Muscat is Arabic for ‘safe anchorage’, and the port city has for many years been an important centre for trade and travel. This cultural variety has created a diverse cuisine. We take a look at Muscat’s top 10 restaurants.
D’Arcy’s Kitchen at Madinat Sultan Qaboos resembles a quintessentially English house, rather than a restaurant in the heart of Muscat. But that is exactly what this homely restaurant is styled on, as is the food, which has made it extremely popular with expatriates across Oman. It is a great place for lunch, but also offers an all-day breakfast, which is hard to find in Oman. The outside courtyard resembles an English country garden where, if the weather allows, diners can enjoy their meals al fresco. The attentive staff serve excellent dishes using only the freshest ingredients. The burritos, huge chunky chips and tasty ciabatta sandwiches come highly recommended.
The elegance and sophistication of this fine-dining restaurant is instantly recognisable by its curved Omani arches and crystal chandelier-lit dining room. The Restaurant at The Chedi Muscat is an amalgamation of a number of cuisines; Western, Asian, Middle Eastern as well as Indian fare. The live piano music and four open kitchens combine entertainment and showmanship to create of Muscat’s finest restaurants. The wide range of seafood is exemplary of the various culinary inspirations; where else can you find delicious sashimi and oysters on the same menu? The extensive wine list is as diverse as the cuisine, with a range of wines serving as an accompaniment to the dishes.
The Grand Lounge is a traditional Turkish restaurant in the heart of Muscat, bringing everything great about Levantine cuisine to the city. Using only the freshest ingredients, the attentive attitude of the restaurants has resulted in thoughtfully considered dishes cooked by Turkish chefs. Dishes range from the classic lamb kofta to more modern options such as vegetarian eggplant kofta. There is also a wide selection of pides, or Turkish flatbreads. Variants include pastrami and sausage, cheese, and vegetables.
Mani’s Gourmet Cafe is a popular female-friendly hangout for locals and expatriates in the centre of Muscat. Its selection of breakfast and lunch items alongside great great coffee sets this place apart from the other cafes in the area. Coming recommended on the breakfast menu is the spicy eggs with mozzarella with a kick of chili, a perfect alternative to the usual cooked eggs. For a sweeter breakfast, the French toast with maple syrup is a filling start to the day. As well as the coffee there are also fresh juices and traditional pink lemonade made to order.
As the name suggests, the Turkish House Restaurant serves an authentic spread of Turkish and Levantine cuisine. However, unlike the usual spread of kebabs and koftas, this restaurant exceeds in bringing the finest Turkish seafood to Muscat. The interior is very minimalist and unassuming, but the simple decor doesn’t get in the way of the fabulous food. The grilled fish and shrimp tajin with red sauce is one of the house favourites, which is mopped up with the homemade breads. The restaurant allows visitors to choose their own fish from a huge selection, including grilled red snapper and Omani lobster. For afterwards, the fresh melon drink comes served in a whole honeydew melon.
Ubhar is a quintessentially Omani restaurant designed to entice the diner into Oman’s rich cultural heritage. The restaurant’s name comes from the ancient city supposedly now buried under the southern quarters of the city. The cuisine and decor reflect each other perfectly, both a modern take on the cultural richness and heritage of the ancient city. Coming recommended is the Muscat lamb fattah, cooked on a bed of flatbreads. Desserts are also a highlight, which includes the sweet traditional halva. For an after-dinner treat, Omani coffee with dates is recommended to experience true Omani culture.
The Beach serves up some of the finest dishes in Oman with breathtaking panoramas of the Gulf to match. Located on the hotel’s 370 metres of private beach, chefs cook up dishes which complement the view, with seafood playing a main role. The inspirations take the form of international cuisine: mussels with kaffir lime and coconut; lobster tail carpaccio and whole grilled fish. The restaurant is a romantic location to watch the sun set. The wide selection of desserts can be washed down with lavish servings of traditional Omani coffee.
For traditional Indian Mughlai cuisine, visitors to Muscat are recommended to visit Begum’s, which offers a wide selection of curries crafted using the finest ingredients and spices. The ethos at Begum’s is to create a ‘cozy diner that is making an honest attempt at dishing out close to home cooked recipes of traditional Mughlai delicacies’. And considering the crowds that fill Begum’s on a regular basis, it seems that the restaurant is fulfilling its role. The delicately spiced mutton kandhari comes highly recommended by the skilled chefs, who also cook up a selection of tasty kebabs.
There is a limited number of great restaurants that cater for vegetarians in Oman, but Fusion is one of them. As well as serving tasty meat options, the vegetarian dishes are imaginative, tasty, and good value for money. The kebabs are placed uncooked on the table’s own grill, which allows customers to cook whichever way they like. There are a number of mostly Asian tandooris and vegetable grills on offer. Having a miniature barbecue among friends at your dining table is something of a treat, which gives the restaurant a friendly ambience. As well as the delicious mains, the range of sticky and sweet desserts makes for a delicious end to a fabulous meal.
While hamburgers aren’t the first things associated with Omani cuisine, this innovative restaurant stands out among Muscat’s restaurants. Styled on a 1940s American gas station, Slider Station combines an ‘industrial chic’ restaurant with classic and gourmet sliders as well as a wide range of American tapas, grills, innovative salads and freshly prepared high-end desserts. The idea of a sushi conveyor belt is transposed onto American specialities, and Slider Station’s hungry clientele can choose from a fantastic array of ‘sliders’, which are essentially miniature versions of popular dishes. Originating from Kuwait, this franchise also offers gluttonous and highly addictive gooey chocolate desserts.