In the major tourist cities and towns, visitors will have a number of choices for dining out. There are restaurants serving Arabic, Lebanese, Indian, European, and many other international cuisines. Generally, true Omani food can only be had when dining in a local’s home. However, there are places where visitors can sample traditional Omani food. They can head to cafés, local restaurants, and street-side stalls mainly serving shawarma, which is meat cooked vertically on a spit wrapped in flat bread and eaten with tomatoes and cucumber flavored with garlic sauce.
For the most part, Omani cuisine is milder and less spicy than that of its neighbors. The sea is naturally a huge part of the cuisine. One of the more traditional dishes is mashuai, which is kingfisher cooked on a spit eaten with lemon rice. Traditional sweets are quite famous, not only in the country but in the entire region. Halwa is a semi-solid, gelatinous sweet dish made from sugar and dates flavored with lots of cardamom, saffron, and rosewater.
While the locals, most of whom are practicing Muslims, are not allowed to drink, most hotels will usually provide a bar for their foreign guests. Thus, hotels are where most of Oman’s nightlife takes place. This is certainly the case with cities and towns outside Muscat and Salalah.
Bars and Pubbing in Oman
In Muscat, one of the more popular places where expats tend to congregate and have a drink or two is Al-Ghazal Bar (Shatti al-Qurm Madinat As Sultan Qaboos). The place not only serves alcohol but also holds quiz nights and is a good place to watch significant sporting events.
Meanwhile, in Salalah, the place to head to for dinner, drinks, and dancing is Al Luban Night Club (Al Khandaq Street) housed in the Crowne Plaza Resort. The trendy spot is a favorite among tourists and the more well-off locals.
Dining and Cuisine in Oman
One of the more popular places to sample regional cuisine is a restaurant oddly named Automatic Restaurant (Qurm, Muscat). Nothing is synthetic about the food served here though, which are well-loved Lebanese dishes such as hummus, a paste made from chickpeas flavored with spices and olive oil, or moutabel, a dish made with eggplant mashed and mixed with seasonings and olive oil.
To get a traditional Omani coffee house experience, visitors can head to Khargeen Café (Madinat As Sultan Qaboos, Muscat). The laidback atmosphere of the café’s courtyard is the perfect setting for an afternoon coffee, cacao drink, or even an avocado smoothie. Food is also served here.