People living outside of Riffa don’t exactly know it as a foodie destination. But perhaps it should be known as one, as a bunch of quirky cafés, burger joints and tempting restaurants have sprung up in recent years. It’s about time diners took a break from Adliya and tried out some of Bahrain’s other culinary havens. From steaks to pizzas, eggs benedict to chocolate lava cakes, Riffa has it all if you just take the time to look...
Big Smoke Burger
You’ll sometimes see the Gastro St. food truck parked up outside The Walk Bahrain. It is a mobile burger delight you need to experience, but, unfortunately, it is not a permanent resident. You can, however, find full-time, 24-hour burger love at Big Smoke Burger in the same neighbourhood. The Canadian franchise has signature burgers such as the Craft (mushrooms and garlic), Spicy and Blue (avocado and gorgonzola), and true burger aficionados should sample them all.
Open 24 hours. The Walk Bahrain, Mashtan Avenue (77 107 777).
We could have punched the air with delight when we found out about this lesser known café in the Royal University for Women. Not only does it serve fantastic breakfasts at knock-down prices, but it is also a proud champion of Bahraini food. Local dishes with delightful twists, such as a mahyawa toastie combining eggy bread with the flavour-packed fish paste, are a welcome addition to any menu and they’re served in a pleasant environment. It gets two thumbs up from us.
Open Sat-Thu 9am-10pm. Royal University for Women (17 002 700).
Your diet can start tomorrow. Until then, let your thoughts and cravings turn to the American-style comfort food at this kitchen. Hot dogs wrapped in French fries, doughnut burgers, buffalo wings dripping in sticky sauce, desserts spilling out of jars, enormous sandwiches, pancake burgers, mac ‘n’ cheese burgers. Need we go on? This is food rarely spied outside of food challenge TV shows.
Open Sun-Wed 6.30pm-11pm; Thu 6.30pm-midnight; Fri 9am-1pm, 6.30pm-midnight; Sat 9am-1pm, 6.30pm-11pm. East Riffa (77 666 644).
Gusto Pizzeria Ristorante
There is nothing particularly fancy about Gusto Pizzeria Ristorante in Riffa Views. But, like the Budaiya branch, it serves wholesome Italian grub in a casual and family-friendly setting. It is no nonsense stuff and if you’re in the area and have a hankering for an awesome wood-fired pizza or authentic pasta dishes, you can’t really go wrong.
Open daily noon-11pm. Riffa Views (17 344 456).
The international restaurant at the Royal Golf Club is a shot or two ahead of many restaurants here. You don’t need to be a golfer to appreciate the mid-week business lunches and à la carte menu. Curries, burgers, salads, and even the option to cook your own steak is what you’ll find most days, while weekly themed meal deals offer even more. The weekend roast dinners, in particular, are a welcome and laidback alternative to brunch.
Open Fri-Sat 8am-midnight; Sun-Thu 10am-midnight. The Royal Golf Club, Riffa Views (17 750 777).
Foodies (us included) rejoiced when Nino launched a second branch in Riffa to accompany its popular Seef venue. Just as with the original location, the menu is primarily Italian, with numerous pasta and risotto dishes, as well as tiramisu and crème brûlée for afters. But you’ll also find more original, fusion offerings such as the deep fried sensation, the tempura short rib rolls – a braised beef with cheese, potato and lots of smoked barbecue.
Open daily 11am-midnight. Opposite Riffa Views (13 613 666).
Plaisir Du Chocolat
Poke your head around the door at this dainty Riffa café with extreme caution. There is every chance you will be lured in by a tempting waft of chocolate cakes, handmade chocolates, chocolate crêpes, chocolate sauces and the many other sweet treats. For savoury lovers, there are also lovely breakfast dishes, pastas, salads and plenty of tea. But it is chocolate which makes the headlines (hence the name!). Sink into a deep sofa and enjoy the chintzy décor with other sweet-toothed diners.
Open Mon-Sat 10am-midnight. Mashtan Avenue, West Riffa (77 510 000).
The fact that you can build your own pasta or pick from a dozen pizza or calzone options mark Prego out as a casual spot of note. It is families who will most appreciate the Royal Golf Club’s Mediterranean restaurant most, however. Not only are the aforementioned dishes child-pleasers, but there is also a play area just outside the doors, meaning parents can relax in the chilled, rustic dining room while kids burn off energy before spooning up the chocolate lava cake. On Saturdays, between noon and 3pm, when adults order a main course, kids get a meal for free.
Open Mon-Thu 5pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 10am-11pm. The Royal Golf Club, Riffa Views (1775 0777).
Only ladies are allowed in the adjoining spa, but all genders are welcome in this gem of a café. It’s open all day, but it’s perhaps best enjoyed at breakfast, as the eggs benedict is stellar. Oh, and the pancakes. And the French toast. And, actually... You get the picture. But don’t feel as though we’re pushing early mornings on you. Turn up later in the day and you’ll find imaginative salads (served in jars) and the sort of healthy options you might expect from a restaraunt linked to a spa and wellness centre. We’re talking handfuls of spinach, roasted pumpkin and tons of quinoa.
Open daily 8am-10.30pm. Mashtan Avenue (17 899 990).
We haven’t actually counted, but the Tea Club claims it sells a staggering 3,000 varieties of tea in its retail outlet. That’s a pretty impressive figure, and we’re happy to work our way through the Chinese, India, Japanese, Sri Lankan, African and plenty more tea variants while relaxing in the sleek café. The Amwaj branch is better known, but a branch at The Walk Bahrain also has ambience and class. Obviously it is the tea that steals the show – and it comes in fruity, green, herbal and every international blend imaginable. We’re not sure the accompanying food selection of burgers, pizzas and grilled seafood is an ideal match, but tuck in if you’re hungry anyway.
Open daily 8.30am-1am. The Walk Bahrain, Mashtan Avenue (38 384 309).
Also in the area
Built by Sheikh Salman bin Ahmed in 1812, Riffa Fort was constructed by Bahrainis using local materials. You’ll also find the traditional Saffron Café here, offering great food and stunning views over the Hunanaiya valley. It’s the perfect spot for a leisurely weekend breakfast.
Call Riffa Fort on 1777 9394.
This luxury property development has a lot to offer Bahrain’s residents looking for their dream home. It boasts an array of villas, but also The Royal Golf Club (see below), numerous restaurants, other sports facilities and the Riffa Views International School.
The Royal Golf Club
We’ve mentioned the restaurants, but there also happens to be a world-class 18-hole championship golf course, a par 3, nine-hole course and the Royal Country Club, which features state-of-the-art fitness and wellness facilities, as well as gym classes.
Riffa Views, www.theroyalgolfclub.com (17 750 777).