Once upon a time, we made a wish to have several restaurant brands that we saw in Jeddah to eventually come to Riyadh (click here). That was back in 2015 when we wrote about how much we wanted to have the likes of IHOP, Shake Shack, PF Chang’s and The Cheesecake Factory to come to Riyadh too and lo and behold, three years later, they all sprouted out in one big land lot near Granada Mall and it was called Sidra Plaza. It is now home to the following food establishments and is considered “the place to be”.
- The Cheesecake Factory
- PF Chang’s
- Texas Roadhouse
- Blaze Pizza
- Raising Canes
- Shake Shack
I will be talking about four of the newcomers and highlight our favorites thus far. The beauty of Sidra Plaza is that they have a little bit of everything and to a foodie like me, this spells fun. And true enough, we have found some favorites that make us crave to go there. Word to the wise though, parking can get insane at night time, especially into the weekends. So you can either come with an Uber that can easily drop you off nearby or just use the parking lot of Granada Mall and manage a short stroll. It’s better than being stuck in those lanes for an hour (we’ve experienced it ourselves). Also, before we get into the good parts, let me just say that price point for the following restaurants are above average considering that they are all franchises. However, it’s also important to note that based on our experience, servings for each dish are good for two (for normal eaters, that is). I will call out anything that is outrightly overpriced tho, as necessary. OK? Let’s get started.
The Cheesecake Factory
Granted that Shake Shack, Raising Canes and IHOP came earlier to join us all here in Riyadh the year before, the most awaited opening of all the restaurants was The Cheesecake Factory’s. We were fortunate to have been there on opening day, but man, a week…a month even after it opened, the waiting time to be seated averaged at 45 minutes and the people patiently waited (others better than some). Even on my last visit about a month ago, I had to wait for about 15 minutes before getting a seat. But all these waiting is for a good cause because I personally love the food of The Cheesecake Factory. Despite being named that way, they have a massive menu beyond just the cheesecakes and it can actually challenge the fickle-minded folks on what they can order (Over 200 items, mind you). They have pages on pages of items from breakfast, lunch portions, bestsellers, pasta, steak, chicken, seafood, vegetarian…you name it! I see it as an opportunity to keep trying something new every time I am there and so far, I have not been disappointed yet. Other must tries that are not pictured here are the: Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls, Fish Tacos, Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp, and the Jamaican Black Pepper Shrimp (spicy).
Famous for bringing the “Dynamite Shrimp” into mainstream, worldwide existence, PF Chang’s is the Chinese connection in Sidra Plaza. While it is originally an American franchise, the concept is a fusion of traditional and modern Chinese recipes. It is also where other people went to when they couldn’t bear the waiting time in The Cheesecake Factory (#realtalk right there). They specialize in Asian cuisine, as expected with several stir-fried dishes, noodles and even, maki rolls. I enjoy the spice levels here and it satisfies my need for asian flair when at Sidra. My only beef with this place is that their drinks are way overpriced for the amount we’re getting. It’s the size of half a glass at over 20 SAR each. Na-uh.
Get ‘yer meat on at this all-American steak house, complete with a big flag of Texas that will grab your attention at the entrance. The have free peanuts and freshly baked buns that we would have to declare as the BEST FREE BREAD EVER! I mean, there would be days when we just dream of their bread and head on over there with that purpose in mind. We can eat loads of it even before our main course arrives and we also ask for a tray of takeout for each one of us before we leave. Oh my gawd, just thinking about it now makes me salivate (but I digress). The salads here are very good with the dressing being its cherry on top. The chilli bowl is also a dear favorite of mine — even more perfect when paired with those hot buns. As for the steak selection, there’s aplenty and they are quite good, but I wouldn’t say they are pants-down amazing. They do well in following our cooking preferences and the refillable drinks are a plus.
On the first two days of their opening, Blaze Pizza offered free pizzas for their guests and we were one of the lucky ones. They offer a customized approach in preparing your pizza with over a dozen toppings to go by and choose from. By the end of the line, they pop your pizza inside their open-flame oven and voila, after 180 seconds, it’s hot and pipin’ ready for you to enjoy. All of their pizzas are in thin crust it’s very affordable and generous in size (from 30 SAR and up). Blaze Pizza is definitely great for groups who want to eat out on a budget. It’s pretty much a laid-back kind of restaurant and direct to the point. Trivia: Lebron James is one of the investors of this franchise.
We have not been to Asha’s personally yet, but we’ve heard great things involving their Buttered Chicken. Pinkberry is a small shop that specializes in yogurt options and shakes. And as for the rest, we assume you already know them by now. 😉
Imam Abdullah Ibn Saud Ibn Abdulaziz Branch Rd, Ash Shuhada, Riyadh 13241