When vacationing in Saudi Arabia, there’s just one important thing you need to understand when eating and drinking in Jeddah — Arab food is delicious. Arabic cuisine puts together the best Mediterranean, Indian and Middle Eastern cooking and this is what authentic Arab restaurants offer in the tourist-friendly city of Jeddah.
Traditional foods in Jeddah are very inviting since they primarily contain garlic, cinnamon, onion, mint, saffron, sesame, milk, yogurt, pepper, turmeric, vegetables (cucumbers, eggplants, tomato, zucchini, parsley), lamb, and fish since the city is located on the coast of the Red Sea. Pork is forbidden in Saudi Arabia.
Jeddah is the most foreigner-friendly city in the kingdom, which is clearly why it is most frequently visited. It is common to see so many westerners in the streets, beaches and restaurants. And about Jeddah beaches, it is only here where foreign tourists may disrobe and show some skin.
Jeddah is a major commercial city; the second largest and second most important city next only to the capital city of Riyadh. Jeddah is a wealthy city and also very spiritual since it is the gateway to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Millions of pilgrims come here during the Hajj season and thousands pass by Jeddah for some sightseeing and plenty of eating and drinking.
To try delicious Arabic dishes in the city, try some of these leading restaurants. Check out the best fish and seafood choices at Al-Nakheel (Palm Gardens) restaurant near the Corniche on Al-Mukhta St., Al-Khaledeyyah. The ambience is made perfect by the traditional fixtures, Arabic background music and open sides that allow the cool sea breeze to flow freely throughout.
Next is Green Island restaurant. If you can’t get enough of the Red Sea, Green Island is located literally across the water on stilts. Diners could, in fact, watch the water and fishes underneath through glass floor panels. Two of the house specialties are the seafood platter and rock lobster bisque. Green Island also serves Asian and Continental dishes.
Two other Arabic food places to try are Al Thamarat, a coffeehouse that serves traditional Saudi Arabian foods and is best known for its breakfast, and Restaurant Ful and Hummus near the Khayyam Al-Rabie date shop.
For diners who wish to get a taste of Asian foods, there is a number of Asian restaurants that don’t disappoint. A local favorite is Al-Shawly Corner serving fresh Filipino foods, Asia Restaurant serving delicious Tom Yum Kum, spicy seafood and other popular Thai dishes, and Al-Falah serving Chinese, Filipino and Arabic foods.
Drinking alcohol is forbidden. Foreign tourists would have to settle on soda, non-alcoholic beer and coffee. The best cafés are Starbucks, Java Lounge, Mugs & Beans, and Vertigo, to name a few.
As a major international hub, there are many more restaurants, cafés and menus to choose from when eating and drinking in Jeddah. The city offers other international dining choices, which include Pakistani, Lebanese, Korean, Indonesian, Indian, Turkish, Moroccan, Egyptian, and Japanese cuisines. Some other leading restaurants to visit are Scala Restaurant, Sun Rise Restaurant, Harry Ramsden’s Restaurant, and those that are found in major hotels, such as the Marriott Hotel Restaurant, Hilton Hotel Restaurant and Sofitel Hotel Restaurant. For American tourists wanting to taste home, there are McDonalds, Popeye’s, Pizza Hut, Chilis, and Fridays.