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Image by Angad Johar

AD Secrets: Go Eat at Come and Eat Cafeteria

When it comes to serving wholesome, honest and authentic North Indian food, there are very few restaurants that can match Come and Eat.

Nov 3, 2019

Located in a relatively quiet corner of Mina Street, Come and Eat Cafeteria is difficult to miss. Despite being the smallest establishment in the area, an excessively bright yellow and red LED sign is visible from blocks away. At the entrance, a multicolored electronic board flashes “OPEN”.
Come and Eat is not going to win any awards for its stale interior decoration. The cafeteria is a small room that can barely accommodate ten people. Ironically for a restaurant titled “Come and Eat,” a majority of its business comes from takeaway and delivery. On the left side of the restaurant, the shift manager takes in online orders and yells them out to the kitchen. Behind him, an army of South Asian chefs work to satisfy the food cravings of people from Musaffah to Saadiyat.
Cafeteria Image
Image by Angad Johar
I find something comforting about the maniacal chaos of Come and Eat. There is no attempt to add order to a space that is so naturally disorderly. There is no pretense that the restaurant is something that it is not. In that sense, it is also a departure from the relatively calm and peaceful world of the Saadiyat Bubble.
Come and Eat may be a world away from campus, but for me, it is also very close to home. Perhaps the most striking aspect of Come and Eat’s décor is a sign that says “A Trip to Legendary Parathe Wali Gali.” This refers to Old Delhi’s Parathe Wale Gali, a thin alleyway famous for its spectacular variety of parathas, or Indian flatbread. It is a bold claim, almost an invitation to be compared to some of India’s most iconic street food. Expectations are further raised by the amount of time it takes for the food to arrive, a marked contrast from the fast-food joints nearby. An order for a paratha – the restaurant’s speciality – can take up to twenty minutes as everything is prepared fresh on the spot.
Surprisingly, Come and Eat’s paratha manages to live up to that promise. Their classic “aloo”–potato–paratha is less of a dish and more of a culinary experience. It arrives steaming hot from the kitchen, with a generous slab of butter melting on the paratha. The first bite is always special, with a heavenly combination of fatty butter and chewy dough. Inside the paratha, the pungent masala is complemented by the simple yet elegant flavor of the potato stuffing. For those with lower levels of tolerance for spice, the intensity of the paratha can be offset with some ‘dahi’ – Indian yoghurt. And for those desiring even more flavor, a traditional tangy green chutney is also served with the paratha.
Paratha Image
Image by Angad Johar
For many of my fellow Indian friends and me, Come and Eat’s paratha is an evocation of cultural memory. It serves as a reminder of weekend mornings spent in the kitchen, as a family member cooked up their version of the paratha. In a city full of high-end Indian restaurants trying to recreate that experience, this humble cafeteria comes closest. Even more importantly, the paratha is delicious. And that is a cultural experience that we can all cherish.
Apart from its collection of parathas, Come and Eat has an expansive menu ranging from traditional Indian breakfast meals to “international fussion.” One can, of course, experience a “conventional” North Indian restaurant meal with a variety of excellent curries and Indian breads.
I personally would recommend Come and Eat’s collection of ‘chaat’ – Indian street food – dishes. A personal favorite is the Aloo Tikki Chaat, circular potato patties placed in an eccentric yet delightful combination of tamarind sauce, yoghurt and a spice mix. The contrast between the intense heat of the spicy potato patties and the cool yoghurt is to die for.
Chaat Image
Image by Angad Johar
For a restaurant with such a rich variety of excellent dishes, Come and Eat is incredibly cheap. One can enjoy one serving of an Aloo Paratha – a full meal – for a measly seven dirhams. As manager Mohan Bhatt once told me, he considers Come and Eat to be in the same category of restaurants as Indian by Nature and Via Delhi – both of which are considerably more pricey. According to Bhatt, they intentionally keep prices below a profit-maximizing level to ensure that their food is affordable for young students.
Come and Eat will never be the most trendy restaurant in Abu Dhabi. No one will take “Instagram-worthy” photos there. Even most of its own customers will always prefer to order or take away rather than sit in its dingy decor. But when it comes to serving wholesome, honest and authentic North Indian food, there are very few restaurants that can match it.
Abhyudaya Tyagi is Features Editor. Email him at
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