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Food & Dining in Oman


In the major tourist cities and towns, visitors will have a number of choices for dining out. There are restaurants serving Arabic, Lebanese, Indian, European, and many other international cuisines. Generally, true Omani food can only be had when dining in a local’s home. However, there are places where visitors can sample traditional Omani food. They can head to cafés, local restaurants, and street-side stalls mainly serving shawarma, which is meat cooked vertically on a spit wrapped in flat bread and eaten with tomatoes and cucumber flavoured with garlic sauce.

For the most part, Omani cuisine is milder and less spicy than that of its neighbours. The sea is naturally a huge part of the cuisine. One of the more traditional dishes is mashuai, which is kingfisher cooked on a spit eaten with lemon rice. Traditional sweets are quite famous, not only in the country but in the entire region. Halwa is a semi-solid, gelatinous sweet dish made from sugar and dates flavoured with lots of cardamom, saffron, and rosewater.

While the locals, most of whom are practising Muslims, are not allowed to drink, most hotels will usually provide a bar for their foreign guests. Thus, hotels are where most of Oman’s nightlife takes place. This is certainly the case with cities and towns outside Muscat and Salalah.


One of the more popular places to sample regional cuisine is a restaurant oddly named Automatic Restaurant in Qurum. Nothing is synthetic about the food served here though, which are well-loved Lebanese dishes such as hummus, a paste made from chickpeas flavoured with spices and olive oil, or moutabel, a dish made with eggplant mashed and mixed with seasoning and olive oil.

Bin Atique, in Al Khuwair, is one of the few places in town to serve a variety of local Omani dishes. As the restaurant caters mainly for homesick Omani traders, you'll be seated on an old carpet in a private room. If you can put up with the unglamorous surroundings, however, the food is generally good quality and authentic. Try harees, a glutinous, Omani dish often mixed with chicken. Alternatively, if Bin Atique didn't appeal to you, try the nearby and newly opened Meknes for a more comfortable Arabian ambience. Serving excellent Moroccan dishes in a tiled interior with brocade armchairs, this is a good place to sample tajine (lamb stew) with potatoes and green olives and mint tea poured with relish from silver kettles.

For Muscat's best Friday brunch, in gorgeous surroundings and with a bar licence after 2 pm, Al Kiran Terrace is more of a day out than just an excellent dining experience. Walk off that extra slither of smoked salmon under the coconut palms, or snooze away the rest of the afternoon on the beach lounge chairs

Diners with international cuisine in mind should head to the aptly named establishment called Restaurant. With Arabian chandeliers and modern open kitchens, the restaurant serves delicate international fare but includes melt-in-the-mouth hamour (a succulent local white fish), and some truly wonderful regional dishes such as harira (a thick soup with beef, lentils and chickpeas spiked with coriander).

Next to the Omani Heritage Gallery, D'Arcy's Kitchen is a friendly and award-winning establishment that serves Western favourites at reasonable prices and is open when most other cafés are taking a siesta.

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