Find an interesting mix of fast food favourites and higher end cuisine in this area. Will Milner hunts down 11 top foodie finds
Despite proximity to the US naval base, there is far more to Juffair than ‘American Alley’ and fast food joints. Sure, some of the best eats here are cheap as chips but there is also a finer and more delicious side to the area that’s worth your time and dinars, too.
The most familiar sights along Al Shabab Avenue, aka American Alley, are fast food and burger joints. Less familiar, but just as cheap and cheerful, is this quick and casual Arabic venue. You might have experienced the comfort food at its Seef cousin, Aroma Café, but, uniquely, street food reigns supreme here so check out the juicy shawarmas and reasonably-priced saj.
Shabab Avenue, Juffair, The Mall, www.aromaexpressbh.com (1721 2126).
We’d hardly recommend this down-to-earth joint as a healthy place to eat, but, if you’re prepared to put the diet to one side for a day you’ll know why it was Highly Commended as Newcomer in the 2015 Time Out Bahrain Restaurant Awards. Expect big barbecue platters, hefty burgers, spicy chicken wings and enough deep-fried cornmeal to slow down an American football team. A singing duo straight out of Nashville and a raucous brunch complete the Deep South hospitality vibe.
Best Western Plus The Olive, Block 324, www.bestwestern.com (1721 1133).
We’ve included this Mediterranean inspired burger joint for a very good reason – it sells one of the best veggie burgers. While there’s nothing wrong with the eclectic range of meaty options, this patty boasts a blend of kale, potato, chickpea and spices and is a worthy alternative. Plus, the kale makes you think this might be a bona fide superfood.
Al Raya Mall, www.bfburger.com, Juffair (1721 4441).
A wood-burning oven takes centre stage at this always-packed Italian restaurant. Decorated like a Tuscan farmhouse (with the occasional New York Mafioso flourish) it is as atmospheric as you’re likely to find in a Bahrain restaurant. An enormous menu comprises many traditional Italian favourites with numerous pastas and risottos, as well as the thin and crispy pizzas. Try the melanzane alla parmigiana (baked aubergine topped with mozzarella and cherry tomato) and be sure to look at the meat and fish courses such as a charcoal-grilled rack of lamb. It’s more about the vibe here, though.
Al Safir Hotel, Al Fateh Road, Juffair, www.cucinaitaliana.com.bh (1700 1317).
One of the few Bahrain restaurants that everybody has to visit at least once. The reason is not one of plush decadence or remarkable setting but its vegetarian food is so pure of concept it stands alone as a beacon for healthy eating. Try the dahi puri for a taste of one of India’s favourite street foods which is crunchy, flavoursome and with just the right amount of spicy kick. The chefs cater specifically to a Sattvic diet and enhance the principles of yoga.
Mannai Mansions, Juffair (1782 7127).
The dine and dance concept at this Ramee International Hotel Indian restaurant and lounge promises so much fun we can’t understand why it isn’t more copied. The only thing we can think of is that the dining leaves visitors so bloated the dancing can be tricky. Chunky chicken tikka masala, aromatic biryani and highly spiced jalfrezis can be finished off with a traditional kulfi dessert. While all that goes on, Bollywood beats blast out across the dining room.
Ramee International Hotel, Juffair, www.rameehotels.com (3838 1615).
In Kabuki there is a little corner of Japan in the heart of Juffair where you can find just about every traditional dish you can think of from the land of the rising sun. The enormous menu comprises teppanyaki, bento boxes, robata grills and mountains of sushi. Pick and choose combinations to suit your taste or veer away from the classics and try some of the combos made famous by Kabuki.
Al Shabab Avenue, Juffair (1761 6191).
As happy as we are with the mixed grills and mezze we sample all over town, the artistry and finesse of a restaurant such as the K Hotel’s Kenza are a step ahead of most. As impressive as the food, however, is the pretty terrace and lounge that, with an accompaniment from a resident guitarist, are all the ingredients you need for post-work chill-out sessions.
The K Hotel, Juffair, www.thekhotel.com (1736 0000).
This is fine dining Indian food which elevates the flavours of the subcontinent with superb service and a romantic atmosphere. The classic presentation and delicately spiced dishes make it a favourite for curry lovers and those looking for different twists on well-known Indian dishes. While the food alone is excellent enough to have earned it a place on our 2015 Best Indian Restaurant shortlist, we also love the ambience, supplied in no small part by the live sitar and tabla players.
Best Western Plus The Olive, Block 324, www.bestwestern.com (1736 0061).
As large a dollop of Americana as you’re likely to find this side of a fourth of July parade, Ric’s Kountry Kitchen has been a staple of the Bahrain scene for decades. Considered by many to be the beating heart of ‘American Alley’, it is famed for the epic stodgy breakfasts and rowdy vibe when the live band are playing or live sports are being screened. Visitors from the nearby naval base make it rock with Stateside vibrancy but don’t just dismiss this as a spit-and-sawdust pub, as you’ll find a few good, old-fashioned comfort food creations on the menu. You certainly won’t leave complaining that you’re hungry.
Next to Al Jazira Supermarket, www.ricskountrykitchen.net (1772 5550).
Bringing a taste of south Philadelphia to Bahrain is Tony Luke’s, a typical Philly cheesesteak joint where they also serve specialty sandwiches, burgers and plenty of ‘fries’ (also known as chips). Specialty brand Wingman BH also has a home in stores and has a huge range of chicken wings available. It’s the first of its kind here in the Kingdom.
Road 4015, Juffair, www.tonylukes.com (1749 4941). Other location: Reem Centre, Riffa (1749 4940).