Dining out is a popular pastime in Jeddah. The city’s diverse culinary scene sees hundreds of restaurants serving up food from across the globe, catering to every taste and budget.
Due to its coastal location, Jeddah is known as the ‘Bride of the Red Sea’, so it is perhaps no surprise that seafood is a speciality here. The port city has plenty to offer beyond delicious fish and shellfish, however, with many international offerings. From Italian food made from fresh ingredients shipped from Europe to superfoods grown in an in-house farm, the best restaurants in Jeddah are as innovative as they are inviting.
Brioché specialises in global cuisine | Courtesy of Brioché
This restaurant opened in 2017 and quickly established itself as a favourite in Jeddah, both for its affordable cuisine and its cosy character. The menu lists a wide range of international food, from Japanese wagyu steak to Italian buffalo mozzarella salad and Mexican tacos, all perfectly executed by chef Hakim Bagabas. Its standout dishes, however, are the sandwiches, served on freshly baked brioche. The restaurant has seating spread across bars, booths and tables on two levels and maintains a homely atmosphere despite its relatively large size, making it great for large groups or more intimate meals.
With an excellent reputation, Piatto has established numerous branches throughout Jeddah, each of which features Italian-piazza-inspired decor. Both the indoor and outdoor seating areas are fitted with cobblestone flooring, lampposts, plenty of greenery and central fountains. Piatto sources its key ingredients straight from Italy, including flour from Ravenna, San Marzano tomatoes and fresh buffalo milk mozzarella, to name a few. Highlights from the menu include thin-crust pizza and a variety of fresh pasta, and each meal comes with a complimentary salad and bread. For dessert, the restaurant also has an in-house gelateria serving a range of flavours. Pro tip: Piatto has great lunch offers on weekdays, ideal for those on a budget.
Jeddah has many outstanding burger joints, with Section-B among the best. Developed in 2013, this humble establishment has maintained a home-grown feel over the years, with wooden tables and chairs and no-fuss decor across its two floors. However, what it lacks in elaborate design, it more than makes up for in delicious food – it took months to perfect its burger recipe. Choose from chicken, angus beef (which is imported weekly) or vegan patties with a variety of toppings and sides, all made from fresh vegetables sourced from local farmers every morning. If you’re feeling indulgent, try the standout prime-rib patty with sweet-potato fries. There can be a wait of up to two hours on weekends, so it’s best to arrive early.
Toki Restaurant offers a variety of East Asian dishes | Courtesy of Toki / Lub Creative / Rumman Company
From the ornate pillars and glass-topped tables to the exquisite chandeliers and ceilings, it’s easy to understand why Toki is among Jeddah’s most impressive fine-dining experiences. However, the food is the star of the show. Speciality chefs from China, Malaysia and Thailand create Toki’s fusion of East Asian cuisine, which is served on large circular tables with lazy Susans to make sharing easy. Start with dumplings steamed in a traditional Chinese bamboo basket, followed by crispy duck and pancakes. Finish with beef in black bean sauce, chicken satay and egg fried rice. Wash everything down with the refreshing lemon-and-mint juice – perfect on hot summer days.
Located near the Jeddah Corniche, Al Nakheel captures the spirit of the city. Here, visitors can look out onto the Red Sea as they enjoy quality Levantine cuisine. The restaurant’s speciality is locally caught seafood, which is prepared on the grill and served with salad – pair it with generous portions of hot and cold meze. At Al Nakheel, you’ll also find some of the city’s best hummus, tabbouleh, shawarma and freshly grilled meat. The main restaurant is set inside a traditional Middle Eastern tent, with plenty of cosy, cushioned seating and large tables perfect for big groups. The interior is air-conditioned during the summer, and there is plenty of outdoor seating to enjoy during the cooler months.
Located a stone’s throw from the Jeddah Corniche, fine-dining restaurant Zodiac Cuisine is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion, as it offers a mellow atmosphere lit by candlelight and views of the seaside city. From Italian risotto to Spanish gambas al ajo (garlic prawns) and a Japanese sushi platter, the menu features globally inspired and exceptionally executed cuisine. The drinks are excellent, too, with the Zodiac Cocktail – a mocktail made with mango, kiwi, guava and strawberry – and the antioxidant Bloom Tea two great choices.
BOGA Super Foods has an in-house vertical farm | Courtesy of BOGA Super Foods
BOGA Super Foods has most likely increased the prevalence of organic food in Saudi Arabia. This home-grown restaurant was begun as a small, local business by entrepreneur Tariq Al-Hussaini, and it now has several branches in Jeddah and more across the country. It offers an intriguing take on farm-to-table cuisine, growing many of its ingredients in-house in vertical farms, and serves up a range of ultra-fresh and affordable salads, sandwiches and other guilt-free meals. BOGA’s ambience is minimal yet inviting, with a section displaying the range of greens that are grown on location. It’s a great choice for vegan visitors.
Papaya might have the most enticing ambience among Jeddah’s restaurants, thanks to its location inside a greenhouse filled with tropical plants – a striking contrast to the desert city outside. Located in the city’s Al-Zahra’a district, Papaya moves seamlessly from day to night; once darkness falls, purple and green lights create a lively atmosphere. The menu is as quirky as the venue, offering a rich mix of cuisines, from Middle Eastern and South Asian to European. Try the standout tom yam kung (Thai soup) or the Italian tagliatelle alfredo. Papaya is also a popular spot for breakfast, with a menu that has everything from french toast and waffles to omelettes.