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Culinary Tour

Arabian cuisine and culture are grounded in the area’s nomadic roots and Islamic principles — Saudi Arabia is, after all, home to Mecca, the origin and spiritual center of the religion. The port city of Jeddah, the country’s commercial capital, has a particularly diverse population of expatriates, immigrant workers and visiting business executives; as a result, the city’s culinary offerings have expanded beyond the local into the global. Alongside Middle Eastern mezze and shawarma, visitors can find French pastries, Peking duck and much more. 

Day

1

MORNING
  • Get a Sweet Start.

    Maison de Zaid in the Rawdah district offers savory traditional breakfast favorites shakshuka, foul, and falafel with halloumi cheese in its Arabic platter, while its Instagram-friendly sweet breakfast dishes are drawing raves: think banana caramel French toast, and stacks of mini pancakes topped with chocolate and pistachio sauces.

MIDDAY
  • An Amusing Upgrade.

    Families visiting Al Shallal amusement park on the Corniche need not settle for typical theme-park food. On-site Aldaya restaurant offers Lebanese favorites, including grilled mashawi, pizza-style bel ajeen, and hot and mezze, while the menu at Hainan includes Chinese specialties such as Peking duck and Cantonese shrimp. 

  • Tip the Scales.

    Cool down at Fakieh Aquarium with a “cocktail” from Blue Ocean. With these waterfront views and flavorful juice blends like the Pink Flamingo (guava, raspberry, peach and honey), you won’t even notice there’s no alcohol included.

AFTERNOON
  • Sugar Rush.

    Boulevard is home to some of the top designers from around the world, including Dolce & Gabbana (Italy), Loewe (Spain), Dunhill London (England) and Oscar de la Renta (New York). The luxury shopping center’s sole culinary boutique is Lebanese confectioner Patchi, whose exquisite chocolate creations and orange blossom mints would make welcome mid-spree treats for now, souvenirs for later.

EVENING
  • Go for the Gold.

    Black truffles, caviar, foie gras and Kobe beef are some of the most treasured ingredients available today, and culinary adventurers will find them all in one course at Reyhana. The top layer of the Royal Burger is even more magnificent: The bun has been gilded with edible gold leaf. Owing to Saudi Arabia’s diverse visitors, the restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah caters to a variety of global palates with its mix of Arabic, Asian and Mediterranean cuisines.

  • Royally Refreshing.

    King Fahd’s Fountain, one of Jeddah’s modern landmarks, is illuminated by 500 high-intensity spotlights until midnight — the better to admire the plumes of seawater that shoot to more than 1,000 feet in the air, making it the world’s tallest. For a regally fitting liquid refreshment, sip the Royal Juice/Saudi Cocktail at nearby Al Nafoura.

Day

2

MORNING
  • See Food Specials.

    Watch the hubbub when the morning catch goes on sale early each day at Central Fish Market, just west of the Corniche. (Leave your cameras at home; the market is near the Coast Guard and port, so photography is not allowed.)

  • Coffee + Culture.

    From the fish market it’s a quick trek to Uptown 966, where breakfast crosses cultural barriers — options include French croissants, Lebanese labneh, Cyprian halloumi cheese and eggs with Armenian sausage.

MIDDAY
  • Drive a Hard Bargain.

    Barter your way down Gabel Street, home to one of Jeddah’s last major authentic souqs. Stock up on spices and condiments, and recuperate from the desert heat with fresh juices and teas.

  • Be a Lounge Act.

    Recharge with a late lunch or take afternoon tea at Karamel Lounge. A particularly refreshing lunch option: the pressed watermelon salad with frisée, feta cheese, candied walnuts, olive croutons and mint vinaigrette. The tea pastries and desserts are inspired by your choice of either France (macarons, Tarte Tropézienne, Paris-Brest) or Saudi Arabia (baklava, coffee date pudding, mouhalabieh). 

AFTERNOON
  • Chill Out.

    Beat the heat with smooth, icy blackcurrant sorbet or yogurt ice cream from Mövenpick. Jeddah is home to the Swiss ice cream maker’s only location in Saudi Arabia. 

EVENING
  • Rest on Tradition.

    When it comes to traditional Lebanese cuisine, you can’t beat Byblos on the Corniche, which ranks among Jeddah’s most popular restaurants for its authentic dishes. Start with almond chicken croquettes with buttered garlic and coriander centers, then continue to batata harra (clay pot fried potatoes with onions, diced meat and garlic). Come with friends — most entrées are sharing-size platters — and move to the terrace for postprandial shisha.