The intersection of Africa, Asia, and Europe makes the Middle East one of the most culturally rich regions and coveted travel destinations in the world. That richness, diversity, history, and subtle air of mystery also extends to the cuisine, most notably, the exotic spices that infuse Middle Eastern signature dishes. Enjoy your culinary journey to the best cities in the Middle East where the food is fabulous, authentic, and served up with its own unique spin.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

dubai ossiano
Image Courtesy of Ossiano

Dubai is known for its over top opulence, futuristic sky-high towers, and international culinary scene. For an unforgettable experience-based restaurant head to social media darling Ossiano, a fine-dining seafood restaurant at the Atlantis Dubai. Here you’ll dine underwater with sharks and stingrays swimming by. For more authentic Emirates style cuisine, try Al Fanar. And of course, if you want burgers, Brazilian steakhouses, or Mexican food you’ll have no problem finding it. 

Must-try foods in Dubai: Margoogat, a rich tomato-based stew with chicken or lamb. Seasoned with cumin, turmeric, and local garam masala spices to add some heat.  

Hotels + Resorts: Armani Hotel Dubai, located Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, overlooks the iconic dancing Dubai fountain and as you would expect from a hotel by a famed Italian fashion house is chic, modern and elegant. From the muted minimalistic design scheme to the luxurious Eramosa stone floors, zebrawood panels, and custom-made Armani furnishings throughout, every aspect has been curated and designed in line with Mr Armani’s impeccable taste.

Jerusalem, Israel

Best Culinary Destinations Middle East
Image Courtest of Machneyuda

Jerusalem may be known for its ancient architecture, deep history, and religious landmarks but it also happens to be foodie heaven. Food tours in Jerusalem are highly encouraged because so many of the best spots are tucked into unsuspecting corners down small windy alleyways. That said the most popular eats might just be found in Jerusalem’s laidback local falafel and hummus joints. And while you may be happy to live on the city’s delicious shawarma and hummus, there’s an exploding fine dining scene that deserves your attention. Mahane Yehuda, one of the most energetic street markets in the city is also home to Machneyuda, a fine dining restaurant with a modern Israeli menu that changes according to the seasonal ingredients available at the market. 

Must-Try Foods in Jerusalem: Sabich, a pita stuffed with eggplant, boiled eggs, cucumbers, tahini, and sometimes a spicy mango sauce. It is often sold on the street but keep an eye out for it on the menus of some of the elevated off the beaten path restaurants. 

Hotels + Resorts:David Citadel, a luxury hotel just steps from the Old City is so glamorous it made its way into our most requested hotel rooms in the world list. Refurbished by renowned Italian architect and furniture designer Piero Lissoni, it comes with the lavish Royal Rabin Suite, with mesmerizing views of the Old City and large living room, kitchenette, vintage artworks, study area and luxe marble bathroom.

Amman, Jordan

Best Culinary Destinations Middle East
Image Courtesy of Sufra

Amman is often treated as a stopover town on the way to Jordan’s most famous sites Petra and the Dead Sea, but foodies should definitely extend their Amman experience. The Jordanian capital is bustling with amazing architecture and stunning restaurants where flavorsome Middle Eastern cuisine is the specialty. Like at Sufra, where you can dine on the terrace to enjoy one of the city’s most romantic spots and a typical meal which is served mezze style so you can taste an assortment of delicious dishes.

Must-Try Foods in Amman: Tabouli which is bulgur, parsley, mint, onion, and tomato. And of course Hummus. BTW, you’ll find hummus all throughout the Middle East but by most claims, it is best in Jordan – enhanced by the addition of lemon, garlic, and cumin.

Hotels + Resorts: The St. Regis Amman seamlessly blends Bedouin culture with the posh modern sophistication we’ve come to love from St. Regis properties. You’ll find nods to Jordanian culture throughout the property with the use of Petran rose stones in the design but also in the form of culinary delights like Jordan’s national dish, Mansaf.

Istanbul, Turkey

Best Culinary Destinations Middle East
Image Courtesy of Cafe Privato

The Turkish capital city is a fusion of modern and traditional. The only city on the globe to straddle both Europe and Asia (and be heavily influenced by both) this vibrant metropolis on the Bosphorus river, sparkles with rich history, vibrant culture, and amazing cuisines. There is no better place to start than a traditional Turkish Breakfast, a spread of meats, feta cheese, boiled eggs, olives, avocado, tomato, cucumber, dried fruits, bread, and jam all accompanied by the customary Turkish tea. The Turkish are also renowned for their love affair with sweets like baklava and Turkish Delight  which date back to the Ottoman Empire. 

Must-Try Foods in Istanbul: Lahmacun, often referred to as a Turkish Pizza is a thin flatbread topped with minced meat or vegetables. The meat is heavily seasoned with cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, and cinnamon. 

Hotels + Resorts: The Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus is a restored 19th-century Ottoman palace with epic views of the world-famous river that divides Asia and Europe, an outdoor pool, and elaborate hammam (traditional Turkish bath).  Talk about a luxury hotel, fit for a king and queen.