A must for any stay in Jordan, the capital has a number of addresses to learn about the nuances of Middle Eastern cuisine. On the go or taking the time, a brief overview of Amman’s must-sees.
Jordan, this small country at the crossroads of the Middle East, welcomes all the regional specialties to its table. Levantine gastronomy with its colorful mezze and grilled skewers holds the upper hand. Yemeni cuisine, which Jordanians are particularly fond of, occupies a good place. As for the small daily canteens, they tend to specialize in a flagship dish: shawarma, falafel, mansaf… Foreign flavors are more the prerogative of the capital’s chic hotels.
Fakhr el-Din, Lebanon in style
This beautiful house, which was once the residence of the Prime Minister of Jordan, then that of the Spanish Ambassador, is part of the repertoire of good addresses for Jordanian high society. Located in one of Amman’s oldest neighborhoods, it is now home to some of the best Levantine cuisine in the capital. The white-lined tables are set in the old reception rooms with colonnades and coffered ceilings, or in the garden planted with laurels and jasmine, weather permitting. The endless menu offers a hundred dishes to share among the guests. The staff will help you compose a mezze of choice, between well-known specialties and more original recipes.
Fakhr el-Din, Jebel Amman, 2nd Circle, Amman. Such. : +962 79 543 0055. Open daily from noon to midnight. €€€
Bedouin-style Tawaheen al-Hawa
A little out of the way in the new residential districts of the capital, this address is one of our favorites in Amman. They serve delicious Levantine cuisine with corseted flavours, in a vast courtyard lined with Bedouin tents. The tabbouleh with its measured acidity will seduce you, as will the moutabal, the aubergine caviar, with its delicious smoky accent. For bread, prefer the “shrak”, a large thin pancake prepared by an old Bedouin woman in the entrance to the restaurant. The large tables are set with a hammered copper tray on which the dishes ordered are placed. We happily pick from it among guests, while discussing or sharing, why not, a scented hookah.
Tawaheen al-Hawa, Wasfi al-Tal Road, Jubilee Garden, Amman. Such. : +962 6 534 9986. Open daily from noon to midnight. €€
Reem, the mecca of shawarma
This little eatery with a white and red sign on the outskirts of the 2nd Circle is never empty, whatever the time of day. The Ammanians do not hesitate to cross the city and face its legendary traffic jams for the pleasure of swallowing one, or even two sandwiches stuffed with shavings of beef or lamb, onion and topped with white sauce. In 45 years of existence, the address has become a veritable institution and more than 5,000 shawarmas are prepared every day by an overtrained team. No table or chairs, the sandwiches are sold to take away only and can be eaten behind the wheel or in the back of the car.
Reem, 54 al-Kulliyah Al-Elmiyah Al-Islamiyah Street, 2nd Circle, Amman. Such. +962 79 650 4584. Open daily from 10 a.m. to midnight, Friday until 2:30 a.m. €.
Bab al-Yemen, the best mandi from Amman
Jordanians are fond of Yemeni cuisine and new restaurants are constantly springing up all over the country. Bab al-Yemen’s spotless reputation makes it one of the most reliable places to learn about this little-known cuisine. Generous, it traditionally consists of a large dish of rice and marinated meats. The most popular dish of this somewhat kitsch establishment is the chicken mandi, a chicken seasoned with spices and cooked in a clay oven. The smoky notes of this type of cooking mingle with flavors of cumin, coriander and cloves. The spices are tempered by yoghurt which is mixed with meat and rice. A more complex dish than it seems and which will delight big appetites.
Bab al-Yemen, 109 Ghosheh Street, Amman. Such. +962 78 888 9665. Open 24/7. €
Salt, a steakhouse like in New York
The first floor of the very chic Hotel Fairmont houses a restaurant halfway between the Parisian brasserie and the American steakhouse. Refrigerated display cases stocked with wagyu or angus beef set the tone. Here, the meats are matured with care, the cuts made with string and the cooking precise. The kitchen occupies a central position, bordered by a large zinc bar and framed by tables placed in cubicles. Woodwork, mirrors and brass lamps ensure the cozy atmosphere. The impeccable service, in white shirts and black trousers, displays the codes of our dear Parisian cafés. Note a very nice wine list, as well as crunchy and soft bread worthy of the best French bakeries. A fine address for those who resist the charms of Middle Eastern cuisine.
Salt, Hotel Fairmont, 6 Beirut Street, Amman. Such. : +962 6 510 6000. Open every day from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. €€€
Sufra, authentic Jordan
Open for a decade, it is rumored that Sufra offers the most authentic Jordanian cuisine. The recipes are intended to be household, simple and tasty. You will find the essential mezze, grilled meats and mansaf. But the real specialties of the house are the dishes simmered in terracotta pots, including the famous sajjiyeh, prepared with lamb or chicken. The frame sticks perfectly to the spirit of the card. Sufra occupies a quiet house in the heart of bustling Rainbow Street. Meals are served in the garden or in the beautiful family dining room which has retained its earthenware tiles.
Sufra, 26 Rainbow Street, Amman. Such. : +962 6 461 1468. Open every day from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., from 1 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Reservation imperative. €€