A veritable Ammani institution, Hashem is one of the oldest restaurants in the capital, much revered for its no-nonsense philosophy and simple, hearty food. Famed for its incredibly speedy service, you may be hard-pushed to find a table at meal times. Everyone is served the same meal of traditional Jordanian fare, the falafel is considered by many to be the finest in the country. Don’t be put off by the simple furnishings and strip lighting. Hashem’s is an essential downtown experience, and you won’t find a better value meal elsewhere. Perfect for vegetarians.
Address: al-Amir Mohammed St, Downtown, Amman. + 96 26 463 6440
Cosy, if a little boisterous as the evening progresses, Jafra restaurant is tucked away in the backstreets of downtown Amman, so hidden that you might need a guide to locate it. As is so often the case, however, perseverance is duly rewarded here, with welcoming staff, excellent food, and an impressive range of shisha, coffees, and juices. A traditional menu of mezzes caters well to vegetarians. Their freshly cooked bread and labneh (strained yoghurt) are particularly mouth-watering. Popular with locals and tourists alike, Jafra appeals to every taste.
Address: al-Amir Mohammad Street, Downtown, Amman. +962 6 462 2551
Situated on Basman Street, Zorba restaurant is popular not for its simple décor, but for the friendly staff and excellent quality traditional food. Fresh, generous portions make this place good value for money. Their range of hot and cold mezze comes particularly recommended. Light and airy, Zorba is open until late and caters well to large groups. They also serve excellent seafood dishes.
Address: 69 Basman Street, Amman. +962 6 464 0642
A simple restaurant with a simple menu and excellent flavours, Al Quds is understandably popular with the downtown crowd. Offering generous portions and reasonable prices, the mansaf – a traditional Jordanian dish featuring lamb and rice, is especially popular. It’s slightly hectic and rough round the edges, but you can’t knock the food. The kebabs and sweet desserts are excellent too.
Address: 8 King Hussein Street, Downtown, Amman. +962 6 463 0168
The finest sweet shop in the downtown area, Habibah Sweets are a company of historic sweet-makers who clearly take a lot of pride in their sugary craft. Offering the full range of Middle Eastern sweet delicacies, this establishment is a must-visit for all sweet-toothed tourists in the city. Its baklava is exquisite; similarly, you won’t find better kanafa (a cheese pastry soaked in a sugary syrup) many places in the region. An imaginative selection of ice creams are also on offer.
Address: 2 Al Hazar Street, Amman. +962 6 552 0629