I love the vibe of Friday mornings, which is weird if you think about it. Friday is the first day of our weekend and I should really be sleeping in until noon time to catch up on some zzzs but no, I still wake up around seven o’clock. I couldn’t go back to sleep; I’m blaming it on my age haha. This ‘tita’ vibe is waking me up early on the weekends! Haha. Or maybe I’m really a morning person?
I bother my husband when I wake up early and being the understanding man that he is, he usually wakes up to entertain my “I’m hungry!” complaints. Well, if I’m screaming that on his ears, he has no choice. Haha. He gets up like a pro and asks me where I want to eat. I always have the perfect answer because Riyadh has been filling up with more and more restaurants and some of them open early! Yay! Remember the time when we had to wait for 12 noon to eat in a resto??? The concept of brunch was alien back then. #thosedays
So far, we’ve tried a few ones and I’m reviewing some of them here. Of course, you can always go any day you want. It’s just that I enjoy restaurants in the morning of a Friday compared to the weekdays because I’m not in a hurry. And we don’t usually eat out on weekday mornings because #work. Stop chatting, let’s go brunching!
It’s been a year or so since Operation: Felafel opened in Rubeen Plaza. It’s a Dubai-born chain of restaurant that brings old street flavors with modern trends. Who hasn’t had felafel, like ever? Are you even living in Riyadh?! Haha. These small, crunchy deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas are staples in every Arabic street corners or marketplaces. It can be eaten on its own or in between pita bread. This street snack is delicious when piping hot; crispy on the outside, moist inside. Operation: Felafel is bringing this popular treat to their restaurant inspired by a “storehouse”.
The restaurant is quite popular in the mornings. Even though we were the only ones when we entered it, the place was packed by the time we finished our breakfast. We ordered their Classic Felafel (SR 4) which came in fours. Truly, popping one in the mouth just starts more popping and biting and eating. I don’t find anything special in their felafels though; it’s just that felafels are good in general and it’s quite hard to mess them up. My husband ordered the Grilled Halloumi (SR 26) served with vegetables and freshly-baked bread. I guess he was surprised at the halloumi cheese because he didn’t like the taste; it’s just him though. He liked the Fried Eggs (SR 15) though because well, it’s fried eggs. No surprise in that. My Eggs & Cheese (SR 16) was something I did not fancy. The eggs and kashkaval cheese had a weird texture and no matter what I put in it (salt, pepper, etc.), a spoonful still did not sit well with my tastebuds. Their juices were just ok but expensive with that amount (SR 15).
Overall, I can see (and taste) why it’s popular with the locals. I can argue that better Arabic breakfast fare are available outside; in the streets, near bakalas where people are usually lined up in ful stores that also sell addas and felafel but I can’t deny the fact that eating in a proper restaurant has its allure to families and couples who just want good food in the comfortable setting. For people living in the city center, it would be a disadvantage to travel to the Northern Ring Road just to have felafel especially when there are more felafel shops in the city. However, on Fridays, it’s good to venture out into the ring roads and have some air on that side of Riyadh. Operation: Felafel it is!
Rubeen Plaza, North Ring Road
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
I love me a good pun! Fantastic pantastic! Get it? Haha. Ewan ko na lang kung may di pa nakakuha nyan! (Not sue why would anyone not get that, haha!) So I was browsing Instagram (pahamak na Instagram!) when I saw Pantastic’s account and guess what caught my attention? CORN DOGS. They serve corn dogs! That’s enough reason for me to haul our asses down to Al Ageeg Square. Where is that? Exactly my husband’s question. Just drive and I’ll tell you! In your case, just read.
So Al Ageeg Square is at the back of Riyadh Park. It has a few shops and restaurants in its strip mall. One of them is Pantastic which we visited on a Friday. I like the ambiance of the single’s section. Sunshine was streaming down the glass walls and there’s a huge bookshelf that contains some books and pretty knick-knacks. I love the vibe of their single section which was bright. The family section, on the other hand, was lacking light. It was still cozy though.
My husband chose the Perfect Breakfast (SR 32) consisting of eggs, sausages, and potatoes while I went for the Corn Dogs (SR 23) which was more delicious in my mind than in reality. Haha. It has a nice texture but I think they used the wrong hotdog for this one. It wasn’t juicy. I also had the Hawaiian Coconut Shrimp (SR 32) which was a plate of shrimps doused with a sour, slight spicy mango sauce. It was nice to have another flavor balance out the sweetbess from the Salted Caramel Pancake (SR 30), which has a nice fluff to it. Their Classic Omelet (SR 16), no matter how ordinary it looks like, was delicious. It has the right saltiness. The Strawberry Colada (SR 27) is just right. It was a delightful breakfast, yes. But I recommend providing more lighting for the family section.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, then Pantastic to the rescue!
Al Ageeg Square, Exit 2
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Bistro By Tao
After a dismal stay at the Intercontinental Hotel (long story!), I need something to lift my spirits. So I went to Bistro By Tao which was a few meters away from the hotel to check out what every lady in Riyadh has been raving about. Bistro By Tao is one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in Riyadh and their breakfast is highly-rated. I’ve been planning on going for the longest time and it’s weird that it was my first time to go when it’s also just near our house and workplace. The restaurant is in front of Nujoud Mall, one of the luxury shopping centers in Riyadh. When I stepped into the place, I can’t deny the attraction I have to it. It has an open layout that looks really gorgeous in the morning. They have nooks that are fitted with lounge chairs and pillows. The decors are eclectic in a way but very pretty. Flower trellis are running on the ceiling and walls.
The display of cakes and desserts stuck me the most. It’s beautiful! My eye twinkled at all the yummy-looking goodies! OMG, a sweet tooth’s heaven! But I came for breakfast so I settled for the bestsellers: Cereal Latte, French Toast, and Eggs Benedict. Whenever I go into a restaurant, I manage my expectations but this time, I had high hopes for these because these are the ones that people in Foursquare are always raving about. The Eggs Benedict (SR 49) came to my table so appetizing to look at. The hollandaise sauce was running on the sides of a thick slice of bread and the poached eggs glorious on top. Once sliced into, I see that it was cooked right (I ordered well done eggs). But the sauce was sour! It wasn’t the rich, creamy, buttery, eggy and little lemony taste that I was expecting. It was sour and that’s all I can remember. The French Toast (SR 59) lacked the wow factor but I was also smitten with the thick toast and whipped cream. Once I poured the syrup on top, it glistened like the Friday morning sun. Taste-wise, it was delicious but the price put me off. I mean… bread, cream and syrup for SR 59! WHAT. The Cereal Latte (SR 24) was a nice contrast to both dishes. It has the crispy cereal pieces on top and the refreshing, cold frappe but nothing unique.
I haven’t tried any of Bistro By Tao’s desserts so I can’t comment on how they are. But they do look good. And even the restaurant, it brings you to a different place. I would have to return just to occupy that corner nook again and write or read a book. I think it’s that place in the mornings. On the evenings, it might be a different story.
Bistro By Tao
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
There you go, some restaurants we’ve tried for Friday breakfasts. I enjoy discovering restaurants and I’m glad my husband does too. Of course, no one is also stopping you from enjoying the comfort of your homes when eating home-cooked meals for morning fare but sometimes, it’s also nice to enjoy the sun especially it’s a bit cold in the morning nowadays.