We’re now officially in the “business end” of the year and there is still so much left to explore on the dining scene. To help you navigate that, here is your essential Doha Hit List November 2023 – new, hot and just reviewed restaurants and bars:
Thursday Night Churrasco at Toro Toro
The Thursday night offering at Toro Toro is simple – a set menu of starters, unlimited “meat cuts” and desserts. We kick off with a glass of merlot and their “signature” smoked guacamole. When Toro Toro opened in 2011, the smoking trick was new. Different! Unique! Now, it’s done everywhere. That said, the guacamole is fresh and tastes as good as it did in 2011. Prawn skewers (anticucho) with Peruvian yellow chili are a little surprise, slightly spicy and just cooked enough. The standout are still are the Venezuelan cachapas, sweet corn pancakes with mozzarella.
The main event is of course, the meat. There are three types of meat – Brazilian favorite picanha beef cut; lamb chops and chicken thigh. All are good quality, well cooked (although if you want anything other than rare/medium rare, you should specify) and seasoned, hard.
I appreciated that each protein had its own flavor and seasoning profile. Sides were unimaginative but did the trick – especially the creamy mashed potatoes and a bowl of herby veggies. Desserts saw the Brazilian style grilled pineapple dusted in cinnamon rolled out as well as two other desserts – a tangy passionfruit cheesecake and a well-judged custard cake.
The drinks package option is fairly run-of-the-mill – an average red, a white, spirits and three kinds of beer. I would love to see a cocktail or two added to the list (even a weekly single special). Toro Toro’s offer is QR275 per person all you can eat with soft drinks; QR350 with alcohol and kids under 12 free.
Must order: the meat is the star of the show but don’t sleep on the corn pancakes
Details: Toro Toro, Marsa Malaz Kempsinski, Thursdays from 5pm.
Bibo/Lobito De Mar
October saw the much-anticipated re-opening of BiBo and Lobito De Mar, both outposts of Dani Garcia’s rapidly expanding empire. They have both been combined into an “uber” venue – occupying Lobito’s seaside island spot at Marsa Malaz Kempinski. Sharing the same menu, you can stay downstairs for the cool coastal Lobito vibe or head upstairs for the more elaborately decorated BiBo (look up – yes that’s a giant fish tail embedded in the ceiling).
The menu is like a “greatest hits” of both venues. For example, the prawn cocktail in a pineapple (QR95); tuna croquettes (QR60) and; tartare of tuna loin (QR140). Also, the signature paella (from QR200 for two people) and a return of BiBo’s famed brioche sliders with oxtail (QR50). Fish and seafood dishes with pricing according to weight are also on the main menu. Perhaps a sign of the market and an acknowledgment that both venues were at the upper end of the price scale, pricing appears to have been re-considered. There is also now a burger on the menu (QR98).
Both floors have outside terraces and with that location, will be hard to beat from this month onwards. Thier brunchs is a work in progress but worth putting on the slate for later this year.
I sat with Chef Garcia who was in town for the relaunch and he was bullish about the new approach, the combined venue being a first for him, saying it gave diners a choice depending on their mood. “It’s the best of both,” he said.
Must order: the seafood paella is still a wow dish.
The details: BiBo/Lobito De Mar; Marsa Malaz Kempinski; daily 6pm to 1am
Jikoni East African Cuisine
Jikoni is an unassuming eatery on Airport Road serving up delicious Kenyan food to their community and inquisitive foodies alike. Dive straight in with a steaming plate slow cooked beef stew, which is a little spicy, a little tangy and very comforting.
This can be accompanied by the famous ugali or cornmeal. Also check out the mokimo which is like mashed potato with veggies and seasoning. Also, finally a bagged a Rolex. Just kidding! It’s a street food classic – an egg omelette wrapped in a chapati. You can see the Indian influence in many dishes like the beef samosa.
Everything is cooked fresh on site and nothing on the menu is priced over QR30. I confess I knew nothing about Kenyan food and also very little about East African cuisine until this visit and it has opened my eyes! It’s hearty, fresh and very tasty.
Foodies, hotels are nice (yes, I know!) but it’s in places like Jikoni that you can find the real Doha.
Must order: the ugali and the rolex!
The details: Jikoni, Airport Road, Doha (past Shoprite); daily 10am to 1pm
La Spiga at W Doha
This restaurant continues to pack in the new and seasoned diners with their menu of Italian-influenced comfort food classics. The mood is set by a plate of their fresh from the disco ball shaped oven, wafer thin slices of flatbread and a glass of sparkling. This is what the W Doha has been doing so well for a decade or more – a warm welcome and giving you just what you never knew you wanted.
Start with a glistening bowl of chargrilled octopus (QR105), as well seasoned as it was cooked, resting on a bed of pillowy potato foam. A plate of vitello tonnato (QR120), that divisive dish, dressed in an umami laden tuna sauce, with sliced crisp sweet potato chips and greens for texture.
For old times sake plump for the fritto misto (QR100), a tangle of fried calamari, prawns and zucchini. Or push the boat out with the mainstay lobster linguine (QR275). The veal osso bucco (QR205) on a bed of polenta is a gutsy, homely hug of a dish. On my recent visit, the dining room, always smaller than you expect, was absolutely heaving. The service team duck and weave seamlessly around the tables with ease, delivering plates, filling glasses and chatting. It has a vibe many Doha restaurants just don’t have right now.
Is La Spiga the most authentic Italian place around? No. But the food – it’s still good and still delivers in terms of taste and experience.
Must order: the classic pastas and pizzas always thrill.
The details: La Spiga by Papermoon at W Doha; daily 12pm to 12am
While you are here…
So that’s it! Your Doha Hit List November 2023: hot, new and just reviewed restaurants and bars to see you though this crazy month in Qatar.
- Are you getting my weekly Life on the Wedge newsletter? Sign up here. We have some exciting and exclusive offers and events planned for the end of the year.
- For my review of LPM Doha click here.
- And of Masala Library here.
- Catch me talking about Doha and the food scene and why I love what I do on Qatar 365.
- Waiting for Pret to open…
- My podcast launches soon!
While I pay for a large portion of my experiences that I write about, I am sometimes provided meals and other experiences free of charge or at a reduced rate. However, when accepting these invitations, I make it clear that I am under no obligation to give a positive review.