If you love Middle Eastern food, you’re in for a treat if you visit Jordan. We enjoyed some of the most delectable Middle Eastern food we’ve ever had during our recent trip to Jordan. From succulent deep-fried falafel to fresh and zesty tabbouleh and decedent lamb and rice dishes. Jordan has it all, when it comes to the best food.
One of our favourite things about Jordanian cuisine is that the best foods aren’t only to be found in the capital Amman. We had some of our favourite falafel in a small town in the North of Jordan called Orjen, the best Shawarma in the town of Ajloun and a delicious slice of homemade sweet honey cake was given to us by the very kind merchant in a small supermarket in Umm Qais. Wherever you turn in Jordan, you can find spectacular food. So much of life in Jordan seems to revolve around sharing a meal together – and why not!
If you’ve just landed in Jordan and want to try the best foods? Find below the best food in Jordan and where to eat them.
Best Food in Jordan: The Savoury Options
Shawarma: Best Fastfood in Jordan
A national favourite. Shawarma shops up and down the country are busy every evening with a small queue formed. The sweet and salty sandwich parcels are filled with either chicken or beef what’s more sandwiches, can be typically bought for a couple of dollars.
You can normally choose between a sandwich and a meal. The meals also tend to come in different sizes. The super-size can feed one if you’re super-size hungry, or could be enough to share between two, alongside some other cold or hot mezze.
A large meal box will cost around $4. It will include fries, loads of pickles and a couple of sauces including a garlic mayonnaise and one other darker sauce I can’t identify. For me this was the best food in Jordan, and I ate it every other day.
Where can you eat Shawarma? Pretty much every town big or small has a shawarma place and most open late or 24 hours a day. A great one to try if you’re in Amman is Omar Shawarma, or indeed Shishawerma (details below.)
Mansaf: Best traditional food in Jordan
No trip to Jordan would be complete without Mansaf. A Jordanian staple with Lamb cooked in a fermented yoghurt and herbs, normally served with bulgar wheat or rice. We tried this delicious dish as it is unique to Jordan. Best place to try if you are in Amman is AlQuds (details below). Do note, if you visit a restaurant in Jordan that you won’t be able to get alcohol at most restaurants. For more information, our article here explains how you can drink alcohol in Jordan.
One of the most popular and traditional Jordanian foods. Maqluba meaning upside down in Arabic, is a dish that showcases rice and chicken. Cooked in a pot and then flipped before serving. Another shout out for AlQuds here who will be able to serve you this amazing dish, but you can get this on most restaurant menus. One of the more traditional foods you can find in Jordan.
Falafel: Best vegetarian food in Jordan
Perhaps one of the most understated street foods in Jordan. This vegetarian option is prepared in minutes as there are always freshly fried falafel coming out the deep fryer. You can buy falafel in a bag as a takeaway option or a serving in a restaurant.
Or, if you’re looking for something more filling then you can grab a falafel sandwich. In a sandwich, the falafel is squished into a piece of pitta bread that has been covered in yoghurt, herbs, crushed almonds and pomegranates are added.
One of the great things about food in Jordan, is that falafel places are really inexpensive. In major cities like Amman, you can expect to pay around $2 for a falafel sandwich, but in smaller towns and rural areas, you may pay as little as $0.30.
Our favourite was an unnamed place on Rainbow Street in Amman. The flavour is out of this world and without doubt our favourite street food we found in Amman.
Hashem restaurant in downtown Amman, is also a big crowd pleaser. We enjoyed the atmosphere here, it’s a restaurant that is open 24 hours a day and has a constant stream of customers. Grab a seat and they will bring you a short menu that you can select from before they bring you huge portions of food. We ate here for $6 for two people.
Top Tip: Jordanians tend to eat falafel for breakfast or lunch, but not dinner. With the exception of Amman, most falafel places we found tended to close before the evening. If you are in a rural area or small town and want falafel, get to the shop in the morning before you miss out.
It would be remiss to mention food in Jordan and not shout out to the cold mezze dips!
You will have no doubt had hummus before, but in Jordan, hummus is somewhat of an art form. You can buy it topped with meat, parsley or even hazelnuts (as we tried in Lebanese House in Jerash.)
The other crowd pleaser is Mutabel (which you may recognise as Baba Ganoush). This aubergine-based dip is taken to a whole new level in Jordan. Every time we ate Mutabel, we thought it was even better than the last. The truth is, Mutabel anywhere in Jordan is electric. A mix of smoky aubergine, creaminess and sometimes a warm spicey kick. Try it with pomegranate for an elevated experience.
Top Tip: Most takeaway falafel places will sell mezze dips to takeaway in pots. So, if you want some to take home, then just ask for it. It will be much fresher than anything you can buy in a supermarket.
Mezze dips would be nothing without some good fresh pitta bread to dunk into them! In Jordan, bread is king. Every town or village has a bakery, many with traditional bread ovens. You can also buy bread in souks in larger towns or cities.
Pitta Bread is to the Jordanians as rice is to the Japanese, or pizza is to the Italians. It is absolutely integral to the cuisine. Even more so, because Jordanians traditionally eat with their right hands, rather than cutlery. Therefore, the pitta bread acts as the perfect little tool with which to scoop the food.
One my favourite things, particularly on a Friday, was to see Jordanians come out in the morning to collect their fresh bread and mezze. Often this task seems to fall to the children in the family, the sight of small children lugging the biggest pitta bread I’ve ever seen, will be something I remember forever.
Expect to pay between $1 and $2 for a large bag of fresh pitta bread (around 5 or 6 round pitta breads the size of pizzas) in most bakeries. In restaurants, normally you’ll get unlimited bread served with your mezze (although we haven’t tested exactly how unlimited the supply is!)
Manakish is an Arabic version of pizza. It is a round bread-based dough, which tends to be quite soft. Manakish tend to be topped with olive oil, Za’Tar (a salty and herby spice mix) and cheese. But they can also be found with meat and other things on top. We tried this in a few different bakeries and loved it. It makes a great breakfast treat or bite to eat on the go.
Zarb – Bedouin way of cooking in the ground, an unusual Jordan food
Staying in Wadi Rum National Park and in a Bedouin camp we were lucky enough to try the traditional dish of Zarb. The interesting thing about this rice and chicken dish is that the ingredients are put on a metal tower inside a barrel and then buried in the sand with embers. After several hours it’s all taken out having been slowly cooked. It was absolutely delicious.
Legend has it that this was created by a female Bedouin who was keen to cook her husband a meal in an oven but finding herself in the desert she had to conjure up some feminine magic and invent an oven in the sand. Ingenious.
If you have the chance to go to Wadi Rum in Jordan please, try this.
You’d be remiss to eat in Jordan and not enjoy a few tabbouleh’s with your meal. Not least, because this fresh herby salad will give you a good intake of greens and vitamins! Tabbouleh is a salad made with fresh, neatly chopped coriander, often with onions, tomato, bulgar wheat and a good heft of citrus.
Incidentally, it makes a delectable accompaniment to a glass of cold chardonnay if you can come by it in Jordan!
Best sweet food in Jordan
Although the savoury food in Jordan is delicious, you can also find some absolutely divine must-try sweet foods. If you have a sweet (very sweet) tooth, then these are for you!
Sweet, so sweet. This Jordanian and Middle Eastern dessert similar to baklava is made with spun pastry and is soaked in a syrup. In addition, ingredients such as clotted cream , pistachio and nuts are added to the Kuanafa. Kunafa can be bought all over Jordan but we heard the best place is Habibah Sweets in Amman. I personally don’t have a sweet tooth but this sweet always goes down well with others at the end of a meal. These sweets could also be bought in large packets, making it the perfect gift to take home to loved ones.
Muhallabyyah: Milk Pudding
This cold pudding is a refreshing mix of milk, sugar and halva. It tends to be topped with pistachio and sometimes honey. It can sometimes be flavoured with other additives, such as rose water, which gives it a delicious floral taste.
Candy floss – Jordan food fun
Like the fairground stuff, young men will have this above their heads walking around the bustling streets in Amman and Jerash. The taste? It tastes exactly like the stuff at home, but it’s a bit of fun.
Best Drinks to Try in Jordan
The below are the best soft and hot drinks that we enjoyed in Jordan. If you’re looking for alcoholic drinks in Jordan, read here for the best advice.
Fresh Juices – so many options
I could write a whole blog on the juices on offer around Jordan. They can be found on any Main Street with the standard fruity and vegetable choices to the more milkshake style. The menu list is mind boggling with around 50 different choices. Sizes come in a range of three. Smallest costs a dollar while a large will cost three – although look out for some places charging tourists more than this.
Pomegranate’s grow everywhere in Jordan, so look out for that as a speciality in juice form.
Bedouin Tea – quiet reflection
This was something we were lucky enough to try while on a hike on the Jordan Trail from Dana to Petra with our guide Ahmed every few hours taking out his tea pot, making a fire and creating a delicious cup of sweet tea. The simplicity of the drink with the desert spreading out in front of us was something special. We understand why it’s called Bedouin Whiskey!
Having a Turkish Coffee, or two, is a must do in a morning in Jordan. You can get this traditional coffee made in a traditional Turkish pot pretty much anywhere. Many supermarkets even do takeaway coffee made fresh at the counter. The coffee is strong and black, as will be familiar to anyone who has tried Turkish coffee before. But the unique thing about Turkish coffee in Jordan is that it has a really strong cardamon flavour.
Been to Jordan and tried the wonderful food here? Let us know in the comments below.
If you think we’ve missed off any of the best food in Jordan and where to eat them, we want to hear from you.