We’re almost over the hump of a long and sweaty Summer and this list of best places to eat and drink in Doha in August 2021 will help you get past it.
But the year is speeding onwards and I realized I haven’t done my traditional mid-year report card/check-in. Like 2020, it’s been mixed bag.
New Restaurants Set to Open
Aside from Coya and Saffron we haven’t seen many “big name” new entrants on the dining scene this year, and while disappointing, that’s to be expected given the current situation. There is still buzz about Zuma opening here, it’s more likely we will see some new entrants later this year and closer to 2022 with a slew of new hotels set to open. Some to look out for include BICE at the new Pullman in Westbay (those who have been here a while may remember this restaurant from it’s brief but sweet stint at The Pearl). Another interesting one is the very elegant-looking 12 Chairs at the Mondrian, a caviar bar.
I’m excited to see some variety and new options open up beyond The Pearl/Westbay bubble (see below) as well as places like Paper Moon now offering alcohol and happy hour type offers.
On Wednesdays we wear pink…and Thursdays, and Fridays and Saturdays….Pink is everywhere…still. I’m hoping that in 2022 designers and owners venture outside this color palate.
More Show Than Go
And this brings me to the QR70 latte. More specifically the QR70 latte at EL&N. While not strictly “coffee based” as they tartly informed me, it does beg the question, how much is too much? Ralphs Coffee Truck, which apparently “represents the timeless American spirit of the Ralph Lauren brand”. changes QR40 for a cappuccino. And yes, some hotels do charge that, but they don’t serve it in a paper cup. It’s time to stop this coffee insanity.
Outside of the coffee debate, I have noticed recently more venues starting to realize that diners are more price sensitive than ever and want better value – whether that be through all inclusive offers or via the discount apps. We’ve also seen the rise of the “drinks packages” – while a few on closer inspection not as generous as they seem, it’s good to see some new options popping up.
Meanwhile favorites like Nobu Doha, the Mandarin Oriental and La Mar continue to demonstrate why they are market leaders – with approachable offers and new menus drawing in a new crowd while also keeping regulars happy.
On the pocket friendly front, places like Ninja Ramen demonstrate that there is foodie life beyond the “paint by numbers” coffee and burger joints. and Afrasiyab and Nakchivan are among a growing number of Russian/Eastern Euro restaurants and cafes that are giving this city’s dining scene some crunch.
But back to this month – here’s my list of the best places to eat and drink in Doha in August, 2021:
Yes folks there is a bar in Al Wakra and frankly it’s pretty bloody good. While you can expect the usual happy hours (all night during Summer), I can also vouch for the menu of well executed bar food. With items ranging from crunch pakoras through to burgers, pizza and seafood platters, it’s a great addition to the the scene for those living to the South of Doha. Plus staff are charming and well trained and when the cooler months finally dawn, the terrace overlooks the sea.
Must order: Long Island Ice Tea and the piri piri prawns
The Mulberry Tavern has, for The Pearl crowd, become an instant hit. But beyond the bar set up and garden area, there is also some great food on the menu. Saturday lunch is a very reasonable QR99 for two courses with the option of a QR140 two hour drinks package. The dishes run the gamut of well executed pub food fave fish and chips though to some tender beef brisket. The mains come with roast veggies and Yorkshire puddings.
Must order: the fish and chips was on point (but they do need to have malt vinegar for the real deal)
This restaurant has been a bit of a revelation for me – the flavors, the execution of the food and the service all immaculate. This brunch is a great way to sample the menu but also get a look at the depth and breadth of Indian cuisine. Picking favorites (and the menu was stuffed with great options), I loved the unique take on street food classic pani puri, using lump crab. The kebab platter elevated a staple of Indian food to a new level – each morsel given the perfect amount of spice and sizzle. The food component is QR255 pet person with an additional drinks package for QR140. Highly recommended.
Must order: everything comes to your table but keep an eye out for the lobster eggs benedict.
Liang at the Mandarin Oriental just keeps doing everything right and this weekend menu – available from 12pm to 3pm Fridays and Saturdays – is a great example of that. Giving the people what they want – dumplings – the set menu also value adds with Peking duck and some other signature dishes like their stunningly tender wok fried ribeye. The soup dumplings are among the best I have had outside Asia, the dumpling skin wafer thin and encasing the piping hot soup perfectly. The menu is QR290 per person (minimum of two) and drinks are a la carte (I recommend going traditional with a steaming pot of Chinese tea).
Must order: keep an eye out for the plump shrimp dumplings.
When a chef says he is cooking their Grandma’s food you just know it’s going to be great. This is the case with La Mar’s new Saturday night supper menu. Eight dishes, which rotate weekly, featuring food inspired by their South American grandmothers. The dishes all bear the hallmarks of what we know and love about La Mar’s take on Peruvian classics – a meld of east meets west with a bit of spice. The dishes are all all generous, comforting and of course, very interesting. For me the star of the show is a wagyu Milanese with a basil infused pesto sauce – so far so Italian – but add in Peruvian chili sauce and you have a new classic. The menu is available every Saturday evening and is a very reasonable QR175 per person and drinks are a la carte.
Must order: The menu changes each week but we are hoping the Peruvian take on s’mores stays.
I first visited Bibo before the first lockdown in 2020 and was unable to venture back until recently. More fool me. A pandemic, a lockdown and a bit of time has really benefited this restaurant. On my first visit I found the menu unfocussed and meandering, like it wanted to be all things to all people. The current menu is still long but it’s sharper and the Spanish influences more apparent. A must order is a surprising tomato tartare, presented like its beefy namesake, with tangy accents. A Spanish style cannelloni stuffed with chicken and finished with a creamy sauce is comfort food done right. There are still the gimmicks, like starters served on a giant hand and a flambe station, but it fits with the theatrical aspect of the food. They are doing something right – the night I went every seat was taken. Perfect for a special dinner or just a catch up with friends.
Must order: The tomato tartare, whole lobster with bomba rice.