Eating & drinking in Oman

The quality of food that you will receive on your holiday in Oman and the gulf region is much improved to what it was, although the choice when you are outside Muscat is still likely to be very limited and you’re probably going to find the best food is found in various hotels.

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Omani cuisine draws influence from other parts of the Middle East, with meze, grills and shawarmas being widespread and also from India, and some excellent biriyanis and curries can be found. Below are just a few thoughts on what culinary delights you might expect when you are in Oman.

 Typical dishes:

  • Shawarma – chicken or beef ‘doner’ kebab
  • Turkish-style kofte – minced lamb kebab
  • Lebanese-style shish – grilled cubes of chicken
  • Flatbread and hummus – served with pretty much every meal or as a snack
  • Harees Laham – traditional lamb dish with wheat in cow ghee
  • Biriyani – spiced rice dish with meat or vegetables, originating in India and Pakistan
  • Shurbah - a deliciously spicy vegetable soup (see picture above)
  • Shuwa - traditional slow clooked marinated lamb or goat, this is the national dish of Oman
  • Halwa – an Omani version of the famous Middle Eastern sweet
  • Dates – Oman is famous for its dates and they will often be served with coffee

Fish and seafood in Oman
Some fine seafood, including lobster, is caught off the coast of Oman but this is mostly confined to the smarter seafood restaurants in Muscat and Salalah and can often be eye-wateringly expensive. 

Vegetarian food in Oman
Outside of the large cities (Muscat and Salalah), vegetarians will have a limited choice of food so please advise us at the time of booking if you are a vegetarian or have any other dietary requirements. All the camps and hotels we work with will be able to provide a selection of fresh vegetables, Shurbah (see above), vegetarian meze and of course you are never far from a plate of flatbread hummus and salad – which makes for an excellent lunch!

The price of eating out in Oman
Compared to a lot of other destinations, Oman is not a cheap country and if you are eating out in some of Oman’s more upmarket restaurants or hotels, you can easily spend a small fortune. However, in the larger destinations (Muscat, Salalah, Nizwa), you will find some interesting, if fairly simple, local restaurants where you can get a good meal for around US$20 per person. You will also see some of the western fast-food restaurants, in particular KFC, are widespread.  

Drinking in Oman
Compared It is illegal to drink alcohol or to be drunk in public. You will find that some hotels and restaurants are licenced to sell alcohol to consume within the premises and others are not – often the larger luxury hotels have a licence while some smaller hotels and local restaurants outside Muscat do not.

However, if you are happy to forgo a drink, you will find a selection of great fruit juices in many cafés throughout Oman. Coffee is also a delight and an important tradition in Oman. It is quite different to the coffee you drink in Europe, North America or Australia, coming served in small cups with no milk or sugar, but spiced with cardamom or cloves. Coffee will often be accompanied by delicious local dates.