Eating out in Jeddah offers access to a diverse range of eateries, a legacy of the city’s long and colorful history as a trading hub. One minute you could be sampling Hijazi-inspired cuisine in a traditional dining spot; the next, eating chili-scented ramen at marble-topped counters in a fusion restaurant.
For some of the city’s best eating, head to the Al Rawdah district in North Jeddah, which has been dubbed Restaurant Row due to the number of new dining spots popping up; or follow the waft of local spices in the narrow streets of the historic district. To get you started, we asked Ahmed Darwish, the creator behind Instagram’s The Foodies SA, for his take on some of the city’s best dining spots, whatever your budget or taste.
This eclectic restaurant is the brainchild of cousins Arwa and Mai Al Huraibi, and brings the vibe of Jeddah’s traditional souqs to the buzzing Al Salamah district. The family’s fabric merchant heritage has been cleverly transmuted into a bright cluttering of décor, with colorful textiles suspended from the ceiling, mosaic floor tiles and a winding, turquoise stairwell. Meez is an old Arabic word meaning ‘buffet’ or ‘food spread’ – and the menu is familiar Arabic fare with a contemporary twist. Highlights include their beetroot tabbouleh, chicken Komar (their own take on butter chicken), or samosa mac n’ cheese. Leave room for dessert, in particular their saffron milk cake, with a cup of spiced Adani tea. If you’re lucky, you may hear the staff break into song, accompanied by the traditional drums used to welcome guests into the Hijazi home.
Baco has taken the city by storm since it opened in June 2019 on the famous Boulevard Square on King Abdulaziz road. In short, the music is loud, the pace fast, and the food fantastic. Modern industrial décor is the perfect neutral backdrop to its fusion menu, which combines Far Eastern and Mexican cuisine. Where else can you get both baos and tacos in one place? Go for the duck salad – probably one of the best in town – drizzled in wasabi sauce; or Baco’s take on the classical Korean bibimbap: rice with BBQ beef, an egg, kimchi, and spicy Korean sauce. Bite-sized chorizo or prawn tacos add a tantalizing Mexican zing. Expect to pay around SAR150 (US$40) for the full experience at this buzzy hotspot.
When eating out in Jeddah, few restaurants have a view to rival Qamreya’s, a Lebanese-style restaurant located on the rooftop of an eight-floor building with stunning views over Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz (Tahlia) street. Whether it’s a cup of coffee at breakfast, or dinner accompanied by live music, Qamreya doesn’t disappoint. Lebanese cuisine is characterized mostly by its mezze and starters and you’ll find an abundant hot and cold selection on offer here. Eat these with the sublime bread, which is baked on-site in a traditional Lebanese clay oven. Make sure you sample the grilled meats, which come served on a sizzling hot plate. Weekend evenings are particularly busy, with live music and a throng of diners.
For a taste of America head to Shrimp Zone, where they serve seafood cooked the traditional southern way – in a bag. A small branch exists on Prince Sultan Road, but the one the foodie crowd gathers at is on Sari Street, which – not one to miss an Instagram trick – has become famous for the slide that streaks through the middle of the restaurant. Despite competing in a crowded seafood market, Shrimp Zone is always packed, with diners coming for its mouthwatering sauces and freshly caught shrimp and seafood. Choose from shrimp, calamari, lobster, or crab legs, then select your sauce and your level of spiciness. Our recommended bag: shrimp with spicy lemon pepper sauce with extra garlic, for just SAR65 (US$17).
Yemeni cuisine is a key component of Jeddah’s food scene. Until recently, though, it was mainly served from small, backstreet restaurants, or as takeaway. The Yemeni Village, with its three-floor restaurant – designed to look like a traditional Yemeni clay house – has brought it into the mainstream. Choose from the menu’s many maghash dishes, which are meat-based and cooked in a traditional stone pot; or spicy, shakshouka eggs. We recommend the fahsa – slow-cooked marinated meat that’s buttery and tender. All orders are served with malawah-style buttery layered bread. As for dessert, try the deliciously calorific marsa, which is a mix of bananas, dried bread, honey, and cream. And then head straight for the gym.