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Salim Al Afifi/ Muscat Media Group

The 18 Essential Muscat Restaurants

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As one of the oil-wealthy countries of the Arabian Gulf, Oman enjoys a fully developed infrastructure, luxury hotels, and international cuisines and influences. However, as a city that only developed from a village to a metropolis in the last 40 years, Muscat also has retained much of its old-school Arabian charm.

Once the most powerful trading empire in Arabia, Oman is no stranger to foreign influences, absorbing and adapting the flavors of the world to suit its own decidedly Bedouin palate. So it stands to reason that the foods that are quintessentially Muscati come from all corners of the world, from the sweetened Indian chai called karak to East African coconut-chili simmered vegetables and native ingredients like fish and dates whipped into new Omani creations by innovative local and expatriate chefs. Muscat is a city both shiny new and entirely traditional, which makes it a fascinating adventure of a place to explore.

Editor’s Note: Eater is not updating international maps at this time given disruptions to global travel during the COVID-19 crisis.

Price key:

$ = Less than 1 Omani Rial (under $2.60 USD)

$$ = 2 - 5 OMR ($5 - 13 USD)

$$$ = 6 - 10 OMR ($16 - 27 USD)

$$$$ = 11 OMR and up (above $28 USD)

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Halwa Tasting at Al Hosni Omani Sweets

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+968 9988 6608
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Omani halwa is a staple of every Omani house. A gelatinous mixture of sugar, cornstarch, and ghee that’s flavored with saffron and rosewater, the dessert is served alongside black, slightly bitter Omani coffee, or kahwa. Variations abound and if you visit a halwa shop, you’ll be served small cup of kahwa to sip while you sit and sample dozens of flavors. Sold in small metal or plastic serving dishes, they make great gifts to bring home. The Al Hosni Omani Sweets shop in the northern suburb of Al Khoud has especially over-the-top bejeweled packaging and some fantastic variations, like their own secret recipe called "Special Halwa." [Free]
Taxi instructions: Al Hosni Omani Sweets, just past the Mizoon Bint Ahmed Mosque in Al Khoud (have him call for directions).

Felicia Campbell

2. Chef Issa's Omani Food at Al Mandoos Restaurant

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Al Badi
Muscat, Oman
+968 9600 4549

Chef Issa Al Lamki is Oman’s first and only celebrity chef, appearing on Oman TV for a yearly Ramadan special, posing for Al Safa chicken ads, and making guest appearances all over town. He has done his country’s food proud, retaining the traditional Omani flavors, but using a chef’s sensibility to make it the best version of itself.

Al Lamki opened Al Mandoos (named for the brass-embellished wooden boxes women used to keep their dowries in) a few years ago, picking every table setting and designing a menu that features dishes like harees, a wheat berry and lamb porridge; maleh, basically an Omani ceviche of salted fish soaked in lime with onions; madrouba, an incredible, cooked-down mash of turmeric-scented rice and chicken topped with cardamom ghee and fried onions; and luscious coconut shrimp curry. Chef Issa has since moved on, leaving only his recipes and well-trained staff behind, and recently opened a new restaurant, Orient Resto Cafe, which is also well worth a try. [$$$]
Taxi instructions: Al Mandoos is behind the Porsche showroom. If you are coming down from the Al Ghubra Bridge and going toward the Chedi, you need to go right at the first traffic light and pass by Bank Muscat and Al Fawaris Bakery. You will then need to take one of the left turns on that road to find Al Mandoos Restaurant on a short stretch of shops parallel to the service road.

Dawn Mobley

3. Biryani at Bowshar International Hotel

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Sultan Qaboos Street
Muscat P.C.112 R, Oman
+968 24 491105
Visit Website

After partying at one of the hotel clubs in Muscat, the perfect late-night meal is the prawn, Hamour fish, or chicken biryani from the restaurant inside the Bowshar International Hotel. The dining room doesn't look like much, but the sweet, slightly spicy "Omanized" biryani served with cucumber raita, sliced sweet onion, and lime wedges more than makes up for the lack of ambiance. It is one of the only 24-hour restaurants in the city, and the carb-y goodness of all that rice will soak up whatever ails you. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Bowshar International Hotel in Al Ghubra.

Felicia Campbell

4. Afro-Arabian Omani Food at Zanzibar Island

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+968 9710 0359

The East African island of Zanzibar was part of Oman until 1965, which is about the time that Ali Nasser, the owner of Zanzibar Island Restaurant, returned to Muscat. He opened the restaurant as an ode to his Afro-Arab heritage, so the bright red walls are lined with old photographs of the Sultans of Zanzibar, artwork, and tchotchkes. If you take a seat in the restaurant while he is there, he will walk over, take your menus from you, and ask if you want Arab or African food. Go for the African. You’ll end up with a plate of coconut beans, cream coconut spinach, mohogo — which is cassava in coconut — plus fresh chapati bread and fried chicken or fish.

If Nasser isn’t there, simply ask to go into the "kitchen" to look at the food. The waiter will open each hot pot and explain what’s on offer that day. The restaurant is happy to do sampler plates of anything you’re interested in trying. Your meal will end with complimentary dates and Zanzibari kahwa, light-roasted coffee infused with cloves and served in thimble-like fenjans. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Zanzibar Island Restaurant in Al Ghubra, just next to Bank of Beirut, near the Porsche showroom.

Salim Al Afifi/ Muscat Media Group

5. A Corn Cup at Lulu Hypermarket

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Near Ghubra Roundabout, Baushar
Muscat, Oman
+968 2450 4504
Visit Website

In pretty much every mall, some souqs, and at the entrance of most hypermarkets, you will find vendors selling styrofoam cups of corn. Oman’s answer to Mexico’s elotes, the steamed sweet corn is doctored up with butter (usually margarine), a healthy dose of lime juice, salt, and spicy red pepper to taste. Grab a cup to enjoy while roaming around the impressive Lulu Hypermarket in search of souvenirs like za’atar tea bags, turmeric soap, and Omani ground coffee. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Lulu Hypermarket in Al Ghubra.

Felicia Campbell

6. Shuwa and Rice at Bin Ateeq

Copy Link
+968 24 478225

Shuwa is basically the national dish of Oman. A celebratory dish usually only cooked for weddings and the Eid holidays, it is laborious — involving slathering a chunk of meat, usually lamb or beef, with spices and oil, wrapping it in banana leaves, sticking it in a woven palm frond bag, and putting it over hot embers in an underground pit where it smokes and cooks for about 24 hours. There are a few restaurants in town that offer the dish, but the no-frills Bin Ateeq restaurant offers the most traditional version. Popular with taxi drivers who live in the remote interior regions of the country and come to Muscat to work during the week, the restaurant is divided into private rooms where diners sit on the floor with a plastic sheet spread out in front of them. The smoky meat is served over a huge platter of rice. Use the little metal dishes of tart Omani salsa to brighten up the heavy combination, which is best eaten the local way: by hand. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Bin Ateeq Restaurant, on the Al Khuwair service road, behind the McDonald's.

Felicia Campbell

7. Shawarma and Mixed Grill at Old Turkish

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Al Khuwair
Muscat, Oman
+968 2448 7822
Visit Website

Though it isn’t native to Oman, shawarma is like a religion here. Everyone, without exception, loves the crispy bits of shaved chicken or meat slathered in garlic mayo and wrapped with a few French fries in thin, crisp bread. There are all kinds of shawarma joints around, but one of the oldest, and the absolute best, is Old Turkish. The shop is open 24 hours a day, but from four in the morning to seven or eight, it stops serving shawarma to re-load the huge cones of meat with fresh chicken and lamb. (Sometimes it'll continue to serve bread or fatayer early in the morning, depending on their staffing and moods.)

The best time to stop in is at night, when the atmosphere becomes lively with long rows of honking cars lining up to wait for takeaway orders and the metal tables teem with groups of locals and expatriates. Go for a few small chicken shawarmas instead of a large to maximize your garlic sauce and chicken-to-bread ratio. In addition to incredible shawarma, Old Turkish also serves one of the best mixed grills in town — a platter filled with grilled chunks of chicken and lamb, minced meat kebabs, lamb chops, grilled vegetables, and French fries, along with fresh-baked Turkish bread and a "mixed appetizer" of mutabal, hummus, green olives, and tabbouleh. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Old Turkish in Al Khuwair, next to the Rawasco.

Salim Al Afifi/Muscat Media Group

8. Fresh, Local Seafood at Turkish House

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+968 9921 5583
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Muscat is a coastal city and the waters of the Sea of Oman are teeming with grouper, snapper, tuna, and the largest, sweetest prawns in the region. Run by a former fisherman, Turkish House is the absolute best place in the city to taste the fresh, local bounty. The restaurant has expanded with a large dining room close to the road, but set back behind it is the old dining area, which is much more charming. Order the mixed mezze, a massive platter of fresh hummus, baba ghanoush, tomato chutney, olive salad, and labne that comes with fresh, foot-long ovals of nigella-seeded Turkish bread. Then order grilled prawns and whatever fresh whole fish is available. The team will let you know which fish is the right size for you. [$$$]
Taxi instructions: Turkish House restaurant in Al Khuwair, just after the roundabout.

9. Karak Tea and Omani Bread at Tea House

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Thaqafah St
Muscat, Oman
+968 9426 4555

One of the favorite snack-time beverages in the Arabian Gulf is an adaptation of Indian chai known as karak. The super sweet, creamy tea is enriched with condensed milk and spices like saffron, cardamom, or the particularly interesting za’atar (not the Near Eastern spice blend in this case, but its namesake, wild thyme leaves). Alongside the karak, people order paper-thin Omani bread smeared with all kinds of fillings. Tea House, tucked between a date palm grove and a small mosque in the Ministries district, is the best place in town; go for the cheese, egg, and Chips Oman combo. Most people order for takeaway, but go in the evening and grab a seat at one of the outdoor tables and watch groups of young local men who gather there after evening prayers. [$]
Taxi instructions: The karak shop next to the mosque behind the Tender Board (before Bait Al Reem)

Salim Al Afifi/Muscat Media Group

10. Omani Ice Cream at Ice Cream Mama

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Shatti Plaza, Qurm
Muḩāfaz̧at Masqaţ, Oman
+968 9127 7770
Visit Website

Since the middle of the century, Omani parents have been making their own ice cream and freezing it into little plastic cups for their children. About five years ago, two entrepreneurial Omani women took their mothers’ recipes and opened the first Omani ice cream shop in a small strip mall in the posh Qurum neighborhood near the sea. They sell the ice cream cups in some seriously Omani flavors like halwa, Vimto (a favorite Ramadan beverage), date, karak tea, and one called luban that’s studded with chewy frankincense. Get your cup to go and enjoy it while taking a walk on the beach. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Ice Cream Mama, next to Shatti City Cinema.

11. Pit-Roasted Lamb Wraps at Shuwa Express

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Bareeq Al Shati Mall
Shati Al Qurum, Oman
+968 9807 2498
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Inside the small Bareeq Al Shatti Mall, Shuwa Express takes the national dish — pit-roasted, spice-slathered lamb — and stuffs it into one of seven different types of flatbread with a bevy of sauce options like mint chutney, tahini, and garlic mayo. In addition to these modern Omani wraps, the restaurant has daily specials that range from Egyptian koshari to biryani. The tiny dining room is comfortable enough, but if you want more ambiance, take your sandwiches to go and head to nearby Love Street for a beach-front picnic. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Bareeq Al Shatti Mall, next to the Opera House.

12. Arax Falafel on Qurum Beach

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OASIS By The Sea, Muscat
Municipality of Oman, Oman
+968 2460 0935
Visit Website

Many people assume that because Oman is in the Middle East, they are going to find all kinds of familiar staples, like falafel and hummus. But Oman (and most of the Arabian Gulf) is a different culinary world, with nary an olive tree in sight and some of the worst falafels I’ve had anywhere. The one exception is Arax, a tiny shop in the seaside strip mall Oasis by the Sea. These guys make incredible falafel sandwiches, stuffed with pickles, tender, crisp-fried falafels, and, on request, an out-of-this-world tahini roasted cauliflower. The sandwiches are dirt cheap and make the perfect picnic lunch to enjoy at the adjacent beach, where you’ll find picnic tables and plenty of spots to sit directly in the sand. [$$]
Taxi Instructions: The Costa Coffee in Jawharat Al Shatti/Oasis by the Sea (everyone knows Costa’s, but Arax is right next door).

Felicia Campbell

13. Sheesha and Mezze at Moorish Cafe

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AlQurum Beach Resort, Shatti Al Qurum
Muscat, Oman
+968 9424 8888

On the bottom floor of the Qurum Beach Resort, the Moorish Cafe opens onto a large garden filled with tables that stretch from the entrance to the glass wall directly overlooking the sea. Day or night, the place quietly hums with men and women chatting and smoking hookah over cappuccinos or karak teas. The hot mezze and baked spinach bread are both perfect nibbles, though the real draw is the relaxed vibe with great views. The service is as relaxed as the patrons, so don’t bother with this cafe if you are in a rush. [$$$]
Taxi instructions: Qurum Resort, near Jawharat Al Shatti (walk in the front door and the cafe will be directly in front of you).

Felicia Campbell

14. Juice Cocktails on "Love Street"

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Qurm, Bousher
Muscat, Oman
+968 9426 3282
Visit Website

Oman is a Muslim country, and though there are plenty of places to have a beer or cocktail at the higher-end hotels and a few restaurants, people here usually go out for fresh juice cocktails. These drinks can range from pure, fresh-squeezed orange, lemon-mint, or mango juices to towering, kaleidoscopic layered ice cream and juice smoothies. Amid the line of cafes along Shatti Street — known locally as Love Street thanks to the young men who spend their evenings revving the engines of their motorbikes and Mustangs as they drive up and down the stretch — Tche Tche and Al Makan Cafe have pages of juice cocktail options to be enjoyed on their rooftop patios that overlook the ocean just across the road. If you don’t like sweet beverages, be sure to ask the restaurants not to add sugar to your drink. [$$]
Taxi Instructions: Tche Tche or Makan Cafe on Love Street in Shatti.

Official site

15. "Mexican-Style" Beers and Bottom-Shelf Liquor at Arabic Night Club

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+968 2456 4443
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At the top of a small staircase on the second floor of the Ramee Guestline Hotel, above the pulsing beats of the Western-style Rock Bottom nightclub on the ground floor, there is the aptly named Arabic Night Club. Inside, rows of long tables surround a stage where an Iraqi or Syrian singer performs his own renditions of classic and popular Arabic songs for the varied crowd. The drinks are basic — think Jack Daniel's (with Coke if you ask for it) and vodka — and pricy, so better to go for a beer (likely Corona or Tiger). Ask for it "Mexican style" and you’ll get a glass with a salted rim and a shot of lime juice inside, which makes for a refreshing, albeit simple, tipple. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Ramee Guestline Hotel in Qurum (ask the doorman how to get up to the Arabic Night Club — and note, men should wear pants rather than shorts or jeans).

16. Lunch at Fishers Grilled

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+968 9946 3561

The old fish souq is in the oldest part of the city, Muttrah. Just across the street in a ramshackle shop called Fishers Grilled, the Egyptian chef displays fresh catch in a small glass case and sells it by the kilo. After ordering, it can take up to 45 minutes to get your platter of charred fish and prawns, but grab a tea or fresh juice at the coffee shop next door and snag one of the three tables set out front while you wait. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Muttrah Fish Market (check out the market and then walk across the street to the restaurant).

Felicia Campbell

17. Sambusa at the Muttrah Souq

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Mutrah, Muttrah
Muscat, Oman

The triangular fried pastries that are filled with potato (and called samosa) in India and stuffed with cheese (and called sambusak) in parts of the Middle East have their own local adaptation in Oman. Known here as sambusa, people stuff them with cinnamon, ginger, and onion-laced chicken or ground beef at home, but most small shops keep the filling simple with cumin-heavy onion and cabbage. The first little shop on the left-hand side of the main corridor of the old Muttrah souq has the best of these greasy little bites that you can buy by the bagful to eat while roaming through the bustling alleyways of the market. [$]
Taxi instructions: Muttrah Souq.

Ali Jani/ Muscat Media Group

18. A Luxe Brunch at Al Bustan Palace's Beach Pavilion

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+968 24 799666
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About 20 minutes outside the bustle of the city, the Ritz-Carlton Al Bustan Palace hotel is set between towering rock cliffs and the spectacular teal sea. On the pristine beach, the restaurant hosts a champagne brunch every Friday during the cooler months, from September through May. Fresh grill stations, raw oysters, French cheeses, and row after row of chafing dishes filled with everything from biryani to pasta fill the interior of the restaurant, while all the tables are set directly in the sand. To avoid the crowds, opt to sit in the patio lounge near the DJ who spins chilled-out house music. The all-inclusive brunch is available in tiers: food only for about $60, food and open bar for about $10 more, and the ultimate option, a Moet & Chandon unlimited champagne brunch for around $100 per person. [$$$$]
Taxi instructions: Al Bustan Palace hotel.

1. Halwa Tasting at Al Hosni Omani Sweets

Khoudh, Oman
Felicia Campbell

Omani halwa is a staple of every Omani house. A gelatinous mixture of sugar, cornstarch, and ghee that’s flavored with saffron and rosewater, the dessert is served alongside black, slightly bitter Omani coffee, or kahwa. Variations abound and if you visit a halwa shop, you’ll be served small cup of kahwa to sip while you sit and sample dozens of flavors. Sold in small metal or plastic serving dishes, they make great gifts to bring home. The Al Hosni Omani Sweets shop in the northern suburb of Al Khoud has especially over-the-top bejeweled packaging and some fantastic variations, like their own secret recipe called "Special Halwa." [Free]
Taxi instructions: Al Hosni Omani Sweets, just past the Mizoon Bint Ahmed Mosque in Al Khoud (have him call for directions).

2. Chef Issa's Omani Food at Al Mandoos Restaurant

Al Badi, Muscat, Oman
Dawn Mobley

Chef Issa Al Lamki is Oman’s first and only celebrity chef, appearing on Oman TV for a yearly Ramadan special, posing for Al Safa chicken ads, and making guest appearances all over town. He has done his country’s food proud, retaining the traditional Omani flavors, but using a chef’s sensibility to make it the best version of itself.

Al Lamki opened Al Mandoos (named for the brass-embellished wooden boxes women used to keep their dowries in) a few years ago, picking every table setting and designing a menu that features dishes like harees, a wheat berry and lamb porridge; maleh, basically an Omani ceviche of salted fish soaked in lime with onions; madrouba, an incredible, cooked-down mash of turmeric-scented rice and chicken topped with cardamom ghee and fried onions; and luscious coconut shrimp curry. Chef Issa has since moved on, leaving only his recipes and well-trained staff behind, and recently opened a new restaurant, Orient Resto Cafe, which is also well worth a try. [$$$]
Taxi instructions: Al Mandoos is behind the Porsche showroom. If you are coming down from the Al Ghubra Bridge and going toward the Chedi, you need to go right at the first traffic light and pass by Bank Muscat and Al Fawaris Bakery. You will then need to take one of the left turns on that road to find Al Mandoos Restaurant on a short stretch of shops parallel to the service road.

Al Badi
Muscat, Oman

3. Biryani at Bowshar International Hotel

Sultan Qaboos Street, Muscat P.C.112 R, Oman
Felicia Campbell

After partying at one of the hotel clubs in Muscat, the perfect late-night meal is the prawn, Hamour fish, or chicken biryani from the restaurant inside the Bowshar International Hotel. The dining room doesn't look like much, but the sweet, slightly spicy "Omanized" biryani served with cucumber raita, sliced sweet onion, and lime wedges more than makes up for the lack of ambiance. It is one of the only 24-hour restaurants in the city, and the carb-y goodness of all that rice will soak up whatever ails you. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Bowshar International Hotel in Al Ghubra.

Sultan Qaboos Street
Muscat P.C.112 R, Oman

4. Afro-Arabian Omani Food at Zanzibar Island

Oman
Salim Al Afifi/ Muscat Media Group

The East African island of Zanzibar was part of Oman until 1965, which is about the time that Ali Nasser, the owner of Zanzibar Island Restaurant, returned to Muscat. He opened the restaurant as an ode to his Afro-Arab heritage, so the bright red walls are lined with old photographs of the Sultans of Zanzibar, artwork, and tchotchkes. If you take a seat in the restaurant while he is there, he will walk over, take your menus from you, and ask if you want Arab or African food. Go for the African. You’ll end up with a plate of coconut beans, cream coconut spinach, mohogo — which is cassava in coconut — plus fresh chapati bread and fried chicken or fish.

If Nasser isn’t there, simply ask to go into the "kitchen" to look at the food. The waiter will open each hot pot and explain what’s on offer that day. The restaurant is happy to do sampler plates of anything you’re interested in trying. Your meal will end with complimentary dates and Zanzibari kahwa, light-roasted coffee infused with cloves and served in thimble-like fenjans. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Zanzibar Island Restaurant in Al Ghubra, just next to Bank of Beirut, near the Porsche showroom.

5. A Corn Cup at Lulu Hypermarket

Near Ghubra Roundabout, Baushar, Muscat, Oman
Felicia Campbell

In pretty much every mall, some souqs, and at the entrance of most hypermarkets, you will find vendors selling styrofoam cups of corn. Oman’s answer to Mexico’s elotes, the steamed sweet corn is doctored up with butter (usually margarine), a healthy dose of lime juice, salt, and spicy red pepper to taste. Grab a cup to enjoy while roaming around the impressive Lulu Hypermarket in search of souvenirs like za’atar tea bags, turmeric soap, and Omani ground coffee. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Lulu Hypermarket in Al Ghubra.

Near Ghubra Roundabout, Baushar
Muscat, Oman

6. Shuwa and Rice at Bin Ateeq

Oman
Felicia Campbell

Shuwa is basically the national dish of Oman. A celebratory dish usually only cooked for weddings and the Eid holidays, it is laborious — involving slathering a chunk of meat, usually lamb or beef, with spices and oil, wrapping it in banana leaves, sticking it in a woven palm frond bag, and putting it over hot embers in an underground pit where it smokes and cooks for about 24 hours. There are a few restaurants in town that offer the dish, but the no-frills Bin Ateeq restaurant offers the most traditional version. Popular with taxi drivers who live in the remote interior regions of the country and come to Muscat to work during the week, the restaurant is divided into private rooms where diners sit on the floor with a plastic sheet spread out in front of them. The smoky meat is served over a huge platter of rice. Use the little metal dishes of tart Omani salsa to brighten up the heavy combination, which is best eaten the local way: by hand. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Bin Ateeq Restaurant, on the Al Khuwair service road, behind the McDonald's.

7. Shawarma and Mixed Grill at Old Turkish

Al Khuwair, Muscat, Oman
Salim Al Afifi/Muscat Media Group

Though it isn’t native to Oman, shawarma is like a religion here. Everyone, without exception, loves the crispy bits of shaved chicken or meat slathered in garlic mayo and wrapped with a few French fries in thin, crisp bread. There are all kinds of shawarma joints around, but one of the oldest, and the absolute best, is Old Turkish. The shop is open 24 hours a day, but from four in the morning to seven or eight, it stops serving shawarma to re-load the huge cones of meat with fresh chicken and lamb. (Sometimes it'll continue to serve bread or fatayer early in the morning, depending on their staffing and moods.)

The best time to stop in is at night, when the atmosphere becomes lively with long rows of honking cars lining up to wait for takeaway orders and the metal tables teem with groups of locals and expatriates. Go for a few small chicken shawarmas instead of a large to maximize your garlic sauce and chicken-to-bread ratio. In addition to incredible shawarma, Old Turkish also serves one of the best mixed grills in town — a platter filled with grilled chunks of chicken and lamb, minced meat kebabs, lamb chops, grilled vegetables, and French fries, along with fresh-baked Turkish bread and a "mixed appetizer" of mutabal, hummus, green olives, and tabbouleh. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Old Turkish in Al Khuwair, next to the Rawasco.

Al Khuwair
Muscat, Oman

8. Fresh, Local Seafood at Turkish House

Al-Khuwair, Oman

Muscat is a coastal city and the waters of the Sea of Oman are teeming with grouper, snapper, tuna, and the largest, sweetest prawns in the region. Run by a former fisherman, Turkish House is the absolute best place in the city to taste the fresh, local bounty. The restaurant has expanded with a large dining room close to the road, but set back behind it is the old dining area, which is much more charming. Order the mixed mezze, a massive platter of fresh hummus, baba ghanoush, tomato chutney, olive salad, and labne that comes with fresh, foot-long ovals of nigella-seeded Turkish bread. Then order grilled prawns and whatever fresh whole fish is available. The team will let you know which fish is the right size for you. [$$$]
Taxi instructions: Turkish House restaurant in Al Khuwair, just after the roundabout.

9. Karak Tea and Omani Bread at Tea House

Thaqafah St, Muscat, Oman
Salim Al Afifi/Muscat Media Group

One of the favorite snack-time beverages in the Arabian Gulf is an adaptation of Indian chai known as karak. The super sweet, creamy tea is enriched with condensed milk and spices like saffron, cardamom, or the particularly interesting za’atar (not the Near Eastern spice blend in this case, but its namesake, wild thyme leaves). Alongside the karak, people order paper-thin Omani bread smeared with all kinds of fillings. Tea House, tucked between a date palm grove and a small mosque in the Ministries district, is the best place in town; go for the cheese, egg, and Chips Oman combo. Most people order for takeaway, but go in the evening and grab a seat at one of the outdoor tables and watch groups of young local men who gather there after evening prayers. [$]
Taxi instructions: The karak shop next to the mosque behind the Tender Board (before Bait Al Reem)

Thaqafah St
Muscat, Oman

10. Omani Ice Cream at Ice Cream Mama

Shatti Plaza, Qurm, Muḩāfaz̧at Masqaţ, Oman

Since the middle of the century, Omani parents have been making their own ice cream and freezing it into little plastic cups for their children. About five years ago, two entrepreneurial Omani women took their mothers’ recipes and opened the first Omani ice cream shop in a small strip mall in the posh Qurum neighborhood near the sea. They sell the ice cream cups in some seriously Omani flavors like halwa, Vimto (a favorite Ramadan beverage), date, karak tea, and one called luban that’s studded with chewy frankincense. Get your cup to go and enjoy it while taking a walk on the beach. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Ice Cream Mama, next to Shatti City Cinema.

Shatti Plaza, Qurm
Muḩāfaz̧at Masqaţ, Oman

11. Pit-Roasted Lamb Wraps at Shuwa Express

Bareeq Al Shati Mall, Shati Al Qurum, Oman

Inside the small Bareeq Al Shatti Mall, Shuwa Express takes the national dish — pit-roasted, spice-slathered lamb — and stuffs it into one of seven different types of flatbread with a bevy of sauce options like mint chutney, tahini, and garlic mayo. In addition to these modern Omani wraps, the restaurant has daily specials that range from Egyptian koshari to biryani. The tiny dining room is comfortable enough, but if you want more ambiance, take your sandwiches to go and head to nearby Love Street for a beach-front picnic. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Bareeq Al Shatti Mall, next to the Opera House.

Bareeq Al Shati Mall
Shati Al Qurum, Oman

12. Arax Falafel on Qurum Beach

OASIS By The Sea, Muscat, Municipality of Oman, Oman
Felicia Campbell

Many people assume that because Oman is in the Middle East, they are going to find all kinds of familiar staples, like falafel and hummus. But Oman (and most of the Arabian Gulf) is a different culinary world, with nary an olive tree in sight and some of the worst falafels I’ve had anywhere. The one exception is Arax, a tiny shop in the seaside strip mall Oasis by the Sea. These guys make incredible falafel sandwiches, stuffed with pickles, tender, crisp-fried falafels, and, on request, an out-of-this-world tahini roasted cauliflower. The sandwiches are dirt cheap and make the perfect picnic lunch to enjoy at the adjacent beach, where you’ll find picnic tables and plenty of spots to sit directly in the sand. [$$]
Taxi Instructions: The Costa Coffee in Jawharat Al Shatti/Oasis by the Sea (everyone knows Costa’s, but Arax is right next door).

OASIS By The Sea, Muscat
Municipality of Oman, Oman

13. Sheesha and Mezze at Moorish Cafe

AlQurum Beach Resort, Shatti Al Qurum, Muscat, Oman
Felicia Campbell

On the bottom floor of the Qurum Beach Resort, the Moorish Cafe opens onto a large garden filled with tables that stretch from the entrance to the glass wall directly overlooking the sea. Day or night, the place quietly hums with men and women chatting and smoking hookah over cappuccinos or karak teas. The hot mezze and baked spinach bread are both perfect nibbles, though the real draw is the relaxed vibe with great views. The service is as relaxed as the patrons, so don’t bother with this cafe if you are in a rush. [$$$]
Taxi instructions: Qurum Resort, near Jawharat Al Shatti (walk in the front door and the cafe will be directly in front of you).

AlQurum Beach Resort, Shatti Al Qurum
Muscat, Oman

14. Juice Cocktails on "Love Street"

Qurm, Bousher, Muscat, Oman
Official site

Oman is a Muslim country, and though there are plenty of places to have a beer or cocktail at the higher-end hotels and a few restaurants, people here usually go out for fresh juice cocktails. These drinks can range from pure, fresh-squeezed orange, lemon-mint, or mango juices to towering, kaleidoscopic layered ice cream and juice smoothies. Amid the line of cafes along Shatti Street — known locally as Love Street thanks to the young men who spend their evenings revving the engines of their motorbikes and Mustangs as they drive up and down the stretch — Tche Tche and Al Makan Cafe have pages of juice cocktail options to be enjoyed on their rooftop patios that overlook the ocean just across the road. If you don’t like sweet beverages, be sure to ask the restaurants not to add sugar to your drink. [$$]
Taxi Instructions: Tche Tche or Makan Cafe on Love Street in Shatti.

Qurm, Bousher
Muscat, Oman

15. "Mexican-Style" Beers and Bottom-Shelf Liquor at Arabic Night Club

Oman

At the top of a small staircase on the second floor of the Ramee Guestline Hotel, above the pulsing beats of the Western-style Rock Bottom nightclub on the ground floor, there is the aptly named Arabic Night Club. Inside, rows of long tables surround a stage where an Iraqi or Syrian singer performs his own renditions of classic and popular Arabic songs for the varied crowd. The drinks are basic — think Jack Daniel's (with Coke if you ask for it) and vodka — and pricy, so better to go for a beer (likely Corona or Tiger). Ask for it "Mexican style" and you’ll get a glass with a salted rim and a shot of lime juice inside, which makes for a refreshing, albeit simple, tipple. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Ramee Guestline Hotel in Qurum (ask the doorman how to get up to the Arabic Night Club — and note, men should wear pants rather than shorts or jeans).

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16. Lunch at Fishers Grilled

Muttrah, Oman
Felicia Campbell

The old fish souq is in the oldest part of the city, Muttrah. Just across the street in a ramshackle shop called Fishers Grilled, the Egyptian chef displays fresh catch in a small glass case and sells it by the kilo. After ordering, it can take up to 45 minutes to get your platter of charred fish and prawns, but grab a tea or fresh juice at the coffee shop next door and snag one of the three tables set out front while you wait. [$$]
Taxi instructions: Muttrah Fish Market (check out the market and then walk across the street to the restaurant).

17. Sambusa at the Muttrah Souq

Mutrah, Muttrah, Muscat, Oman
Ali Jani/ Muscat Media Group

The triangular fried pastries that are filled with potato (and called samosa) in India and stuffed with cheese (and called sambusak) in parts of the Middle East have their own local adaptation in Oman. Known here as sambusa, people stuff them with cinnamon, ginger, and onion-laced chicken or ground beef at home, but most small shops keep the filling simple with cumin-heavy onion and cabbage. The first little shop on the left-hand side of the main corridor of the old Muttrah souq has the best of these greasy little bites that you can buy by the bagful to eat while roaming through the bustling alleyways of the market. [$]
Taxi instructions: Muttrah Souq.

Mutrah, Muttrah
Muscat, Oman

18. A Luxe Brunch at Al Bustan Palace's Beach Pavilion

Muscat, Oman

About 20 minutes outside the bustle of the city, the Ritz-Carlton Al Bustan Palace hotel is set between towering rock cliffs and the spectacular teal sea. On the pristine beach, the restaurant hosts a champagne brunch every Friday during the cooler months, from September through May. Fresh grill stations, raw oysters, French cheeses, and row after row of chafing dishes filled with everything from biryani to pasta fill the interior of the restaurant, while all the tables are set directly in the sand. To avoid the crowds, opt to sit in the patio lounge near the DJ who spins chilled-out house music. The all-inclusive brunch is available in tiers: food only for about $60, food and open bar for about $10 more, and the ultimate option, a Moet & Chandon unlimited champagne brunch for around $100 per person. [$$$$]
Taxi instructions: Al Bustan Palace hotel.

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