Whatever your favourite cuisine you’ll be sure to find a wonderful choice of places to eat in the capital – just make sure you try the local fare too
Qatar is a multicultural melting pot, drawing together people from all countries and all cuisines, and with such a diverse population, its food scene is buzzing with influences from all around the world.
Whether you fancy fine dining by Michelin-starred chefs in Doha’s refined restaurants, feasting on fiery Indian curries or all-you-can-eat meat at a Brazilian churrascaria, or mopping up a spread of authentic Middle Eastern mezze, you’re bound to find it here. In fact, the only problem will be fitting in all the delightful breakfast, lunch and dinner stops on offer during your stay.
If you have limited time in capital city Doha, start with the very best. Austrian celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has opened Cut at the new Mondrian Doha, which elevates the classic steakhouse to an entirely new level with pure wagyu beef from Shiga prefecture in Japan or Australian wagyu from Rangers Valley – each every bit as succulent as they sound.
It’s welcome competition for Prime at the InterContinental Doha – The City, the steakhouse that has picked up a swathe of awards for its incredible cuts of top-quality beef cooked to perfection.
One of the best things about a multicultural community, though, is the incredible international cuisine it brings. Renowned sushi chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa has stamped his unique take on Japanese dining at Nobu Doha (try the yuzu miso black cod – it’s quite possibly the best thing you’ll ever taste); while fellow countryman Masaharu Morimoto has chosen Qatar to open his first Middle Eastern outpost, Morimoto Doha, where the sushi and sashimi menu alone runs to several pages.
Then there’s the subtle spicing at Sabai Thai, where the Saturday brunch will fire up the taste buds for the entire weekend; contemporary Chinese cuisine at the internationally renowned Hakkasan Doha; or the Saffron Lounge, set up by Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia, which regularly cleans up at culinary awards thanks to a menu that draws on the culinary traditions of each region of India.
True foodies should also spare a mealtime or two to explore Qatar’s own culinary heritage in the place where it was invented, drawing on influences from India and Iran but recreating them in a uniquely Arabic way. Expect plenty of rice and beans infused with cardamom or saffron in the main course, and rosewater or dates for afters.
Start by sampling national dish machboos – a flavoursome combination of spiced rice and lamb, chicken, fish or seafood – along with stew-like thareed, which mixes beans, onions and potatoes with lamb, tomato sauces and gentle spicing, with bread at the bottom to soak up all that extra flavour. Tag on a side order of stuffed courgette dish kousa mahshi, stuffed vine leaves warak enab, or savoury porridge harees, a popular feature on festive occasions. Dessert is just as enticing, with sweet-yet-savoury balaleet (which can be both breakfast and dessert, so there’s no excuse for missing it), honey-soaked dumplings luqaimat, or rice milk pudding mahalabiya, infused with either rosewater or orange blossom.
As for where to eat them, opt for where the locals eat and you won’t go far wrong. That might mean tasting as you go on a wander through the Souq Waqif, where market stalls are piled high with barrels of rose petals and pistachios, or stopping off at a restaurant where the locals outnumber the tourists. Shay al Shoomos in the Souq Waqif is renowned for its small, cosy atmosphere and its home-cooked breakfasts, which have earned near-legendary status across Doha; while Al Mourjan combines a classy ambience and unbeatable views over the Corniche with an authentic Arabian menu which is bound to leave you wondering why Qatari cuisine isn’t better known.