Qatar Food and Drink
Options for dining out in Qatar are pretty limited outside Doha, but within the capital there has been a marked improvement in recent years. Chefs such as Guy Savoy, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Gordon Ramsey have all opened restaurants in the city, and the cosmopolitan mix of population means that almost every cuisine imaginable can be found, from Thai to American, Mexican and French.
Within the capital area, there is a wide range of quality dining options, many but not all of which are to be found in the 5-star hotels. One of the best places to eat is in Souq Waqif, where a variety of Middle Eastern-themed eateries vie for trade; Iraqi, Persian, Qatari, Turkish and Syrian are all on offer. For most expats and visitors, the most important meal of the week is Friday brunch, when hotels compete to lay out the widest and most varied choice of food. Booking ahead, at any of the five-star hotels, is essential.
The locally caught fish is a treat whether lowered genteelly to your plate with silver service or brought sizzling to the table on kebab sticks at a more local-style cafe. If the ubiquitous Gulf menu of rice, lamb and mezze (homos, chopped salads and other appetisers) is not to your taste, then there are plenty of Indian, Chinese and Thai options to suit all budgets. The fruit concoctions - such as lemon and mint, or avocado milkshake - are irresistible in summer.
• Traditional Levantine shawarma (spit-roasted meat shavings, served in pitta bread)
• Egyptian foul and taamiyeh (deep-fried balls of mashed chickpeas)
• Kabsa (a traditional dish of rice with chicken)
• Harees (a traditional Qatari wheat and meat pudding)
• Mashboos (slow-cooked mutton served with spiced rice)
Alcohol is widely available in most top-end restaurants and hotel bars in Doha although it is officially reserved for hotel guests or 'club members'. Drinking alcohol in public outside these establishments is prohibited. Meze (a selection of salads that often begin a meal) are an excellent option for vegetarians, and served in most Middle Eastern restaurants.
A service charge is often added to bills in hotels and most restaurants, otherwise 10% is appropriate. However in smaller establishments, tipping is not the custom, and over-generous tips from tourists often backfire through the subsequent cutting of wages.
Because Qatar is officially a ‘dry’ country, there are no speciality alcoholic drinks, but most Middle Eastern restaurants offer wonderful fresh juices. The best is a lemon-mint drink, made with orange blossom water, fresh mint leaves and lemon juice.