From high-end temples of gastronomy to homey places serving up traditional dishes, Doha’s food scene will both surprise and delight. With a growing roster of celebrity chefs (Nobu, Ramsay, Sandoval, Morimoto) and a thriving multicultural population, every palate and whim is catered to.
Head along the Corniche to the glittering towers of West Bay to explore Doha’s modern side. Surveying the city from its glamorous perch on its own private island (accessible by buggy from Four Seasons Hotel Doha’s lobby), this Qatar outpost of chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s signature restaurant isn’t just a place to be seen.
Chef Andrew Bozoki continues to evolve the menu while still keeping the famed Nobu flavor. International hits such as the miso black cod and tiny lobster tacos — the latter has spawned countless Instagram posts — are still beloved staples. But to shake things up, the team recently has introduced vegan-friendly styles of favorites, such as a cauliflower version of the famous rock shrimp.
If time is tight, opt for the 6 p.m. Kanpai happy hour to enjoy tapas-style dishes from the main menu alongside signature cocktails (the lychee martini is a good place to start).
The Museum of Islamic Art should be any new visitor’s first port of call in Doha, and so should renowned French chef Alain Ducasse’s first Middle Eastern eatery be atop the list for any serious foodie.
Housed in the stunning IM Pei-designed museum, the sleek dining room stands up to the stylish works of art in the surrounding galleries. Executive chef Damien Leroux’s menu draws on local produce as well as familiar European flavors — expect camel and foie gras, savory halloumi and marjoram pies, and kingfish with pomegranate.
As with any venture from the celebrated chef, every detail is thoughtfully executed. If time doesn’t allow for a full meal, indulge in coffee and pastries on a terrace boasting one of the best views in the city.
This stunning traditional market is the beating heart of the city. Qatar has been welcoming shoppers and traders for hundreds of years, and you can still experience remnants of this history here.
Even today, the souq is a working market flush with cafés, restaurants and spice shops lining labyrinthine alleys. Easy to spot thanks to the sacks of colorful produce stacked outside, this shopping mecca is the place to pick up saffron from Iran, preserved lemons from Morocco and turmeric from India.
The vendors can be characters and are happy to pack up your purchases for the long journey home. Be sure to check out the nearby stores selling fresh dates, tasty nuts and brightly wrapped candy by the kilo. The best time to visit (and for people-watching) is after sunset.
Bandar Aden Restaurant
Once you’ve conquered the souq, go just a few short steps away for a traditional meal at this quaint Yemeni eatery. Sit at a table or sprawl out on the floor as the locals do while the waiters lay out a plastic tarp to catch any spills.
Spiced chicken and lamb kebabs with rice, and hearty but well-balanced vegetable stews are favorites. They’re all sopped up with kite-sized discs of flatbread.
If you’re not sure what to order, the friendly (but sometimes rushed) staff will guide you in the right direction.
An insider’s tip: this venue’s desserts are underrated — the maasob (bananas, bread, honey, cheese, dates and cream) is a dream.
Shay Al Shoumous
Just on the edge of the souq sits this unassuming space serving up Qatari comfort food. But don’t let looks deceive you — the tiny breakfast restaurant is a magnet for locals, tourists and celebrities alike (actress Tilda Swinton stopped by for a bite earlier this year).
A mother of five, Shams Al Qassabi runs the restaurant like an extension of her home. You can expect to be personally welcomed by the owner while you’re savoring her classic cuisine. Popular dishes include balaleet (an omelet over sweetened vermicelli), regag (crepe-like bread with fillings like cheese, egg and honey) and baid shakshoka (scrambled eggs with tomato and cheese).
Chapati and Karak
In a city teeming with great Indian food, this no-frills option may seem like an unlikely choice. Located at Katara Cultural Village (a popular outdoor venue dotted with galleries, restaurants and even an amphitheater), the casual eatery offers great insight into Qatari life.
Sit at one of the outside tables and order the sweet and spicy karak (tea) and one of the freshly made chapatti (flatbreads) with cheese, honey or just plain.
Further afield but still within striking distance of the city, The Pearl Qatar is a man-made island home to luxury lodgings, boutiques and restaurants. But there is nothing artificial about Evergreen Organics, the first vegan café in Doha that happens to be situated within the sparkling new build.
Headliners include buckwheat pancakes with almond butter and cacao nibs, and a vegetable-filled Boss Burger with mushroom “bacon.”
A small, but well-curated shop carries healthy goodies for you to take home, too, such as housemade probiotic kimchi and packages of vegan cheese (including Gruyère and a convincing blue variation) made from cashews.
But unlike its housemates, Morimoto and Cut, the hotel’s Qatari restaurant took some time to find its feet, but it was worth the wait. The menu features modern takes on traditional dishes, such as a spiced-up and fragrant chicken machboos (chicken and rice) and a rich variation on vegetable thareed (stew).
After dinner, head out to the shisha terrace for a special vista of the city skyline. Check out the topiary shaped like falcons on the garden terrace while you’re there.