Doha, Qatar isn’t just about FIFA football these days. There is of course the museums and galleries, the desert and, a thriving restaurant and cafe scene. You can dine around the world in a day but there are a few foodie goals you should be kicking while here. So here are five delicious foodie things to do when visiting Doha:
1. Take a Wander Around Souq Waqif
From the main drag full of cafes, restaurants and outdoor seating for people watching to the winding alleys of the covered souq lined with spice shops and other goodies, this should be your first stop. Must visit foodie spots include the cheap as chips skewers of meat (chicken, beef and lamb) served with salad and bread at Shujaa; Ali Al Naama Coffee for the QR5 paratha flat breads and legendary Shay al Shomoos for balaeet which is eggs, vermicelli and and local honey. In the evening head to small area facing the outside square (the parking) for all kinds of dishes looked by Qatari ladies such as samosas and wafer thin ragag bread smothered in nutella. This is just a smattering of the food options inside the Souq area – you can also go upmarket at the multi cuisine spot The Village or full scale Persian glam at Parisa.
2. Have a Taste of Qatari Food
Qatari food is a real surprise – a unique mixture of flavors and textures that have evolved thanks to the location and the heritage of the country. As a friend once said, Qatari food is hearty but always surprising. So where to try this cuisine. Bayt Sharq on The Corniche has a stunning heritage location and a menu of local and regional favorites. Order the seafood machboos (rice), for something very special. I also love Sufrat Ommi Lolwa in Souq Waqif. The interiors are decorated with Qatari motifs and the menu is authentically local. Take one of the private rooms and sit on the floor to devour lamb machboos and a tangy vegetable salona (stew).
3. Savor sweet Umm Ali at the Sheraton Doha
It may not be strictly Qatari, but this dish surely is the most famous dessert in the city While you can find pretenders on every corner, nothing beats the Umm Ali at the iconic Sheraton Doha. For the uninitiated, Umm Ali, (Ali’s Mother), is the Arabic version of bread and butter pudding. But amped up x10000. Imagine layers of puff pastry, milk, and cream, and sprinkled with lots of nuts and raisins. The Sheraton’s version is the gold standard. Enjoy with coffee or tea in their domed atrium.
4. Head South for a Taste of Souq Al Wakra
Located by the sea to the south of Doha, Souq Al Wakra is the more authentic twin of Souq Waqif. There’s something about eating freshly grilled fish by the sea that just hits different and all of the laneways lead to Danat Al Bahar BBQ Fish Restaurant. Pick your own fish or seafood (crabs, prawns…the lot) at the counter and let the friendly team do the rest. Pocket friendly and delicious. For a light bite or a treat, Qatari-owned Easair Cafe is the perfect pit stop. The menu includes breakfast items as well as Qatari favorites like prawn biryani and chicken madrooba.
4. People watching and Chapati and Karak at Katara
Katara is a destination in itself with cafes, galleries and a lovely promenade. But one of the best value spots is Chapati and Karak where you can indulge in two of the nation’s favorite snacks. Karak which has is a blend of tea, milk, water, tea, sugar and cardamom which are boiled together and then simmered. Served piping hot, enjoy it with their namesake chapati, a soft Indian flatbread. You can have it plain, or loaded up with eggs; the zataar spice mix or with nutella.