The most important tip I can give you on Jordan local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Jordan, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in Jordan
Jordanian cuisine is quite similar to fare served elsewhere in the region. The daily staple being khobez, a large, flat bread sold in bakeries across the country for a few hundred fils. Delicious when freshly baked. For breakfast, the traditional breakfast is usually fried eggs, labaneh, cheese, zaatar and olive oil along with bread and a cup of tea. Falafel and hummus are eaten on the weekends by some and more often by others. There’s no convention for when you should or should not eat any type of food. It’s up to you.
This is the most popular breakfast. Manousheh and pastries come in as the second most popular breakfast item. All of the hotels offer American breakfast. The national dish of Jordan is the mansaf, prepared with jameed, a sun-dried yogurt. Grumpygourmet.com describes the mansaf as “an enormous platter layered with crêpe-like traditional “shraak” bread, mounds of glistening rice and chunks of lamb that have been cooked in a unique sauce made from reconstituted jameed and spices, sprinkled with golden pine nuts.” In actuality more people use fried almonds instead of pine nuts because of the cheaper price tag. While mansaf is the national dish, most people in urban areas eat it on special occasions and not every day. Other popular dishes include Maklouba, stuffed vegetables, freekeh.
The most popular place to eat cheap Mansaf is the Jerusalem restaurant in downtown Amman. Levantine-style mezza are served in “Lebanese-style” -which is typical to Jordaian style- restaurants around the country, and you can easily find international fast food chains including McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Burger King. In addition to chains well-known in Europe and North America, there are some local businesses such as: Abu Jbarah: one of the famous falafel’s restaurant in Jordan.
Al kalha: famous falafel and homous restaurant in Jordan. Al-Daya’a and Reem: Famous places to get Shawerma sandwiches and dishes. As for foreign style restaurants, there is no shortage of them. The best ones are usually found in 5 star hotels, but the price tag is high. Italian restaurants and pizza places are somewhat abundant in Amman, Madaba, and Aqaba, but are very hard to find in other cities. More and more cafes now serve food. There is an abundance of Middle Eastern-style cafes serving Argeelleh in addition to the full complement of Western and Middle Eastern coffee drinks.
There is also a good number of Western-style cafes which usually serve Western-style desserts, salads and sandwiches. When eating at restaurants in Jordan (especially in touristy areas such as Petra and Aqaba), take note of the price of your order on the menu so you have an idea of how much the bill should be. Some restaurants try to charge unwary tourists a bit more than they should. If you have doubts about your bill, do question it and ask for it to be recalculated in front of you.
In Petra, Nawwaf’s Kitchen (a stone’s throw from the Little Petra site), is possibly the only home kitchen in the country that has opened up to foodies. Run by maestro of Bedouin cuisine, Nawwaf Hwatats, it’s a humble and cheap drop-in place that also caters for large groups. Do warn him you are coming though! +962 776 882 309 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Website: http://www.nabataeantours.com/home/nawwaf-s-kitchen
What to Drink in Jordan
The legal drinking/purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 18. Muslims are allowed to consume alcohol. Alcohol is widely available in Jordan, however it is expensive. By law, any Muslim is NOT allowed inside bars or liquor stores, and they must be owned and ran by Christians. During Ramadan, all bars and liquor stores remain closed, even after sunset, unless they have a specific tourist license. But these are typically higher end places that can afford to stay open during Ramadan.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.