Eating out on weekends and holidays is a popular activity among a large number of people in Oman. But is there a popular ‘Dining District’ in the capital city of Muscat? The answer, quite surprisingly, might be ‘No’.
Where then do people head to, for eating out on weekends or to celebrate birthdays/anniversaries or other milestones in their lives? The fact is, restaurants catering to different strata of society are actually spread across the length and breadth of the city.
One of the reasons for this, perhaps, is the fact that most people do not like to drive long distances for dinner. So, restaurants serving varied cuisines are located in different areas and the regular patrons largely comprise those residing in those areas.
Muscat has numerous avenues for eating out, from street corner coffee shops to chains of esteemed international coffee lounges, from food courts in malls and shopping arcades to fine-dining restaurants with signature cuisines. There are also a string of restaurants attached to five-star hotels and resorts which are also open to all.
Varied tastes, varied cuisines
Everything depends on what cuisine you would like to savour. You might want to sample purely Arabic/Omani dishes or middle eastern cuisine, or visit Asian restaurants which predominantly serve Indian/Chinese cuisine. However, there are other restaurants that serve Pakistani/Sri Lankan specialities as well as Thai/Indonesian/Malaysian dishes, besides those specialising in Italian/European cuisine. American fast-food chains (McDonald’s, KFC, Hardees, BurgerKing, etc) too, are present all over the city with outlets in Malls doing brisk business. And then, there are a handful of Japanese Sushi outlets which have also caught the fancy of diners in Oman.
Good dining options lie all over the capital, from downtown Ruwi to Al Mouj Muscat near Muscat International Airport. In and around Ruwi, one can explore Indian restaurants like Woodlands, Khana Khazana, Copper Chimney, Omar Khayyam (one of the oldest restaurants in Muscat), The Khyber, Divine, Grand Horizon, Golden Oryx (for Chinese and oriental cuisine) at Rex Road, and The Cave complex on Darsait Heights (which has a string of restaurants with varied cuisines). For fine dining and theme brunches, one can visit Turbine and Taps in Sheraton Oman hotel or Capri Court in Barr al Jissah Resort and Spa for Italian, Mediterranean and European cuisine.
There’s also Passage to India, tucked away behind Hatat House at Wadi Adei, with a good ambience and good food, as well as Mughlai Zaika a little away at Wattayah, near the Honda Showroom.
Uncrowned ‘Dining District’
In Qurm, the main area for dining is Jawaharat Al Shatti which has a string of restaurants and cafes by the seaside, mostly providing fast-food and beverages including Mani’s Cafe, D’Arcy’s Kitchen, Slider Station (most popular among the youth), Roco Mamma’s, and Love at First Bite. Then there’s Ubhar Bistro and Steak Company and Automatic known for excellent grills in nearby Bareeq al Shatti shopping complex, Trader Vic’s in hotel Intercontinental Muscat and Tuscany (Italian cuisine) in Grand Hyatt hotel.
Kargeen is also another popular outlet in nearby Madinat al Sultan Qaboos (MSQ) area and Qurum Commercial Complex also has some popular outlets like Nando’s, Wagamama (Japanese cuisine), Park Burger, China Town, etc. Fine dining restaurants include Indus and Sultan Chef in the Royal Opera Galleria and Mumtaz Mahal (Indian cuisine) – an independent establishment on a nearby hill. There are yet a few more theme restaurants around different sections of Qurm, making it, perhaps, the uncrowned ‘Dining District’ of Muscat.
Al Khuwayr and Ghubra’s best
If you move beyond Qurm, a five minute drive ahead in Al Khuwayr, you can find many interesting eating out options, including several Turkish restaurants, including Turkish House Restaurant, Twins Turkish Cuisine, and Istanboly, the most popular eatery known for its Shawarmas and other Arabic delights. Many of these provide el fresco dining in the evenings. Other wellknown restaurants include Bin Ateeq, Begums, Al Akhtam, Golden Spoon, Foodlands, Jashn, and many more.
Ghubra area has just a few restaurants like Taste of India, Nizam, 1947 – Indian restaurant, The Chocolate Room (for choco desserts). The food courts and restaurants in the Grand Mall, Avenues Mall and Panorama Mall in Ghubra area also popular for the varied dining options they offer. Don’t miss the rather newcomer – P F Chang’s for fine dining Chinese cuisine in Avenues Mall or Yellow Chilli for fine dining Indian cuisine in Panorama Mall.
In Azaiba, one might want to visit The Asian restaurant for Chinese/Thai cuisine or Manhattan Fish Market in north Azaiba (along 18th November Street) for unique seafood platters. For vegetarians, the options for pure vegetarian food outlets in Muscat are few – these include Kamat at Rex Road and, Sarvanabhavan at Ruwi – though all restaurants serve vegetarian fare alongside non-vegetarian food.
You would also discover many more eating out options in Muscat as you move around the capital. Often, you might enjoy the most delicious meals in unsung restaurants which do not quite announce their presence with bright hoardings or have vantage locations. But if you do land up at the right place and know what to order, you would, indeed, also let the word go around. Bon appetite!