Eating out in Doha is a big deal, and the weekends often see crowded restaurants. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to spot executives at these places during lunch hours on weekdays either. A meal out is usually taken at hotel restaurants, instead of stand alone eateries. Most have bar offerings to accompany your food as well as upbeat music for a lively vibe.
Visiting Shangri-La’s authentic South American eatery means signing up for a night of foot-tapping music and fantastic food. Every evening except Mondays, a duo plays genuine Argentine folk music and meat lovers enjoy a fine selection of prime beef “prepared in the time-honored traditions of the Argentine grill.” Complementing the meal is an equally impressive selection of South American wines and service by a predominantly Argentinian staff. Steaks served here include the certified Argentine Kobe and certified Argentine Angus. Fuego also serves a good portion of chargrilled prawns, sea bass, roasted chicken, spiced lamb, chorizo meatballs and country-style vegetables for the mains.
Steaks start from QAR 170 ($46) and main courses start from QAR 90 ($25). Open daily 5:30 PM – 12:00 AM; tel: +974 4429 5295; shangri-la.com
Rodizio style means a Brazilian steakhouse. Here, customers pay a fixed price on entering the eatery, and waiters bring different foods to the table until the diner has had his or her fill. It is basically an all-you-can-eat buffet, but backwards, where the food comes to you. At Ipanema, the Brazilian restaurant at Marriott Marquis City Centre Doha, waiters shave 15 types of roast meat from skewers onto your plate and continue to feed you until you flip over the green coaster on your table to show red, an indication that you’ve had enough. There is also a buffet that offers 30 items including gourmet salads, vegetables, cheeses and Brazilian side dishes. The ambience is lively with bright carnival colors, friendly waiters and a live band that only adds to the sense of revelry here. It is best to book a table before you arrive.
An all-inclusive Rodizio buffet starts from QAR 299 ($82). Open daily 5:30 PM – 11:30 PM, except Friday 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM; tel: +974 4419 5000;
3. La Mer Bistro
This restaurant on the 23rd floor of the Ritz-Carlton is a typical French bistro. The hotel describes the space as a “casual yet elegant social place,” and rightfully so. To begin with, the entrance welcomes you with teasing, attention-getting sign: “Snob Free, Casual Restaurant.” A walk inside reveals a breathtaking panoramic view of Doha’s skyline out the floor-to-ceiling windows. Though limited, the one-page menu has an impressive selection of typical French dishes. These include the foie gras mousse on brioche toast, buckwheat crepes with gruyere cheese, mushroom and spinach, cod fish with vegetable ratatouille, and duck leg confit to name a few. Don’t leave without trying the dark chocolate fondant served with pistachio ice cream.
The appetizers start from QAR 40 ($11) and main courses from QAR 80 ($22). Open Saturday-Wednesday 5:00 PM – 12:00 AM, Thursday-Friday until 1:00 AM; tel: +974 4484 8000; ritzcarlton.com
This restaurant at City Centre Rotana promises authentic Arabic dishes that stay true to Lebanese kitchens, all while “respecting the Oriental and Levant culinary traditions.” For foreigners, it is a true experience of Arabic dining, one that is as good as visiting a local’s home. Most of the cold mezze and raw items are presented on wooden platters with serving tongs, cooked meat is garnished with roast vegetables, and most hummus, salads and other accompaniments are generous helpings. The “wide selection of sweets from the cities of Beirut and Tripoli” has its own display island surrounded by big, cozy cushions. The dimly lit fine-dining restaurant has an elegant feel with details such as velvet upholstery, cascading sheer drapes enveloping chandeliers above the tables, and carpets with typical Arabic designs.
The cold mezze starts from QAR 30 ($8) and grills start from QAR 80 ($22). Open daily 7:00 PM – 1:00 AM except Friday 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM, tel: +974 4445 8888; rotana.com/citycentrerotanadoha
The Brazilian bar and lounge at Crowne Plaza is an ideal place for casual meetings with colleagues over drinks and finger foods. With seating for 84 guests indoors and 32 outdoors, it can be a busy spot on weekends. Though the menu here may not be fancy with fusion foods or experimental twists, the flavors are definitely true to their roots. For example, the chicken quesadilla with spicy pineapple is a smooth balance between fiery and sweet sensations. The golden fried shrimp tossed in cashew nuts, mango and coriander relish is equally delightful for the taste buds. Even the fish and chips are done right. Still, the most interesting of all is the Misturado platter that wraps chicken in turkey bacon, and tops grilled fish with pistachio orange reduction. The best time to visit is early evening when the bar isn’t quite full yet.
Appetizers start from QAR 40 ($11). Open daily 12:30 PM – 2:00 AM; tel: +974 4408 7777; ihg.com/crowneplaza
Parisa means ‘angel’ in Persian. As the name suggests, the restaurant in Sharq Village (by the Ritz-Carlton) “invites diners to enjoy an exciting style of contemporary Persian delights at its finest.” The menu has a good selection of kebabs such as lamb tenderloin marinated overnight in yogurt, charcoal grilled gulf hammer fillet marinated in lime and golden saffron, and Persian-style marinated jumbo shrimp finished with saffron butter, to name a few. These are served on mini live grills that are placed directly on the table. Guests may choose from any one of three set menus that offer cold and hot appetizers, a main course and a dessert. Each main course is served with three kinds of rice. The food is best enjoyed at Parisa’s terrace that overlooks the sea. Indoors the Persian theme continues in the décor and in the artwork and imagery.
The set menu starts from QAR 290 ($80) per person. Open daily 6:30 PM – 11:00 PM except Friday-Saturday 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM; tel: +974 4425 6666;
7. The Cellar
If it’s Mediterranean tapas you’re looking for, The Cellar at Oryx Rotana has an extensive menu, including nine vegetarian dishes, in addition to the soups. Most of these can be ordered “upsized”: bruschetta, cheese croquettes, assorted roasted vegetables and green asparagus tempura to name a few. The meat selection includes kebabs, Angus beef burgers, lamb chops, braised beef cheeks and the simple chicken breast with chili salsa. The mussel pot, paella, creamy rice with squid ink and oven baked crab are some of the seafood tapas. This simplicity in the food adds to an equally laid-back vibe with great music and a good selection of wines to go with every dish.
Vegetarian tapas start from QAR 40 ($11), seafood from QAR 50 ($14) and meat tapas from QAR 45 ($12). Open Saturday-Wednesday 12 PM – 12 AM, Thursday-Friday until 2:00 AM; tel: +974 4402 3333; rotana.com