And here we are – my inaugural 2020 Hitlist – where to eat and drink in Doha in February. After the longest January in the history of Januarys, there is a lot to be excited about!
New happy hours, new restaurants and a couple of surprises – here is the list you have been waiting for…
La Bodega Negra
Hot off the plane from London’s Soho, this Mexican joint has won me over with its atmosphere and well executed food. It’s located adjacent to the less than swoonworthy HuQQA at the St Regis Doha.
When I say this place is about the “vibe”, I mean it. The bar area is like a really happening house party, retro hits and lots of comfy couches. The dining area a bit like the family home (except for the wild art) of your really wealthy mate from university.
The two-page menu includes takes on classics – think baja fish tacos and fresh tuna tostadas and slow cooked beef barbacoa. The food is by no means perfect – I felt the beef barbacoa was a bit one note. But other dishes impressed. Beware, the spice content is high but that just how I like it. Service is casual without being familiar.
Must order: The spicy prawn tacos and the guacamole.
This is a perennial favorite and has earned an early 2020 shoutout for two very good reasons. Their business lunch – three courses for QR89 – is incredible value. Each course has at least six options and servings are generously full sized.
The second reason? They now have an alcohol licence. Yep. The unicorn – a non-hotel restaurant with booze – is real. Prices are on the high side at the moment but a happy hour is coming soon. And that secret garden-style terrace is the perfect spot for an after work drink.
Must order: the beautifully tender and perfectly battered frito misto…and a glass of wine!
The Kitchen at the Hilton Residences The Pearl
Pearl residents rejoice! You have a new dining option with the opening of the Hilton Residences The Pearl. Their all day dining restaurant, The Kitchen, has a daily breakfast offering that is as pocket friendly as it is delicious. As well as their usual buffet of hot and cold items, they also offer a range of a la carte dishes like eggs benedict, avo toast, pancakes and oatmeal. Servings are on the smaller side, but order a few to share.
Hold onto your hats…the best is yet to come. It’s QR110 all in – that includes barista made coffee (no crappy machines), drinks like sparkling water and of course the food. Add in their beautiful poolside terrace, and a quirky dining room, and you have a great weekend meeting spot.
PS at the time of going to press (I’m so old school) their liquor licence was on the verge of being granted.
Must order: The egg tacos
Grill Night at Pearl Social
I’ve said this before, Pearl Social is the best restaurant in Doha no one knows about. Their Thursday night Grill Night proves that this place has some of the best food in the city. Served as an all you can eat fixed menu, it is a tour de force. Their portobello mushroom burger is a veggie style meaty delight – a juicy umami bomb and packed with flavor.
The star of the menu is their sea bass, served with a perfectly tangy/aniseedy fennel salad. Props also to their strip loin, cooked to order on the outside BBQ and served with a jammy roasted garlic. The menu comes with a variety of sides as well as a bottle of wine (yep – a bottle). All for QR700 for two people. Go. Please.
Must order: Everything. Just tell them to bring it all.
Ambar at the Mandarin Oriental
I‘ve extolled the virtues of Ambar before but I’m here to remind you that it is probably one of the best value bars in town. In a city where an Aperol Spritz can cost you QR148, their regular prices are a breath of fresh air. QR35 for beers, QR35 for spirits and mixers and some great wines from QR140 a bottle. Aaaand all cocktails are QR70.
Add into this mix a beautifully designed bar, house-made limoncello and some first rate Spanish-inspired bar food, and you have one great night. They don’t do ladies nights and
Must order: Any of the house-created spirits/cocktails.
La Mar Happy Hour
This is breaking news. La Mar’s location on the beach is seriously sexy and now it has its’ own happy hour. Launching 6 February, the happy hour runs from a very reasonable 4pm to 7pm Thursdays to Saturdays. Cocktails are QR49, bottled beer for QR39 and bites from QR39. Thirsty Thursday indeed!
Must order: The bites will be as good as the booze, so order up!
There it is folks – plenty to get stuck into and more to come!