Amman is a major city and it’s a culinary melting pot of countless different dishes, ethnic meals, and traditional cuisines.
How does the traveler sort through all this and decide the best restaurants to go with limited time?
We made this ultimate insider’s guide for you. These are the places to go.
The Best of the Best: Amman Restaurants
1. Al Quds Restaurant (Downtown)
Al Quds is a famous Arabic and Oriental restaurant that has been a staple of the downtown area for decades. It’s name comes from the Arabic word for Jerusalem “Al Quds”. Their house dishes include such legendary and delicious Jordanian and Palestinian meals such as Mansaf (lamb and rice and delicious sauce) and Maqloubeh (rice and chicken and spices). It’s a great place to come alone or with large groups, and the restaurant is beautifully decorated with pictures of Jerusalem.
2. Hashem Restaurant (Downtown)
Located in the heart of downtown, Hashem Restaurant is without a doubt the most famous restaurant in all of Amman. It has delicious and popular Arabic meals like falafel, hummus, mufaraka (a unique egg and potatoe combination), fool (healthy mashed beans) and kibda (a combination of fried chicken or sheep mixed with onions and potatoes). You’ll never pass by Hashem Restaurant without seeing it full of people and for good reason. It’s great for eating alone or in groups, and it has a very Arabic feel to it. It’s also one of the cheapest restaurants on this list.
3. Al Quds Falafel (Rainbow Street)
There’s only one item on the menu here. Can you guess what it is? Al Quds Falafel is the most famous falafel place in Amman. It’s a great way to experience falafel as the average Jordanian eats it, and many Jordanians will swear that it’s the greatest falafel there is. A historic building, the restaurant is almost as old as the country itself (founded just 20 years after Jordan’s independence.) The King is known to come here every now and then, as evidenced by the countless pictures of him scattered around the restaurant. It has no inside seating, so people tend to buy sandwiches and bring them either home or to the many nearby public areas where one can eat. Sandwiches are about half a dollar.
4. Shahrazad (Downtown)
Named after the main protagonist in the Arabic literary epic “A Thousand and One Nights”, Shahrazad is the place to go if you want to try the famous Arabic dish “Kefta”. Kefta is grilled minced meats that can be either sheep, goat, chicken, or lamb. There’s a vast array of dishes you can order besides Kefta, so you will be able to sate your appetite regardless of what you’re dying to try. Great to come to with small or large groups. It’s an average-priced restaurant, so expect to pay around 7-10 dollars for a meal.
5. Abu Zaghala (Many Locations)
Abu Zaghleh is our favorite place to go to get traditional Jordanian dishes. Though not as famous as Al Quds Restaurant, it has a wide mix of different traditional dishes across the Middle East, North African, and Asian continent. Abu Zaghleh has been around for 20 years, and also has a rich variety of different fresh, natural juices which the customer can order. This is a fantastic place to bring your friends and family and you can expect to pay around 7-12 dollars for a meal. This is one of the restaurants favorited by actual Jordanians who live here, and is thus far removed from being just another one of the “tourist traps.”
6. Khashoka (Abdoun)
You simply can’t go wrong with Khashoka. They have a rich variety of Arabic foods of all kinds. The restaurant is a fun place to eat in and it’s also quite the dining experience. The venue is extremely nice and it’s very conducive to small or large groups. They have a rich variety of Arabic foods of all kinds. Prices are a little bit more expensive here if you choose to order certain meals, but there are also plenty of cheap options as well.
7. Biryani Restaurant (Downtown)
In the last decade and a half, a large Indian, Pakitstani, and Bangladeshian community have sprung up across the streets of Amman. These people bring not only their culture but also their food. Hidden within downtown is our favorite place to try delicious Indian/Pakistani food here in Jordan. Called Biryani Restaurant, it features a menu of about 20 different dishes and drinks which are sure to whet your appetite. If you’re worried about it being too spicy, don’t worry: it’s not that kind of place. Prices are cheap, and you can easily serve 4-5 people here while only paying about fifteen dollars. There is both indoor and outdoor seating, meaning you can choose whichever is more appropriate depending on the weather of the day.
8. Bab Al-Yemen (Many Locations)
Yemeni food is one of the hidden secrets of Jordan. It absolutely needs to be on the radar of anyone visiting Jordan (or the Middle East) for the first time, and it’s one of those unforgettable memories that can define a trip. Everyone who tries it doesn’t just like it- they love it. Yemeni food has delicious bread, rice, and meat dishes combined together with amazing spices that you will be begging to come back to the next day. Portions are huge at this place and you will be sure to get your money’s worth. One of the most unique things about this place is that you can choose to sit in a special room where you eat in a traditional style – on a blanket on the ground with your shared food in the center. When you do this with friends and family, it makes for a heartwarming and unforgettable experience.
9. Shams El-Balad (Near Rainbow Street)
Rainbow street is one of the most vibrant areas of Amman, and it’s full of great cafes and restaurants that will all make sure you have a great time. Our favorite restaurant in the area is Shams El-Balad, a local Arabic foodery that represents the perfect combination of modernity and traditionality. It’s the perfect choice for a local breakfast meal and it has an atmosphere that feels very much like home. The atmosphere is uniquely Jordanian and their website states they are a “celebration of our heritage, land, and the people who work tirelessly to protect them for all of us to enjoy.” The prices are about double what you will find in other places; however, you shouldn’t expect to pay more than around 8 dollars per person.
10. Rosa Damascena (Second Circle)
Syria has long been known as a culinary Mecca. You can experience all of that in Amman at Rosa Damascena. The only thing as incredible as the mouth-watering Syrian grilled food you will taste is the feel of the restaurant. The venue is beautiful and has a strong Oriental feel to it, and also has wheelchair accessibility which makes it ideal for many individuals. Prices are a little bit more expensive, so be prepared to pay between 10-18 dollars.
11. Fakhreldin (Jabal Amman)
Located in an ancient and legendary Jordanian home in an old neighborhood of Jabal Amman, a family bought the house twenty years ago and transformed it into a Lebanese restaurant. The rest is history. It has a variety of different healthy foods and the menu has more than 100 different Lebanese dishes (including some non-Lebanese food as well). It’s won countless international and local prizes for being the best restaurant in Jordan and in Amman and is definitely one of the must-see restaurants we recommend you to go if you have limited time.
Outside you can see some of the plants which they use in the kitchen as various ingredients, just one example of how fresh the food is. There’s also a special section for people who love to smoke “Shisha”, the Arabic water pipe known as hookah in the west. Shisha is a huge cultural phenomenon throughout the Middle East and it’s extremely common to see people smoking it on the streets and in restaurants and cafes.
The place is also the most expensive restaurant in this list, so keep your wallet in mind if you only have limited funds here in Jordan.
12. Samawer Restaurant (Near 7th Circle)
Samawer Restaurant is a Circassian restaurant, meaning food from the historic area of Circassia (a land area between the Middle East and Russia). Here, you can treat yourself to a large buffet for breakfast or lunch that combines both native Circassian delicacies along with the native Jordanian cuisine. Prices are not too expensive, and you can also learn about the history of the Circassian people in Jordan through viewing artifacts and photographs on display throughout the restaurant. It’s great to go with in large groups. They close at 6PM.
Looking for the Street Food of Amman?
13. Shawarma 3a Saj (Many Locations)
Sharama is a fixture of the Levant. If you are coming to Jordan for more than a day, you can’t afford to miss one of the most commonly eaten foods in the Middle East. You’d be hard pressed to walk ten minutes without finding a shawarma place, and there are probably thousands of shawarma shops across Amman. Some Jordanians talk about their favorite shawarma place like how people talk about their favorite sports team, but our personal favorite and a perennial classic is Shawarma 3a (pronounced Aah) Saj, which you can find in countless locations across Amman. It’s comparatively priced with other shawarma restaurants and they are one of the rare shawarma places which can both makes a delicious chicken and beef sandwich (people generally prefer chicken).
14. Abu Jbara (Many Locations)
Falafel is another one of the Arabic classics. Don’t be fooled if you’ve tried “falafel” in the West; here, it’s completely different. It’s made fresh here and from fresh ingredients and is a pastime of Jordanians both due to its taste and economic accessibility (you can pay about half a dollar for a sandwich).
You can buy falafel pretty much anywhere, but one of our absolute favorites is Abu Jbara. This famous falafel restaurant is always booming with customers.There is a wide variety of different falafel sandwiches and toppings you can add to your sandwich, distinguishing it from the vast variety of falafel shops which only have a couple of options. It’s a little more expensive than other falafel sandwiches (expect to pay about a dollar), but it’s well worth the price.
15. Usra (Abdoun)
Walk along the streets of Amman in the early morning and you are likely to see groups of individuals sitting along the street huddled along a table eating traditional local breakfast dishes. There are several of these local and traditional delicies, but they tend to include falafel, hummus, mufaraka (egg and potato), fried tomatoes, hummus with meat, kiba, and other dishes.
Looking for a similar experience in the morning? There are many options (check out Shams El-Balad above), but also think about checking out Ursa in Abdoun. This is one of the best places to try a traditional Jordanian restaurant and also boasts a wide variety of items and very cheap prices.
16. Sah El nom (Rainbow Street)
Manakeesh is a Levantine staple found all across Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Jordanians eat manakeesh all the time for breakfast or for quick snacks later in the day. It consists of bread baked with zatar, cheese, onion, tomatoes, ground meats, and/or a variety of other possible ingredients.
Our choice for the best manakeesh restaurant in Jordan goes to Sah El Nom in Rainbow Street. The restaurant has a nice outdoor venue where you can sit and enjoy, and the menu serves plenty of options for manakeesh, pizza, and other baked goods. It’s no one-trick pony, and during lunch time they diversity their menu and offer shawarma and other goods.
Compared with other restaurants its extremely cheap and the service is consistently fast. If you’re looking to try out the local dish manakeesh, this is the place to go.
Sweets and Desserts
17. Gerard Ice Cream (Many Locations)
Gerard has been in the business since 1995, and there’s a reason why it’s lasted so long and been so successful. In fact, it’s hard to name an ice cream location as successful as them (perhaps because there is none). They have six locations but their original and most famous location is in Abdoun. If you’re looking for a relaxing ice cream on a hot day, or a perfect way to end one’s night, you can’t go wrong at Gerard. There are ice creams, crepes, waffles, and hot drinks available for your pleasure and depending on your tastes. At most locations you can choose to take your food to another location or sit and enjoy right there at the store. Try their Arabic flavor!
18. Aima (Downtown)
Aima rounds off our selection of the best Ice cream in Amman. Their location in downtown is always busy – and for good reason! They have a variety of about 20 different flavors and an absolutely delicious ice-cream-in-waffle mix (ask about it when you get there). When you order from there, why not take your desert and eat under the nearby famous umbrella stairs in downtown Amman?
19. Nafisa Sweets (Many Locations)
Nafisa is a Syrian sweet shop that many people believe has the best “halaweaat” (sweets) in all of Jordan. They have tons of different deserts such as warbat, mabrooma, hareesa, and knafeh. They are famous for adding a lot of cashew nuts to their knafeh; this is remarkable since nuts, typically a more costly ingredient, tend to be skimped on by other knafeh restaurants. Many of these sweets are laced with sugars, syrups, and cheeses. These kinds of places are also perfect for gifts for family and friends back home. Buy a kilogram of sweets and have it safely wrapped for transportation back to your home. Some branches also offer Syrian and Levantine cooked dishes like ouzi and kiba, meaning you could eat a dinner meal there and then end it with sweets.
20. Habiba (Downtown)
Habiba is one of the most famous restaurants in downtown and they are known for their legendary knafeh. Established in 1951 by a pair of Palestinians brothers who fled to Jordan from Jerusalem following the Arab-Israeli war, it’s since grown to be a fixture of the downtown area. Knafeh is a hot desert that is layered with cheese, nuts, syrup, and pastries. Crowds of people surround the restaurant every night dying to satisfy their sweet teeth. There’s almost always a long line at night for Habeeba, so be prepared to wait 20 minutes or so before you get your food. If you can only pick from a few of the locations from this list, this should be one of the ones you choose.