent and the atmosphere is just as good. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (17 636 363).
The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain For an all-round great brunch, look no further than The Ritz-Carlton. It might be pricey, but the international buffet at the beautiful La Med is definitely worth splashing out on. It is a very carefully considered brunch that’s popular with diners seeking a sophisticated yet warm dining experience. The Ritz-Carlton, Seef (17 586 499).
Best Budget Burrito Loco It’s the simplicity of Burrito Loco that’s got us going crazy for it (geddit?). Just pick your fillings and toppings, then get them rolled up in a wrap, squished in tacos, or mixed up as a salad or bowl. Then simply enjoy the intermingling flavours, emphasised by fresh, quality produce. Al Shabab Avenue, Juffair (17 002 979). Other location: Hamala (17 002 947).
Fish House You could easily drive straight past this unassuming spot, but you’ll be missing out if you do. Located on Budaiya Highway, in Jidhafs, this humble roadside Bahraini seafood place is an island gem. What you’ll get is fresh salad, succulent seafood cooked how you like it. It’s all delicious and wholesome. Next to Burgerland Roundabout, Budaiya Highway (17 594 040).
Govinda’s You don’t have to follow the special Sattvic diet to appreciate the amazing vegetarian Indian food at this one-of-a-kind restaurant. Govinda’s might be popular with the plant-eaters, but the complex, rich flavours and down-to-earth vibes would be a hit with any kind of food lover. Mannai Mansion, Juffair (17 827 127).
Haji Gahwa This Bahraini institution is still drawing in the crowds, thanks to its no-frills approach to traditional dining. There’s no menu here, just rock up for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and get what you’re served, which is always authentically Bahraini, generous, delicious and seriously economical. Bab Al Bahrain, Manama Souq (17 210 647).
Honey’s Walking into scaled-back Thai spot Honey’s, it’s everything you could want from a hole-in-the-wall eatery; bustling, loud and packed. The menu is a giant tome of classic South East Asian dishes, much of which is tasty and authentic. Next to Gold City, Manama Souq (39 238 507).
Isfahani The opulent, rich tastes of Persian cuisine are well and truly alive at Isfahani, and yet they’re available for a fraction of the cost of other, similar venues. With casual branches dotted around the island, including in the mall’s food courts, Isfahani is popular and accessible. Various locations including Exhibition Road (17 290 027).
Mamy Soup For no-frills dining and seriously authentic Thai food, this tiny place is a big success. The menu is extensive and comprehensive, with all your favourite Thai classics on the bill. Tom Yum soup, papaya salad, green curry – it’s all accounted for, and it’s some of the best in town. Off Exhibition Avenue. Search "Mami Soup Restaurant" on Facebook. Sangeetha Noted for its traditional south Indian snacks and breakfast, Sangeetha is a must-try. The cuisine is derived from the traditional Udupi and Chettinad cooking styles and while it’s busy in the mornings, it’s also a great lunch spot thanks to its sizeable thali meals. Near the Indian Club, Manama (17 272 768).
Swagat Swagat, hidden in the back alleys of Manama Souq, is very basic, but the menu of South Indian vegetarian cuisine is authentic and extensive. From the lunchtime thali to the breakfast dosas, the food is great, and it costs little over BD1 per person for a feast. Road 428, Manama Souq (17 263 096).
Best Business Lunch Bice Where better to discuss business than in one of Bahrain’s most iconic office spaces? Bice, an upscale Italian in the Bahrain World Trade Centre, offers a sophisticated setting, lovely views and a great three-course set menu that will impress the most discerning clients. Bahrain World Trade Centre, Manama (17 533 666).
Bushido You know a business lunch is good when it’s nabbed our Best Business Lunch award every single year. It’s just pretty hard to beat in terms of setting, quality, variety and value for money. While it’s primarily Japanese in its food offering, there are other more international flavours for fussier diners. Bushido Restaurant, Seef (17 583 555).
Cut by Wolfgang Puck This might be the most expensive business lunch in town, but the top quality from this high-end steakhouse is unmistakable. Enjoy three courses of well-portioned Wolfgang Puck signatures dishes, which includes two types of steak and a delicious steak tartare. To impress a tough client, this is a very good choice. Four Seasons Bahrain Bay (17 115 000).
Golestan Vegetarians need not apply at this business lunch offering, but meat and Persian cuisine lovers will be in their element with Golestan’s set menu. The options change all the time to keep it fresh, and you can enjoy it while relaxing in a traditional, opulent setting. Sheraton Bahrain Hotel, Manama (17 533 533).
Links Looking to seal the deal? Then why not do it over a round of golf, followed by a great-value business lunch at the Royal Golf Club’s Links. Get two courses and a drink, all for a mere BD8, and choose from the regularly changing menu of international favourites. The Royal Golf Club, Riffa Views (17 750 777).
Nirvana For something really special and lavish, take someone to Nirvana, where they will dine like the Indian Maharajas. This opulent, richly decorated restaurant provides a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, and on offer every lunchtime is an extravagant thali, with a selection of moreish, authentic Indian dishes. The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Seef (17 586 499).
Rasoi by Vineet The winner of last year’s Best Indian accolade, Rasoi by Vineet has an excellent tiffin lunch on weekdays. The traditional presentation adds to the appeal, but the food, while authentic, is elevated to new levels of fine dining, thanks to the chefs’ skills and top quality ingredients. The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 713 000).
Swiss-Café Forget fancy set menus and lavish settings, Swiss-Café is a lovely, casual lunch spot, and here variety abounds. The buffet offers a selection of fresh salads and mezzes, daily changing hot dishes and prettily presented desserts. Plus, the bright, vibrant venue boasts great views over Seef. Swiss-Belhotel Seef (66 310 000).
Best Café Café Lilou The Parisian-inspired décor and creative café fare are what has made Café Lilou one of Bahrain’s most popular spots. The menu is filled with tempting, gourmet, international dishes and service is always efficient, no matter how busy it gets. Al A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef (17 583 939). Other location: Adliya (17 714 440).
Le Chocolat Le Chocolat has gone from strength to strength over recent years, expanding from their 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. Various locations including Seef (17 111 144).
Coco’s 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 natural interiors to plate presentation and wholesome dishes. Just watch out during peak times, when service is notoriously slow. Block 338, Adliya (17 716 512).
Paul Café & Bakery Paul might be known for its fresh baked goods, the smells of which waft around the vicinity, luring you in for a bite. Yet, from breakfast to burgers, fresh salads to healthy grills and creamy pastas to creative quiches, the Parisian-inspired venue also offers a wide selection of great dishes. Seef Mall (17 172 321). Other location: City Centre Bahrain.
La Ventana Honest and straightforward, La Ventana has a reputation for serving home-cooked, wholesome food. Generous portions of customised salads, sandwiches and baked potatoes are served with an array of fresh, local produce in rustic fashion. This kind of humble, villa-style café is a dying breed, making La Ventana a true Bahraini gem. Block 338, Adliya (66 371 616).
Darcha Tea House Humble Darcha Tea House is a quirky café that combines traditional Eastern tea blends with Far Eastern cuisine. The freshly prepared food is a riot of colour and flavour, while the quaintly decorated venue is cute and very family friendly. Nakheel Centre, Saar (17 590 036).
Bossy Kitchen The husband and wife duo behind urban café Bossy Kitchen have breathed fresh air into Bahrain’s café scene, with a quirky venue and exciting menu of creative dishes that cater to all dietary requirements. The décor is decidedly eclectic and the food is delicious, combining local produce and global flavours. Reem Centre, Riffa (33 397 433).
jones the grocer This Australian gourmet café opened in Bahrain just last year to much fanfare. After all, it won our coveted Best Newcomer accolade 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. Floating City, Amwaj Islands (77 770 055).
Tilly’s Café 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 noteworthy cakes. Jawad Dome, Barbar (17 691 358).
The Orangery At The Orangery, your experience starts from the moment you drive up, as you admire the classic conservatory-style structure and quaint British influence. 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. Palace Boutique Hotel, Adliya (17 369 696).
Best Family Eatery Bahrain Bay Kitchen For breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, international restaurant Bahrain Bay Kitchen offers a big buffet set-up and à la carte selections, where even the fussiest of diners will find something to enjoy. The Kids For All Seasons club also allows the little ones to cook, craft and play to their hearts’ content. Four Seasons Bahrain Bay (17 115 000).
Chili’s Who doesn’t love Texan burger chain Chili’s? For a comforting, hearty meal of American classics, this is one of Bahrain’s favourite destinations. From the boneless buffalo wings to the chicken crispers, all those gargantuan burgers and fire-roasted veggie fajitas, this is your ultimate spot for a comfort treat. Various locations including Seef Mall, Seef (17 506 070).
Fuddruckers US chain Fuddruckers uses quality beef in its burgers and you can pile on your own toppings at the do-it-yourself produce bar. Kids also love mixing and matching their own drinks at the pour-it-yourself station. The cherry on the cake? Those indulgent desserts. Make sure you leave room for them. Various locations including Osama Bin Zayed Avenue, Adliya (17 742 266).
Johnny Rockets Enthusiastic staff, burgers and milkshakes, individual jukeboxes and a retro American diner atmosphere all make this US fast food chain very kid-friendly. It also happens to be a hit with grown-ups, too, thanks to dishes like the moreish truffle fries and the juicy Wagyu burger. Various locations including Al A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef (17 566 565).
Luigi’s Based right next to one of the island’s most popular schools, Luigi’s does a good job of feeding the family with wholesome, rustic Italian grub. All your favourite pizzas, pastas and paninis are on the menu to eat at the venue or to take away. It’s perfect for a stress-free, casual meal with the kids. Nakheel Centre, Al Markh (17 693 533).
PizzaExpress For years this popular Italian spot has scooped prizes at our annual awards ceremony. The deal for children is just too good – buy a pizza or pasta, then get a free appetiser, drink and dessert. Plus, they can even get messy in the kitchen and make their own pizza. What more could they want? Amwaj Lagoon, Amwaj Islands (16 010 524).
Prego With a kid-friendly menu, al fresco dining and an outdoor play area, the Royal Golf Club’s Mediterranean restaurant is a great choice for families with young children. The décor is modern, featuring bright colours and rustic vibes, while staff are friendly and the menu offers great sharing dishes. The Royal Golf Club, Riffa Views (17 750 777).
Rosso Spag bol and margarita pizza – how can you go wrong? That’s why we love last year’s Best Family Restaurant Rosso, a family friendly Italian place with style. The venue is bright and airy, with large tables for big family gatherings, and plenty of delicious sharing dishes. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111).
TGI Fridays The kids love it when the staff here burst into a spontaneous bout of song and dance, but they also love the messy, deep-fried dishes on the menu, such as the loaded nachos, mozzarella sticks and big fat burgers. It’s a great treat. City Centre Bahrain, Seef (17 179 041). Other location: Juffair (17 827 009).
Best Romantic Fusions Located on the top floor of The Gulf Hotel, Fusions restaurant offers lovely views over the gardens and beyond. It’s small, with low ceilings and limited seating, which results in a cosy, comfortable atmosphere, while the eclectic fusion menu has a succinct selection and reasonable prices that continue to impress. The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 713 000).
Imari Debuting in this category, is the Domain Bahrain’s Japanese restaurant, which combines edge with style and sophistication. The trendy blue and white interiors are chic, while the stunning views from the floor-to-ceiling windows are memorable, and the authentic, tasty food stands out. The Domain Bahrain Hotel & Spa, Diplomatic Area (16 000 000).
Keizo Like a secluded oasis right in the heart of the desert, this stunning South East Asian restaurant is impressive. A dramatic, canopied ceiling drapes overhead, while the considerate staff take care of you, and you enjoy a meal of delightful fusion Asian cuisine. It’s enough to make anyone swoon. Al Areen Palace & Spa, Zallaq (17 845 000).
La Fontaine Wind your way through enclosed courtyards and tiny corridors and find La Fontaine’s intimate European restaurant, which is hidden in this renovated traditional Bahraini home. The atmosphere is tranquil, with candlelight and soft background music, while the food is lovely, service is unobtrusive, and the setting is grand. La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art & Spa, Hoora (17 230 123).
La Mer For a romantic evening, La Mer is special and it is also last year’s winner of the Best Romantic and Best Seafood awards. This refined restaurant offers some of the most beautiful sea views, professional service and a fine-dining atmosphere. The typical French dishes are also creative, stunningly presented and well-prepared. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (17 636 363).
My Café Despite its name, My Café is far more than a casual eatery, but it’s not so upscale that you need to don your finest suit. The setting is chic and sophisticated, and the menu is full of creative, gourmet dishes, combining a medley of international flavours and an Arabian edge. Block 338, Adliya (77 344 444).
Plums This moody, ambient, upscale steakhouse is perfect for an intimate affair, with its elegant, striking décor and touch of theatrical dining. Expect liquid nitrogen desserts and artful presentation, as well as excellently prepared steaks and seafood. The staff are also knowledgeable, efficient and, most importantly, unobtrusive. The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Seef (17 586 499).
Primavera Beautiful views, efficient staff, and a menu of delicious, upscale Italian food is what makes this restaurant perfect for a romantic night out. Sit inside, surrounded by the contemporary, tasteful décor, or outside on the intimate terrace area; either way you’ll consistently have a great experience. The Ritz-Carlton, Seef (17 586 499).
Roma Roma is timelessly romantic. The live singer croons smooth melodies, as you enjoy an evening of well created and authentic Italian cuisine. Bright red décor and intimate seating emphasise the mood, and the staff will never intrude. Umm Al Hassam (17 725 885).
Wok Dim lighting, soft music and intimate table seating, either in the beautiful Asian-inspired main dining area or on the stunning garden terrace – this is why Wok makes it on this shortlist year after year. Meanwhile, the vibrant Vietnamese cuisine is authentic and always packed with flavour. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (17 636 363).
Best Seafood La Marine With its huge neon sign, it’s pretty hard to miss La Marine. It’s a large, clean restaurant and, every day, you can choose from a giant buffet, or pick from an extensive menu that’s filled with fusion fish dishes inspired by the world’s cuisines. It’s a casual, family friendly place. Above Burgerland, Budaiya Highway (17 595 775).
La Mer Boasting an amazing vista and top-class chefs, La Mer is a refined seafood restaurant at the stunning five-star Sofitel hotel. The interior is tastefully decorated; simple white walls and dark wood floors allow the sea views to take centre stage, and the French dishes are expertly prepared. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (17 636 363).
La Perle La Perle is a quiet seafood restaurant based at the Novotel Al Dana Resort. Choose a table overlooking the sea and enjoy a lovely selection of fresh seafood dishes from the buffet or à la carte menu. The food is well cooked and beautifully presented, served by friendly waiting staff. Novotel Al Dana Resort, Muharraq (17 298 008).
Seafood Market This restaurant is similar to a rustic, seaside bistro, except it’s in the heart of Manama. It might not be the grandest of locations, but the staff are keen and friendly, and the food, which includes fresh fish, shellfish, sushi and international à la carte selections, is all reasonably priced and well executed. Sheza Tower Hotel, Diplomatic Area (17 533 336).
The Fish Market Overlooking a private beach and the sea, The Fish Market provides the perfect setting for a great seafood restaurant. A fresh market display boat holds a bountiful choice of fish and shellfish and plenty more besides. Staff are professional and the atmosphere is warm and family friendly. Al Bander Hotel & Resort, Sitra (17 701 201).
Waves The Crowne Plaza’s seafood restaurant is a veritable aquatic paradise, adorned with seahorses, shells and starfish lights. You can choose your catch from the fresh market display, or pick from a range of international à la carte options. Staff are helpful with suggestions and, generally, the food is cooked well. Crowne Plaza Bahrain, Diplomatic Area (17 531 122).
Best Steakhouse Butcher Shop & Grill The steakhouse shortlist is packed with upscale, fine dining restaurants. So the accessible, mall-based South African restaurant chain Butcher Shop & Grill offers a refreshingly different experience, with great prime cuts, excellent variety and plenty of value for money. City Centre Bahrain, Seef (17 172 323).
Cut by Wolfgang Puck The antithesis of your sticky-fingered, roadside steakhouse, Wolfgang Puck and his Cut team make your night a special one. Sure, this kind of quality comes at a price, but it’s worth it for this kind of dining experience that’s flanked by fine cuts of meat, stunning presentation and expertly prepared dishes. Four Seasons Bahrain Bay (17 115 000).
Flames A relative newcomer on the steakhouse circuit, Flames at Art Rotana offers a lavish, almost ‘80s-inspired affair. The dining room is vast, but offers intimate booths for private gatherings and the steaks are numerous and high quality – from the ubiquitous Anguses to the Stockyard Silver Wagyu, they’re cooked perfectly to order. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111).
Legendz Legendz shouldn’t be judged by the inappropriate ‘z’, as this steakhouse provides the same high quality experience as other high-end spots. It’s a cosy, welcoming place, while dishes are presented with clear artistry and cooked with the verve of a chef who knows how to get the best from his ingredients. InterContinental Regency Bahrain, Manama (17 227 777).
Le Sauvage Perched high above the skyscrapers of Manama, artfully furnished with a downtown air, Le Sauvage is a refined spot. The steaks are reasonably priced and expertly cooked, and a whole range of other dishes boast the best qualities of meat from around the world. The Domain Bahrain Hotel & Spa, Diplomatic Area (16 000 000).
Plums As you step into Plums, past the gothic picture frames on black walls, through low lights that obscure nooks and corners, it’s clear showmanship endures into the 21st century. Theatrical touches abound and enhance the quality of everything from the scallops to the steaks, and the starters to the plenteous side dishes. The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Seef (17 580 000).
The Meat Co South African steakhouse chain The Meat Co. is a low-lit, buzzy venue, which combines the quality of a high-end restaurant with the laidback vibe of a neighborhood eatery. Prime cuts of meat come with premium prices, but there’s enough choice on the menu to cater to all budgets. The Meat Co, Adliya (17 742 080).
Best Bahraini Basta 23 Edgy, retro décor is what brings Basta 23’s traditional offering of Bahraini cuisine into the 21st century. The modern café is set out to look like an old-style souq and the menu is just as nostalgic, with authentic Middle Eastern dishes, done the Khaleeji way, taking centre stage. Riyadat Mall, A’ali (77 772 323).
Chai Café Dishes here are inspired by the owner’s childhood favourites. Chips Oman and cream cheese roti sit next to traditional foul and shakshooka, plus plenty more, which can be washed down with sweet karak chai. The Sanabis-based café is a pleasant, clean and contemporary spot to enjoy a taste of Bahrain’s past and present. Sanabis (17 001 727).
Darseen Café Where better to sample a taste of traditional Bahrain than at the Bahrain National Museum? Darseen Café has an eclectic, fusion menu, featuring a range of international flavours, but also offers some great Khaleeji dishes with a gourmet twist. We love the food, but it’s the stunning sea views that really impress. Bahrain National Museum, Al Fateh Corniche (77 336 600).
Emma-Wash Last year’s Highly Commended Bahraini Restaurant is this down-to-earth Budaiya-based venue, and the brand now has a new Hamala spot, too. The food is authentic, served to you piping hot in the pan by friendly staff, with simple, well-balanced flavours. An Isa Town venue is also on its way. Budaiya Highway (17 309 030).
Freej Bin Rashdan This humble café is like visiting a Bahraini friend’s home – the décor is simple and the menu is very traditional, with sharing-style dishes that are generously portioned and use good quality ingredients. There’s plenty of variety, too, with meaty grills, seafood classics and hearty rice dishes vying for your attention. Arad Bay Protected Area & Park (77 300 300).
Haji Gahwa This street-side café is as local as it gets. Right in the heart of the city’s most famous souq, Haji Gahwa offers a down-to-earth, Bahraini experience like no other. It’s like home cooking – wholesome and delicious – and the staff are super-friendly and prices are unbeatable. Bab Al Bahrain, Manama Souq (17 210 647).
Naseef Café It might be home-made mango ice-cream that made Naseef Café famous more than 100 years ago, but now it’s the Bahraini breakfast that keeps customers coming back. It serves a quaintly presented platter, which includes generous portions of Bahraini classics, each dish just as delicious as the last. Bab Al Bahrain Mall, Manama Souq (39 622 882).
Roche The menu at this restaurant and patisserie might be international, but its traditional Khaleeji offering is impressive. Roche is particularly famous for its rangeena, a classic regional dessert, but also make sure you sample the other, more authentic dishes. Off Shawarma Alley, Adliya (17 710 200).
Saffron by Jena Bakery Multi-award-winning Saffron by Jena Bakery is the place to go for a cultural, culinary experience. Its three branches are located in tourist hotspots – Souq Al Qaysariya, Riffa Fort and Manama Souq – and each offers a taste of traditional Bahrain through its décor and food. Muharraq (1362 3191). Other locations: Riffa Fort; Bab Al Bahrain Mall, Manama.
Best Chinese Bambu Bambu serves authentic Asian food cooked to your liking and is host to notable Chinese New Year parties. Service is swift and the menu boasts a variety of dishes typical of what you’d expect; dumpling and dim sum starters, soups, meat, seafood and vegetarian mains, which are all very reasonably priced. Adliya, Block 336 (17 262 555).
Beijing A go-to spot for Chinese hot pot and a singalong, Beijing is traditionally Chinese in both food and décor. Enjoy a simple yet authentic meal in the main dining area or in one of the large private rooms, which come complete with your very own karaoke machine. Block 338, Adliya (1771 7969).
China Garden Walking across a traditionally designed bridge certainly gets you in an Oriental mood as you enter the opulent China Garden restaurant at The Gulf Hotel. Staff are friendly, the food is well-cooked, and everything is authentic, tasty and packed with flavour. The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 713 000).
David’s Stir Fry Crazy With a great atmosphere, pleasant décor and a wide range of tasty cuisine, it’s easy to see why David’s Stir Fry Crazy is popular. Natural woods, tranquil green walls and gentle music all add to the experience, while the food is all authentic and full of flavour. Umm Al Hassam (17 540 188).
Hong Kong Hong Kong, which is one of Bahrain’s oldest Chinese restaurants, has managed to stand the test of time by offering traditional Cantonese dishes in a welcoming, casual atmosphere. The venue is basic, but staff are friendly and the food is affordable and as authentic as you can possibly get. Umm Al Hassam (17 728 700).
PF Chang’s Despite its mall location, PF Chang’s boasts a sleek, contemporary venue with comfortable seating and a buzzing vibe, thanks to its popularity. It might be renowned for the Dynamite Shrimp, but there are plenty of great, classic Chinese dishes on the menu, alongside more modern creations. You might have to wait for a table during peak hours, but it’s worth it for a fast, casual lunch post-shop. City Centre Bahrain, Seef (17 179 757).
Soie Soie, which is the French word for Chinese silk, is an opulent, award-winning Oriental restaurant. You cannot help but be impressed when you walk in; the high ceilings hold beautiful scarlet drapes accented by deep, dark wood. It’s a stunning space that serves up some delicious, traditional food. Sheraton Hotel Bahrain, Manama (17 533 533).
Best European Café Amsterdam Café Amsterdam started off serving Dutch and British cuisine, but has since expanded the menu to include classic dishes from around the world, including steaks, lobster and even a whole new vegan section. The quality of food is always top notch and its outdoor garden area is a major draw. Adliya, Block 338 (17 007 404).
Le Domain  French restaurant Le Domain  offers a petite menu which focuses on seafood, and no effort is spared to create a superlative dining experience. Little touches emphasise elegance here, from the quality produce to stylish décor and great views. And yet prices are exceptionally low considering how luxe everything is. The Domain Bahrain Hotel & Spa, Diplomatic Area (16 000 000).
La Fontaine Tranquil and candle-lit, La Fontaine’s romantic restaurant, set in a traditional Bahraini home, is a top choice for a special occasion. The food focuses on specialties from the Mediterranean, but you’ll find a little influence from all over. It’s all tasty and satisfying. La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art & Spa, Hoora (17 230 123).
La Vinoteca Barcelona Upscale Spanish restaurant La Vinoteca Barcelona is an attractive destination for small bites and tapas plates, or to sample a full degustation menu. The food is flavourful and expertly prepared, using high quality ingredients, and the modern venue is stylishly decorated and buzzing on weekends. Block 338, Adliya (32 000 171).
Masso Chef Susy Massetti has captured the hearts of Bahrain’s foodies with her style of farm-to-table cooking. The stylish, chic venue always draws in the crowds, no matter what day of the week, and the food, which has a Mediterranean influence, is consistently impressive. Palace Boutique Hotel, Adliya (17 721 061).
My Café My Café offers an eclectic, international menu highlighted by the chefs’ serious skills and European cooking techniques. Dishes include the likes of veal cheeks, traditional Bahraini dishes with a gourmet twist, prettily presented desserts and delicious, fresh pastries that are a real culinary feat. Road 3832, Adliya, Block 338 (77 344 444).
Nicole’s Mediterranean Restaurant Nicole’s menu encompasses the entire Mediterranean, ensuring there is something to suit all tastes, with a large choice of tapas/starter plates, pastas, pizzas, mains and mezze to choose from. Just this year, the venue has also introduced a fantastic, reasonably priced à la carte weekend brunch. Nicole’s Mediterranean Restaurant & Lounge, Adliya (17 280 700).
Zoe A perennial favourite, Zoe has stood the test of time this year. Classic décor and chilled background music set the scene for relaxed dining. The menu offers plenty of variety, with pizzas, pastas, meat, poultry and seafood specialties, and every dish is packed with flavour and presented well. Adliya, Block 338 (17 716 400).
Best Indian Akbar Akbar offers an opulent setting in which to enjoy a lavish, traditional Indian dining experience. The quality of food and service is always spot on, and the atmosphere is consistently buzzing. It’s a top choice for an affordable, authentic meal and great night out. Ramada Palace Bahrain, Adliya (17 296 660).
Copper Chimney For years Copper Chimney has been an island favourite for its down-to-earth vibes, friendly service and rich, complex flavours. The venue is basically decorated, but it’s the authenticity we love and the food is consistently excellent. For a casual dining experience and excellent meal, look no further. Al Hambra Hotel, Umm Al Hassam (17 728 699).
Lanterns Synonymous with rich and flavourful Indian food in general, we recommend a trip to any branch of Lanterns but, in particular, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Adliya venue, which boasts bazaar-style interiors, an excellent atmosphere and consistently great food. Block 338, Adliya (17 250 999).
Mantraa Mantraa offers a traditional setting and authentic Indian cuisine. Regular live tabla and sitar performances bring the atmosphere to life, and the quality of food is consistently good, plus reasonable prices and friendly service make any visit enjoyable. Best Western Plus – The Olive, Juffair (17 211 133).
Nirvana The opulence of India’s royal palaces is reflected in the lush red décor and intimate setting at The Ritz-Carlton’s lavish Indian restaurant. This is also highlighted by the complex, richly flavoured and authentic dishes, which are expertly prepared by the hotel’s chefs. The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Seef (17 586 499).
Rasoi by Vineet The ability to turn notoriously heavy Indian dishes into something of refinement truly is a feat of skilled technique – and it’s a skill you’ll find at the award-winning Rasoi by Vineet. It’s a beautiful restaurant, punctuated by contemporary design elements and a menu of classic and more creative dishes. The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 713 000).
Spices Indian Restaurant The Crowne Plaza’s Indian restaurant has been satisfying happy customers for years with its fine dining approach to traditional cuisine. Dishes such as the dum aloo and paneer tikka, the mutton biryani and murg Chettinad always impress, and the staff are always helpful and friendly. The Crowne Plaza Bahrain, Diplomatic Area (17 531 122).
Best Italian Bice Bice’s impressive setting in the iconic Bahrain World Trade Centre and the friendly, professional service continue to attract the island’s diners. The menu features fine Italian cuisine, with ossobuco, lobster and other fresh, exquisitely prepared seafood, alongside more rustic pastas. Bahrain World Trade Centre, Manama (17 533 666).
Café Italia For an intimate dinner, Adliya’s Café Italia is a good choice, thanks to its dimly lit and chic, stylish setting. The service is outstanding, from the moment you book until you leave, and the upscale Italian fare is generally very well prepared. The wood-fired pizzas come particularly recommended. Block 338, Adliya (17 744 774).
Cico’s Decades-old restaurant Cico’s has become synonymous with rustic, Italian dining and is an institution on the island. Its menu, décor and even staff have been changed or revamped in recent years and Cico’s still enjoys a regular and loyal clientele, thanks to its homely setting and excellent, friendly service. Adliya (17 713 710).
Cucina Italiana This highly popular Italian eatery, with its red leather booths and nostalgic film noir décor, is a friendly, casual and welcoming kind of place. The staff are enthusiastic, while the food is generously portioned and authentic. Expect a down-to-earth setting and lively atmosphere. Al Safir Hotel, Juffair (17 001 317).
Gusto Pizzeria Ristorante Casual and family friendly, Gusto Pizzeria Ristorante, in both branches in Budaiya and Riffa, is known for wholesome, delicious Italian food. The fresh, wood-fired pizzas are particularly commendable, but you can’t go wrong with any of the authentic dishes on the menu. Palm Square, Budaiya (17 695 556). Other location: Riffa Views (17 344 456).
La Pergola With a new look and revamped menu, La Pergola has upped its game. The Italian stalwart offers an upscale dining experience, with excellent service and tasty, authentic food. The selection of dishes on offer is wide, but the highlight of any meal are the desserts, which you should save room for. The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 746 419).
Oliveto Once a humble, casual Italian eatery, Oliveto has been reborn and transformed into an elegant, stylish restaurant, with clean, contemporary décor. Its menu is similarly upscale, with a decent variety of classic and more modern dishes created. Block 338, Adliya (17 716 747).
Primavera Every staff member at The Ritz-Carlton’s upscale, fine dining Italian spot is Italian, adding to the authentic trattoria-style experience. The bright, airy venue is stylish and contemporary, and the menu is filled with tempting, original dishes created by Michelin-starred chef Oliver Glowig. The Ritz-Carlton, Seef (17 586 499).
Roma Fresh flavours and a wide variety of rustic, authentic Italian dishes are what you can expect to find at Roma. The venue is intimate and romantic, enhanced by dim lights and the live singer who performs nightly. In particular, we commend the friendly, knowledgeable staff. Umm Al Hassam (17 725 885).
Rosso Rosso prides itself on serving sharing-style portions of authentic, rustic Italian cuisine, which is flavourful, fresh and incredibly reasonably priced considering the high quality. For lunch, brunch or dinner, this family friendly spot is a must-try. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111).
Best Japanese Bushido Bushido’s grand size, elegant entrance and Samurai-inspired interiors offer a sense of occasion upon arrival. With dim lighting and sleek, Asian décor, this place oozes Oriental chic. Maki, robata and teppanyaki options sit next to more creative fusion dishes and it’s all expertly prepared, beautifully presented and full of well-balanced flavours. Bushido Restaurant and Lounge, Seef (17 583 555).
Fuji Sushi Who would have thought that some of the island’s very best sushi could be found in a tiny restaurant, tucked award in the unassuming, Manama-based Sheza Tower Hotel? Fuji Sushi might be a humble little eatery, but its authentic, incredibly fresh food provides big, robust flavours. Sheza Tower Hotel, Diplomatic Area (17 533 336).
Imari Sweeping sea views of Manama through floor-to-ceiling windows add a sense of drama and romance to any meal at Imari. The menu selection is fairly small in comparison to most other Japanese restaurants in Bahrain, but the authentic dishes are delicate and delicious. It’s all very affordable, too. The Domain Bahrain Hotel & Spa, Diplomatic Area (16 000 000).
Kabuki Juffair-based, traditionally decorated eatery Kabuki might not have the wow factor of its Japanese counterparts, but it’s a consistent and safe option for a casual evening out, with great food and a friendly atmosphere. Flavours are authentic and mostly spot-on, and the servers are attentive. Al Shabab Avenue, Juffair (17 616 191).
Kojo It’s not every day you find a stylish Japanese restaurant with kimono-clad waitresses, traditional floor seating and a sushi bar tucked away in a Juffair-based mall. Kojo, which is also based in Durrat al Bahrain and Zayed Town, offers authentic fresh, flavourful food, and the venues are sleek. Various locations including Al Raya Mall, Juffair (77 225 225).
Maki Cool slabs of concrete and glass, sleek lighting and smooth music greet you as you enter Maki. This non-traditional Japanese restaurant boasts contemporary twists at every turn. From start to finish, it’s clear Maki is aiming to offer a unique, charming experience for Bahrain’s diners and it does it well. Bahrain World Trade Centre, Manama (17 522 733).
Meisei Chef Michael Kyu-Lee uses French cooking techniques and combines it with Osaka and Korean flavours and styles to create a rather large menu of unique fusion dishes. Everything is as surprising as it is enjoyable, and any meal here is only enhanced by the trendy, three-storey venue. Block 338, Adliya (17 007 770).
Mirai Arriving at Mirai’s sleek restaurant, you are given the choice of the low-slung restaurant downstairs or the cosy, dimly lit lounge upstairs. Mirai might be one of Bahrain’s oldest Japanese restaurants, but it’s still one of the most popular. It’s a failsafe option in a competitive category of cuisine. Block 338, Adliya (17 713 113).
Sato From the kimono-clad waitresses that signal your arrival with a bang on a giant, golden gong at the entrance, to the traditional tatami flooring and sunken tables, award-winning Sato is as traditional as it is elegant. The Japanese stalwart offers authentic food and excellent service that’s consistently impressive. The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 173 000).
Best americas Bennigan’s Bennigan’s offers a menu of great North American flavours, but with a unique Irish twist. Portions are all extremely generous, but it’s more than about quantity here – the breakfast, lunch, dinner, bar and even delivery menus are filled with American classics that hit the spot with kids and grown-ups alike. Al Safir Hotel, Juffair (17 813 750).
Big Texas BBQ and Waffle House Last year’s Highly Commended Newcomer offers a unique taste of southern American cuisine in the heart of Juffair. Smoked brisket, deep-fried pickles and plenty of waffles are just a few of the best-selling dishes. A live band from America keeps the atmosphere alive. And, since last year, it’s launched an excellent-value brunch and express lunch. Best Western Plus – The Olive, Juffair (17 360 063).
Brasa de Brazil Family friendly churrascaria Brasa de Brazil offers great value for money. The traditional all-you-can-eat option includes more than 30 salads, appetisers and international classics from a buffet, followed by unlimited amounts of meat, poultry and seafood, which are grilled Brazilian-style, and carved tableside. Seef Mall, Seef (17 582 225).
Brazil Rodizio Grill & Lounge This vibrant, brightly coloured Brazilian restaurant in the back alleys of Adliya offers traditional churrasco and is most famous for its all-you-can-eat-and-drink style dining. The quality of food, buzzing atmosphere and value for money is what wins its place on this competitive shortlist. Road 3267, Adliya (17 826 686).
Casa Mexicana This Mexican stalwart is renowned for offering authentic, well prepared Tex-Mex dishes that are consistent in quality and authenticity, thanks to the Mexican chef. Casa Mexicana offers a cosy, intimate ambience, friendly and knowledgeable service, and good food. Road 3606, Adliya (17 715 521).
El Gringo Debuting on our annual shortlist is this roadside restaurant that serves up classic street-style Mexican bites. El Gringo is a casual restaurant, with only a few tables and chairs, but funky interiors and pleasant staff, alongside reasonably priced Tex-Mex dishes that are the talk of the town. Hamala, Wali Al Ahd Highway (17 001 460).
Margarita Mexicana Live music, a cosy ambience and the enthusiastic, traditionally dressed staff make any dining experience at Margarita Mexicana a real treat. The food might be basic in its presentation, but it’s vibrant in flavour and is an authentic and impressive representation of Tex-Mex fare. The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 713 000).
Ric’s Kountry Kitchen Ric’s Kountry Kitchen is known as being a “home away from home” for Bahrain’s American population, with everything from breakfast burritos to southern fried chicken and Cajun meatloaf on the menu. The lively atmosphere, friendly service and reasonable prices keep diners coming back for more. Road 41, Juffair (17 725 550).
Senor Paco’s This jolly Mexican restaurant is cited as many of the island’s diners’ favourite restaurant because of the atmosphere. With more than 60 classic Tex-Mex dishes on the menu, everyone can find something to their taste and while it’s stodgy, it’s good enough to complement the notably popular vibe. Road 3605, Adliya (1772 5873). Best Middle Eastern and North African Abd El Wahab Based in the Bahrain World Trade Centre, Abd El Wahab has been around for years. The décor is beginning to show its age, but the standards of food quality have never slipped. It has a relaxed and family friendly atmosphere, which is particularly popular on weekends. Bahrain World Trade Centre, Manama (17 131 111).
Al Arisha Tucked away in the alleyways of Umm Al Hassam, Al Arisha is a lesser-known gem in this category, even though it’s been around for more than 20 years. The quaint Levantine spot boasts a great garden terrace, and the authentic food and beverages have been specially sourced from Lebanon. Umm Al Hassam (17 725 414).
Al Fayez One of a few restaurants in residential hotspot Reef Island, Al Fayez is arguably the most popular among them. Offering an upscale take on Lebanese dining, the menu features traditional dishes with a modern twist. Everything is well prepared, using fresh, top quality produce and boasting subtle, well-balanced flavours. Reef Island, Seef (13 320 612).
Golestan Authentic, rich and complex flavours are created by the expert chefs at the Sheraton Bahrain’s opulent Iranian restaurant. Marinated lamb kebabs, delicately fragrant saffron rice and traditionally spiced stews are spot on and the atmosphere is relaxed, providing a leisurely dining experience in an opulent, elegant setting. Sheraton Bahrain Hotel, Manama (17 533 533).
Kenza The K Hotel’s Lebanese lounge and restaurant boasts exceptional service. Unwind in a casual setting with the selection of hot and cold mezze which is particularly noteworthy. Meaty grills are tender, juicy and wonderfully seasoned, and should all be enjoyed in the lounge or al fresco on the lovely terrace. The K Hotel, Juffair (17 360 000).
Leila When it comes to quality of food, the standards at Lebanese eatery Leila never falter. It’s always busy here and yet service is always efficient. The menu takes you through a classic range of Lebanese cuisine. Oh, and it happens to serve some of the best tabbouleh in town. Al A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef (17 566 556).
Lumee Street Café We love the take on modern Khaleeji street food at this home-grown café. Lumee Street takes the region’s favourite snacks and transforms them into creative, contemporary dishes. This year, the brand opened Lumee Saar Kitchen which promises to be just as, or perhaps even more, impressive as its original Seef branch. Al A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef (17 333 747).
Pashawat For an evening of lively Arabic music, fun belly dance performances and excellent Lebanese and Persian cuisine, traditionally decorated Pashawat is unbeatable and popular on the island. The set menu provides a variety of delicious mezze, grills and desserts, and the attentive staff help make this a night to remember. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (17 636 363).
Saffron Saffron’s cosy, traditional setting and tranquil atmosphere have all the makings of a great restaurant. The food doesn’t let it down, either, as the creative kitchen team serve up classic Khaleeji and Middle Eastern dishes, often boasting a unique Indian or European twist. Al Areen Palace & Spa, Zallaq (17 845 000).
Takht Jamsheed The plush, Persian-style interiors are welcoming at Takht Jamsheed, as are the very hospitable staff. A traditional menu of Iranian classics is offered and each dish is intensely aromatic, richly flavoured and tender. This place might have been around for years, but its popularity and standards have never waned. The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 713 000).
Best Asian Hash House This casual eatery is well established in Bahrain, attracting a diverse crowd who enjoy good value Thai cuisine. The setting is intimate yet vibrant, and pages of traditional Thai fare are punctuated with fusion offerings. Expect your food to arrive freshly made, colourful, well portioned, and bursting with flavour. Block 338, Adliya (17 715 094).
Keizo This Far Eastern fusion restaurant is worth the drive out to Al Areen Palace & Spa because of its romantic setting and stunning surroundings. Service is outstanding and the recently revamped menu features eclectic food selections from Japanese, Thai and Chinese cuisines. Desserts are a particular highlight. Al Areen Palace & Spa, Zallaq (17 845 000).
Kontiki The Polynesian décor, emphasised by bamboo interiors and low lighting, is warm and welcoming, but isn’t particularly reflective of the Asian fusion food on the menu. Despite this, the sharing-style dishes are generally tasty and inventive, featuring strong and well-balanced flavours and fresh ingredients. Diplomat Radisson Blu, Diplomatic Area (17 531 666).
Monsoon Be transported straight to South East Asia when stepping inside this notable pagoda-style venue. There’s always a buzz in Monsoon, thanks to its loyal customers who always return because of its consistently good food, friendly service and stunning setting. Block 338, Adliya (17 749 222).
Nu Asia Nu Asia is renowned throughout Bahrain for offering a medley of tasty, affordable Asian dishes from across the continent. The multiple venues are casual and comfortable, drawing in a regular crowd for lunch and dinner, but it is also known as a top home delivery option. Various locations including Palm Square, Budaiya (17 691 919).
re Asian Cuisine | Wolfgang Puck Last year, this high-end fusion Asian restaurant scooped our most prestigious accolade – Restaurant of the Year. And deservedly so. Since opening, the restaurant has introduced a new kind of fine dining to the island, with an expert kitchen team, trained by notable celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, transforming regional classics into refined, beautifully flavoured and elegantly presented dishes. Four Seasons Bahrain Bay (17 115 000).
Royal Thai Pagoda-style architecture and quirky ornaments emphasise the authenticity on offer at The Gulf Hotel’s Royal Thai. With a new chef and newly revamped menu, the traditional Thai food is even more impressive than in recent years, boasting a good balance of vibrant flavours throughout. The Gulf Hotel Bahrain, Adliya (17 713 000).
Thailand For a reliable and authentic Thai experience, Adliya’s Thailand is a solid choice. The traditional décor, complete with sunken tables, is pleasant and the Thai servers are well versed on the food. The menu offers a selection of classic dishes, which are all tasty and satisfying, plus very reasonably priced. Block 338, Adliya (17 717 040).
Wok Wok was once an excellent pan-Asian restaurant but since revamping itself as a Vietnamese spot, it’s even better. Thanks to the Vietnamese chef, the food is beautifully presented and entirely true to its roots. Everything from the salads to the pho is perfectly seasoned, boasting subtle yet spot-on flavours. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq (17 636 363).
Wu Asian Restaurant & Lounge Wu, which means “five” in Chinese, offers a bevy of contemporary cuisine inspired by popular dishes from China, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand and Korea, and since opening late last year, the chic venue has launched a range of themed deals, which have been drawing in crowds for their value and quality. Art Rotana, Amwaj Islands (16 000 111).
Best Newcomer Areesh Lebanese eatery Areesh has managed to impress us with its bright and quirky interiors, rustic and artful touches and delicious, authentic dishes that feature small, contemporary twists. All the classic mezze plates and grills are present and correct, and everything is tasty and reasonably priced. Amwaj Lagoon, Amwaj Islands (16 002 600).
Bongos Subs & Spuds This casual little eatery has brought the flavours of Havana straight to the heart of Segaya and while this certainly isn’t a fine-dining spot, Bongos offers great value for money and spot-on flavours through its traditional Cuban street snacks. Segaya Plaza (17 420 008).
Fatto Plenty of hype surrounded the opening of this new Seef-based Italian restaurant, from the makers of nearby, award-winning Café Lilou. And, so far, it’s lived up to expectations. Aesthetically, it’s bold yet full of subtle touches and, importantly, the place serves great food. Al A’ali Shopping Complex, Seef (66 778 822).
Flavours of Morocco Bringing to the fore an under-represented cuisine in Bahrain, Flavours of Morocco has re-introduced fine North African dining to the island. The brightly coloured, ambient space screams Marrakech, and the food is decidedly authentic. Ramada Hotel & Suites Amwaj Islands (16 000 099).
Florence Cute, pastel, shabby-chic inspired interiors and a lovely little garden setting is what initially attracts diners to Florence restaurant. Meanwhile, the extensive menu of 60-plus dishes is full of Mediterranean classics that are presently rustically and inspired by the owners’ travels. Block 338, Adliya (17 336 373).
Roti Boti The new Indian restaurant at Al Areen Palace & Spa might not have the same opulent interiors of its sister restaurants, but the food is just as commendable, thanks to its unique selection of options and the authentic, balanced flavours. The misti dol dessert is a particular highlight. Al Areen Palace & Spa, Zallaq (17 845 000).
Teatro Teatro offers a collision of classic cuisines from across the East and West. You’ll find sushi from Japan, salads from Malaysia, curry from Thailand, tikka from India and even pizza. But the multi-national team can pull it off. Overall it offers a pleasant dining experience in a sophisticated, modern and brightly decorated venue. Downtown Rotana, Government Avenue, Manama (13 119 999).
The Foundry The Foundry might be one of the newest venues in town, but it’s quickly become one of the hottest and most popular, too. From the makers of gourmet deli Sage & Sirloin, The Foundry offers urban American bistro cuisine in a chic, industrial setting that is fresh and unique in Bahrain. Block 338, Adliya (69 960 000).
Time Café On the scale of sports bars in Juffair, Time Café is impressive. The vast venue is modern, spacious and buzzing all week, largely thanks to the live music. While enjoying the atmosphere, order from the extensive food menu, which features quirkily named dishes with flavours that span the globe. Ramee Rose Hotel, Juffair (17 616 167).
Noodle Wok From the makers of last year’s Highly Commended Budget Restaurant, Burrito Loco, Noodle Wok has opened with a similar concept, this time Asian-style. Choose your handmade, hawker-style noodles, top quality fillings and deliciously flavoured sauce. This fast meal proves quality doesn’t have to break the bank. Al Shabab Avenue, Juffair (17 270 053).