An article about dining in Qatar, cafes and restaurants in Doha, where to eat in the capital, what prices to expect, whether to tip, whether cards are accepted, and whether alcohol is sold. These and many other questions will be answered in this article. I will recommend some eateries and give advice to tourists on how not to spend a fortune on food.
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Table of Contents
Dining in Qatar: general information
- The catering in Qatar, particularly in Doha, is well-developed, while outside Doha it is simply non-existent. If you plan to visit Qatar’s attractions outside Doha, bring your own food with you.
- As a Muslim country, alcohol is completely prohibited in Qatar. In 95% of eateries, it is simply not available, and it is only included in the menu at expensive restaurants for non-Muslim foreigners, where prices are very high. A glass of beer will cost around $15. In such places, a modest dinner for two will start at $100.
- Most eateries are open from early morning.
Good to know:Despite the generally high prices in cafes and restaurants in Doha, it is possible to eat here on a budget. There are eateries to suit every budget.
I think it goes without saying that the most common cuisines in Qatar are Arabic, Indian, Lebanese, Iranian, Pakistani, and Palestinian. In other words, all the cuisines of the Middle East and Persian Gulf countries, as well as some Asian countries.
Restaurants in Doha: where to eat as a tourist?
Next, I will tell you what eateries you can find in Qatar, their features, prices for lunch for two, and portion sizes.
These are good and the most expensive eateries in Qatar. Here menu is closest to European cuisine, with familiar service and guests eating with a cultery, not their hands :). In these places alcohol is usually available on the menu.
These restaurants are mainly located in good chain hotels such as Hilton, Raffles, Ritz, and so on, and there are more of them in new areas of Doha such as West Bay, Pearl, and Lusail. These are modern areas with skyscrapers.
- The bill for one person in such restaurants averages QAR 200 ($70).
Here are a few restaurants that are well-known. I want to point out that these are not luxurious high-end restaurants with dress code. These are regular restaurants where you can enjoy delicious food at a high price, where the atmosphere is cozy and the service is good:
- Jamavar Doha: 25.31863219378065, 51.536862574528655 (serves many Indian dishes)
- Lucia’s Doha: 25.317751123960253, 51.533731384413095 (Mediterranean cuisine)
- Olive Oil, a nice European restaurant located in the Rotana City Centre hotel: 25.322820, 51.532879
Interesting fact:Tourists rarely visit these restaurants. Those who come on a vacation package with all-inclusive 5-star options do not need these restaurants, as their hotel provides similar food. Independent tourists prefer cheaper options. These restaurants are more geared towards European expats who live and work in Doha, have a good salary and positions, foreign businessmen, and of course, wealthy locals.
Average-priced restaurants in Doha
These are the most popular types of restaurants among tourists. There are many of them, with completely different cuisines, from steak houses and Mediterranean cuisine to local or Polynesian. Alcohol is usually not on the menu.
The average bill for lunch for two at these eateries is around $40-50. One dish costs about $15.
Where to find such eateries:
- There are many of them in the Souq Waqif market. This is not only a place where you can eat delicious food, but it is also one of the main attractions of Doha and a shopping center. You should only buy souvenirs here.
- And in any large shopping center, there are dozens of such eateries. The largest shopping centers in Doha are Mall of Qatar, Villaggio, and City Center Doha Mall.
- There is information about each of them, where they are located, their coordinates, in the article about markets and shops in Doha, all about shopping.
Someone might say $50 for lunch for two is too expensive, and wonder if there’s anything cheaper. There certainly is, and I go to those places myself. Don’t forget that there are a lot of migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran in Qatar, and they also need a place to eat.
In Doha, there are many cheap cafes run by these folks. Some are sketchy, while others are quite civilized and decent. You’ll know it as soon as you step in. If you like what you see, stay; if not, leave.
- These places always serve generous-sized portions.
- The main dish can be shared by two people.
- Keep in mind that everything here is quite spicy, as the cuisine is mainly Indian-Pakistani.
- A satisfying lunch for two: up to $15.
Good to know:In the new districts of Doha, such as West Bay, there are few such eateries. There are many of them in the old historical part of the city, near the Gold Market and within 1 km of the Souq Waqif.
Personally, I always eat at Mr. Grill (owned by Iranians, but not sure about it), simply because it’s close to where I live and they always serve delicious food, and most importantly, it’s quite clean:: 25.281415082472016, 51.540103122638534
Dining in Qatar: fast food
Of course, how can we do without fast food? There’s everything we’re used to:
- Throughout Doha, in all major shopping malls, you can find restaurants such as McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King. You can get a good standard meal for one person for $10.
- There are places with classic shawarma for 5-7$.
- In parks and recreational areas, there are many food trucks selling fast food: burgers, french fries, and so on. Burger + fries + coke = $7. You won’t go hungry in Doha.
- And in any large chain supermarket, there are sections with ready-made food that you can buy to go. From salads to grilled chicken. The best options is found in Carrefour supermarkets, although it’s also the most expensive in my opinion.
All about tipping and paying by card
Here’s a brief overview, as there isn’t much to say.
- Tips are not included in the bill anywhere. There are some restaurants that include a service charge of 10% in the bill, but they are rare, and it will be noted in the menu. Therefore, if there is no service charge, tips are welcome.
- If you don’t leave a tip, no one will look at you badly.
- In cheap Pakistani eateries, I always pay strictly by the bill, leaving a tip only in mid-range and higher-priced restaurants.
- Almost everywhere you can pay by card. The exceptions are again cheap eateries and shawarma points. Some places have a card terminal, some don’t, but it’s better to have cash riyals. Cards are accepted everywhere in normal restaurants.
I won’t give many tips, but I can clarify some points:
- Keep in mind that there are very few apartments with private kitchen in Doha. Such apartments are only available in new areas and are very expensive. So you’ll most likely be staring with just a kettle.
- All about Qatar’s hotels and apartments, features, and what tourists can expect.
- As I mentioned earlier, alcohol is only available in the most expensive restaurants in Doha. In all other eateries, you’ll be drinking sweet tea with milk or coffee with cardamom. 🙂
- Don’t forget that there are no pork dishes in Qatar at all.
- There are even more prohibitions in Qatar that you will definitely encounter.
- Many locals eat with their hands, even rice, meat, and sauce. You can see this in any eatery, but you will definitely find it in cheap roadside eateries. They don’t know what a fork or spoon is, and sometimes you have to ask for it, as the food may be served without cutlery. But usually, when they see a European, they bring the whole set.
- From a hygiene and sanitation standpoint, everything is ambiguous. The cheaper the eatery, the worse the sanitation. Well, at least it’s common practice everywhere to take money with their hands and immediately wrap your shawarma. It’s better to bring your own stomach upset pills. But on the other hand, there’s nothing critical like in India here.
- In general, Muslims are quite clean. But if you are particularly fastidious, you should go to cafes in the mid-price range.
- In any case, you are required to have insurance as healthcare in Qatar is very expensive, even a simple doctor’s visit costs a fortune, and most pills are prescription-only. Find out about extended insurance coverage in Qatar for tourists.
- Little time, but want to learn more about the history of Qatar and try traditional dishes? The best way to do this is on a tour from local guides, which is held in the Souk Waqif.
In conclusion, there are restaurants in Doha for every taste and budget. The catering in Qatar is very well-developed overall. Yes, there are some peculiarities, for example, many spicy dishes, no pork and alcohol.
But no tourist has ever gone hungry. And if the local cuisine is not suitable for you, there are always classic fast food and restaurants in Doha with Mediterranean cuisine where you can order a regular carbonara pasta.
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Qatar
- Flights at the best prices with discounts
- Car rental: Discovery Cars (cheaper – only by bus)
- Hotels and apartments in Doha: Booking
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card with internet in Montenegro