Getting your shop on can be hungry business. The hundreds of stores in City Centre Bahrain – the island’s biggest mall – require full concentration if you’re taking your visit seriously (read: ready to spend a week’s worth of wages in just a few hours).
It is all too easy to give into the temptation of the fast-food court or sneak out to one of the great nearby hotels for sustenance. We say, don’t. Without even stepping out of the mall there are some decent casual restaurants to explore.
Check out these ten chains for a better bite than a basic burger.
Owned and inspired by Indian playback singer Asha Bhosle, this is one of just ten Asha’s around the world. Authentic Indian food in an upmarket setting, Asha’s has a menu with many annotations and remarks from the music legend. Look out for flavours from across the subcontinent and a number of family recipes with nuanced spicing and homely presentation.
Floor two, next to PF Chang’s (17 179 751).
Start your diet tomorrow. Or the day after. Or never, we don’t care, but don’t do it before grabbing an enormous great, big, fat burger. We love two things about this US chain. First, the honesty of the name, but also the hefty eponymous sandwich with the works on. Pickle, relish, cheese, onion ring and all the rest.
Floor two, opposite food court (17 131 414).
To give it the full, rather grand, name, this is the International House of Pancakes and one of the island’s more supercharged breakfast pitstops. Enormous platters with eggs and meat feature pancakes on the side. And there are burgers, omelettes and towering sweet stacks with a variety of syrups, creams and sauces. It’s hugely popular.
Floor one, opposite Debenhams (17 213 182).
There are five generations of frozen dessert knowledge behind this UK-born parlour. What you should know before stepping inside is that there are subtle differences between gelato and ice cream. The science behind Italian gelato is down to a production technique which util... actually, forget it. Just try one of the many signature sundaes and note the creamy texture. Oh, and never forget the hot fudge sauce...
Floor two, opposite Sun & Sand Sport (16 637 002).
The fact that there are more than 250 outlets of this international chain around the world should not trick you into thinking it is a fast food joint. The Chinese dishes, with an American heritage, are all fully prepared on site each day and the variety of foods, although casual, is ambitious for a shopping mall. Well worth a look for anti-food court dining. You might need to wait for a table on weekends, but it’s worth it.
Floor two, next to Asha’s (17 179 757).
What started as a Manhattan hot dog stand has become one of the world’s best-loved upscale burger joints and it was only very recently that Bahrain got it’s own one, following much anticipation. The principles of quality fast food and upmarket American snacks is not exactly new. But the thick shakes, frozen custard ice-cream, crinkly fries and meaty burgers are superior to much better-known brands. No wonder burger lovers everywhere are raving about them.
Floor two, next to wagamama (17 110 389).
The Butcher Shop & Grill
Despite stiff competition from numerous high-end hotel kitchens, this South African chain regularly features in a round-up of the best steakhouses in the city. The in-house butchery and deli point towards the quality of the ingredients and the knowledge about the different cuts available. The steaks are a standout favourite, but lamb, poultry and a special burger selection are enough to keep carnivores on their toes. There’s even a token vegetable platter for our herbivore friends.
Floor two, next to Wafi Gourmet (17 172 323).
This is quick and quality Italian food made before your eyes in a casual environment. The speedy service is down to a waiterless set-up and an innovative chip card to order and pay for meals. While this is a tad gimmicky, the food is anything but. Pasta dishes, pizzas and salads are made-to-order, use fresh ingredients and have plenty of flavour. Choose from a variety of styles, fresh ingredients and sauces, and create a mix-and-match dish of your own creation in minutes.
Floor one, near IHOP (17 491 391).
Fine Lebanese fodder makes this a perennial favourite. A mezze list as long as your arm is the centrepiece at this international chain. Expect to see heaps of olives, olive oil-drenched salads, meaty kebabs and deli-style garden foods. Freshly baked bread, hummus, moutabel and entire sacks full of tabbouleh are present and all made extremely well.
Floor two, next to the cinema (17 179 999).
In more than one hundred restaurants and 15 countries, this phenomenon has become synonymous with casual and trendy Japanese dining. Things are no different here in Bahrain, where ramen bowls, curries, teppanyaki, donburi and more fun and fresh dishes sit side-by-side on the menu. It’s all well prepared and flavourful, which is no doubt why it’s so popular all over the world. The name means “naughty child” in Japanese, fact fans.
Floor two, next to Sun & Sand Sport (16 505 051).
Alsoin City Centre Bahrain
With 20 screens at this cinema, there is every chance this is where you will be going to see the latest blockbuster. What we really like, however, are the two extra VIP screens and all the other foodie options you have access to when you buy a ticket.
Floor two, next to Wafi Gourmet, www.bahraincinema.com (1725 8900).
Got kids? Then this is where you take them when they’re starting to get bored of your shopping/dining spree. Magic Planet boasts plenty of rides and games to keep all the family entertained (yes, that’s right, even you’ll find an arcade game or two that could pique your interest).
Floor two, next to the food court, www.citycentrebahrain.com (17 177 777).
A waterpark where 70 percent of its attractions are inside is always going to be a year-round hit in these climates, as are the temperature-controlled waters and thrilling rides. This place also has the Middle East’s only indoor surf school, dudes.
Floor two, next to the food court, www.theplaymania.com (17 173 000).