Darat al-Funun is a pleasant little hideaway in the rolling hills of Amman. The complex in actuality is made up of three separate "homes," 1920s villas completely restored for use as well as a 6th century Byzantine church. Each one has changing exhibitions which showcase contemporary Arab art. From video to photographs to installations to sculpture, Darat al-Funun plays a vital role in the arts community, and has lectures, performances, and other enriching experiences for the public. Entrance is free and has been ever since Darat al-Funun opened in 1993. The entire experience promotes a sense of calm, and these remarkable villas are the perfect place to experience high quality art. There is also a fabulous sun-soaked library with a host of books in both Arabic and English.
The Wild Jordan Cafe is a gem of a spot just off Rainbow Street. Its modern facade overlooks the soaring hills of Amman, and the view is great during the day or at night. Upon entering, to your left is a gift store featuring local products and there is also information about the nature preserves in Jordan. For those wishing to know more about this splendid country, there are a host of books and other publications which are fun to flip through and give ideas for what places you should visit while in Amman. The cafe has a great choice of organic meals, while the restaurant which opens at 6pm affords the best views of the whole complex and has equally delicious choices. Try the Avocado Chicken Sandwich or the soup of the day. Everything is fresh, tasty, and prepared and served with aplomb.
Fateer is an Egyptian pancake which is light, fluffy, and can be paired with both sweet and savory sides to make a delicious and filling meal or snack. Here at Fatatri the pastry is cooked to perfection. Savory options come out almost like a pizza, with the cheese and toppings on the inside. The best part is that there is a layer of dough on both sides, making for a good and clean eating experience. No sticky hands here! Different cheeses, peppers, olives, and other toppings are available for the savory options, and a range of fruits such as bananas, pineapples, and peaches as well as custard, sugar, and milk are available for a sweet treat. Most of the seating is outdoors on a pleasant corner where you can watch people pass by.
Although the Royal Society of Fine Arts was not founded until 1979, the society immediately founded the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in 1980 and this museum has been delighting visitors ever since. The complex is comprised of two different buildings facing each other around an elliptical street with a pleasant park in the middle. One ticket grants the visitor entrance to both buildings for a cost of JD5. One building is more modern, open and airy, while the other has a cozier feel. Both house splendid examples of artwork from the developing world, a point of view that many visitors will not have seen before. Although there is a large permanent collection, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts also puts on temporary exhibitions to ensure that visitors are constantly exposed to new movements in the art community. Besides the artwork itself, there is a cafe and library in the gallery, and the library is such that art enthusiasts could sit and read for hours. This is truly a must-see when you visit Amman. The museum stays open until 7 pm in the summer.
Those who like to be surrounded by the serenity of books should visit Good Book Shop on Rainbow Street. This store has mostly English language books of all types, on levels from adult to children. Although the atmosphere is cozy, it has the feel of a well run, efficient store. All around the small space are people lounging, reading, and using the free wireless internet. The store also features a cafe and kids play area, making it a great place to take the kids for an enjoyable afternoon.
This cute little cafe is located just off Abdoun Circle. Upon entering the cafe, your eyes will skip right past the tables and seating nooks and head straight to the food. Tarts, cookies, and cakes are the order of the day here, in fact much of their business doesn't even take place in the cafe as they run a catering business as well. But the food they do have looks and tastes delicious, indulge in a strawberry tart or a pastry. Salads and sandwiches are available for those who have control over their sweet tooth, although with such delicious desserts, it is hard to imagine that happening. This is also a great place to pick up a special occasion cake, and delivery is available.
This cafe has a lot of character. From the street it is a oasis of calm, a second story cafe with a view of the bustling street below. Greenery surrounds the porch, and it is a very relaxing place to spend some time. The entrance is on a side alley to the left, go up a flight of stairs and you will emerge into the slightly grungy but character-driven cafe. Filled almost entirely of men smoking hookah enjoying the breeze on the outside terrace, westerners are only a mild curiosity and although there may be some stares on the way in, they will soon return to their smokes and drinks. On the wall are flags of the world and a pirate flag also merrily joins the mix. The normal selection of teas, coffees and other drinks are available, and is a great experience if you need a rest from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
Open at all hours of the night, Hashem Restaurant does not have many options to choose from, in fact, they do not even offer a menu. Instead, simply order some falafel, hummus, tea, and Fanta, and you will be served one of the cheapest and most delicious meals. The falafel ball maker works out in the open, and all sorts of patrons are sitting at the tables, from locals to tourists to families to couples to friends. Right in the heart of downtown, although there is indoor seating (for winter), the best part of the meal is sitting outside on a warm summer night and enjoying the feel of the city.
Offering a breath-taking view of Downtown Amman, Cantaloupe Gastro Pub, is just the right place to let your hair down and enjoy. Take in the scene as you bite into some of their wonderfully created dishes such as fresh Mediterranean crab salad and chicken lemon cream. Their mini-cheese burgers are also star sellers. Entertainment includes everything from jazz to funk music and is accompanied by visual, videos and sometimes live performances. All this only adds to the charged atmosphere at this trendy pub making its gastronomical affair not the only reason why you'll be visiting it again.