If you’re traveling though Jordan as a tourist, chances are you will be spending a lot of time on the road. Thankfully, Jordan has a network of excellent roadside restaurants that can break up a long highway journey and offer a satisfying dining experience.
Recommended: Roadside Dining In Jordan
After leaving the Dead Sea, we headed down to Petra, a journey of about three hours. We left in the late afternoon and our driver got hungry before we reached Petra, so he pulled into a gas station and ordered us out of the car. There was a large and bustling restaurant inside.
I’m not sure who was working for who at that point, but I was glad to try some roadside mansaf (if you missed my previous posts, mansaf is a traditional Jordanian dish made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt and typically served with rice).
This masaf was wrapped in a warm lavash to keep the lamb and saffron rice warm. On the side, I enjoyed some picked cucumbers and a shirazai salad.
It was such a delicious meal – one of my best of this trip – and all at a gas station.
On our way back to Amman we stopped at another place and that had a buffet as well as an a la carte menu. This was more of a stretch break, as I had eaten a large breakfast earlier, though I enjoyed some fresh mint tea.
Smoking is permitted or at least not actively prohibited in these places. Expect to find most men smoking cigarettes.
While both places seemed to be well-trafficked by locals, both had souvenir areas with aggressive salesman hawking items ranging from artwork to clothing to jewelry. I asked our driver what kind of kickback he received if we bought something and he only smiled.
Meanwhile, we had the share the road with sheep outside the station.
Roadside dining is recommended in Jordan. It’s reasonable and surprisingly delicious.
I’m not listing addresses or names because there are places like this are all over. If you’re tired, don’t hesitate to stop. And enjoy a meal or coffee while you do. It’s a nice way to break a long drive.
Thanks for the tip! Jordan is on my list of countries to visit.
Car rentals are super cheap in Jordan. I have one rented for two weeks in my upcoming trip starting next week. I got a small car for less than $240US total (insurance included) which I used about 19,000 Ultimate Reward points to rent.
I likely travel on a more restricted budget than you, but I was still curious why you hire a driver rather than self drive?
Btw, I’ll be looking for that roadside food now that I’m aware.
It was my companion who preferred a driver. Had I been solo I would have driven (as I’ve done in past trips to the Hashemite Kingdom).
There’s nice roadside coffee as well, especially if you like Arabic coffee, though I did not stop on this trip.
With a driver you can relax and enjoy the trip more, imo. My family always uses their favorite driver in Italy. The driver brings them all around the country, more enjoyable for them to really relax that way
Word of caution while renting a car in Jordan, I recently rented from Avis at AMM Airport and did the typical Petra, Aqaba, Wadi Rum and back trip. On the return to the AMM Airport, I pull in and the Avis guys do their “inspection” of the car. In less that 2 min, they informed me there was a small ding in the windshield. FYI, that’s all the looked at since I did have damage to the rear light when the valets parked the car in Wadi Rum . I go and look, and there’s a tiny little crack/ding, that had not spread, in the windshield. I said, “OK’ well I have the insurance coverage. To which he replied, “windshields are not covered under that policy.” As we’re walking into the terminal to do the paperwork, I’m thinking, “this is no big deal, these cracks and be glued, sealed and buffed in minutes and cost maybe $25.” Not in Jordan! He informed me they would have to replace the entire windshield, which was USD$800! But since I was Presidents Club with Avis they would only charge me $450.
I was upside down livid. I knew I was being scammed. I went on my tirade for a few minutes and realized I was getting nowhere with these idiots. So I paid the fee.
I returned to the US, and found the head of customer experience and Avis and informed him of this incident. His reply was basically, “they are a franchise, they have their own rules, there’s nothing we can do.”
So two things, do a VERY thorough inspection of the car BEFORE you pick it up and take photos of everything that might look like damage. Pay special attention to the windshield. Secondly, be prepared for this kind of crap to happen. I had a similar, but different (it involved a blown tire), in Italy and was given an outrageous fee to pay.
Despite loving the freedom of driving myself and taking detours, this might happen to you too, and it sucks!
Just curious, would a CC like Chase Sapphire not cover the rental insurance and this type of damage? After a similar and bad experience in Amsterdam with Avis (unfortunately, I didn’t use Chase Sapphire at that time and ended up paying out of pocket) few years back, I am now very hesitant to rent cars outside of US.
This happens everywhere…
Happened to me in Amsterdam:
And also in Israel.
I had an agent with Hertz in Israel tell me that photos can be photoshopped and that if it wasn’t in the computer already it didn’t exist as far he was concerned.
I didn’t know what to do, so paid for the damage, but to this day I always felt that I was being scammed.
That’s when you refuse to sign anything and dispute.
I’m waiting to see what damage costs I incur for a barely noticeable ding with a rental from Budget (aka Avis) Israel. Thankfully, I have third party car hire insurance. The franchise argument in another comment is dangerous nonsense, as the franchisor can control what franchisees can and cannot do.
In Spain, some companies explicitly say that a scratch of less than X cm will be ignored!
I love the link from BA that shows the flock of sheep with your caption about roadside dining. The inferences were hilarious. If that was done intentionally, very nicely done.
Thank you for the post, I’m heading to Jordan next month!
I hired a car & driver in Jordan several years ago to take me around the country starting in Amman. This was during Ramadan (I booked without realizing it). I had several adventures in the country (loved the people, history and sights).
1. I hid my food and drink as a non-Muslim during the day out of courtesy and to stay out of trouble. I would take a swig of water when no one was around like in museums. Restaurants were mostly shut during the day. I survived on stuff I would purchase the previous evening like chips and cookies.
2. The country was largely devoid of tourists and everyone I spoke to was struggling. E.g. I probably saw 25 tourists in the entirety of Petra over 8 hours.
3. The biggest adventure was being stuck at a Petra police station because a local Petra cab driver got mad at my driver who was from Amman. To this day, I don’t know if my driver did something illegal by driving in Petra or it was simply a turf war. In any case, the police (who were very nice to me) let my driver and me go after I requested to speak to the US consulate (one of the few times I have used my first world privilege).
Well, I am glad to hear that…
As a Jordanian I can tell that your description was precisely amazing …
You most welcome and in case you or any of the audience want any assistance in Jordan, please don’t hesitate!
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