We’ve been bombarded with questions like “The Pink Tarha, where can I take my wife/husband for her/his birthday celebration?” Or, “Ladies, where is the best restaurant to celebrate our anniversary?” Hmn, where indeed? We’ve gathered some suggestions for you in this entry. Of course you’d probably think we’re writing this because Valentine’s is right around the corner but let us remind you that we do not celebrate the red-letter day in this side of the world. Or maybe we do but we do it in the comforts of our own, hush-hush plans. Anyway, there are always special occasions that married couples celebrate and there’s always a good reason to go on a date with our spouse. Right?
On to our selections of the most romantic restaurants in Riyadh. Our criteria? Ambiance, food, service, and value for money. We’re easy to please. Just ask our husbands. Haha.
Terrace Grill at the Marriott Hotel
We often think that hotel restaurants are expensive especially if they’re inside 4-star and 5-star hotels. You’re mistaken; there are some restaurants that truly give you the value of your money. Added points is you know their ambiance and décor are already top-notch. One of our favorite steakhouses in the city is Terrace Grill. It serves mouthwatering Canadian and Australian steaks at prices you can afford. Pay a bit higher than the ones you pay for in steak places in the city and you’ll already get premium meat at Terrace Grill. They also have unique side dishes and appetizers.
The restaurant itself is elegant and quiet. Their set-up is minimalist but well-thought of. I mean, a bull in their glass plates? Exquisite. Service is also impeccable. Their waiters, some have been there for so long, know what to do and what to recommend. The only change I didn’t like was to their bread. I loved their brown and white breads before that form a little hill in its wooden tray but they recently changed it to bland rolls. Oh well, the brand of butter they use is still great though.
Il Terrazzo at the Faisaliah Hotel
What’s a good date ambiance? One that involves a terrace and a view right? While we would still recommend The Globe for its elegant setting and preps when required (petals on your table perhaps?), the restaurant is quite dark (how can you see your lovely wife or dashing husband?). So we recommend Il Terrazzo instead. This restaurant features South American cuisine with a highlight on Brazilian barbecue. Their meats are well-seasons and perfectly roasted. Also, it has the view: savor Al Faisaliah Center’s landscaped plaza from the terrace.
Sama Lounge at Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana
Another quiet place in the city is Sama Lounge which sits in the third floor terrace of Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana Hotel in Olaya. While there. You can savor the cold air and a view of Kingdom Tower, Riyadh’s iconic building. It gets a bit dark when the night settles in but it’s a pretty romantic setting. You can even walk in the pool area and enjoy some conversations in their lounge chairs (provided there’s no one swimming). We’ve tried Sama Lounge’s steaks on rocks and they’re good. Their appetizers and finger foods are also nice.
The 365 at Fairmont Riyadh
We recently went to newly-opened Fairmont Hotel to celebrate The Pink Tarha’s anniversary by eating our way to their 9 cuisines at The 365 restaurant. It was so worth the price tag. With their sofa booths for some privacy and their clean lines and pops of color, The 365 is both a feast for the eyes and the stomach! You can enjoy watching the chefs cook in their open kitchens or wait for them to visit your table and regal you with their specialties. You’ll have to decide which among different cuisines you’ll lavish on but we say, get a few from each and enjoy!
This is the perfect buffet for your foodie spouse. From Mexican to Japanese to Mediterranean to Asian to Saudi… all their food is worth trying. You can even have fun at their roving “bar” and get acquainted with their mocktails of the night. Their staff are also helpful and attentive.
56th Avenue Diner at Hyatt Regency Hotel
This restaurant is a bit more casual than the other hotel restaurants, even compared to the other dining places of Hyatt Regency Hotel but there’s no doubt it’s one of our favorites. They recently offered a BBQ buffet for SR 180, and again, this goes to the best buffet list in the city. Their meat and seafood are freshly-grilled to order thus the delicious taste and just-right textures. They also have a spread of salads and appetizers (yay for their chicken wings).
The layout of 56th Avenue is open and it can get noisy when the space gets filled. But they have booths reminiscent of a diner, and in red! Haha. If you’re spending on food, spend it on food that brings out the best flavors. Try 56th Avenue Diner.
Fiamma Italian Restaurant
There are so many Italian restaurants in Riyadh but we think you’d enjoy Fiamma because of its food and its terrace. It has a small outdoor space which makes a pretty intimate setting. Granted, the view below is a construction of Tahlia Street but just don’t look down, look at your eye level or up for some Europe feels with Narcissus Hotel across. Fiamma makes pizzas and pastas with Northern Italy flair. Their lasagna tickles our palate and their desserts are delightful to eat: light and satisfying.
Other options: Koppa Italian Restaurant ($$$), Serafina Restaurant ($$), Piatto Restaurant ($$)
Tugra at the Burj Rafal Kempinski Hotel
Most restaurants are very accommodating when it comes to preparing tables for certain occasions. We just think that at Tugra, the ambiance is already special. It’s away from the city yet you see the city from their glass walls. It creates a space in between that amps up the senses. Their food is also a nice mix of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Turkish fare.
We’ve tried the assorted mezze of Tugra a couple of times and it’s the perfect start to any dish. We were there during their steak night and OMG, the lamb rack was perfect! The chefs and staff are friendly and impeccable in their service. Needless to say, our dinner here by the glass walls is one of the best we had in Riyadh.
Other options: Sultan Steakhouse ($$$), Topkapi ($$)
We know, Toki is a high-end Chinese restaurant and if you Asians ask us, Chinese food should be affordable. We grew up with it. But wait, you need to indulge your Asian taste buds once in a while with luxurious Asian food because truly, it’s worth it. And when you splurge, splurge at Toki. Your spouse will thank you.
From the lavish yet sophisticated interiors to the exquisite food presentation to the heightened flavors of each dish, Toki is so beautiful inside and out. The look of the restaurant from the outside is formidable. No one can disturb you. Even if some of the tables are close to each other, you feel that each table is a space of its own with your own wait staff who are ready with to fulfill your needs and wants. It’s a quiet affair at Toki but surprises come at each dish placed in your table. Finish everything with their lychee dessert. It’s so subtle yet so unforgettable.
Other options: Okku ($$$), Sushi Art ($$)
These are just some of our recommendations. Of course with the myriad cuisines available in Riyadh’s gustatory landscape, you will definitely find others worth taking your spouse to. We want to recommend unique dining places that has something worthy to offer. You won’t find them in cheap places, of course, thus the higher than average price tags in most of these restaurant but we also believe that you should give your spouse’s something memorable (hint, hint to our husbands too haha). Sure you can take the anywhere too, if you like. After all, anywhere with your spouse is the most romantic place to be in. Agree? Agree!