I’ve talked a lot about the things I love about living in Amman. Now, let me say that my biggest pet peeve is the fact that there’s really nowhere to take a nice walk here. In London I walked for miles a day, taking the Tube, wandering the long way to pick up groceries, window shopping. Here that just doesn’t happen….except in a little old neighborhood on top of a hill near the downtown called Jabal Al Weibdeh. Currently it’s undergoing a bit of a renaissance, the old houses with bougainvillea growing wildly all over them are getting spruced up and the little shops and cafes lining Al Sharia’a and Al Baouniyeh Streets are thriving. Tourists and foreigners can be seen peering into shop windows and bargaining with antiques dealers or desperately trying to locate the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts.
The darling of the local restaurant scene here is Joz Hind, which translates to Hind’s Husband or Coconut. A Jordanian woman named Hind married an Italian chef and they opened this cleverly named joint. They serve one menu a day, with just three choices and cook until they run out of ingredients. I haven’t eaten here yet, but am intrigued by their communal table, casual style and dedication to local ingredients.
Namliyeh, on the far side of the Paris Circle (it’s one of the few really inviting public spaces in the city – and named so because the French helped rehabilitate the neighborhood) is a tiny boutique jam shop. Flavors like rose geranium and lemon lavender are inspired by the Jordanian countryside and all made at a small workshop nearby.
Rumi coffee shop serves the best coffee in Amman, I think, and the sidewalk out front is always overflowing with the local hipsters sitting on low stools, visiting with one another. Around here there are walls decorated with wildly colored grafitti, classic cars, framing shops, knafeh stands. It feels almost European! The old residents have mixed with this new invasion of young, artistic, creative types who hold artisan markets and sell sourdough bread on the weekends. At least once a week my dear husband and I drive up the steep road up (it’s lined with rattan garden furniture makers) to get a great cup of coffee, a couple of loaves of sourdough bread, and stretch our legs. There’s always fantastic sights to see along the way!