Enjoy local fare at these standout regional restaurants
Time Out Bahrain staff
Basta 23 The walls are plastered in old Bahraini posters and funky graffiti, as Arabic TV shows run in the background at Basta 23. The menu has some great authentic dishes such as shakshooka, samosas and balaleet. Enjoy them all with a steaming pot of karak. Riyadat Mall, A’Ali (7777 2323).
Chai Café This traditional chai shop is spotlessly clean with outside, downstairs and upstairs seating featuring wooden benches and a menu that encompasses everything the owner remembers from his childhood. This includes a huge range of teas from around the world (including the obligatory karak but here it’s served in an edible biscuit cup!), Bahraini breakfast classics and even roti sandwiches with Chips Oman. Sanabis, opposite Bahrain Mall (1700 1727).
Haji Gahwa Haji Gahwa has garnered somewhat of a stalwart reputation for its seriously local offering. The café lays down an alleyway in the Manama Souq with outdoor, indoor and family-style seating. There’s no menu – you just order your favourite Bahraini dishes depending on what time of the day it is and they’re open straight through from 5am to 9pm. Each dish comes with a range of complimentary sides and everything is lip-smacking. Bab Al Bahrain (1721 0647).
Saffron by Jena Bakery Saffron by Jena Bakery, or Za’fran in Arabic, has become a big hit in Bahrain for offering a taste of the local culture to residents and tourists alike, and it was originally part of the renovation project in Muharraq’s Souq Al Qaisariya initiated by Bahrain’s Ministry of Culture. This branch is in an old renovated Bahraini house with a menu that features all local favourites. Nowadays you can enjoy the same injection of local culture in other stunning venues at Bab Al Bahrain and Riffa Fort. Near the NBB strip, Muharraq (1362 3191).
Villa Mamas Although the Villa Mamas menu features Mediterranean classics, owner and Bahraini restaurateur Roaya Saleh likes to keep true to her roots by also offering a selection of local dishes particularly for breakfast. Roaya, who has also recently launched the first Gulf cooking show on The Food Channel, prepares everything with a wholesome yet gourmet twist. We also can’t help but love the quaintly decorated venue. Saar, opposite Saar cinema (1730 5031).