• Hilary McCormack

Eating out in Riyadh

Updated: Jul 13


"I am on a seafood diet, I see food, and I eat it."

The tradition of gathering together to 'break bread' is an ancient habit that signifies the sharing of a common meal. Food, nourishment, sustenance, and subsistence offer moments in our busy day when we stop to enjoy, share and learn about new taste experiences, no matter where we are on the planet.

My education in new recipes for a familiar taste, local dishes, and fresh fruit drinks develop weekly in Riyadh. I find reimagined and increasingly fabulous places to meet my friends regularly. It can be for a late breakfast following a hike in Wadi Hanifah or dinner following a long day in the office.

Laksa

I hope my list below will give you some ideas about what to try out on your time off or your next visit to Riyadh. Because if you haven't already, you really need to! All of these places are the very definition of yum.

Mint Tea

Foodie destinations


Plenty of Things:

I love the architecture of this location; it's boutique all the way. Elegant, sophisticated, and personalized to showcase smaller local designers and chic dining options. Situated on the Northern Ring, it is easy to reach no matter where you come from in Riyadh.


The Zone:

Spanning 50,000 square meters, The Zone is a serious foodie destination. The options on offer range from fine dining to funky coffee-shop hangouts. You can eat indoors or outdoors, weather permitting. You will find familiar 5-star eateries and boutique cafés straight off famous La Piazzas in Europe.


Riyadh Front:

Situated on Airport Road, this venue is mixed-use dining, shopping, and entertainment zone. Plenty of space to walk around and window shop if that is what you want to do before you enjoy refreshments from one of over forty cafes and restaurants.


Diplomatic Quarter

Perhaps the best-known location in Riyadh. Al Safarat or the DQ is much larger than Oud Square; if you search Diplomatic Quarter on Google Maps and click nearby restaurants, you will find a wide selection of restaurants. I found a wonderful secret there recently. It is called Le Maschou, a lovely French restaurant that is well worth visiting.


Foodie Secrets


Darbar Indian Restaurant

As the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. Darbar is a delicious venue in the center of Riyadh for authentic and very affordable Indian food and fresh fruit drinks. If you didn't know this place, you might overlook it. I am saying put it on your list of must check out!


Byo

A Japanese Restaurant which is reasonably new to our capital city. Again it is in the center of Riyadh in Olaya. A beautifully laid-out restaurant with private teppanyaki bars which you can have for yourself and your friends. I recommend ending your meal with some passionfruit Mochi Ice cream.


Sociale Café

I am lucky enough to be able to brag that I have been to the first Sociale Café in Beruit, and it is great to see this little gem in Riyadh. Young and trendy café which serves food all day long. Follow them on Instagram here.


Flour & Firewood

There is no need to book this enchanting restaurant as they serve guests on a first-come basis. But I will add it's very popular for a good reason, the food is amazing.


Local tastes at a great price


Najh Village

When you first get to Riyadh and want to try out some local tastes from an authentic Saudi kitchen, this is the venue that everyone recommends. And Najh Village doesn't disappoint.


Shawarma House

I love a good shawarma sandwich and visit this little gem regularly. There are a number of outlets across Riyadh. And coming from the British Isles, where shawarma costs 8 GPB, I can assure you will be satisfied with a good meal for 15 SAR.


Al Romansiah

There is about 19 Al Romansiah restaurant across Saudi Arabia. When I am out exploring Saudi, as soon as I stumble across an Al RomansiahI Restaurant, I stop immediately as I know this restaurant offers delicious food in a local setting for great prices.


The Dim Light Restaurant.

A little oasis in Al Dhiriyah, popular for breakfast and lunch. It also has a charming garden out the back. There is a bike hire shop next door if you want to have a ride around the traditional mud-brick architecture of Ad Diriyah and the pedestrianized maze of winding alleyways.


Piatto

I love this restaurant for its great value for money, the bread basket, dips, and generous salad are all complimentary no matter what you order. As a result, you always go home with a doggie bag for later.


Familiar Friends


Each of the venues below forms parts of a transnational brand which are all very popular in Riyadh. Some have many outlets, so I have included a link to each restaurant so you can check them out if you want to visit them.


Butcher and Grill * For Steak connoisseurs.

Café Bateel * I initially found my first Bateel Cafe in Dubai, but it is actually a Saudi Brand.

Eataly * Check out their Italian marketplace in-store.

Lusin * Armenian restaurant offering unique tastes in lux surroundings.

PF Chang's * A restaurant that is always bustling, with heady aromas of its Asian fusion cuisine.

Ritz Carlton Al Orjouan Brunch * Go hungry.

Wabi-Sabi *Vegetarian Restaurant with Soul


The standards for eating out in Riyadh are high. The fact that I haven't mentioned a particular venue doesn't mean they don't rate. Far from it, they are all primarily different levels of excellence. I am just mentioning places that have their own unique edge, which appeals to me.


I am sure you will find your own special places to come together to "break bread." Sahtain! or Bon Appetit!



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