Plus, big-name cooks are joining forces with the local culinary scene as guest chefs…

Attention all food lovers. AlUla’s dining scene is heating up with the arrival of new dining concepts, including Awna, which is set against the Unesco World Heritage Site of Hegra, big-name brands, and internationally renowned chefs. There’s plenty to look forward to in terms of special menus, with a focus on local produce, put together by local and guest chefs.

Here’s a selection of dinners to choose from for a special occasion or simply to partake in an exclusive menu from a renowned chef.

Awna Restaurant and Tea Lounge

Awna

After its successful opening season in 2018, destination restaurant Awna Restaurant and Tea Lounge returns to the Unesco Heritage Site of Hegra. The fine dining establishment offers sumptuous tasting menus, bringing diners on a journey of discovery into local flavours, and will feature a roster of internationally acclaimed chefs from London and European restaurants. Awna’s executive chef Anthony Jehanno – whose own restaurant in France, Terre-Mer, received its first Michelin star in 2017 – will be collaborating with renowned guest chefs over the coming months. Expect a range of unique dishes with provenance and style that draw upon the region’s heritage ingredients and produce, including dates, wheat, citrus fruit, AlUla honey and more.

The guest chefs have an incredible wealth of experience in some of the most famous kitchens in the world. They include executive pastry chef David Girard; Oxeye founder Sven Hansen Britt; Kae Shibata, former Ritz Pastry Chef and founder of Cartografie, supplier of chocolates to London’s finest Michelin-starred restaurants; Carter’s of Moseley Chef Brad Carter; and celebrated Icelandic chef Aggi Sverrisson.

The Heart of Oasis

Enjoy an incredible outdoor dining experience at The Heart of the Oasis, nestled within the serene date palms. The soon-to-be-open restaurant celebrates the slow food movement by promoting local farm fresh ingredients and traditional cooking techniques of live fire through a menu that includes a delicious selection of meat-based dishes and more. This season, a group of innovative Saudi chefs will lead a team of emerging culinary talents to bring a “farm to fork” concept, where diners will be immersed in a dining experience steeped in 7,000 years of human history and local agriculture. Expect combinations, such as Brisket Mandi, smoked for 18 hours over a bed of mandi rice served with a farm fresh heirloom tomato sauce. With their diverse menu, there is something for every guest, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and children-portioned dishes.

The Heart of Oasis, Opens Jan 30, AlUla Oasis, noon to 11.45pm.

Mamzel

Mamzel

The world-famous Marbella brand Mamzel introduces its first-ever pop-up in the hidden canyons of AlUla, bringing its trademark entertainment and international cuisine. Diners will be entertained by live performances of contemporary and classical music, while the dinner menu features trademark dishes, such as sea bass curry, king prawns and scallops, lamb shoulder, and Black Angus barbecued steak with chimichurri sauce and farofa.

Mamzel, near Shaden Resort, weekdays 9pm to midnight & weekends 9pm to 1am.

Tawlet Fayza

Newcomer local restaurant Tawlet Fayza will open permanently in AlUla from February 2023, offering food lovers a unique culinary experience to savour. Located in the oasis, the restaurant offers farm-to-table organic food inspired by the founder’s grandmother, originally from the area, with an evolving menu and one communal table – ideal for food talk and meeting new friends.

Tawlet Fayza, Opens Feb 2023.

Fresh Food Market

fresh food market

We know this isn’t exactly a restaurant. However, complementing the dining concepts in AlUla is a Fresh Food Market that will take place from Friday January 27 to Sunday March 25. Free and open to all, the market will feature outdoor stalls offering the most magnificent, locally sourced farm-fresh produce, from pomegranates, oranges and other fresh, seasonal fruit to local vegetables like eggplant, onions, peppers, lettuce and more. Stalls will showcase regional cuisines and recipes, giving visitors a taste of home-cooked Saudi favourites, such as the tasty Jarish, fresh Majrafah bread, crispy samosas and salad. You’ll also find local artisans demonstrating their handicraft talents through pottery, baskets, beadwork, soaps, jams and more.

Fresh Food Market, Jan 27 to Mar 5, 2pm to 11pm. Meeting location: The Arboretum, in the AlUla Oasis. (Please do not try to go to the venue directly. There are 4x4s that will take you to the Fresh Food Market location, or you can enjoy a 10-minute walk to the location.)

Images: Provided