It has been a long time coming…but the food truck movement has finally started rolling in Qatar. OK so they may not the the mobile trucks we are used to seeing on the streets of the US, UK and Australia, but they are a step in the right direction.
While Burgeri (owned by Katara Hospitality) has been roving the country selling serviceable burgers, hotdogs and fries for a few years, the slow road started back in 2016 when the Ministry for Economy and Commerce indicated it would issue licences for mobile food vendors, giving a boost to the private sector. This came after a successful “Food Truck” section at the Qatar International Food Festival.
But you can also thank the illegal blockade against Qatar by its neighbors for fuelling the local start-ups. Organizations like Bedaya are working with small business owners to incubate these kinds of businesses which can only be a good thing for foodies in Qatar.
They are mostly stationary caravans (many are hipster Airstream-style silver vans) but the recent Souq Waqif Spring Festival saw more than 30 food vendors set up shop. There have also been stalls and kiosks in The Pearl Qatar and Aspire Park and seasonally at Sealine for some time. there are also kiosks selling a range of food (including fries!) at Hotel Park.
But now they are popping up throughout the country. Where to find them? Well, the truth is – where you least expect them (and also…carparks, so many carparks).
A great example is the outpost of Burgers & Burmait which has set up shop at on a stretch of ground next to Al Ahli Club in Al Hilal. Selling burgers, fries and drinks from a retro silver caravan (someone likened it to a space ship!), you can dine in or takeaway.
For the record the burgers are tasty (although need a touch more seasoning) but the spicy sauce and bread are spot on.
Meanwhile, the Qatar Sports Club carpark has become something of a hub for these food caravans and kiosks. Thanks to a popular cafe on site, this has always been a drawcard, but now it houses the cult favorite Exit 55 (burgers. hotdogs and snacks) s well as a mobile branch of Poori & Karak (try the Kashmiri sandwich with paneer cheese), the aloo paratha and of course, the karak. In this location you can also find drive thru branch of Tiger Cookies and Tea Time.
One of my favorite trucks (and it is an actual truck) has perhaps the most scenic locations in Qatar and serves up the most unlikely of dishes.
Hilal Jia is located inside the MIA Park and has sweeping views of the Museum and West Bay and serves up steaming hot Chinese dumplings and tea.
That’s right – tea and dumplings. As well as sweet and sour chicken, spring rolls and moon cakes.
To be frank, anyone looking to get into business with a mobile food truck has to have fairly solid infrastructure in place. Given the weather (a five month window – maximum) and dealing with the machinations of Baladiya are enough to drive anyone over the edge mentally and financially.
It maybe baby steps, but it’s a start. I’d like to see more diversity in the offerings beyond burgers (although you can see why they are proliferating – popularity and ease of assembly). Ideally more Indian and Asian food, more dumplings and more fusion!
What about you? Have you checked out any food truck or mobile vendors in Qatar? What re you favorites? What would you like to see more of?