It’s easy to find bad Mexican food anywhere in the world. Less-than-fresh so-called Mexican is ubiquitous from Bali to Mali, found often in airport lounges, mall food courts, and even roadside stalls in the middle of nowhere. Each typically serves some combination of stale chips, bright orange nacho cheese, rubbery chicken, and canned jalapeno peppers. The worst offender is usually a dollop of sweet tomato salsa freshly-poured – out of a bottle.
Good Mexican food, however, is much harder to find, especially as you get further from Mexico itself.
But if you’re craving a Mexican fix in Abu Dhabi, look no further than Cantina Laredo, located on the first floor of a downtown mall. It may surprise you, and not just because its ceiling is decorated with old Cinco de Mayo flags. Cantina Laredo uses only the freshest, most authentic ingredients to capture the real flavors of Mexico.
Most of the challenge of finding good food in Abu Dhabi is in knowing where to look – and then literally finding the restaurant.
Even though it’s located just off of a busy street in the Khalidiyah neighborhood, one of the capital’s outstanding Indian restaurants is easy to overlook. Anjappar has an illuminated sign that one can see only when standing directly underneath it (the facade and sign are partially obstructed by a shed that appears to house a utility box). And its door is nestled between several shops, including an Afghani bakery, a barber shop and a separate store that sells merchandise for barber shops – like combs, scissors and swiveling chairs.
If you can find it, though, Anjappar is worth the hunt. It serves some of the spiciest South Indian Tamil food in the entire United Arab Emirates.
Visiting Abu Shakra, an Egyptian food restaurant in Abu Dhabi, is like dining in Cairo.
This working class restaurant evokes Egypt’s crowds and frenzied pace. In its crowded kitchen space, a single cook grabs from assorted bowls of hummus, fried eggplant, and French fries, all sitting within reach on the counter.
Even its main location – on the ground floor of a faded apartment tower with paint peeling from its concrete facade and wires dangling from dusty windows – would fit in more in old Cairo than in the UAE’s modern capital.
Abu Shakra’s food is as authentic as it comes.