As much as we want to feature in the blog only the restaurants that we have tried in Riyadh, we couldn’t do that because we have only two mouths to feed, a limited fund and days per month for dining out, and a hundred restaurants in the city (and one opening every month or so). That’s why we’re coming up with lists of restaurants that you might want to try and if you do so, then can you can share your comments and experience about them.
Remember those days that we’re wishing for restaurants that serves new cuisine? Maybe Vietnamese or Korean BBQ (complete with grills on the table) or Greek? Well, these are still wishes that are yet to come true. However, there are some restos that you might want to know where you can go when the persistent “I want something new!” nags at your stomach and brain again and again. Some of these might not be new though; you just don’t know what they offer and serve yet. So here’s a list of restaurants you might want to visit on your next gala (trip outside) or your next celebration:
1. Gulluoglu (Turkish)
When my friends and I visited Turkey in 2014, we didn’t have the chance to enjoy their food as much because the buffet lunches we had on our package tour was always vegetable dishes. We were looking for the kebabs! Haha! But we’re happy to see Gulluoglu open in Riyadh. It’s most known for their baklava, which Gulluoglu School taught to its students since 1871. From the sweet baklava, Gulloglu expanded to restaurants and cafes. Their branch in Riyadh along King Fahd Road looks so lively from the outside. Inside, patrons are treated to various sweets and Turkish delight (always present) in their Sweet Counter. They have their generous servings of appetizers and freshly-baked pide (pies) in their restaurant. There are also kebabs (yey). Lamb Shish? Chicken Shish? Adana Kebab? Urfa Kebab? I guess we know where we’ll be going when we miss Turkey. We are seriously having daydreams of Istanbul, Ephesus, Pamukkale, and Cappadocia.
Gulluoglu Turkish Restaurant
King Fahd Road, Al Ramaneyyah
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [MAP]
T: +966-11-419 4477, +966-53-9001000
2. China Railway Construction Business Club Chinese Restaurant (Chinese)
For a restaurant that’s a bit of a secret, that’s a rather long name. Maybe that’s why they opted to keep it a secret. Haha! Okay, okay… There are a lot of Chinese restaurants in Riyadh and eating in one once a week is no sin because we all love Chinese cuisine. They’re familiar and have a homey vibe, especially for us Asians. But have you noticed that most of the Chinese restaurants in the city are sister restaurants? There’s nothing wrong about it of course but they have more or less the same menu and they get too familiar already. If you want to try a Chinese Restaurant that is new to your tastebuds, then the CRCBCCR is the one for you. Just look for the red lantern in their gate at their location Al Mohammadiyah and you won’t be lost (unless you got lost going to the area first). Their very Chinese-looking props and decors and trinkets transport diners in well, a house in China (but I haven’t been in a house in China so I might be imagining things haha). They have tables for groups, and even rooms for a large party. Most of their dishes are SR 88 and above and they’re already good for sharing. We’ve tried their Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet and omg, their fish is so soft and fluffy! Their lamb bulgogi is spicy and flavorful and their Spicy Chicken is no doubt SPICY! We also like their noodles; the soup is hot and comforting and delicious. It’s the closest thing to beef ramen we’ve ever tasted in Riyadh. I was just disappointed that their bun didn’t have meat in it (I thought it was siopao-ish). Nonetheless, this restaurant is worth visiting.
China Railway Construction Business Club Chinese Restaurant
Takhasussi Street, West Mohammadiyah,
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [MAP]
3. Tanjiah (Moroccan)
I’m not very familiar with Morocco, unless you count the fact that I really, really want to visit the country. It feels like an exotic beauty in the African continent. It’s mysterious and sensual. Much like its food which is influenced by Mediteranean, Arabic, Andalusian, and Berber cuisines. You’ll find a few Moroccan restaurants in Riyadh and Tanjiah Restaurant is one of them; it elevates the Moroccan cuisine into a new gustatory and sensory experience. Their interior is magnificent! Herbs and spices are abundant in Tanjiah’s dishes of starters, salads, and meats. The main dishes are often served in a tajine, where the restaurant’s name is possibly derived. It’s the earthenware used for cooking and serving the food. This pot consisting of two parts: one is the flat and circular base unit and second is the large cone- or dome-shaped cover that sits on the base during cooking, is used for slow-cooking stews. It brings forth the flavor of the ingredients and makes the meat more tender. Their couscous looks delicious, with its arrangement of vegetables and meats. The ambiance looks regal and expensive. But if this is the closest I can get to Morocco right now, then it’s probably worth a try.
4. Veri Peri (Portuguese)
Veri Peri Portuguese Restaurant is one of the new restaurants in the Exit 5 food block. If you’re into spicy, flavorful food then this one’s for you. This cuisine derives its flavor from one main ingredient: the piri piri, an African bird’s eye chili that was brought by the Portuguese to Goa, India and is now grown in most African countries like Angola, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Piri piri is the Swahili word for pepper, pepper which probably says a lot about this cuisine. The piri piri sauce used to marinate the meat is made from these crushed chillies, citrus peel, onion, pepper, salt, lemon juice, bay leaves, paprika, basil, oregano and tarragon. Just by reading how many ingredients go into this sauce, I’m already salivating. Very Peri offers Peri-Peri Chicken of course. Also steaks, peri-peri wraps and burgers, and pasta. Their espetada, or meat in a skewer, looks appetizing. Veri Peri is franchised from the UK and the restaurant has a fast food feel but we’re pretty sure they are meticulous when it comes to the time of marinating and grilling their chicken. Check out their menu here. Try it when you’re tired of the usual broasted.
Veri Peri Restaurant
7511 King Abdul Aziz Rd, An Nafal,
Exit 5, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [MAP]
T: +966-54-425 6667
5. Palmeras (Mediterranean)
There are a lot of countries that come to mind when we speak about Mediterranean. Number one of course is Spain and that is what Palmeras in the new Al-Akaria Mall is focused on. The “concept” of the Palmeras Restaurant is inspired by the Granada architecture, its ambiance, delicious dishes and excellent service. Spanish cuisine is known for its use of olive oil, seafood and meat. Fresh ingredients are of utmost importance in a Spanish food that’s why it’s also considered as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. Palmeras is a fine dining restaurant; this is where you can take your family and friends for some VIP setting, decor, and food. They have tapas, a wide variety of hot and cold appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine on select days. They also serve the popular paella, rice mixed with meats or seafood, beans, and herbs and cooked and served in a shallow pan. Want to try foie gras, the controversial fattened liver of a duck or goose? Whatever your feelings and view about it, you’ll find this luxury delicacy in Palmeras. You can check out their menu here. Looking at how they decorate their plate, we’re pretty sure you’ll have a grand, lovely time at this Spanish restaurant.
Palmeras Mediterranean Restaurant
Khalid Ibn Yazid Ibn Muawiyah,
Al Olaya, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [MAP]
T: +966-50-1383122, +966-11-4641977
A lot of you Riyadhizens are asking about ramen and where to get the best ramen in Riyadh. We don’t have the answer for you yet (unless you want to settle for China Railway’s handmade noodles) because it might still be a long way before we see the likes of Ippudo and Ramen Nagi to reach the sand dunes of Saudi Arabia but we can always dream and we can always fill our tummies with cuisines that are now available for us. Let’s live in the now shall we? Eat, eat, eat! Or uhmn eat, pray, love! Haha!