Reviews, pictures, contact and booking details for the best restaurants in Bahrain (MENA), part of the Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards.
Middle East and North African food has so much to salivate over: Lebanese mezze, Persian kebabs, and Moroccan meatballs are some of the must-have items of a MENA feast. Time Out has visited each and every restaurant to try regional specialties kibbeh, labneh and more, assessing factors including quality of food, ambience and service. Popular or relatively unknown, we’ve gone undercover to find out what you’re getting for your money at each venue.
The plush, Persian-style interiors are welcoming at Takht Jamsheed, as are the very hospitable staff. Chairs are comfortable and large tables are set up for big gatherings of friends and family, while a traditional menu of Iranian classics is offered. What makes it a winner in our eyes is the food, though. Each authentic dish is intensely aromatic and richly-flavoured, while meats are extremely tender. This place might have been around for years, but its popularity and standards have never waned, and is certainly one for your must-do list.
For an evening of lively Arabic music, fun bellydance performances and excellent Lebanese and Persian cuisine, the traditionally decorated Pashawat is extremely popular on the island. The set menu provides a variety of delicious mezze, grills and desserts, which you must save room for.
Vegetarians need not apply at this business lunch offering, but meat and Persian cuisine lovers will be in their element with Golestan’s set menu. The options change all the time to keep it fresh, and you can enjoy it while relaxing in a traditional, opulent setting.
Based in the Bahrain World Trade Centre, Abd El Wahab features one main dining area downstairs and a trendy bar and lounge area upstairs. It’s been around in Bahrain for a while, and the décor is beginning to show its age, but the standard of food has never slipped. Well-balanced flavours are evident throughout the mezzes and grills. And live music, which blends into the background, provides a relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere, which is still proving extremely popular.
Hidden away in the back alleys of Umm Al Hassam, Al Arisha is a lesser-known gem in this category, even though it’s been around for more than 20 years. Inside, the interiors are traditional and fairly over-the-top, but the quaint Levantine spot also boasts a great garden terrace, which is also fully cooled during hotter months. Food and beverages are authentic and much of the produce and grape has been specially sourced from the Lebanese valleys. Service might not be the most efficient, but it’s a relaxed kind of place where you can enjoy a leisurely afternoon of great food.
One of a few restaurants in residential hotspot Reef Island, Al Fayez is arguably the most popular among them. Offering an upscale take on Lebanese dining, the spacious restaurant boasts both contemporary interiors and stunning views from the outdoor terrace. The menu, which is extensive, features traditional dishes with a modern twist. All the classics are present and correct, but you’ll also find more intriguing options such as pumpkin kibbeh and beetroot-infused mutable. Everything is well prepared using fresh, top-quality produce, boasting subtle and well-balanced flavours throughout.
Lebanese eatery Areesh has managed to impress us with its bright and quirky interiors, rustic and artful touches and delicious dishes that feature small, contemporary quirks. All the popular mezze plates and grills are available, though. Everything is tasty and reasonably priced, considering the overall quality of what you get. It’s a fairly small place, with a main dining area and a section with low tables and couches to sit on, but the white and light blue décor opens the space up. Plus, the beautiful, hand-crafted crockery and mosaic floors are quaint. All of these elements create the impression you’re in for a wholesome feast, which is exactly what you get.
Bringing to the fore an under-represented cuisine in Bahrain, Flavours of Morocco has re-introduced fine North African dining to the island. The brightly coloured, ambient dining room screams Marrakech, and the food is decidedly genuine (lamb brains and all). There’s still some room for improvement here in terms of the quality of food and efficiency of service, but potential abounds with such a complex flavour profile for the chefs to play with.
The opulent, rich tastes of Persian cuisine are well and truly alive at Isfahani, and yet they’re available for a fraction of the cost of other, similar venues. With casual branches dotted around the island, including in the mall’s food courts, Isfahani is popular and accessible.
The K Hotel’s Lebanese lounge and restaurant boasts exceptional service and is a great place to unwind after work. There's live guitar music, while a selection of hot and cold mezze is particularly noteworthy. Meaty grills are tender, juicy and wonderfully seasoned, and should all be enjoyed in the lounge or al fresco on the lovely terrace.
This vibrant Turkish restaurant, which is part of a popular chain, has been transformed this year in terms of décor, but the delicious cuisine is still as good as ever. A skilled and passionate kitchen team produces tasty traditional dishes, from mezzes to pide and grills, and you can enjoy these in a clean and buzzing environment at its mall location. It’s the perfect.
When it comes to quality of food, the standards at Lebanese eatery Leila never falter. Popular with a Khaleeji crowd, the atmosphere here is always vibrant and buzzing, and yet service is always efficient, whether you sit in the modern interior or outside on the street-side terrace in more pleasant weather. The menu takes you through a classic range of Lebanese cuisine, but also offers more hard-to-find salads and main courses, as well as a refreshing selection of healthy dishes. Oh, and it happens to serve some of the best tabbouleh we’ve tasted in town.
We love the take on modern Khaleeji street food at this home-grown café. Lumee Street has introduced something refreshing and new to the island, taking the region’s favourite snacks and transforming them into creative, contemporary dishes, and has garnered quite a reputation. The menu offers a selection of signature dishes, but you’ll also find a selection of daily changing options that keep the experience fresh. The brand has also expanded and opened the Lumee Saar Kitchen, which promises to be just as, or even more, impressive as this original Seef incarnation.
The panoramic views of the azure Arabian Gulf are a major draw of this Lebanese restaurant. There’s a huge and comprehensive menu offering dishes from across the region, as well as a buffet business lunch and a family-friendly Friday affair on offer, too. While the food is all great and flavours are spot-on, the restaurant décor and furniture could do with an upgrade and the service can be rather slow.
Based within the stunning grounds of Al Areen Palace & Spa, Saffron’s cosy, traditional setting and tranquil atmosphere have all the makings of a great restaurant. The food doesn’t let it down, either, as the creative kitchen team serve up classic Khaleeji and Middle Eastern dishes, often boasting a unique Indian or European twist. Because of its location, Saffron can be quite quiet, which makes it a great spot for a private, intimate lunch or dinner.