I am always amazed to see restaurant reviews on sites like Tripadvisor or http://www.riyadheats.com/. They have stuff like McDonalds, Burger Boutique, Chilis and TGI Fridays and various average pizza places on the top of their lists.
I would not place those places in my top 100. I would not even call McDonalds a restaurant!
Maybe the reviewers are not accustomed to what makes a great restaurant? Maybe Saudis just want to eat burgers and fries and pizza? It's not only the food, but the atmosphere, decor and service is very important. Good or even decent service is HARD to find in Saudi.
I also dislike restaurants that are ridiculously overpriced. Restaurants like the Globe in Faisaliyah tower and Spazio's in Kingdom tower are charging way too much for the view and I didn't want to include them.
1. Il Terrazo Brazilian restaurant in Faisaliyah hotel. Situated on a terrace overlooking the Globe and the Faisaliyah courtyard fountains, this is a buffet restaurant serving a multitude of meats barbecued on the open grill. Good music, relaxed atmosphere, heavenly food, excellent "champagne", no gender segregation. http://www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/alfaisaliahhotel/dining/il_terrazzo/
2. Tao Lounge on Tahlia street. The ultimate hip hangout for the trendy complete with high ceilings, comfy sofas, unbeatable ambiance and excellent international cuisine. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tao-Lounge/206282889416259?v=info
3. Lenôtre restaurant in Centria Mall. The famous French restaurant chain's best branch in Riyadh can be found on the third floor of the mall. They have a wonderful outside terrace overlooking both Faisaliyah and Kingdom towers. Delicious food and heavenly desserts! Owned by a Princess, it is one of the few places in Riyadh where women can dine outside. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Len%C3%B4tre-Saudi-Arabia/141459685875370?v=info
4. Najd Village Restaurant next to Prince Sultan university. This is THE place to go for expats in Riyadh and also popular with locals. The restaurant is built in a traditional Saudi house and serves original Saudi cuisine. An experience not be missed. Read more here: http://blueabaya.blogspot.com/p/riyadh-restaurant-reviews.html
5. Furosato/ Lecluse on Tahlia street. For sushi lovers this is a great restaurant with secluded atmosphere and romantic decor. The restaurant combines French and Japanese cuisine. http://furusatorestaurant.com/en/
6. Set Al Sham on Thalateen street. This large stylish restaurant offers an excellent buffet of Arabic foods. You can dine in the privacy of your own dining room and enjoy the amazing Middle-Eastern decor and cuisine. http://www.setalsham.com/
7. Maya Chocolaterie on Tahlia street. A chocolate lover's paradise. This restaurant is all about chocolate, they even have liquid chocolate flowing in pipes! Indulge in heavenly fondue, rich aromas of the desserts, exquisite chocolate delicacies and get on a sugar high! http://www.maya-la-chocolaterie.com
8. Trader Vics Panorama Mall. Enjoy a non-alcoholic Mai Tai (invented by Trader Vic's) at the only bar in town! The decor is exotic and inspired by the South Pacific Islands and the theme continues in the international menu as well. Excellent service, amazing food and drinks. http://www.tradervics.com/experience/experience.html
9. Mondo at Intercontinental hotel. Very stylish Italian restaurant for a romantic evening out. As a bonus ladies can take abayas off and you can sit by the poolside. Food is presented in fabulous ways and this place has high international standards.
10. Elements in Four Seasons Kingdom Center. A new restaurant with an exiting concept of four different interactive open kitchen stations. Very impressive modern decor and relaxed atmosphere. For families they have brunch with kids corner on Fridays. http://riyadh.fourseasons.com/2011/10/elements-adding-another-dimension-to-multisensory-dining/
What is your favorite restaurant in Riyadh?