Rainbow Street is one of the most popular places for tourists visiting Amman, but in a country where one can find a mind blowing abundance of delicious, awe-inspiring, earth-shattering FOOD (I mean think about it, you have the Jordanian/Mediterranean traditional food that has been eaten for thousands of years, all the Palestinian cuisines brought over with the influxes of refugees, the Iraqi food those escaping the war brought with them, and now a movement of modern, Instagrammable fusion concepts envisaged by a highly-globalized youth population) it can be a little overwhelming. So with that in mind, I have put together a list of my most recommended eateries in Rainbow Street (don't worry -- I'll do more posts for other parts of Amman, as well as some that are organized categorically -- i.e., "best sweets in Amman", "best street food in Amman"). You can watch my Vlog (video blog) for where to eat + shop in Amman below!
Shams el Balad
This place is my numero uno! An ecological, farm-to-table cafe owned by a former minister, the cafe is dedicated to celebrate the local by utilizing traditional flavors and local produce to create healthy, delicious food and drink. Their flavors bring centuries of history into a revitalized form, with rosewater-watermelon smoothies or zaatar lemonades. The date caramel dip - a reimagined take on the traditional 'toast soldiers in runny egg' - is comprised of a small well of hot, sweet, gooey date-tahini caramel, into which you dip fluffy pillows of fresh Jordanian flat bread. The place is great for most occasions, whether you need somewhere to work on your laptop or a brunch venue to catch up with friends. The price is extremely reasonable, and far cheaper than what you would pay for the equivalent in an organic cafe in Europe or Dubai. It is also one of the rare places in Amman where you cannot smoke inside -- enjoy!
RECOMMENDATIONS: Absolutely MUST try the halaweh flat bread/manoushe. Halaweh (like the Iranian halvah) is a sweet made from dates and tahini, topped with fluffy threads of sweet...fibers? Its not easy to explain but its delicious. Their date-caramel is just a mix of tahini and date paste, making it a healthy and decadent option. I also recommend the potato salad. Not to be confused for the Western style potato salad, doused in mayo, Arabic potato salad is fresh and healthy. I also recommend the watermelon-rose juice, if you are a fan of rosewater, or their zaatar lemonade.
If you do want to smoke,the beautiful outdoor terrace upstairs has a great view of the Citadel and Ummayad palace. Also located upstairs is 7iberSpace - a space that hosts meetups, talks, lectures, photography hangouts, policy discussions, literature groups and more. Wander through and check out the olive trees, fountains and rooftop view.
A favorite with students, this is the ultimate place to park your 'puter, grab a juice and get going with your... study date? business meeting? book club? You'll find some of Amman's trendiest here, sipping on Books@Cafe's delicious coffee or gorging over their amazing brunch options. There's a good mix of healthy and junky, ranging from a dope salad selection to mezze (Arabic tapas) flat-bread boards and traditional breakfast offerings, such as waffles and french toast. The vibe of the cafe is all about innovation, creativity and acceptance. It is very LGBT friendly. They host cool events and all over the corridor are posters for upcoming talks and unique workshops. The book shop below has an amazing selection of Middle Eastern-related books, novels, biographies and cookbooks in both Arabic and English. Definitely check it out if not for the books alone! Also - the view is RAD!
Al Quds Falafel
Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem. At this little street side place, which has been around since 1966, you can buy (for 60 piasters) what might be one of the best sandwiches of your life! In fact, the TripAdvisor page is just comment-after-comment making this same claim. Al-Quds use a flat, sesame-crusted (if you ask for it) Palestinian baguette-type bread (as opposed to the traditional Arabic pita you get in most other places), and, as you will see in the video above, a special, secret ingredient to make the lightest, fluffiest falafels you will ever try. It's really interesting to watch!
You won't miss it - just look for the spot on the wall in Rainbow Street with hoards and hoards of people --local and tourist-- waiting to get their hit.
This place is super fun but the concept is simple: they have tons of different Popsicle flavors (including many non-dairy varieties). You pick one, and then you have the choice to dip it in a syrup/sauce (chocolate, coffee, dark chocolate, strawberry, caramel, peanut butter, white chocolate), and then dip it in a topping -- anything from crushed cereal to trail mix.
This place is super unusual! 'Bateekh' means 'watermelon' in Arabic - and this innovative and unique little place finds unusual ways to serve you watermelon! Their signature is their fresh watermelon juice, but they also serve watermelon, kebabs and pizza (inspired by the Middle Eastern tradition of eating watermelon with cheese), among others. Batateekh has a huge, devoted following of loyal customers, which is not reflected in their relatively small and inactive TripAdvisor profile.
Batateekh is only open in Rainbow street in Souq Jara (a summer flea market), but you can also find it in Boulevard.
This place is great for incredibly fresh, juicy fruit cocktails. In Jordan, 'cocktail' / كوكتيل literally means mixed fruit smoothie -- and has no association with any alcoholic beverage. You will find cocktail on the menu almost everywhere, as fresh juice plays an important role in all mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets, as it has historically. This stands in contrast with a lot of the Western world, where juice bars and smoothie shops are typically more popular and targeted to the upperclass elite, and are thus exorbitantly priced.
Juicebangbang is not one of the cheaper cocktail shops you can find on the street, where a fresh tropical smoothie will cost you JD1.5, but it is still a great place to visit -- especially if you are looking for a slightly fancier, more comfortably and kid-friendly establishment in which to enjoy your drink. The atmosphere is very bright and colorful, and the presentation of the juices is beautiful. Ask for it to be made without sugar, as the juice is already extremely sweet. Choose a smoothie topped with fruit salad, or even boba -- though my favorite is just the classic cocktail as is.
Turtle Green Tea Bar
Turtle Green was a favorite among many of my friends. It is popular with locals and tourists alike (particularly students and hipsters). The staff are also really friendly and upbeat. You can find really good matcha here (though be sure to ask for it without sugar if you don't want added artificial sweetness, as they will otherwise add it by default). This is not a place where you would come for a full-on meal, but you can also find a lot of delicious vegan baked goods, sourced from different individual bakers around Amman, as well as manoushe (flat bred topped with zaatar, or other condiments). There is a great selection of juices and really, genuinely good quality loose-leaf tea as well. Definitely visit!