Last Updated on September 17, 2020 by Nina Ahmedow
As you know from my post on why you should travel to Jordan, I paid the Hashemite Kingdom a visit in March. And, to be honest, the vegan food options were quite limited which is why this post is going to contain both the specific places I went to as well as general tips on how to find vegan food in Jordan.
So here’s a disclaimer: Because I have only been to three different locations in Jordan (Aqaba, Wadi Rum, and Petra) this is by no means an extensive list of all the vegan food in Jordan. I hope to go back to Jordan one day to expand this guide. But for now, let’s dive right in!
First of all, you have to know that your options for vegan food in Jordan are mainly going to be falafel and salads. And while I love falafel, I have to admit that it gets rather boring after having it for both lunch and dinner several days in a row. But there are a few surprises in terms of vegan food in Jordan!
Vegan Food in Aqaba
Aqaba was our base for the beginning and end of the trip. We stayed in two different hotels, the second of which offered a breakfast buffet which had quite a few items to keep a vegan happy: juice, pita, breadsticks, mashed potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, marmalade, hummus, za’atar, and salad.
So while this may be different from the breakfast you usually have (hummus might not be a Westerner’s choice for breakfast), it is definitely enough to keep you energized and full for several hours of exploring.
As for falafel in Aqaba, we tried two different places.
Our favorite was probably Falafel wa bas. As the name (“falafel and that’s it”) suggests, they make falafel and nothing else. You can choose falafel meals and falafel sandwiches. The sandwiches come either with pita or French bread. This is a simple street food place with no seating available. (Tip: There is some sort of a park not too far from here with many tables!) It’s busy at any time of day with many locals getting their falafel from here which speaks to the quality.
I liked the idea of using French bread, an interesting twist. Every time we came here the quality of the food was good, and we could tell that it was clean and made with high standards.
As-Saada Street. Open Monday to Sunday 7 am to 1:30 am.
Just a few steps from our second hotel, we found Al-Mohandas Cafeteria. Because this place was actually recommended to us by our driver on the way back from Petra we got falafel sandwiches and hummus from here a few times. Tasty and fresh. We never ate there but rather in our hotel room, but there were many tables.
At-Tabari Street. Open Monday to Sunday 6 am to 11 pm.
But, as I said, falafel alone gets a bit boring after a while. Luckily, we also found a few places with different options.
Papaya is a restaurant right across the street from Falafel wa bas, and we came here for a sort of brunch the first day. We explained to the owner that we were vegan, and he told us which options he had for us. We ended up getting some starters like fattoush and the Oriental platter (Arab salad, “Turkish” salad, tabbouleh, pickles, hummus). Along with that, I got an okra stew with rice because I love okra. We also got some pita and a pineapple mint juice.
While the salads and drinks were all excellent (the fattoush, in particular, was heavenly), the main dishes were quite disappointing. My okra stew was extremely salty, and this is coming from someone who actually likes salty food. But even worse the hummus tasted like it had yogurt in it (more on that later).
As the food wasn’t really impressive we didn’t go back. I do think, however, that if you stick to the salads this can be a nice change from all the falafel.
As-Saada Street 22. Open Monday to Sunday 10 am to 12 am.
On to our biggest disappointment: Syrian Palace Restaurant. Despite decent reviews and excellent baba ghanouj and hummus, the main dishes were quite a letdown. My seniya of potatoes and vegetables was okay. Nothing special at all, but you can’t always expect exceptional vegan options. However, Alfonso’s dish came with meat despite the fact that a) we had explained very clearly what we don’t eat, and b) he had ordered something off the vegetarian menu. After we sent back the dish it came back still with a bit of meat in it.
This alone would have been bad enough, but when we went to pay and the cashier asked us for feedback we explained what had happened. Unfortunately, the guy refused to believe us and instead involved us in an argument for several minutes until one of the waiters confirmed our story. This was quite insulting and was only made slightly better by the fact that we didn’t have to pay for the dish in question. I really wouldn’t recommend this place as they clearly don’t care about their customers and even accused us of lying.
But towards the end of our stay, we found a little gem in Aqaba. Now, while it’s always nice to eat local dishes when you travel, sometimes, as a vegan, this is simply not possible. In our case, we ended up having dinner twice at a Chinese restaurant called Formosa. The waitresses fully understood what vegan means, and we gladly tried a few different dishes. They had an amazing scallion pie and shiitake soup, but I also loved the eggplant with Szechuan sauce and the Vegetable Delight (make sure you order rice with your main dishes).
Their appetizer consisted of cabbage and cucumbers with a few sauces. The second time we even got some tofu on the house. How amazing is that? Tofu in Jordan! Formosa also had a refreshing lemon and mint juice. So while it seems a bit odd to have Chinese vegan food in Jordan, we were so glad to have something other than falafel and to be in a restaurant that could accommodate our vegan lifestyle.
Aqaba Gateway. Open Monday to Sunday 11:30 am to 11 pm.
Vegan Food at Wadi Rum
The easy thing about booking a desert tour is that you will probably book an overnight stay along with it which includes food. Because the dinner and breakfast with Bedouin Life Style consisted mainly of vegan dishes it was actually perfect for us. There was an Arab salad, some lentil soup, pita, baked vegetables, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, as well as baked vegetables in tomato sauce. Certainly enough to feed a hungry vegan after a 4-hour desert tour.
In the morning, there were breadsticks, marmalade, and hummus which seem to be the main components of a Jordanian breakfast.
One thing to consider is to get a falafel or two on your way to the wadi and back so you don’t feel too hungry during the trip.
Vegan Options in Petra
First of all, let me tell you that Petra is expensive. Because it’s a busy tourist site and city people try to make a living as best as they can. For you, as a tourist, that means that a falafel sandwich after entering Petra is going to cost you about €5 – about twice the price we pay here in Greece. But you will need something to eat while you’re exploring Petra for hours, so you might want to prepare your own snacks to bring along.
After you leave the site, you can walk through the town and try to find some vegan food which again is going to be limited mainly to falafel. But we found a place called My Mom’s Recipe and gave it a try. As a starter, they gave us some bread, olive oil, and za’atar.
We ordered some fattoush, tabbouleh, and baba ghanouj. No hummus here, as they told us it was not vegan! Everything was delicious. Then I had some rice with tomato sauce, while Alfonso had a musaqa. Again, nothing all that special but a welcome change from all the falafel sandwiches. Plus we loved the honesty about the ingredients.
Tourism Street. Open Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 10 am to 11 pm, Tuesday, Friday to Sunday 10 am to 10 pm.
The next day before going back to Aqaba we got some falafel from a place called Red Cave Restaurant to have something on the way back. But I can’t say much about the place other than the interesting fact that their falafel sandwiches come with fries. I found that a bit odd, but some of you may love it.
Tourism Street. Open Monday to Sunday 10 am to 10:15 pm.
Tips for Vegan Food in Jordan
As you can see, Jordan is not an easy country for vegan travelers. You will mainly be limited to falafel and salads. The few options for main dishes are rather boring and you may find that people try to pass off non-vegan food as vegan. (But this also happens a lot in Greece which is why I have a very extensive guide to finding vegan food in Greece.)
To be honest, the best option would be to stay at a place with a kitchen and cook your own vegan food in Jordan, then go for falafel every once in a while.
The best thing is to check with vegan locals. Because I have done extensive research before the trip I can give you some specific tips:
- Even rice is usually cooked in beef or chicken broth so try to avoid rice and ask first.
- No matter what other vegan travel bloggers tell you: Hummus is not always vegan! Because in the Levant, they often make it with yogurt so be sure to ask before ordering!
- Be open to non-Jordanian vegan food in Jordan. Chinese food was a lifesaver for us.
- Know that people will stare at you in disbelief when you tell them all the things you don’t eat. The concept of veganism is still very new in Jordan, and there is no point in getting upset over it.
Have you been to Jordan as a vegan? Do you have any additional tips for finding vegan food in Jordan?