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Coffee Stops
Break Time: The Great Coffee Stops of Amman

Unless you’re a seasoned expat, it might seem daunting finding basic lifestyle comforts that you generally get back home. For many tourists a day or two in Amman might seem overwhelming or dull as you are unsure of where to go and what to do. If you are like myself…coffee and cafés are an essential part of life and a way to see more of the city.

Here is an insider’s look of where to go to get that much needed cup of joe and a bit of ambiance in a chaotic city like Amman.

The Favorites

Whether you are looking for American coffee or Italian coffee, a place to work or a place to hang out with friends, there are options for it all. Now, you could easily go to the familiar Starbucks, Costa, Caribou or Paul, but do not underestimate the quirky and lively cafés popping up around town.

Dimitri’s Coffee

Founded in Amman in 2014, Dimitri’s Coffee is one of my personal favorites for a Friday morning coffee. By far the most skilled coffee brewers in Amman, Dimitri’s brews their coffee using methods such as Chemex, V60, AeroPress, French Press, an Nitro Cold Brew, just to name a few. If you are a coffee snob like myself, check this place out.

My Recommended Drink

  • Nitro Cold Brew

Location(s)

  • Abdali Boulevard Branch, Abdali
  • Dahiet Al-Ameer Rashid Branch, Mamdouh al Sarayra St.

Rumi Cafe

Rumi is one of those places that most expats tend to hang out. In the morning and early afternoon it is a good place to work, or relax and read, but come 5:00 p/m. you will be lucky to find a seat. If you are more into Italian style coffee, Rumi is the place to go. Yet, for those who are not coffee fans, try the tea! Rumi has some of the most amazing tea options that I have found in Amman.

My Recommended Drink

  • Iranian Tea

Location(s)

  • 14 Kulliyat Al Sharee’Ah St., Jabal Al Weibdeh
  • Abd Al Hamid Shoman Foundation, Jabal Amman (located in the library and is cheaper than the one in Weibdeh)

Turtle Green Tea Bar

Yes, they actually have turtles. But most importantly, the food and drinks are delicious, too. It is a reliable coffee option, but it is better known for its teas. The baristas are young and friendly, and the ambiance is perfect to sit and work, or meet up for a cuppa with a friend.

My Recommended Drink

  • Matcha Shake

Location(s)

  • Rainbow St., Jabal Amman

Seven Pennies Coffee

Why Seven Pennies? Well, SPC is a coffee shop with an ethical twist. Every 1JD you spend, you receive a token worth seven pennies to give to one of the featured charities on their wall. This coffee shop is always my first stop on my way to the Airport or the Dead Sea. Not to mention, they have some delicious, mouth-watering baked goods.

My Recommendation Drink

  • Flat White

Location(s)

  • Abdullah Al Hmood St., 7th Circle

Fann Wa Chai

A quirky café located next to the Italian Cultural Center provides a place to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle from the street down below. From goldfish swimming in a television to art exhibitions, Fann wa Chai knows how to provide a stimulating experience.

My Recommendation Drink

  • Ice Tea (any kind)

Location(s)

  • Kulliyat Al Sharee’Ah St., Jabal Al Weibdeh

Want to try some more?

  • Café Strada
  • Majnoon Qahwa
  • The Good Book Shop
  • The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
  • The Film Cafe
  • Wild Jordan Center

Yours Truly,

Caitlin B.

bekdash ice cream experience jordan
Experience Taste: Bekdash Ice Cream from Syria to You

While in Amman, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to experience the many tastes you won’t find in other places. Maybe you wouldn’t think to look for or find Syrian ice cream in Jordan, but we think you should not miss the opportunity to taste this delightful substance.

Bekdash is a well-established business, originating in Syria, and now available in different locations in Amman like: Galleria Mall, Sweifieh, on Al-Madina Al-Monawara Street and Downtown.

The ice cream is the gem of the selection: specially formulated to make it resistant to the heat and less likely to melt! So for all those people who sarcastically comment that ice cream should be made heatproof: this one is!

The recipe and method of making the ice cream remains the same today as it did when it was first created in 1895- a true taste of tradition!

Incorporating milk, heavy cream, mastic (an aromatic resin), and flour ground from orchid tuber, this ice cream is very different to other ice cream both in taste, being less sweetand in texture, it has elastic properties(!).

The rich ice cream is rolled in a thick coating of pistachios and cashews, adding a delicious salty crunch as well as aesthetic appeal- it’s almost as pleasing to the eye as it is to the stomach.

syrian ice cream in jordan - Experience Jordan

Hopefully, while you are in eating your ice cream, you will also get a chance to hear the beating of the ice cream. That’s right! The ice cream is pounded rhythmically like a drum. You will be hard put to not get up and dance.

They offer a range of flavours and toppings, but the traditional is the “Arabia with Nuts”.

To read more of the intriguing history behind Bekdash, see this article by The Irish Times.

There’s something more special than just the flavour and appearance of this ice cream though: in eating it, you are keeping something of Syria’s wonderful traditions alive. While the country may be turbulent currently, it can also be celebrated even in the simplest of ways.

Syrian Food in Jordan - Experience Jordan
Experience Culture: Traditional Tastes from Syria- Damascus Rose

Damascus Rose has unfortunately since closed.

Trying the food is one of the best experiences when visiting any new place or county. In Jordan, you can find food from all over the Arab world making it a dream come true for foodie travelers. One such place is Damascus Rose, a traditional Syrian restaurant. Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe the experience.

This special restaurant is a hidden gem. Located directly on 2nd circle, you may not see it if you are not looking because it has a wall that protects their garden area from the street noise. When you step in, you feel like you have entered a family’s garden.

The décor is gorgeous, light, and spacious inside. With beautiful jeweled lights and comfortable, colorful seating it has a lovely atmosphere in which to enjoy your meal.

Syrian food in Jordan - Experience Jordan mishowee

The menu is given in Arabic and English and contains a large selection of mezze, appetizers (hot and cold), mains, sweets, and drinks. So this gem is a top choice for a full dining experience, as opposed to a quick bite.

Due to the extensive selection, this restaurant meets the needs of meat-eaters and vegetarians alike with substantial dishes in both categories.

As with most Middle Eastern restaurants, complimentary flatbread comes with your order. However the bread here is exceptional: freshly baked, still warm, light, and dusted with sesame seeds. Delicious.

The best thing to do is to go with family and/or friends and order a varied selection of dishes for all to share. The group can then order a few dips, some salads, several mains, and at least one thing you’ve never heard of. What is life without a bit of a gamble!

Syrian food in Jordan - Experience Jordan Salad

We highly recommend:

  • Mohammera bel jouz- a dip made from walnut pasts and red peppers
  • Shanklish- melt in the mouth cheese flavored with a variety of spices
  • Eggplant fattoush- this spin-off of the infamous fattoush includes delicious wedges of eggplant, a wonderful addition
  • Batata bel kozbara o toum- fried potato with coriander, deliciously spiced; another Levantine classic
  • Muskhan- a traditional dish consisting of chicken roasted with onions, sumac, saffron, and all-spice. Served over flatbread and topped with pine nuts. The meat falls apart in your mouth- divine

The dining experience is exemplary. The service is traditionally Middle Eastern- so hospitable, while the food is delicious and a true flavor of this region of the world.

We highly recommend this restaurant to everyone including, expats in Jordan and tourists alike. It makes for a wonderful experience.

For other Culinary Experiences check out:

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Your Visit to Jordan Must Include Mansaf – Jordan’s National Dish

Jordan’s national dish is Mansaf; as such it is essential that any and everybody who comes to Jordan tries it. Mansaf is magic.

Ingredients of Mansaf

Served on a large platter, the base is a layer of shrak, a flatbread so thin it is almost translucent. This is topped with lightly spiced rice, then slow-cooked melt-in-the-mouth pieces of tender lamb and a generous sprinkling of fried nuts.

The sauce, which the meat is first cooked in, and the remainder of which is poured lavishly over the dish, is what really brings it all together. A broth made of jameed- a hard dry goat’s milk yogurt of Bedouin origin- and spices.

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More than just Food

 

But it’s not only the phenomenal flavors that make this dish special; there’s more to this dish than meets the taste buds!

 

Mansaf ties together the key elements of Jordanian culture: Bedouin tradition, food, and most importantly- community.

 

The very fact that Mansaf is eaten from one large plate exemplifies the importance of sharing all you have, a core value here.

 

Food is renowned for bringing people together, all throughout history people have joined together for meals: whether it is a family inviting others into their homes as a display of hospitality, or politicians meeting for a dinner over which they discuss the fate of the masses!

 

But nowhere brings people together over food in the way the Middle East does. In the way mansaf does. (In fact, we think it would be a very good idea for mansaf to be served at all state dinners when different nations are discussing things, as it will make them so happy and sleepy that only good things can happen!)

 

Mansaf deserves the prestigious title of “the national dish of Jordan”, combining all the best things: the shared plate for the community; the sheer quantity for hospitality; the flavors for tradition.

 

traditionally served mansaf

Go get yourself some Mansaf!

 

It’s best enjoyed home-cooked, however, the top-rated restaurants for Mansaf are Reem Al Bawadi (near Medina Street), Tawaheen Al Howa (near Duwar Waha),  Jerusalem (Al Quds) found in the Downtown, and Jabri, on Gardens Street.

More important than where you eat it is how you eat it.

No.1 priority is doing so as part of a group. There are certain Mansaf etiquette guidelines that it is advisable to be aware of before you dive into this amazing food that you will never forget.

To study-up on said guidelines, check out this helpful article by StepFeed that outlines 6 key points to eating mansaf.

Mansaf
Mansaf, served with Jameed sauce and fresh vegetables

Common Mansaf Jokes

Mansaf in addition to being the national dish is also a national inside joke. To know mansaf, the taste, and the effects.  First, the taste. Each city/region has a specific way of making the dish that gives it a unique taste. There is an on-going debate about which city makes the best mansaf. Try not to get in the middle of these discussions and simply be agreeable with whomever you find yourself with. If they are from Karak, then Karaky mansaf is the best, from Salt, then Salt mansaf is the best. If they are from Irbid…get the picture?

In reference to the side effect, mansaf is better at putting you to sleep (or a loopy state) than Thanksgiving turkey. Once you start eating, it is difficult to stop, and once you have consumed a good quantity you will be ready for a good nap. the below video gives you a good idea of what we are talking about. It is because of the above that mansaf is the great insider joke for both Jordanians and those who wish they were Jordanian.

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Experience Dining: One for the veggies…

Are you vegan or vegetarian traveler interested in visiting the Middle East? Although meat is a rather substantial part of the Jordanian diet there are food options a plenty for you here in Jordan.

 

Pre the era of imported food, people made meals with whatever they had on hand. This means that vegetables are featured heavily in well-known and loved Jordanian dishes. The Jordanian culture of hospitality ensures that at every meal there will be more than enough food and variety of food on the table. This means you will never be limited to the choice of only one dish whether you are in a home, or a restaurant/café.

 

The cuisine here boasts a whole range of mezzes (small plates), so many that there seems to be absolutely no limit to them! Salads, dips, breads, potatoes, stuffed grape leaves, mini vegetable fritters, pickles… All of these and more are easily found on the menus of all restaurants serving traditional cuisine.

 

Salads: Pomelo and pomegranate, Beet, Cheery tomato; Chai; Manakish with cheese, olives and eggplant; Makdous

Salads: Pomelo and pomegranate, Beet, Cheery tomato; Chai; Manakish with cheese, olives and eggplant; Makdous

Of course, the basis of these restaurants is founded on the traditional Jordanian kitchen. Thus, fear not if you are invited to a home to dine- the mezze dishes on offer to you there will be even more plentiful and even more delicious than at the restaurant!

 

Traditional flatbread is a constant accompaniment to meals, so any mezze selection can be easily made more substantial. It is worth noting that this bread deserves it’s own names place on the menu, it is so delicious and fresh here.

 

Eggplant fattoush; mohammera bel jouz; shanklish

Eggplant fattoush; mohammera bel jouz; shanklish

There are many main dishes that are vegetarian friendly too: a selection of vegetable stews and rice dishes grace the menus of the restaurants.

Okra and tomato stew is particularly common, not to mention delicious, as are plates containing eggplant, like Fatteh el Makdoos (a bread, tomato, and eggplant casserole).

 

In Amman there are several restaurants that are purely vegetarian, Shams El Balad (Rainbow Street) being our top recommendation for flavour, freshness, and authentic experience.

 

Of course, it is extremely easy for veggies to grab a quick, cheap bite to eat: falafels are everywhere! Falafel sandwiches can be stuffed with sauces and veggies, and purchased from every corner of the city. These are infamous for good reason: they are divine.

 

As for sweets and snacks, these tend to be vegetarian and that sure is lucky for you because Jordan boasts an amazing selection of nibbles.

Roasteries full of nuts, chocolates and dried fruits can be found in every commercial area, as can sweet shops such as Habibah. “Sweets” is the word used to refer to all sweet things; it’s not limited to candy but covers cakes, cookies, chocolate and knafeh (for non-vegans) alike!

 

Dessert- Ghazal al Banat

Dessert- Ghazal al Banat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember when you visit Jordan we have excellent food options for you. Enjoy experiencing this amazing country full of culture, history, adventure, and food!

For more information on some specific veggie friendly places check out this site:

https://www.happycow.net/asia/jordan/amman/

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Experience the Taste of Tradition: Shams El Balad

This food spot is a true gem of Amman; it’s a place where, despite the never-ending change and turn of the world, things are brought back to basics, returning to the traditions of the Jordanian kitchen.

 

The whole concept of Shams is bringing back Jordanian culture, the heart of which is in the kitchen. The cuisine of Jordan so central to culture because it’s where people come together, where they forget the world, forget the disagreements, and join with one another around the same plate.

 

When I asked one of Shams’ chefs: what is the most important thing in your cooking, I was rewarded with the answer: “Celebrating the kitchen”, and the truth of that mantra is profoundly visible. Manager, chefs, serving staff, and guests alike; all celebrate the joy of the Jordanian kitchen and the wonders it produces.

 

Salads: Pomelo and pomegranate, Beet, Cheery tomato; Chai; Manakish with cheese, olives and eggplant; Makdous

Salads: Pomelo and pomegranate, Beet, Cheery tomato; Chai; Manakish with cheese, olives and eggplant; Makdous

 

But, how could you not? The flavours created are all exceptional due to the quality of the produce used in the cooking: this is one of the few places where everything is one hundred percent organic; fresh from the farms!

 

The Shams group focus on sustainable industry, partnering with HIMA an NGO that promotes creating a more sustainable Jordan, so they ensure every step of the process, from farming to making to serving, is serving the community.

 

The bread they serve is whole-wheat and freshly baked in Madaba early each morning then delivered that day before Shams opens its doors; this partnership with the bakers and their families is well-established. Shams support the local people of Madaba through the loyal use of their services, and it has stood the test of time making it valuable.

 

This is so fundamental to the concept of bringing back old Jordanian tradition, because the importance is put on being a family and a community who collectively support one another.

 

As well as being a rarity in using wholly organic produce, Shams El Balad is also original because it is completely vegetarian, with many vegan options on the menu too. No trace of meat can be found, not even in the stock (which is a common pitfall of so called ‘vegetarian’ restaurants). All is veggie friendly!

 

The restaurant has a downstairs and upstairs seating area, plus a large terrace with views out to the citadel and colourful seating shaded by trees, which are filled with chirping birds; it’s rather idyllic!

 

The terrace view: over Amman, out to the Citadel

The terrace view: over Amman, out to the Citadel

 

There is an extremely old house on the terrace, which has been refurbished and is now available as a venue for events, such as weddings. This has it’s own private terrace and makes a wonderful setting for an event. A great venue with the best catering!

 

The private terrace, strung with lights

The private terrace, strung with lights

 

The food is divine, so colourful and flavoursome- and it’s all due to the freshness of the ingredients! You know for certain there are no hidden nasties, and can feel the goodness that the food- full of vitamins, minerals and healthy proteins- is doing to your body.

 

A whole selection of vegetable and fruit salads, mezze dips, plus some phenomenal manageesh and more is on offer, including a divine pan-fried cauliflower fritter- Mshat- served with hummus and sprinkled with sumac.

 

Mshat: cauliflower fritter

Mshat: cauliflower fritter

 

The dishes of Jordan, which have become so well known and loved in family homes and restaurants alike, all came about from the old way of cooking what you’ve got in your kitchen, and making the most of it. Shams captures this by using only seasonal produce, meaning there are some creative twists on their traditional dishes, for example: cheese manakish topped with aubergine!

In this way, you do not waste, you do not import, but you do get the best flavour-wise: seasonal is where the goodness is!

 

Every detail, from the many mezze options and sharing plates, to the round tables, to the smiling and hospitable staff all points back to tradition: sharing, friendship, and a collective celebration of the kitchen.

 

This place is both phenomenal and inspiring in its flavours, in the way it looks at the world, and in the way it captures this wonderful county.

 

Go traditional. Go organic. Go to Shams.

 

Check out their Facebook and Instagram pages by following the links.