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Further along the street, you will pass more coffee and cake shops – of particular note is Café des Artistes, with fantastic Californian-style cheesecakes and local artwork -- before you come to Sufra, a unique Jordanian eatery. One of King Abdullah and Queen Rania’s favourites, Sufra is a new concept that brings classic Jordanian dishes like mansaf (lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt) to the fore. The royal seal of approval means that it pays to book in advance for one of its terrace tables – you may find yourself competing for elbow space with some of the Jordanian royal family.

But it’s not just during the day when Rainbow Street impresses itself upon you. Cantaloupe is the country’s first gastropub; Amigos bar (Al-Imama Malek Street; +962-6-463-3001)has pool tables and the city’s best happy hour; and La Calle (Rainbow Street; +962-461-7-216) is an Italian restaurant with wraparound windows that ensure diners and drinkers linger for hours to people watch. All of these are populated by an easy-going mix of Jordanian, Lebanese, Egyptian and Palestinian twenty-something’s looking for a good time.

Before checking out the street’s most popular nightspots, however, pop into art gallery Jacaranda Images. While owner Barbara Rowell hails from down under, you are likely to unearth photographic prints or paintings from local up-and-coming artists like Tariq Dajani and Mike V Derderian.

Next door is Books@Cafe, a two-storey house with a vast bookshop-cum-late-night-bar. It regularly hosts events and concerts and has a vast terrace that overlooks the white-washed rooftops of downtown. Ask any long-term Amman resident and they will tell you that you have not really been to Rainbow Street unless you have sat under a star-filled, inky-black sky at Books@Cafe and shared a fruit-flavoured hookah or drank an ice-cold beer.

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© 2012 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘The cosmopolitan crossroads of the Middle East’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

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