A historic port town and pilgrim gateway, Jeddah is a city used to welcoming the world, so it’s little wonder, then, that the city’s cuisine brims with international flavors.
Today, huge expatriate communities have made Jeddah a cultural melting pot where nearly every culinary whim can be satisfied. “This has allowed [the country’s] food offering to evolve and become a fusion of other cultures as well as introduce Saudi cuisine to the newcomers,” says Mayada Badr, CEO of the Culinary Arts Commission in Saudi Arabia. “As traders, we have ingredients in our local cuisine that are not always native to us but which we have adapted. We tend to be creative with our cooking and eager to discover new flavors.” From fine dining at one of the city’s award-winning restaurants to spicy street eats in a bustling ethnic neighborhood, this guide covers some of the restaurants in Jeddah that offer the best international cuisine.
This little-known Pakistani eatery was once popular with just the local South Asian expats in Jeddah’s Little India — but not anymore. Now Saudis and Western expats from far and wide frequent Makkah Restaurant, just off King Fahd Road in Sharafiyah. Bite into tantalizingly spicy karahi gosht (fried mutton curry) with chana dal (spiced lentils and chickpeas) in this simple, no-frills eatery that serves up some of Jeddah’s best curries that don’t cost much more than a cup of coffee.
Jeddah’s first Brazilian churrascaria is a carnivore’s culinary fantasy. South Americans are famous for knowing how to grill their meat, and this elegant restaurant in the InterContinental Hotel offers an all-you-can-eat experience with hard-to-beat views of the Red Sea and King Fahd Fountain, the tallest fountain in the world. Local tip: When seated at Spears, each patron gets a green-and-red wooden cylinder (see above). Leave the green side up if you want waiters to continue to frequent your table with deliciously spiced racks of grilled meat. When your plate starts to fill up, or you need a break to digest, flip the pointer red side up to signal them to stop.
Situated in Al Khaliddiyah, this stylish restaurant evokes the spirit of Turkey by serving up the finest Anatolian fare in Jeddah. Succulently grilled meat, flamed chicken wings and skewers of Adana kebabs are delivered on mountains of flavored bulgur and steamed rice. Couple these with a hearty salad, woodfire-baked bread and a host of traditional Mediterranean dips and dishes, such as hummus and ali nazik, for a memorable meal.
The welcoming ambience of Turkuoise makes it easy to ask the restaurant’s friendly staff questions about the menu or for suggestions on what to order. Whatever you try, make sure you leave room for at least one slice of Turkuoise’s signature sweet dish, the indulgent kanafeh.
For travelers getting a taste of Jeddah’s many flavors during the summer, consider attending Jeddah Summer Festival for Arabic-style street food, watercraft rides, music, fireworks and more. Use this summer guide to discover the city’s coast, culture and cosmopolitan lifestyle, featuring tips on where to stay, from The Ritz-Carlton on the corniche to the waterfront Sheraton.