Arabian cuisine is strong flavored and spicy. If you like rich combinations of food, you will definitely like the food in Saudi Arabia. Most dishes contain meat, rice, wheat, vegetables and spices that give these recipes a special flavor.
Those of you who are looking for standard Western style food fare can rest easy, there are a variety of international foods easily found in major cities throughout the Kingdom. No matter your preference, Middle Eastern, north African, Italian, Indian or Pakistani, Korean or Japanese or Chinese, you should be able to find a wide variety of restaurants to tempt your palate without breaking the bank but it is important to remember that the widest selection is in the major centers. One should also note the it is unlawful to consume any meat raw in Saudi Arabia so don’t expect steak tartar or sushi.
Cost of Food in Saudi Arabia
It obliviously depends on where you go and what you buy when considering costs of food in Saudi Arabia. Eating at the hotel is much more expensive than eating at an outside local restaurant. You can eat very well for about $5.00 USD a meal. Many teachers will eat in several nights a week and they will get food from the local market. Most teachers will normally spend between 10 – 20 SAR. It is amazing how much smaller a restaurant bill is when you don't have alcohol on the tab.
A typical meal will cost you about $5.00 USD, unless if you're into fancy restaurants will might cost you around $13.00 USD which is still pretty cheap, of course there are more expensive restaurants, we didn’t visit these so can’t provide a price list but be assured there are some places that cost an absolute fortune.
Fast food is a major enterprise in Saudi Arabia. The major chains like McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway, Hardee's, Little Caesars, Cinnabon, Dunkin Donuts to name a few. Most meal packages with fries and a coke run around 10 - 20 SAR. American type foods cost more than roasted chicken and rice (one of my favorites 12 SAR).
If you're looking for local flavours, there are many "family restaurants", where men and women are able to mix and have a meal. The most common local fast food is the kebab, locally known as the shwarma which will run you around 3 to 4 SAR.
Types of Restaurants in Saudi Arabia
There are many different types of restaurants in Saudi Arabia. It should be noted that tipping is not customary in Saudi Arabia.
- Al-Baik - serving deep fried chicken and shrimp - this is the Arabian version of KFC aka Kentucky Fried Chicken
- Shawerma Joha - serving chicken and falafel wrapped
- Kudu - serving many kinds of sandwiches - this is the Arabian version of Subway
- Fast food chains are everywhere
- McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway, Hardee's, Little Caesars, Cinnabon, Dunkin Donuts, Chillies to name a few.
- The price would cost you around 6 to 20 SAR for most fast food restaurants.