5 Bites of Doha, Qatar
After a stroll along the bustling Corniche and in between visits to the Museum of Islamic Art and a desert safari, stop and refuel at these five spots.
Breakfast: In Doha, the weekend starts on Thursday night, and Friday brunch is the highlight of the week. Head to one of the Western hotels, like the Grand Hyatt Doha, which has a mix of international and local options. Try salep, a hot, milky drink made of salep flour (the ground roots of a kind of orchid), which is a popular morning beverage.
Lunch: Head to the Souq Waqif, where dozens of stalls, cafés, and restaurants within the labyrinthine streets provide ample local lunch options. Eat the street food alfresco; after all, Souq Waqif means "standing market." Women clad in black jilbābs and niqābs serve homemade dishes from steaming pots at tables lined with local favorites like h’riss, a dish of chickenn with creamy, buttery wheat porridge, and margooga, a vegetable and meat stew poured onto flatbread. For dessert, vendors craft steaming hot crêpes with Nutella or local honey. While enjoying the food, people-watch; shop for clothing, spices, and handicrafts; or stroll the shops of the nearby bird market.
Tea: The popularity of karak chai (literally "strong tea") is almost a national obsession. Tea shops are ubiquitous, as are authentic tea-drinking and shisha (hookah, or water-pipe) experiences. Karak chai is flavored with evaporated milk and served scalding hot. Try Chapati and Karak in the Katara Cultural Village for tea with fresh, hot chapati halwa (a dense sweet made with chapati flour).
Dinner: Just past the Doha Clinic Hospital on Mergap Street is Turkish Central. Diners pass by the swirling meats and flaming brick oven where pita is freshly baked on the way to the upstairs dining room. The family-run place serves some of the best shawarma in town. Down the block are several options for dessert, including the Patisserie Suisse bakery chain and the London Bakery, with Syrian and Lebanese sweets and fresh baked breads.
Drinks: Though Qatar has more teashops than bars, it is possible to have a tipple or two. The Jazz Club at the Oryx Rotana serves an array of beers amid a nifty space-age décor. Martinis are served by bottle-flipping bartenders into two-part glasses, ensuring your neat drink stays chilled and undiluted. Plus, there is music every night that is a bit more R&B than jazz.