My sister and her family have lived in Qatar for over 15 years now. Visiting often, I witnessed the Doha food scene evolve from a handful of franchises to an array of funky coffeeshops, and local eateries. Below are my family’s absolute favorites. The food scene is evolving so fast that I will probably update this list many more times. The restaurants below are in no particular order.
Quick tip: If you are planning on enjoying alcohol with your meal, only the restaurants located in hotels can serve alcohol.
The Market by Jean Georges is located in the lobby of the very trendy W Hotel It is an eclectic mix of bistro style dishes, sushi, and french classics. They offer a lunch menu during weekdays, lunch hours of course, which is a great deal. Must order: The tomato soup (trust me), the shrimp salad, the burger. Upstairs is The Spice Market, also by Jean George, which is less bistro and more fine-dining, but just as delicious (the menu is completely different).
As the name would suggest, The W Cafe is Located in the W hotel (in the lobby to the left). This coffee shop is bright and fresh. It is a great place to have breakfast, grab a good salad or sandwich, or even an energy drink.
Located in the St-Regis Hotel, Sultan Brahim offers great indoor and outdoor seating. And as any respectable Lebanese restaurant, they have shisha. Sultan Brahim literally translates into Fin Bream or Pink Perch (a type of white flesh fish). So it is safe to say the restaurant makes good seafood. It is pricy, but the portions are generous. Must try: Potatoes with summak, fried fish, calamari.
Flat White serve some of Doha’s finest coffee and most original food. They take coffee seriously and that is evident the moment you walk through the door and the smell of perfectly roasted coffee beans fills the air. The dishes are healthy without meaning to be. Must try: All the breakfast plates, and black coffee (so well roasted you won’t need milk or sugar).
L’eto is actually a coffee shop, but they also have great salads and sandwiches, as well as irresistible desserts. They also serve breakfast. Great for a light meal or just a coffee and dessert. Must try: Tres leches cake.
Located in Al-Hazm mall, Manchab offers Qatari cuisine in a funky setting. The interior of the restaurant is as cool as the dishes. If you are going to try Qatari food for the first time, this is the place to do it. Watch out, the portions, like the Qataris themselves, are very generous; so go hungry. Must try: All their funky salads, they put chips on them (Mind blown! Right?), Biriyana chicken or meat.
Located in Qatara, Sugar Pasha serves casual Turkish food. The restaurant is lavish but still comfortable. Must try: Their grilled meats, saIads, I also recommend the breakfast, it is quite a feast.
The restaurant’s insanely high ceilings and extravagant chandeliers are stunning and a perfect setting for the quality italian food Ciccheti makes. The menu changes with the seasons, but some classics remain. Must try from the classics: The lasagna, burrata pizza.
Ever feel like sushi as your appetizer and a pasta as your main? Well now you can have that at Neo.They now have two locations: Mall of Qatar, and Salwa Road, Souq Najd. Surprisingly they make both cuisines very well. Must try: the sushi, spicy salmon salad, garlic and chili edamame.
I call this upscale junk food, but I mean it in the most loving way possible. Triangle is not diet food, but you need to go crazy (culinarily speaking) every once in a while. It is called triangle because the burgers are in the shape of triangles, but they have a lot more than oddly shaped burgers on the menu.
There are not many restaurants that specialize in Palestinian cuisine, so Ard Canaan is quite unique. The decor is classy yet sturdy, but the food is 100% homy and fulfilling. Must try: Ayran Yogurt with basil, Mansaf, Chicken Musakhan with Taboon Bread, and Eggplant Fattah.
Maki (Funky Sushi)
Maki has been a staple in the Kuwait food scene for a long time, and now foodies in Qatar can enjoy the same culinary innovations and attention to detail. Located in Doha Festival City Maki deliciously and respectfully breaks all the sushi rules. Must try: Green shake maki, Nadia Maki, and the Edamame zaatar.
Bukhara (Old-School Indian)
Stepping into Bukhara is stepping back in time, the 1980’s that is. This restaurant is not concerned with updating their decor as it is pretty evident nothing has changed since the day it opened. What they are concerned with, however, is delicious, quality Indian food; the decor ends up adding to the charm. Must try: Butter chicken, tikka, raita, garlic naan.
As the name suggests, Crave Nation is the restaurant you go to when you are craving something deliciously bad for your diet or you simply want to indulge in style. Must try: Butcher’s short ribs, garden fatta, lava shrimp.
If Alice (from Alice In Wonderland) was all grown-up and a fashionista with a blog, this is where she would hold her tea parties. Sugar and Spice has two locations (Lagoona Mall and Aspire) and they are both adorable. They have coffees, food and desserts. Must try: Beef salad, penne white sauce, and any lotus dessert.
Located in the lavish Doha Kempinsky, Nozomi is the place to go for fancy Japanese dining. They have all the classic rolls and side dishes you usually find at sushi restaurants, just served up in class.
Located in the Orient Pearl complex of restaurants, Smat is upscale Qatari food. A smat is the placemat used on a traditional Qatari table. The recipes are classics but they are presented in a modern way. Must try: The Mzatara Samboussa (cheese filled pastries), Royal yogurt Tharid (lamb on bread with a yogurt sauce), and the Majbous Al Shuyoukh (Slow cooked beef on basmati rice).
You can’t have a meal here, just desserts and original coffees, oh ya, and some flowers. Located in The Pearl (a manmade circular island), Fleur et Cafe is a cafe/florist. The smell of coffee is so satisfying, mix it with the smell of fresh flowers, and it’s divine. Must try: Any of their signature coffees and desserts.