The most important tip I can give you on Qatar local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Qatar, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in
Qatar has seemingly endless options for food, much of it excellent. If you would like European cuisine in a fancy setting, visit a hotel like the Ramada or the Marriott, both of which also offer excellent sushi and the choice of having drinks with your meal (the only restaurants in town that can do this are in the major hotels), but at a steep price.
Authentic and delicious Indian and Pakistani food is found throughout the city, ranging from family-oriented places to very basic eateries catering to the Indian and Pakistani workers. You may attract some curious stares in the worker eateries, but the management will almost always be extremely welcoming, and the food is very inexpensive. For excellent and truly authentic Thai cuisine, try either Thai Twin (near the Doha Petrol Station and the computer souqs) or Thai Snacks (on Marqab St.), and be sure to sample the delicious spicy papaya salad at either location, but be careful, if you ask them to make it spicy, expect for it to burn.
Middle Eastern cuisine is everywhere as well, and in many formskebabs, breads, hummus, the list goes on. It can be purchased on the cheap from a take-out (many of which look quite unimpressive, but serve awesome food) or from a fancier place, like the wonderful Layali (near Chili’s in the ‘Cholesterol Corner’ area) that serves gourmet Lebanese food and has hookahs with flavored tobacco. Refined Persian cuisine is available for reasonable prices in the royally appointed Ras Al-Nasa`a Restaurant on the Corniche (don’t miss the cathedral-like rest rooms).
Don’t be afraid to venture into the Souqs looking for a meal; it will be a unique experience in an authentic setting, and although some of the places you see may look rundown, that’s just the area in general, and the food will be probably be quite good. Be advised that many of the restaurants in the Souqs (as well as the shops) shut down during the afternoon hours. If you are in a funny kind of mood, you can try a McArabiaMcDonald’s Middle Eastern sandwich available only in the region.
What to Drink in Qatar
The legal drinking/purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 21. Muslims are allowed to buy alcoholic beverages, but in general, not to consume it. There is one liquor store, Qatar Distribution Centre, in Doha.
To purchase things there, you must have a license that can only be obtained by having a written letter of permission from your employer. You can only get a license when you have obtained your residency permit and you will need to get a letter from your employer confirming your salary in addition to paying a deposit for QR1000.
The selection is good and is like any alcohol selection of a large supermarket in the West. Prices are reasonable although not cheap. Alcoholic beverages are available in the restaurants and bars of the major hotels, although they are pricey. As far as non-alcoholic drinks go, be sure to hit some of the Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants and juice stalls.
They whip some tasty and exotic fruit juice combinations that really hit the spot. It is forbidden to bring alcohol in to the country as a tourist; at Doha airport customs xray bags and will confiscate any bottles of alcoholic drink. They will issue a receipt valid for 2 weeks to reclaim the alcohol on exit from the country.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.