Eating out in Riyadh
Updated: Oct 8
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 were not aware of this place, you might overlook it. I am saying put it on your list of 'must-check-out dining experiences!
A Japanese Restaurant which is reasonably new to our capital city. Again it is in the center of Riyadh in Olaya. You can have a beautifully laid-out restaurant with private teppanyaki bars for yourself and your friends. I recommend ending your meal with some passionfruit Mochi Ice cream.
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.
There is no need to book this charming 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 fantastic.
Black Tap is located in King Abdullah Financial District and has a cult following. This hugely popular American restaurant offers a classic American-style menu, live music, and a young, funky vibe. It is nestled in the heart of the up-and-coming financial district of Riyadh.
Local tastes at a great price
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.
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.
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.
A little oasis in Al Dhiriyah, popular for breakfast and lunch. It also has a charming garden out the back. After lunch, take a stroll around the traditional mud-brick architecture of Ad Diriyah and the pedestrianized maze of winding alleyways.
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.
Each of the venues below forms parts of an international 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 with their unique edge, which appeal to me.
I am sure you will find your own special places to come together to "break bread." Sahtain! or Bon Appetit!