Adliya’s ‘eat streets’ are narrow one-ways, perennially crowded with slow-moving traffic during hungry hours, where acquiring parking space is a test of patience. But it’s all worthwhile once you meld into the funky, groovy vibe of this hip district, where dining establishments stand shoulder-to-shoulder, each different from the other in cuisine, décor and price.
On one of the peripheries of Adliya stands The Terminal, a new, sleek-looking parking facility that might be just what you need to be on time for that fancy dinner reservation some day.
But if your agenda is at the diagonally opposite Gulf Hotel Bahrain, you won’t need it, of course. Two of the upscale dining outlets here bear the magic touch of Michelin-starred chefs, no less. Chef Vineet Bhatia has lent his signature to Rasoi by Vineet, the Indian fine-dining restaurant; and La Pergola by Perbellini presents the culinary prowess of Italian maestro, Giancarlo Perbellini. Other noted outlets are China Garden, Royal Thai and Margarita Mexicana. Sato is a favourite for Japanese delicacies and Zahle has a vivacious Lebanese atmosphere.
Down the road, the less ostentatious, but charming Ramada by Wyndham Bahrain has Le Jardin Restaurant and The Exchange – An English Pub to its credit. While the former is a pleasant eatery offering a revamped menu, the pub is busy all week thanks to its attractive theme nights.
The Palace Boutique Hotel’s The Orangery is favoured for its Victorian elegance and delicious food. Masso, frequented for its seasonal menus replete with cold cuts, prime steaks grilled to perfection, cheeses, and dishes full of freshness and flavour, is another staunch favourite.
Think Irish, think pubs. Adliya has its fair share of watering holes, but JJ’s Irish Restaurant is the oldest and, arguably, the most popular one in town. Speaking of the Emerald Isle, Irish Village is a newly opened little hamlet serving a variety of cuisines in an Irish ambience, while McGettigans is known for its yummy pub food and drinks to be enjoyed while sitting in the outdoor garden, watching live sport or shaking a leg to the beats from the live band and DJ.
Adliya does good justice to the broad term ‘Asian cuisine’. Beginning with Indian food, Lanterns Lounge and Restaurant serves the maharaja’s grub, altered just enough to please the international palate without taking away from its rich essence. Pair your dishes with some grape or malt, and your taste buds will thank you for it. Bambu India Gate restaurant is just as popular, for its authentic flavours and friendly service. Mumbai Spices, staying true to its name, serves lip-smacking Indian street food specialities, while new entrant on the block, The M Restaurant, serves quality Indian and international fare.
Going further East, David’s Stir Fry Crazy has many a Southeast Asian food lover swear by its authentic flavours. While Monsoon is ideal for a special meal, decor wise as well as for exquisite Oriental delights, outlets like Beijing and Hong Kong always satisfy with a simple, no-fuss Chinese meal that’s easier on the wallet. For Thai spice, sit within the traditional ambience at Thailand, or at the small, but mighty, Banana Leaf.
Akaya Bistro transports you to the Izakayas of Tokyo, to enjoy impeccably presented fare, either in the airconditioned Zen Garden, or at the Janguru lounge indoors. Meisei is another old-time favourite that always makes for a pleasant Japanese dining experience.
Da Rae Jung is the venue to familiarise yourself with the Korean taste spectrum. Don’t miss the kimchi and fried dumplings.
French, Italian, Spanish, Greek – Adliya has it all. Upstairs Downstairs is an iconic venue, where many an islander has fond memories of family and friends bonding over delectable food. Expert chefs and warm service staff are the bonus to the delicious continental-style preparations accompanied by great music.
When anybody mentions Parisian panache, Café Liliou springs to mind first. Its kitschy-chic ambience and delectable desserts make the waiting time worthwhile. Next door, Coco’s serves to-die-for dishes to hungry patrons. Be prepared to be on the waiting list for a table any day of the week. Some of the relatively newer establishments serving continental classics (some with a Middle Eastern twist) are Florence La Maison Méditerranéene, My Café, Madeleine, and the iconic Angelina Paris, where you must try the celeb-status Mont-Blanc and L’Africain hot chocolate. Across the road, retro Greek kouzina, Attic, offers eccentric cocktails and fantastic food that will take you to one of Greece’s breezy islands.
Moving over to Italian pizzazz, Adliya has no dearth of outlets serving pasta and breads drizzled with olive oil and sundried tomatoes. But, Oliveto has stood the test of time by providing guests with the real taste of Italy, minus the unnecessary fanfare. Cico’s, Café Italia and Mino’s are all well known for pizza and pasta done just right.
For a taste of Arabic fare, Al Bindaira Café is one of its kind for food and décor. Shoo Fee Maa Fee brings Lebanon to Bahrain, while Parsian brings you authentic Persian cuisine. For a quick bite of kebab and a shawarma or two, Al Abraaj Restaurant or Lebanese Oven do justice to their prices. Dar Zowayed, known for great Khaleeji cuisine, claims to be a melting pot of Indian and Levantine gastronomic influences in a contemporary setting.
Say olé at Senor Pacos as you chow down on nachos with guacamole and other typically Mexican bites while you sip on chilled margaritas and enjoy the party atmosphe. An equal favourite is Casa Mexicana, while the newer Calexico has its own loyal following of Tex-Mex foodies.
The Foundry goes heavy metal on premium meats that you are bound to revisit sooner or later, and The Meat Co. still stands strong with the best quality meats accompanied by flavoursome sauces and sides. Torino Restaurant and Lounge is another venue serving certified Angus beef and prime cuts..
Made in America, Buffalo Wings and Rings has come to Bahrain to show foodies how finger-licking good chicken wings, burgers and Tex-Mex specialities are done. Slider Station is touted to be the only conveyor belt burger joint in the world for gourmet sliders, state-side bites, and desserts from its dedicated Cocoa Room.
Equal Romanov is a brand new outlet serving delicacies from Russia in a quintessentially elegant setting. Viola is a Caribbean oasis boasting modern renditions of island specialties like Sticku Jerk Salmon, Caribbean satays and Dominican goat curry, all seasoned with love and fiery jerk spices. Brazil Rodizio Grill and Lounge is for when the mood calls for robust South American flavours.
Mahonia is a stunning concept restaurant that offers haute dining in the form of five-, seven- and ten-course degustation menus. Each course is a unique and genius proposition, a harmony of taste, texture, scent, sound and presentation. Fancy food and ambience!
For a pick-me-up in the form of hot or cold beverages and quick bites, Dose Café does a stellar job. And the modish 11:11 Make A Wish brews single-origin coffee beans from Rwanda; its Spanish Latte comes highly recommended.