AD Secrets: La Fontana

The outdoor patio windows of La Fontana Restaurant & Café frame the Abu Dhabi night skyline, lit up by the electric blue outlines of the Etihad ...

The outdoor patio windows of La Fontana Restaurant & Café frame the Abu Dhabi night skyline, lit up by the electric blue outlines of the Etihad Towers, the flashing white lights of various buildings and the golden hue of the Emirates Palace. Neon signs line the streets, shedding light on the nightlife buzz of the city, and the moon shines over the Gulf. The Abu Dhabi night is certainly a sight to see, a time when the city shines at it’s brightest.
La Fontana takes up the entire 19th floor of the Golden Fish Tower building, providing a wrap-around view of the city. During the day, the café hosts businessmen and women meeting for lunch, and at night, hoards of local students strike up conversation over shisha. Both the striking view of the skyline as well as the turquoise waters attract an array of visitors who want a combination of good food, shisha and a beautiful view. As opposed to other rooftop cafés, La Fontana is relatively cheap, rivaling the prices of Tarbouche or Chapters.
For those who want to get work done, La Fontana offers unlimited wi-fi and has worktables inside. Open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m., the café is perfect for either breakfast or late night study sessions with shisha. In the cooler winter months, students and staff should make use of the outdoor patio that can’t be used for many months of the year due to the weather.
“In the morning, you can see the sea and the Corniche,” said manager Adam Khais, “This is the best weather, really.”
La Fontana opened two years ago and combines an Italian decor with a mixed menu of U.S. American, Italian and Arab dishes. Aside from hummus, tabbouleh and naan, La Fontana offers peanut butter and banana sandwiches and fried ice cream, two customer favorites.
“The customers, they really like [the fried ice cream], it has ice cream and then a layer of cake” said Khais.
For drinks, Khais recommends the Fontana mocktails or the cappuccino. Indoors, the café serves Italian espresso that may wake the taste buds of the coffee enthusiasts at NYU Abu Dhabi. Aside from delicious coffee, the head cake chef, Sajid Sadaruwan, creates masterpiece cakes that are on display and can be ordered for birthdays.
Photo by Nicole Lopez del Carril/The Gazelle
For students who want to treat their friends to a delicious cake in Abu Dhabi, order one day ahead of time and you can provide chef Sadaruwan with any design, photograph or idea for the cake. Although a bit pricey at 150 AED per kilo, the cakes are exquisite.
La Fontana offers much of what students most crave in Abu Dhabi: a beautiful outdoors area, great coffee and food, fantastic shisha and a lovely view. The outer brick wall of the patio is slowly disappearing behind twisting green vines. Khais explained that the hope is for the whole wall to be covered in vines, framing the skyline in green.
“[Here] you can feel the life,” said Khais proudly.
How to get there: La Fontana Restaurant & Café is located in the Golden Fish Tower in the Khalidiya neighborhood, about a ten dirham cab ride from Sama Tower. It is located on Corniche Street W., 32nd Street opposite Bin Hamoodah Show Room and in the same building as the Second Cup Café. The coordinates are 24.469074, 54.337766.
Nicole Lopez del Carril is a staff writer. Email her at
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