Call them the “Oldies but Goodies”. Call them the “Original Gangsters”. These are the restaurant names that have stood the test of time here in Riyadh. If you are a Riyadh kid like me, you know what I’m talking about. These have been around at least 20 years and up to today, these joints are still in the game and have no signs of slowing down. They are the epitomes of consistency and expansion, and their loyal customers have supported them all the way.
1. Assaraya Turkish Restaurant
This is a no-fuss joint that is famous for their shawarma, mixed grills and that generous serving of flatbread that can easily feed a family of four. It’s been located at Olaya Thalateen ever since and it’s possible that the reason they’ve also been blessed with longevity (apart from the delicious food) is that they have been paying it forward by providing food for the less privileged for several years now. They have a sign outside that says that if you are hungry and don’t have the means to pay, you can just press a button outside and someone will hand you a meal. God bless you, Assaraya! Keep on serving those shawarmas!
Location: Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Rd, Riyadh 12221 https://goo.gl/maps/VbBRHF8qJyS2
Opening hours: 10:30 AM – 2:00 AM
Contact No.: 011-463-6000
2. Thai Villa Restaurant
I have schoolmates who are already in either Canada or US and yet they still hit me up on my IG whenever they see me posting about the Thai Villa. Everyone who’s tasted it misses it and we all have fond memories of this hole-in-the-wall spot. It is comfort food to many Riyadhizens, locals and even Westerners who frequent it for their Tom Yum, Pad Thai, Larb, Spicy Squid Salad and more Thai dishes. They never expanded their location to the last they did about twenty years ago and it was only less than three years ago (I think) when they replaced their old outdoor sign because it was hardly readable already. Their prices have only slightly increased and the efficiency of the service can fluctuate from time to time, but our stomachs are never disappointed and our wallets leave intact.
Location: 4548 Al Urubah Rd, Riyadh 12351 6923 https://goo.gl/maps/H8TFeqxrjm12
Opening hours: 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM; 5:00 PM -10:00 PM
Contact No.: 011-482-2749
3. Riyadh Chinese Restaurant
Famous for their hotpot (shabu shabu), dimsums and lemon chicken, this restaurant is still thriving after decades of being in the business. They’ve kept it low-key for the most part and sustained a decent record in terms of service so people kept coming back, despite struggles in parking space. Janelle’s dad is still a fan of this place. They’ve upgraded their interiors over the years along with the menu, but up to date, they are one of the reliable Chinese restaurants you can trust.
Location: Abdullah Ibn Riwaha, As Sulimaniyah, Riyadh 12242 https://goo.gl/maps/2HprwkkgL4M2
Opening hours: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Contact No.: 011-465-5451
4. Mac Coys
Broasted chicken in Riyadh is like a cultural icon. Ok, I may have taken that statement way too far, but hashtag-real-talk, everyone here loves it. Mac Coys is one of the places where when we say its name, we can immediately remember the crispy skin and the moist meat of their broasted chicken platter dipped in their spectacular garlic sauce. Admittedly, I haven’t tasted one in a long while so I am not sure if the quality has been sustained, but they are still in business so I am taking that as a good sign.
Location: Salah Ad Din Al Ayyubi Rd, Riyadh 12629 https://goo.gl/maps/qrSBs91QLzH2
Opening hours: 6:30 AM – 2:00 AM
Contact No.: 011-476-6236
5. Steak House
This can seem like a commercial choice, but the truth of the matter is, before the steak-wave and burger-wave hit Riyadh five years back, Steak House was already a household name. It was one of the few, if not only, “fancy” places to get some steak back in the 90s and have only aged like fine wine. They’ve won the Best Restaurant Award from the Saudi Excellence in Tourism Award multiple times and have gone on to expand their branches (and menu) to more than 100 items already. Prices have gone up though but its still competitive in terms of value for money and daily offers. They have free soup and salads every Sundays and eat-all-you-can steaks every Tuesday!
Locations in Riyadh: Olaya Thalateen, Exit 5, Granada Mall, Dareen Center, Cordoba, Anas Bin Malik, Othaim Mall
Contact No.: 92000 7733
All the new restaurants and fancy coffee shops these days can learn a thing or two from these old timers. Remember, back then they didn’t have any Instagram or social media to flash their goods around. They relied on old-fashioned word of mouth. They focused on consistently good food, good service and not so much on the hulabaloo of ambience, exclusivity or number of Snap views. Cheers to these OGs! More years of continued success!