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A Foodie's Guide to Amman: Where to Find the Best Local Dishes

Jul 21

Amman, the bustling capital of Jordan, is a foodie's paradise. With its rich culinary heritage and diverse range of flavours, this city is a haven for those seeking the best local dishes. From mouth-watering falafel to flavourful hummus and shawarma, there is no shortage of delicious options to satisfy your cravings.

In this foodie's guide to Amman, we will explore the top restaurants and hidden gems where you can find these gastronomic delights. So get ready to embark on a culinary journey and discover Amman's unparalleled flavours.


Why Amman is a must-visit city for food lovers

Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a must-visit city for food lovers due to its vibrant culinary scene and rich gastronomic heritage. Here's why:

  1. Traditional Jordanian Cuisine: Amman offers many traditional Jordanian dishes that showcase the country's unique flavours and culinary traditions. From delicious kebabs to savoury mezze platters, food enthusiasts will have an array of mouth-watering options.

  2. Variety of International Cuisines: The city is known for its diverse international cuisines. From Lebanese and Syrian delicacies to Italian and Asian fusion, Amman has something to satisfy every palate.

  3. Street Food Heaven: Amman's bustling streets are filled with food stalls and carts offering a variety of street food delights. Whether it's the famous falafel wraps, mouth-watering shawarmas, or sweet kunafa, street food in Amman is a true gastronomic adventure.

  4. Fusion Food Experiences: Amman is also home to many innovative restaurants that offer fusion cuisine, combining traditional Jordanian dishes with international flavours. These unique dining experiences are perfect for trying something new and exciting.

  5. Culinary Experiences: Food lovers can immerse themselves in the local culture by participating in cooking classes and food tours. These experiences provide a hands-on opportunity to learn about traditional cooking techniques and taste authentic Jordanian flavours.

Amman is a paradise for food lovers, offering a delectable blend of traditional Jordanian dishes, international cuisines, street food delights, and innovative fusion experiences. A visit to this vibrant city will satisfy any food enthusiast's cravings.


Exploring the best shawarma shops in Amman

Amman, the capital city of Jordan, is a paradise for food lovers. Regarding shawarma, Amman boasts some of the best shops in the region. One of the most popular spots is Hashem, located in the heart of Downtown Amman. This humble eatery has been serving delicious shawarma for decades and is beloved by locals and tourists. Another renowned spot is Reem, known for its tasty chicken shawarma with a special blend of spices. For those looking for a modern twist on a classic, Shawrma2Go offers unique flavours and combinations, such as their signature spicy shawarma.

Amman has it all, whether you prefer chicken, beef, or lamb. The fillings and sauces used in traditional shawarma are flavorful and varied, adding a burst of taste to every bite. Some common fillings include marinated meat, pickles, and garlic sauce, while tahini and yoghurt-based dressings are also popular.

Exploring the best shawarma shops in Amman will satisfy your hunger and give you a taste of authentic Middle Eastern flavours. Check these local favourites when you visit Amman and experience the rich culinary heritage of Jordan.


Popular shawarma fillings and sauces

Popular shawarma fillings and sauces play a crucial role in creating the mouthwatering taste of this beloved Middle Eastern dish. Regarding fillings, shawarma in Amman offers various options to suit various preferences and dietary restrictions. Some of the most popular fillings include:

  1. Chicken: Tender and succulent chicken pieces marinated in a flavorful blend of spices.
  2. Beef: Thinly sliced beef marinated and slow-cooked to perfection, resulting in tender and juicy meat.
  3. Lamb: Rich and flavorful lamb meat that is slow-roasted on a vertical spit, giving it a unique and delicious taste.
  4. Falafel: Vegetarian-friendly option made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, seasoned with herbs and spices, and deep-fried until crispy.

As for sauces, the perfect combination of flavours lies in the various sauces that are generously drizzled over the filling. The most common sauces include:

  1. Tahini sauce: A creamy and tangy sauce made from sesame paste, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs.
  2. Garlic sauce: A pungent and creamy sauce made from garlic cloves, oil, lemon juice, and occasionally egg white or potato.
  3. Amba sauce: A tangy and spicy sauce made from pickled mangoes, vinegar, chilli, and spices.
  4. Toum sauce: A Lebanese garlic sauce similar to aioli, made from garlic, lemon juice, oil, and sometimes egg white.

These flavorful fillings and sauces are what make shawarma in Amman a true delight for food lovers.


Falafel and Hummus Shops

Where to find the tastiest falafel and hummus in Amman

You won't be disappointed when it comes to finding the tastiest falafel and hummus in Amman. The city is known for its vibrant food scene and numerous eateries that serve these popular Middle Eastern dishes.

Here are some recommendations on where to find the best falafel and hummus in Amman:

  1. Hashem Restaurant: Located in downtown Amman, this iconic restaurant has served delicious falafel and creamy hummus for over 90 years.

  2. Al-Quds Restaurant: Known for its traditional Palestinian cuisine, Al-Quds is a popular spot for locals and tourists. Their falafel and hummus are flavorful and made with fresh ingredients.

  3. Abu Ahmad: This hole-in-the-wall eatery is famous for its crispy falafel and silky smooth hummus. Located in the Jabal Amman neighbourhood, it is a favourite among locals.

  4. Falafel Al-Quds: Another great falafel joint in Amman, Falafel Al-Quds offers a variety of fillings and toppings for their falafel, along with creamy and flavorful hummus.

When indulging in these delectable dishes, don't forget to accompany them with freshly baked pita bread, pickles, and a drizzle of tahini sauce for the perfect flavour combination.


Different variations of falafel and hummus

Different variations of falafel and hummus can be found all over Amman, showcasing the diverse culinary heritage of Jordan. Regarding falafel, you can expect more than just the traditional chickpea-based version. Some variations you should try include:

  1. Fava Bean Falafel: Made with a combination of fava beans and spices, this variation offers a unique and slightly different flavour than the classic chickpea version.

  2. Beetroot Falafel: Adding a vibrant touch to the dish, beetroot falafel incorporates grated beets into the mixture, producing a colourful and slightly sweet falafel.

  3. Spinach Falafel: Packed with nutrients, spinach is made with a mix of spinach, chickpeas, and spices, creating a healthy and flavorful alternative.

As for hummus, the variations are just as enticing. When exploring the best places to find hummus in Amman, make sure to try the following:

  1. Hummus with Ful: This version combines the creaminess of hummus with the earthy flavours of ful medames, a dish made from cooked fava beans.

  2. Hummus with Mushrooms: Adding a savoury twist, this variation features sautéed mushroom toppings, adding depth to the traditional hummus.

  3. Hummus with Olive Oil and Paprika: A simple yet flavorful combination, this variation is topped with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkled with paprika, adding a hint of smokiness.

Whether you're a falafel fan or a hummus enthusiast, Amman has something to offer for every food lover seeking to explore the rich flavours of Jordan.


Mansaf and Local Delicacies

The national dish of Jordan

Mansaf is the national dish of Jordan. It is a savoury dish of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented, dried yoghurt called jameed. The dish is typically served over a bed of rice and garnished with almonds and pine nuts. Mansaf is often enjoyed during special occasions and celebrations and holds significant cultural and symbolic value in Jordanian society. The dish is known for its rich flavours and tender, slow-cooked meat. It represents Jordanian culinary heritage and is a must-try for any food lover visiting Amman. Many restaurants in Amman specialize in serving authentic mansaf, allowing visitors to savour this traditional Jordanian dish.



Mansaf is the national dish of Jordan and is considered a culinary treasure of the country. It is a traditional Jordanian dish often served at special occasions and gatherings. Mansaf is a unique and delicious combination of flavours, textures, and aromas.

The main component of mansaf is lamb, which is slow-cooked in a rich and fragrant sauce called jameed. Jameed is made from fermented yoghurt, which gives it a tangy and slightly sour taste. The sauce is thickened with dried yoghurt and mixed with spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

The lamb is cooked until it becomes tender and falls off the bone and is then traditionally served on a bed of saffron-infused rice and topped with toasted almonds and pine nuts. The dish is typically garnished with fresh parsley or mint, which adds a refreshing touch.

Mansaf is a unique culinary experience showcasing Jordan's rich flavours and traditional cooking techniques. It is a must-try dish for Amman food lovers, representing the essence of Jordanian cuisine and culture.


Must-try local delicacies and traditional Jordanian dishes

When visiting Amman, food lovers shouldn't miss the opportunity to try some of the city's must-try local delicacies and traditional Jordanian dishes. From flavorful mezze platters to hearty main courses, here are some dishes that should be on every foodie's list:

  1. Mansaf: Considered the national dish of Jordan, mansaf is a traditional Bedouin dish made of tender lamb cooked in a yoghurt sauce and served with fragrant rice and almonds. This dish represents the rich culinary heritage of Jordan and is often served during special occasions and celebrations.

  2. Maqluba: Maqluba, which translates to "upside-down," is a flavorful dish consisting of layers of rice, meat (often chicken or lamb), and vegetables. Once cooked, the dish is flipped upside-down to reveal the colourful layers.

  3. Makmoura: Makmoura is a comforting dish made of layers of potato, eggplant, and minced meat, topped with creamy yoghurt sauce and baked in the oven. It's a delicious and hearty dish showcasing local ingredients' flavours.

  4. Shawarma: While shawarma is popular worldwide, trying it in Amman offers a unique experience. The city is known for its delicious shawarma, typically made with marinated slices of beef or chicken, wrapped in pita bread and filled with vibrant pickles, tahini sauce, and aromatic spices.

  5. Kunafa: No food journey in Amman is complete without tasting kunafa, a sweet pastry made of shredded phyllo dough, filled with cheese and drizzled with a sweet syrup. It's a delightful dessert showcasing Middle Eastern love for rich, sweet flavours.

With these dishes and more, Amman offers a culinary adventure that will delight any food enthusiast.


Street Food

Exploring Amman's street food scene

Exploring Amman's street food scene is necessary for any food lover visiting the city. The streets of Amman are filled with bustling food stalls and vendors offering various delicious and affordable options.
Some popular street food snacks and treats to try include:

  • Manaqish: A type of flatbread topped with various ingredients such as za'atar, cheese, or ground meat.
  • Falafel: Deep-fried balls made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, typically served on pita bread with tahini sauce and vegetables.
  • Mutabal: A creamy dip made from roasted eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic, served with bread or vegetables.
  • Musakhan: A traditional Jordanian dish of roasted chicken, sumac, onions, and olive oil, served on flatbread.
  • Knafeh: A cheesy dessert made with shredded phyllo dough, sweet cheese, and syrup, often topped with pistachios.

Exploring Amman's street food scene allows you to experience the vibrant local culture and indulge in the city's delicious culinary offerings. Whether you're looking for a quick bite or want to experience the authentic flavours of Jordan, the street food stalls in Amman have something for everyone.


Try unique street food snacks and treats.

When exploring the street food scene in Amman, foodies are in for a treat with a wide array of unique snacks and treats to indulge in. Here are some must-try street food options when visiting the Jordanian capital:

  1. Maqluba: Translated as "upside-down", Maqluba is a traditional Jordanian dish consisting of meat, rice, and vegetables cooked together in a pot and then flipped over to create a stunning presentation.

  2. Manakish: These delectable flatbreads are topped with ingredients such as za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice blend), cheese, or minced meat. They are then baked in a stone oven until crispy and served hot.

  3. Mutabbal: Similar to baba ganoush, Mutabbal is a creamy eggplant dip made with roasted eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. It is usually served with warm pita bread.

  4. Kanafeh: A popular Middle Eastern dessert, Kanafeh is made with shredded phyllo dough, cheese, and sweet syrup and topped with pistachios. It's a sweet and cheesy treat that will satisfy any sweet tooth.

  5. Makhloubeh: Another popular rice dish, Makhloubeh, is known for its layers of rice, meat, and vegetables. It is flipped over when served, similar to Maqluba, resulting in a visually appealing dish.

In Amman, venturing into local street food stalls and markets is a fantastic way to experience the vibrant culinary culture and sample unique snacks and treats that will delight your taste buds.


The best bakeries for traditional Jordanian sweets

If you have a sweet tooth, you won't want to miss out on the traditional Jordanian sweets available in Amman. The city is home to some fantastic bakeries specialising in creating delicious treats that locals and visitors love. Here are some of the best bakeries in Amman for traditional Jordanian sweets:

  1. Habiba: This beloved bakery has been serving up delectable sweets since 1946. They are famous for their kunafa, a traditional pastry made with shredded phyllo dough filled with melted cheese or sweet cream and topped with sugar syrup. Be sure to try their kunafa with freshly brewed Arabic coffee.

  2. Jandalicious: This bakery is known for its mouthwatering selection of pastries and sweets. Their signature dish is the knafeh sandwich, which combines layers of knafeh (a cheese pastry) with a mix of nuts and cheese. It's a unique and delicious treat that shouldn't be missed.

  3. Halawet Al Malaki: This bakery specializes in traditional Jordanian sweets and offers many options. Their menu includes treats like atayef (stuffed pancakes), halawet al jebn (sweet cheese rolls), and various baklava flavours.

These bakeries are just a few of the many options available in Amman. Whether you're looking for a quick bite or a box of sweets to take home, you're sure to find something that satisfies your sweet cravings in the city.


Indulge in kanafeh and other delicious desserts.

Indulge in kanafeh and other delicious desserts that satisfy your sweet tooth in Amman. Kanafeh, a traditional Middle Eastern pastry, is a must-try dessert in the city. It consists of a layer of crispy shredded phyllo dough, a creamy cheese filling, and a sweet syrup drizzle. You can find kanafeh served at various sweet shops and bakeries throughout Amman.

In addition to kanafeh, there are plenty of other delectable desserts to try in Amman. Some popular options include:

  1. Baklava: A sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey or syrup.

  2. Atayef: A sweet dumpling filled with cream or nuts and served with syrup or honey.

  3. Halawet El Jeben: A cheese-based dessert with a sweet cheese filling rolled into a semolina dough and drizzled with rosewater syrup.

  4. Kunafa: Similar to kanafeh, kunafa is a dessert made with shredded phyllo dough, but it is often filled with nuts and served with syrup.

When in Amman, visit some of the best bakeries in town, such as Habibah Sweets and Kalha Sweets, to sample these mouthwatering desserts.


Foodie Activities and Experiences

Participate in cooking classes and food tours

If you're a food lover visiting Amman, one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culinary scene is by participating in cooking classes and food tours. These experiences provide a hands-on opportunity to learn about traditional Jordanian cooking techniques and discover the secrets behind the flavours of the local cuisine.

Cooking classes in Amman often take place in a local home or a dedicated cooking school, where experienced chefs guide you through the preparation of authentic dishes. You'll learn how to make iconic dishes like falafel, hummus, and mansaf and gain insights into the cultural significance of these dishes in Jordanian cuisine.

Food tours in Amman allow one to explore the city's bustling food markets and street food scene. Led by knowledgeable guides, you'll visit local vendors, taste a variety of street food snacks and treats, and learn about the history and traditions behind each dish.

These cooking classes and food tours allow you to taste the flavours of Amman but also provide a deeper understanding of the country's culinary heritage. They are an excellent way to connect with the local culture and create lasting memories of your food-filled adventure in Amman.


Celebrate Jordan's diverse culinary heritage

No foodie's guide to Amman would be complete without highlighting the diverse culinary heritage of Jordan. The country's cuisine is a fusion of Middle Eastern flavours, influenced by its geographical location and history. From savoury street food to traditional dishes, here are some ways to celebrate Jordan's culinary heritage:

  1. Explore the local food markets: Visit the bustling markets, such as Al-Hussein Market and Downtown Amman, where you can find an array of spices, fruits, vegetables, and meats. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and sample local snacks and treats.

  2. Try Jordan's national dish, mansaf: A traditional Jordanian dish of lamb cooked in fermented yoghurt, served with rice and garnished with almonds and parsley. It is often enjoyed on special occasions and symbolises Jordanian hospitality.

  3. Take part in cooking classes: Join a cooking class to prepare authentic Jordanian dishes, such as maqluba (an upside-down rice dish with meat and vegetables) or makmoura (a sweet semolina dessert).

  4. Indulge in traditional Jordanian sweets: Head to the best bakeries in Amman to savour traditional sweets like kanafeh (a sweet cheese pastry soaked in rosewater syrup) and baklava (layers of filo pastry filled with nuts and sweet syrup).

  5. Participate in food tours: Join a food tour to explore the hidden gems of Amman's culinary scene. Taste various dishes, from Jordanian street food favourites like falafel and shawarma to lesser-known delicacies.

By celebrating Jordan's diverse culinary heritage, you can truly experience the rich flavours and traditional dishes that make Amman a must-visit city for food lovers.