plates of mezze

Take you pick from the many traditional mezze offerings in Doha. (Photo: Marriott International)

Eat + Drink

5 Must-Eat Doha Foods and Where to Try Them

With its glittering skyline and constant push toward renovation, Doha may appear as a city exclusively focused on the future. But look a little under the surface, and you’ll find that Qatar’s capital hides some deep roots and a fierce pride for its Arabic culture.

This traditional side of Doha is best found in the city’s must-try dishes, which show the Middle Eastern influences that lie at Doha’s very core.


To really understand a place, you need to go back to its roots, and Doha is no exception. Skyscrapers may have stolen the show from tents when it comes to living quarters, but in terms of nourishment, Bedouin customs are very much alive. Enter zarb.

couple on sand enjoying zarb experience
The Zarb experience is a must-try. (Photo: Marriott International)

Charged with historical significance, this method of cooking highlights the traditional style of cooking meats. Chicken and beef are grilled by digging a pit in the sand, insulating it and using coal to achieve that perfect point of charcoal cooking.

Chef Ammar at the Sharq Village & Spa, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, has perfected this ancient meal and turned it into the Zarb dining experience at the hotel’s beach. Dinner with Chef Ammar is an unmissable event, as the Arabic-specialty chef is known for telling stories about each dish as he recreates authentic recipes.


What comes to mind when you think about Middle Eastern cuisine? If your answer is hummus, baba ganoush and seasoned olives, you are on the right path.

woman eating mezze at table
You’re sure to find a favorite among the delicious mezze plates. (Photo: Marriott International)

Mezze, as the assortment of cold and hot appetizers is usually known, is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine. Originally from Lebanon, this eating style dates back 1,800 years, when as many as 60 to 70 small portions would be served at once. Today it is one of the most popular meals in Doha, an excuse for socializing and bringing people together to share a plate of good, honest food.

Al Sultan Brahim at The St. Regis Doha is a great place to sample mezze. This specialty Lebanese restaurant, lead by the personable Chef Wael Jaafar, offers a bespoke dining experience focusing on fresh ingredients and a modern take on Middle Eastern traditional cuisine.

Um Ali

At its center, Middle Eastern cuisine looks toward one place in particular — home. From appetizers to dessert, every meal seeks to reproduce the feeling of sitting at a table, surrounded by family.

um ali dessert
Satisfy your sweet tooth with um ali. (Photo: Marriott International)

Um Ali (sometimes spelled Om Ali) echoes this sentiment. This traditional Egyptian dessert, a national pride, literally translates to “Ali’s mother” and can be traced back to Egypt’s Ayyubid times. It is typically made of pastry combined with pistachios, coconut flakes, raisins and sugar. Milk is then poured over it, cinnamon is sprinkled and the mixture is baked in the oven until golden brown.

As with many traditional dishes, every chef has their own version of Um Ali, and in Doha, none is superior to Chef Ahmed Al Shahat’s version at the Sheraton Grand Doha. Locals and visitors alike rave about the dessert, which has quickly become a Doha favorite.


Deep inside Souq Wakif, the traditional Arabic market at the heart of Doha, hides Parisa. With a discreet sign and unassuming entrance, it’s a “blink and you missed it” spot. Don’t let that fool you: Inside, this Persian restaurant is a dazzling sight, covered in colorful tile and arranged around an opulent fountain.

Parisa Restaurant in Doha
Stop by Parisa to try the khoresht when you visit Souq Wakif. (Photo: Marriott International)

The menu is as beguiling as the decor, and one dish rises above all: khoresht. This traditional Persian dish, hearty and satisfying, has a version for every taste. From the meat-lover’s version, loaded with chicken and lamb, to the vegetarian-friendly takes (eggplant is a favorite ingredient), Parisa has them all.

Liked what you’ve had? Take the chance to further explore Souq Wakif. From spices to bread, there is no better place to find everything you need to recreate Doha’s best dishes at home.


For those days when a sit-down meal is too time-consuming, shawarmas will be there to sustain you. This Turkish staple has become one of Doha’s favorite street foods, and chances are you will stumble upon a shawarma stand more than once during your city wanders.

Doha is not a city that goes to bed early, so if your wanderings happen at the wee hours of the night, Marmara Istanbul is ready to welcome you. This beloved Turkish chain has several outposts around town, and they stay open late (some don’t close at all).

The appeal of a Marmara shawarma exceeds its availability, though: Its thick bread and generous servings of garlic sauce will have you coming back for more.