Iftar is the meal with which Muslims break their daily fast. Traditionally, the fast is broken with dates and a small drink of either water, juice or Arabic coffee, before prayers are undertaken, following which iftar is served.
Often, Bahraini families put on big evening meals for all their family and friends – you’ll sometimes see iftar tents pop up outside big villas – though many also dine out at the many restaurants around the island.
There are hundreds to choose from, some offering Middle Eastern cuisines and buffets, others offering contemporary and fusion twists on a traditional iftar. The meal usually starts with soup – such as shorbat (lentil soup) – before mains are brought out, featuring rice, salads, grilled meats and more, and finally a selection of sweets treats for dessert.
Al Areen Palace: For out-of-town Ramadan experiences consider the 1001 Arabian Nights-themed Al Qasr Tent at this atmospheric hotel. We’ve had an exclusive peek at the packed menu and can confirm there will be dozens of types of mezze, numerous juices, breads, fruits and main courses ranging from lamb freekeh or thareed to moussaka or Bahraini salona. Oh, and we like the sound of live shawarma stations on site as well. BD15 (weekdays), BD17 (weekends). Sunset-late. Al Areen Palace, Block 1062, Sakhir, near Lost Paradise of Dilmun Waterpark, www.alareenpalace.com (1784 5000).
Areesh: For a large number of locals and expats in Bahrain the food served at this modern Arabic restaurant will be familiar to the homecooked dishes they grew up with. If you’re on Amwaj and seeking a homely and strikingly affordable spot to break your fast then it may be hard to find a more suitable location. Informal, friendly and with a buffet that churns out dish after dish it is certainly worth considering over the course of the Holy Month. BD6.99. Sunset-3am. Areesh, The Lagoon, Amwaj, www.areesh.co (1600 2600).
ART Rotana: If you find yourself out in Amwaj Islands at around sunset then head to the souk-themed tent at the ART Rotana to enjoy a Ramadan night. Choices will be host to an iftar of traditional and international dishes for a couple of hours. Turn up later, however, for a longer ghagba experience. In the tent there will be live music from an oud player and shisha available. Ghabga will cost BD21 and a la carte is available from 11pm. BD19. Sunset-8.30pm. Choices, ART Rotana, Al Fanar Avenue, Amwaj Island www.rotana.com (1600 0111).
Bahrain Ritz-Carlton: If you’re yet to pay a visit to this stylish five-star hotel since executive chef, Christian Knerr took to the helm of kitchens then Ramadan could be the perfect occasion. Chef Cristian has been joined by visiting chefs from the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain to develop a special Turkish menu just in time for iftar. After breaking fast with simple dates and water there are many dishes to try and even a chocolate room with edible artworks. It is all happening with the legendary Ritz-Carlton level of service in a special Ramadan tent. For a more private iftar or ghabga experience secluded pergolas with shisha can be booked in advance. BD27-29. Sunset-late. Bahrain Ritz-Carlton, Block 428, Seef, www.ritz-carlton.com (1758 0000).
Crowne Plaza Bahrain: Congratulations and doffed caps are required for this Diplomatic Area hotel’s iftar offer. In accordance with the spirit of the season the hotel will donate 500 fils to a children and mothers’ society for every guest paying for iftar. That means that when you tuck into an international buffet after sunset you are also doing your bit to support communities in need. BD14.520. Sunset-late. La Mosaique, Crowne Plaza Bahrain, Diplomatic Area, www.cp-bahrain.com (1753 1122).
Downtown Rotana: A generous iftar offering can be expected from this Rotana hotel. That means you should be on the lookout for traditional delicacies, Ramadan juices and desserts. It is reasonably-priced and a good setting for a serviceable, if not flash, way to break fast. BD11. Sunset-late. Al Maha Tent, Downtown Rotana, 110 Government Avenue, www.rotana.com (1311 9999).
Domain Bahrain: For the duration of Ramadan Figs & Olives will be transformed into a makeshift indoor tent. The pop-up feel will be enriched by Arabic and international dishes without being costly. BD12. Sunset-9pm. Figs and Olives, Domain Bahrain, Block 317, Diplomatic Area, www.thedomainhotels.com (1600 0000).
Four Seasons Bahrain: If your budget stretches a little further Four Seasons Bahrain has a tasteful and elegant month of evening dining lined up. It starts by breaking fast with bateel khidri dates and a range of seasonal Ramadan juices or soups. Follow it up with dishes ranging from Moroccan tagine, a kooshari selection, rotisserie chicken or a variety of Asian dishes. A hotel ballroom will be transformed to a majlis-like environment and there shall be a shisha lounge and evening Kids’ Club for younger visitors. BD26 (adults), BD12 (six-12). Sunset-8pm. Four Seasons Bahrain, Bahrain Bay, www.fourseasons.com, (1711 5001).
Gulf Hotel Bahrain: The giant hotel excels at special occasions and often sets the benchmark for Bahrain celebrations of all kinds. This year the Khaimat Al Khaleej Ramadan tent will be larger than ever before. Ornate décor and, as the evening progresses into ghabga, Arabic music will set the tone for authentic tradition. Try hot and cold mezze, Arabic Quozi, thareed, harees and, of course, umm ali and khunafa. Separate ghabga packages are available and run late into the night at the tent and Takht Jasmsheed. BD19. Sunset-8pm. Khaimat Al Khaleej, Gulf Hotel, Block 338, www.gulfhotelbahrain.com (1771 3000).
Movenpick Bahrain: The spirit of giving is taken seriously at this Movenpick iftar. As well as giving you cold and hot mezzeh featuring hommus, babaganouj, kebbeh, fatayer and sambousek the waiting staff can give you something even more special. Ask for details and you could enter a raffle with the chance to win four return flights to any destination thanks to Qatar Airways. BD19. Sunset-late. Movenpick Bahrain, 143 Road 2403, www.movenpick.com (1746 0000).
Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa: This out of town hotel is a Time Out favourite and almost always worth the drive south. For Ramadan this year it has set up the Layali Al Zallaq tent by the sea. Here you can break your fast with some delicious dates, traditional drinks and juices and indulge in some lovely Ramadan delicacies including oriental salads, a dedicated Moroccan section, manakeesh and shawarma stations, Arabic bread station, foul and balila, falafel station, mixed grill as well as some traditional Bahraini dishes such as machbous, madrouba and jareesh. BD19. Sunset-8.30pm. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Zallaq Highway, www.sofitel.com (1763 6363). Ghabga Buffet available from 10.30pm-late.