Bahrain on a budget

Here’s how to live an active, social island life for next to nothing Discuss this article

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Feeling a little pocket poor this month? Are you spent after a full blown festive season? Then this is the guide for you. Here’s how to live an active, social island life for next to nothing.

Following a festive season filled with indulgence, chances are that you, like us, are feeling a little light in the purse this month. We’re cracking open the piggy bank after plenty of gift giving, foodie spreads and travels, but that doesn’t mean we’re not making the most of it. Bahrain has so much to offer on a budget, there’s no need to be a hermit. We’ve scoured the city for the best restaurants, shops, activities and deals so you can enjoy the fruits of your labour for longer without having to sacrifice taste, quality or life experience. Just follow this essential guide to frugal living and you’ll never need spend more than BD10 again.

Cheap eats

Forget fancy five-star fare, we’ve found some great little gems offering delicious food for a very reasonable price tag. Just note, ‘average price of a meal for two’ means you’ll get a veritable feast for less than BD10.

Aroma Express

Cuisine: Lebanese
Average price of a meal for two: BD8
The company behind the popular Aroma Café in Seef Mall have opened another ‘express’ branch on the busy American Alley in Juffair. It matches fast and casual dining with traditional Arabian flavours in a vibrant venue. Stop in for a bite or take away – the menu includes all the favourites like shawarma, fatayer, pizza, grills and cold and hot mezzes, plus more, and it’s all reasonably priced, beautifully presented and tasty. We particularly love the bright oranges and greens, and if you head upstairs you can grab a stool at the bar and overlook the bustling roads beneath.
Open daily 11am-3am. The Mall, American Alley, Juffair (1721 2126).

Burrito Loco

Cuisine: Mexican
Average price of a meal for two: BD6
We’ve got a new Mexican spot in town that serves fantastically huge and tasty burritos. Burrito Loco, located along American Alley in Juffair, is a very basic concept – you choose a base (burrito, burrito bowl, tacos or salad), your filling (chicken, beef, shrimp, vegetables), then your sauce (pico de gallo or ranchero), then add on any extras like guacamole or nachos, and even tasty churros. Then you can perch on the bench seating or take it away. We highly recommend this spot if you’re craving a quick Mexican fix. They also do home delivery within Juffair.
Open daily 10am-1.30am. The Mall, American Alley, Juffair (1700 2979).

Emma-Wash

Cuisine: Bahraini
Average price of a meal for two: BD5
The writing is on the wall at this authentic Bahraini spot, literally. What really makes Emma-Wash (pronounced ‘emaa-wesh’) stand out is the décor: walls filled with graffiti that’s been drawn on by regular customers (we’ve even had a go!) and bench seating, plastic table cloths and majla-style seating area upstairs. But the food is also fabulous – there’s a small menu of traditional Bahraini breakfast and dinner dishes from eggs with tomato to balaleet to harees, served up in small pans and scooped up with the flat bread. You can seriously eat like a king here and your eyes will pop when you get the bill (‘That’s it?!’).
Open daily 6am-10pm. Budaiya Highway, on the same strip as Fish World (1730 9030).

Fish House
Cuisine: Seafood, Bahrain
This down-to-earth Bahraini fish restaurant has been the talk of the town for years, which is why it always makes the cut in our restaurant awards shortlist. Of course, it may be more of a canteen than an institution of fine dining but Fish House offers some of the freshest and tastiest seafood offerings we’ve found for under BD10. It’s seriously local and very basic, always packed to the brim with a rather limited menu but we love it.
Open daily 11am-11pm. Budaiya Highway, opposite International Hospital (1759 4040).

Honey’s Thai Restaurant
Cuisine: Thai
Average price of a meal for two: BD7
The Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards Best Budget eatery for 2014 is this little ‘hole-in-the-wall’ with a menu full of authentic, lip-smacking Thai specialties. Honey’s has been around since 1986, serving the good people of Bahrain with what can only be described as one of the tastiest Tom Yum soups we’ve tried around these parts. The menu is extensive, the food always good, the service is efficient and you’re always bound to find a bustling dining area no matter the time of day (they only close for five hours!). Sure, the décor is pretty basic but that’s what we love about it.
Open daily 10am-5.30am. Next to Gold City, Manama Souq (3923 8507).

Londoner
Cuisine: British
Average price of a meal for two: BD7
Our Time Out London parent would be very proud of this concept, as it takes us right back home with their UK style doner kebabs. The Londoner, located just off the Shaikh Isa bin Salman Highway, is a small little eatery that offers home delivery all over the country. They not only offer tasty, meaty doner wraps, but also a selection of brilliant burgers including ‘The Knightsbridge’, ‘Well Hard’ and ‘The Big Ben’. They also have some weight watcher options for the dieters among us, as well as a huge selection for kids.
Open noon-11pm. Shaikh Isa bin Salman Highway, Tubli (1733 2123).

Mini Delights
Cuisine: Cheesecake
Average price of a meal for two: BD3
Now we don’t want to send all of you dieters straight off the bandwagon just as your New Year’s resolutions kick in but the concept of Mini Delights is pure genius. It’s an entire business based around the creamy, delectable, old classic cheesecake. Not only that, but mini cheesecakes! Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to take a bite out of that? These treats are truly delightful with so many to choose from – original, red velvet, nutella, peanut butter, chocolate, fruity – and you can pack up a dozen for just BD3 and savour them over days. Alternatively, a box of these little yummies makes a great gift.
Open daily 10am-10pm. Budaiya Highway (1759 5254).

Mojo
Cuisine: Light café fare and juices
Average price of a meal for two: BD6
If you’re craving something on the healthier side then Mojo Juice Bar in Seef’s Al Moayyed Tower might just have the answer. They serve up a range of creative sandwiches, salads and main meals (try the vegetable risotto!), alongside a wide selection of fresh, healthy juices promising to revitalise, detox or relax – depending on your choice. It’s cheap, available to order for delivery and it’s the nearest thing we can find to a healthy lunch al desko that won’t break the bank!
Open Sun-Thu 7.30am-5.30pm; Sat 7.30am-4pm. Al Moayyed Tower, Seef (1756 4077).

Pizza Empress by Mr Slice

Cuisine: Pizza
Average price of a meal for two: BD4
Our pal Mr Slice over at Pizza Empress in Adliya has worked wonders with this tiny hole-in-the-wall pizzeria, transforming it into a forgotten back alley eatery to the takeaway of choice for all pizza lovers. Chef Errin Stone (aka Mr Slice) has devised a menu but he more enjoys coming up with personalised creations for his regular customers from cheesy, meaty delights to vegan treats with a range of fantastic ingredients, condiments and little signature touches (such as the yummy herb blend he sprinkles on his crusts). You can sit in and eat (although it’s a bit of a squeeze) or take away, but it’s great to watch Errin in his element with his stone oven. Best of all, you can get a whopping 18-inch pizza to share with more than two people for just under BD5.
Open Sat-Thu noon-midnight. Fri 3pm-midnight. Next to Al Jazira Supermarket, behind Habara Snacks and Fish, Adliya (1774 2299).

Swagat

Cuisine: Vegetarian, South Indian
Average price of a meal for two: BD3
Swagat provides us with some of the best Indian food we’ve tasted for this price on the island, and it’s nestled amid the back alleys of the souq. Where else would you go for authentic, delicious, cheap and cheerful Indian food after all? It’s a two-storey, very basic eatery that fills up with expat Indians throughout the day (so you know it’s good), split into singles and family sections upstairs. Just make sure you head over there hungry, because you’ll leave very, very full, and we recommend trying the dosas for breakfast and the extensive thali for lunch or dinner. The thali is a mere 900 fils!
Open daily 6.30am-10pm. Building 1261, Road 428, Manama Souq (1726 3096).

By Time Out Bahrain staff
Time Out Bahrain,

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