As hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the restaurant scene is quickly expanding. Here are some of the best familiar favourites and most exciting new eateries in the capital of Riyadh.
Smokey Beards Q
This southern-style barbecue spot in Hittin brings a taste of Americana to Saudi Arabia. The Texan-style smokehouse serves everything from ribs to brisket, and it’s a big hit with Riyadh’s residents – it’s packed almost every night. Most popular is the brisket sandwich.
Mama Noura in Al Rahmaniyah is more of a food hall than a restaurant. It’s split into sections, with stations for juice, bread, shawarma, grills and falafel. You order at the till and then pick up your food from the various areas, before sitting down at the first free table you spot to tuck into your feast. It’s particularly well known for its shawarmas and down-to-earth atmosphere.
This is one of the most notable fine-dining spots in Saudi’s capital. It sits inside a glass orb at the top of the soaring Faisaliah Tower, part of the Al Faisaliah Hotel. It serves up a range of Middle Eastern and international dishes, with a variety of tasting menus to choose from. The signature Wagyu steaks come particularly highly recommended.
Takya, which is based in As Sulimaniyah, offers a contemporary and gourmet twist on Arabian cuisine. The decor is smart and chic, with gold accents and terrazzo flooring. The chefs also throw in a few fusion elements, transforming familiar Saudi dishes in a way that's not really been seen before.
Charcoza Meze Grill
The focus at this At Taawun spot is firmly on meat: the chefs cook up premium ingredients using traditional spices and flavours from cultures across the Mediterranean, Levant and southern Asia. The team also grind up their own spices on site, with saffron from India, turmeric from Morocco and aniseed from Japan – to name a few. This is a place to share big plates with friends and family.
This Turkish steakhouse started life in Jeddah in 2015 and has now opened a branch in Riyadh. The rustic, homely interiors feature solid oak tables and exposed lightbulbs, while the menu spans everything from soups and salads to meatballs, burgers and dry-aged specialities. There is salmon on the grill and a chicken cutlet for anyone eschewing red meat.
This new spot has been talk of the town since it opened in November. Located in Al Mohammadiyaah, Poke Six offers a range of fresh poke bowls, with keto-friendly options and a build-your-own offering. Signature dishes include chicken teriyaki, spicy salmon, crab ponzu and wasabi tuna, which are all served up from a counter in a casual, small venue with a minimal but trendy aesthetic.
If you want to know what Saudi food is all about, head to a branch of Najd Village, where cuisine from the Najd region has been served since 1996. The menu boasts a selection of local favourites, with everything from margoog to magloba and kabsah served in a setting designed to resemble a traditional Saudi house – we’re talking majlis-style seating and even an old water well.