Cheap Eats Around Doha
Shabina, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find ten places where you can eat in Doha for four dollars or less.
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Ten Meals for QAR15 or less
Hands-down, one of the best parts about living in Qatar is the food. Oh, the choices that abound! The capital city of Doha is a microcosm of world cultures, and the cornucopia of cuisine options prove it. But unless you know where to look, all that chowing down can really burn a hole in your wallet. Here's a list of 10 places that have delicious meals for under QR15 - and won't make you sick!
1) Naurah Bakery, near Gulf Cinema Signal on Najma Street, 435-3532
I am eternally grateful to the Arab people for inventing one of the best foods on earth - bread filled with stuff (fatayar) and bread topped with stuff (manaish).
There are tons of eateries around Doha that offer brick oven-baked bread topped or filled with meat, cheese and zaatar. But when it comes to taste, Naurah is heads above the rest. Order a salty, juicy spinach cheese fatayar and a creamy, sweet lebnah with honey for QR4 each. If you're hankering for something simpler, try the zaatar pie for QR3. Nom nom nom.
Image by Omar Chatriwala
2) Aryaas, Al Meera Complex in Mansoura, 441-9661; B-Ring Road near Jaidah Flyover, 436-0097
Craving a vegetarian option but tired of salads? South Indian fare is definitely the way to go. Order a masala dosa - a rice-lentil crepe stuffed with (really) spiced potatos. The dosa is served with three types of chutney and a bowl of spicy broth called sambar, which you can lap up with a spoon.
If that QR8 dish doesn't leave you full, order yourself a mix chaat - a mishmash of samosa, chutney, crunchy sev and yogurt. Or, if your mouth is still on fire from that dosa, try a 5QR bowl of dahi wada, which are savory lentil balls smothered in yogurt and sprinkled with spices.
3) Thai Snack, on Nasser Street off of C-Ring Road, 432-9704
This restaurant has set the bar for Thai food in Doha, and though new places boasting the Asian fare have been popping up here and there, they don't hold a candle to Thai Snack.
I'm going to cheat a little and recommend ordering QR30 worth of food - but it can be divided between two people, so it's still a QR15 meal! Ask for the QR20 green chicken curry (spice alert), where chunks of chicken breast, cauliflower, eggplant and other assorted veggies float happily in a perfectly flavored coconut milk broth.
Or try the QR20 basil leaf beef - clusters of ground beef spiced with garlic and herbs - which the restaurant calls spicy but isn't, at least compared to the curry. Either dish goes well with a bowl of sticky rice for QR5. If you're flying solo, there's also always chicken or beef Pad Thai for QR15.
4) Al Sayad Restaurant, TV roundabout, 487-7357
By far one of the best deals around town is the roasted chicken. You know, the row upon row of gleaming poultry you see neatly lined up, turning gently, teasingly, around a spit.
These babies sell for QR 15 a pop and eateries usually throw in some bread and garlic sauce. Some places sell spiced chickens, but we're happy to gobble them plain. Our preferred method is to grab one and eat it while sitting on the Corniche (ask for napkins).
Image by Omar Chatriwala
5) Ras Al Shawah, end of Corniche near Sheraton Park, no working phone number!
Now that the heat has finally receded a bit, the waterfront is a picturesque place to go for some fresh air and exercise. It doesn't matter if you've worked up an appetite during the daytime or in the middle of the night - the food and juice stand at the end of the Corniche is open 24/7.
It may look tiny on the outside, but Ras Al Shawah must have a huge kitchen, because their menu goes on for several pages. We enjoyed the QR15 Lulu Special, a double-decker sandwich brimming with chicken, egg, lettuce, tomato and cheese, accompanied by French fries and somosas. I know this puts me over the limit, but finishing off your meal with a strong, but milky and sugary, tea called "karak" chai (now QR2 instead of QR1, because it's in a government-mandated fancier cup) is a must.
You could also order a few burgers at QR4 apiece and have money left over for a small juice or cocktail. Feeling adventurous? Try the avocado milkshake with honey and "shway" (a tiny bit) of sugar. Heaven! Ras Al Shawah has indoor seating, but most people order and eat on the water or in their cars.
Shabina S. Khatri is an American journalist freelancing in Doha, Qatar. She has previously written articles for Global Voices Online, Al Jazeera English, the Detroit Free Press and the Wall Street Journal. E-mail her at shabina.khatri[at]gmail[dot]com.