Jeddah is obsessed with football, and the fever raises a few notches higher every four years during the FIFA World Cup. With Saudi Arabia’s national team making it to the finals, this year’s football mania is even higher than usual. And, come what may, the spirit of the game is not lost on people in Jeddah. Even after losing to Russia in the World Cup opener, all men and women in Saudi Arabia are still just as excited about each coming match. Here are some of the best places in Jeddah to watch the game and truly get in the Saudi football spirit.
Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Middle Eastern, Salad Bar, $$$
Fancy hotels are a dime a dozen on Tahlia, one of the most renowned upscale shopping streets in Jeddah, but Novotel’s World Cup screening lounge stands out for those looking for something truly indulgent this World Cup season. It has the biggest screen in town, comfortable sofas, and a sprawling dining area; Novotel’s Sky Lounge provides a lavish atmosphere to watch the game in style. Entry to the lounge is conditional on having a table reservation.
Andulusia at Park Hyatt has a luxurious seating area with an open buffet, themed snacks, and shisha, all overlooking the Red Sea. Not only are all matches broadcast on giant TV screens throughout the central dining area, private air-conditioned tents (that also have a direct view of the Red Sea) can be booked for those who’d rather watch the game and dine in privacy. Expect one of the best Moroccan cuisines available in Jeddah, with an assortment of salads, main dishes, desserts, and beverages at the buffet.
For those looking for a more casual affair, Chill Café has an affordable menu, plenty of big screens, and couches that you can basically sink into. While the game is on, it is common to share tables with strangers and get caught up in compulsive whooping and hooping at any decision the referee makes. The menu consists of indulgent game-day food – massive burgers, hotdogs with all sorts of toppings, fried chicken, lots of desserts, and, of course, great coffee.
Breaktime Café has been catering to football fever every World Cup season in Jeddah for a while now. There is an indoor and an outdoor seating arrangement to choose from, lots of World Cup special offers on food and beverages, and a crowd that is completely fixated on the game. The menu includes hearty servings of western and local food and, of course, shisha. It’s worth getting there early because the indoor areas pack up pretty fast and few people opt to sit outdoors for two to three hours at a stretch in Jeddah’s summer.
If you are looking for something a little less boisterous, but still very much in the World Cup spirit, Agave is the place for you. Nestled in the heart of Tahlia, Agave boasts a sprawling indoor dining area as well as an outdoor balcony with a view. Think giant screens, spacious seating arrangements, friendly staff, and some of the best hookah in Jeddah to keep you occupied throughout the game. The food (a mix of international and Arabic), just like the rest of the ambiance, is light and dainty, with club sandwiches, salads, calamari, and salmon steaks, so if you’re all about hearty game-day meals, this may not be the best option for you.
If you weren’t expecting a restaurant that is all hues of pink, flower vases on each table, and an all-around floral decor to be such a popular place to watch the match, think again. The overall ambiance is electric and trendy, but far from pretentious, with a crowd that is just as much into watching the game as making new friends. The menu has something for everyone, from burgers and salads to Instagrammable chocolate desserts and fruit smoothies.
The Sandwich Gallery has special FIFA offers, sports quizzes, on-the-spot prizes, and an ambiance that is just warm, welcoming, and uncomplicated. Its all very relaxed, yet somehow traditional and trendy at the same time. Their menu is based on a pretty simple concept: a variety of flavors from around the world, with a hint of local infusion. You’ll find a Cairo, a Hong Kong, a Moscow, and many other cities. If the team you are supporting is represented on the menu, it is just going to become that much easier to figure out what to eat!