Wine Dine and Play: Ishtar Restaurant

Ishtar Restaurant

The Ishtar restaurant is located on the 4th floor of the Babylon Terminal at the Baghdad International Airport

Mesopotamia-Arab Cuisine Focus with International Offerings
Baghdad, Iraq
Cuisine Style: Iraqi
Average Price:  $ 
Overall Rating: 1/5
Dined: October 2019

By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:

Ishtar (Inanna in Sumerian) is a primary Mesopotamian, East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. This powerful goddess is the first known deity for which we have written evidence and in fact, the Christian celebration of Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar, celebrating fertility and sex. Her symbols were the egg and bunny among others (or did you actually believe that eggs and bunnies had anything to do with the resurrection of Christ)? Like most modern religious holidays in Christianity and Islam, they are taken from the festivals and traditions from older now pagan religions as an easier means to transition their followers to the newer religion. 

A view of the air traffic control tower and the dessert beyond at the Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad, Iraq
Ishtar Restaurant / Baghdad Airport

When I first traveled through the Baghdad International Airport heading out of the country, our group would be escorted to the Ishtar Restaurant on the 4th floor of the Babylon Terminal where we would wait in a lounge until it was time to pass through customs to the gate and board our planes. When returning to Iraq we followed the same process, stopping at Ishtar, waiting for the group to arrive, then traveling to our final destination in Baghdad. Though the war ended in 2009 there is still great turmoil in the country from the two years of ISIS occupation, Iranian backed terror, to the government corruption that has caused protests and rioting from Baghdad down to Basrah. With all that in mind security is still a top priority for non-muslim foreigners that visit for business.

Ishtar Restaurant Menu:
    • Breakfast
    • Lunch & Dinner Starters
    • Salads
    • Entrees
    • Desserts

The Ishtar restaurant menu has a wide variety of offerings that cater to an international crowd, with their take on Mexican fajitas, some Italian alfredo and lasagna dishes, Indian Biriyani, and Hawaiian beef whatever that is. The main portion of the menu is Iraqi or wider Arabic cuisine like Saj, beef Aleppo, Burke, Salona, and assorted shawarma. 

When you exit the very slow and sometimes broken elevator you are just happy the door opens, then you walk onto a very old and worn down carpet that has cigarette butts put out onto it instead of an ashtray. On either side of the entranceway to Ishtar is an artist drawing of a Babylonian style caste with cats and other creatures. To get the nicer VIP area of the restaurant you have to walk through the smoking dining room passing by Hookah’s, a fake Christmas tree that is up year-round, and then to the room where you can breath free of the cigarette smoke. If you have to use the restrooms then good luck as they like the rest of the restrooms at the airport are disgusting, and more fly’s then you can count. Thankfully the bathrooms are on the far side of the restaurant away from the VIP area and near the to-go counter.
Ishtar restaurant / Front entrance

One of the first times eating at Ishtar was for breakfast where the cooks prepared traditional Makhlama dishes or Iraqi egg dishes. The recipe consists of baked eggs with vegetables and can include meats such as beef or lamb. Mine had beef, onions, red bell peppers, with no seasoning besides dried parsley. Being in Iraq and working around Iraqis I can say that they do not like spice. If the food even has more than a speck of black pepper, they will complain. The dish also came with a side of Tanoor or samoon bread. Another person in our group had a vegetable omelet that looked very similar to my dish, and unlike a classical American or European omelet, it did not have cheese.

Makhlama is a baked Iraqi egg breakfast dish that includes the preparation of eggs with meat and vegetables at the Ishtar Restaurant in Baghdad, Iraq
Ishtar Restaurant / Makhlama
Coming back into the country sometime later a group of us had several hours to wait, so we had lunch. From the choices of lunch specials, I went with the lamb shawarma in a wrap filled with lettuce, tomato, and a tabouleh. The dish came with French fries and a wonderful side of hummus. 

A Lamb Shawrma wrap at the Ishtar Restaurant inside the Baghdad International Airport, Iraq
Ishtar Restaurant / Lamb Shawarma

Strict Muslim traditions are followed in this restaurant so there are no alcohol or pork products served. It is a smoking restaurant and was so bad during one visit that I ate in the VIP waiting room as that area was non-smoking, to which they allowed me that courtesy even though only non-alcoholic beverages can be served in the room and not food. 

I have not had any desserts from the visits to Ishtar.

But check out some of these wonderful selections from Wine Dine and Play: 

Please see these guidelines for Tipping in Restaurants and on following proper etiquette, customs, cultures, and avoiding assumptions when you dine out.

Final notes, review basics, observations, and more pictures:

Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writer's knowledge, even if it includes metaphors the restaurant may not like to read about. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors based on individual experience. They include wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambience, food quality, and wow factor. 
To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

Overall from this experience and the score factors outlined in the ‘about page’ section, based on my individual experience and rating, I give Ishtar Restaurant a 1 out of 5 stars, meaning that they were an average dining experience like most restaurants, and if they turn the restaurant into non-smoking and clean it up a bit, the rating will go up.

Scores are detailed in the factor chart below:

Formula Factor Conclusions and Overall Ratings for Ishtar
Max Points Possible:
Total Points Awarded:
Total Points deducted:
Food quality
Plate presentation
Customer service
Alcohol and other beverages
Total regular points awarded
Total percentage — less the Bonus


“Wow” factor BONUS
Total bonus percentage


Total percentage and bonus for a final star rating


Stars Awarded (see chart below)
0 - 5

**A full break down and explanation of the observations and point disbursement is available in the linked article above. To receive a detailed copy of your score, feel free to contact me at any time and I will provide it to you.**


Overall Star Rating:
1 of 5 Stars: 
68% Rating with a 0 point “wow” bonus
An Average Dining Experience
Casual dining
Cuisine Style at Ishtar Restaurant:
Allergen or dietary accommodations: 
Gluten-Free choices, Halal, Local, Low Carb Choices, Vegetarian Options
Not Required
Dress code:
Casual attire

Child policy:

The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a kids menu or cater to them; however, for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended that kids not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. 
If not then:
Hire a Babysitter! 
Ishtar Restaurant Experiences:
Contemporary, Hole-in-the-wall
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Ishtar Restaurant has an airport public lot
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
WARNING: Ishtar Restaurant is a smoking restaurant
Patio or terrace:

Food Prices 
(excludes, alcohol, taxes & 20% gratuity’s)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 (inexpensive)
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 (moderate)
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 (pricey)
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 (expensive)
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 (very expensive)

**Currencies reflect the world’s major travelers, restaurant, or wine connoisseur’s**

Iraqi Dinar (IQD)
United States Dollar (USD)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
European Union (EUR)

(2019) $1 USD =  1,100 - 1,200 Iraqi Dinar 

Ishtar Restaurant:

Babylon Terminal
Baghdad International Airport
Airport St, Baghdad, IRAQ
Phone: +964 0790 140 3537

The world’s best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.

A few to tease you with…
Rustic New American Fare
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Contemporary, African-French Tasting Journey
Franschhoek, South Africa
Haute Gastronomique French restaurant & bistro
Bordeaux, France

Other Ishtar Restaurant Pictures:

The dining room of the Ishtar restaurant at the Baghdad Airport
Ishtar Restaurant / Dining Room

Some Hookah available at the Ishtar restaurant in Baghdad, Iraq
Ishtar Restaurant / Hookah

The VIP Room at the Ishtar restaurant is attached to the dining room at the Babylon Terminal Baghdad Airport, Iraq
Ishtar Restaurant / VIP Room

The vegetable omelet breakfast dish at the Ishtar Restaurant
Ishtar Restaurant / Vegetable Omelet

Some hummus with Samoon bread at the Ishtar Restaurant in Baghdad, Iraq
Ishtar Restaurant / Hummus

Some Samoon bread served with the hummus at the Ishtar Restaurant in Baghdad, Iraq
Ishtar Restaurant / Samoon Bread

“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)

Who is John Galt?


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