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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Nine places to eat in Qatar for under QR25


Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

For the uninitiated, Qatar can be an expensive place to eat.

But hotel brunches and casual dining restaurants aside, there are actually a lot of places around town to grab an affordable – and delicious – meal.

To come up with the list below, I was restricted to spending no more than QR25 per person at any given restaurant. I turned to the internet for help and two Facebook groups in particular had many great suggestions – When, Where and How in Doha and Doha Foodies.

The restaurants listed are no-frills and are supposed to have regular hours, but can be “flexible” with this at times.

That said, they are all clean, efficiently-run and very reasonably-priced.

Here are nine places to eat in Qatar for under QR25:

Al Banuche Cafeteria

When asking around about cheap eats, I was repeatedly told about a famous “egg omelet roll”- a mix of breakfast burrito with an Indian and Arabic twist – at this Old Airport restaurant.

Due to lack of parking outside and space inside (the eatery is tiny with just four small tables), I was advised to call in my order 10 minutes before arrival and then pull up in front of Al Banuche to receive my food.

Omelet at Al Banuche Cafeteria
Omelet at Al Banuche Cafeteria

I did just that and within 12 minutes, I was eating a delicious concoction of omelet wrapped in pita bread, and flavored with tomato, fresh coriander, a touch of mayo and just a hint of green chili pepper. All for QR3.

Al Banuche Cafeteria is open daily from 5:30am to 1:00am and can be reached at 4462 2026. It’s cash only and located just off Old Airport Road opposite the Dodge showroom in Al Hilal.

MRA Restaurant and Bakery

With two locations in Doha and one more coming up, MRA Restaurant and Bakery is becoming a popular place eat quality Indian food at low prices.

I tried their chicken biryani for QR19 and the meat was perfectly grilled and spicy. The accompanying chutneys were absolutely divine – pickled carrots and beets and a gorgeously unique coconut-mint-green number that I could eat every day.

Biryani at MRA Restaurant and Bakery
Biryani at MRA Restaurant and Bakery

For a typical South Indian breakfast, try the masala dosa for QR9, a rice pancake with a mixed vegetable curry sauce called “sambar.”

There are also some weekday buffets:

  • Markhiya branch (Sunday-Wednesday from noon to 3:30pm): QR29/person for an array of mouth-watering curries and sides, salads and desserts.
  • Salwa branch: A smaller buffet available on weekdays for QR15; and
  • Old Alghanim branch: A small buffet for QR20/person.

Lastly, check out their fabulous bakery and their convenient 24/hour chai karak + chapati kiosk.

Bonus: The waiters are some of the friendliest and most professional staff I have come across in a long time. The restaurant itself is spotless clean and spacious with comfy booths; ideal for families.

The restaurant is open daily from 6am to 11:30am for breakfast; 11:30am to 3:30pm for lunch and 3:30pm to 2am for dinner. It’s closed Fridays from 11:30am to 12:30pm for prayer. The Markhiya branch can be reached at 4442-2074.

Turkey Central

Let’s face it. Turkey Central, run by the fabulous Kizilkaya family since 1988, is an institution when it comes to excellent-quality Turkish food at an extremely reasonable price.

Their servings are generous as well, so I am including their delectable mixed grill for QR30 in this piece as it’s definitely enough for two children. The food is even better if you add a delicious serving of hummus or tabbouli at QR9 each (served with piping hot sesame bread).

Turkey Central Shawarma
Turkey Central Shawarma

Though if you really want to stick to the QR20 or under per person, grab one of their scrumptious chicken or beef shawarma sandwiches at QR7 for a small or QR13 for a large (the large one is ginormous!)

There’s also a half-portion grilled chicken meal for QR15.

All the “meals” come with red onion and chili pepper salad (with a little kick to it).

TC is located on Al Mirqab Al Jadeed St. and is open daily from 11:00am to 12:30am except for Fridays, when it’s open from noon to 12:30am. It’s cash only and offers delivery anywhere in Doha, but a minimum QR120 order is required. It can be reached at 4443-2927.

Amjad Thai Snack

Perhaps not a secret to Thai food fans, but Thai Snack is hands-down the best, most authentic, bang-for-your-buck (so to speak) Thai food restaurant in Doha.

Their menu is simple and reasonable. If you are looking for something light, I loved the refreshing (and spicy) papaya salad with its punch of lemon juice, which is QR20.

Pad Thai at Thai Snack
Pad Thai at Thai Snack

There’s Pad Thai that, for QR20, includes a generous serving of Thai noodles, grilled chicken or beef and peanut crumbs, topped with green onions.

There are also vegetarian options, such as the red curry with vegetables for QR25 (or with beef/chicken for the same price).

Their green curries are also fantastic, but they are spicy. Or if you would like something less spicy, go for Thai Snack’s stir-fried beef with broccoli at QR25 or the chicken cashew nut at QR25.

Thai Snack is located on Al Mirqab Al Jadeed St. and open daily from 10am to 2:30pm and 5pm to 10:30pm except for Fridays, when it’s open from noon to 2:30pm and 5pm to 10:30pm. Thai Snack can be reached at 4432-9704 and credit cards are accepted.

Al Jamal Pakistani restaurant

Blink and you might miss it, but Al Jamal restaurant is a diamond in the rough in the back streets of the older part of Doha.

There are no menus; the specials for the day are simply listed on a whiteboard and when they run out of something, they add another option.

Al Jamal restaurant
Chicken biryani at Al Jamal restaurant

With help from Mr. Jamal’s friendly son, I ordered the richly tasty chicken korma for QR20, which is served with a huge option of fresh, piping hot tandoori roti bread. So delicious.

A half-portion of chicken biryani (it’s huge) is QR15. Be sure to ask for raita (coriander yogurt sauce) to accompany your meal, it’s delicious for bread-dipping. Parking is very tight in front but I found a space just down the road.

Jamal restaurant is located on Abdulla Bin Kaab Street in Bin Mahmoud. It’s open from noon to 3pm and 7pm to 11pm daily, except for Fridays, when it’s open from 1pm to 3pm and 7pm to 11pm. Whatsapp inquiries only are accepted  at 7717-5444.

Afghan Brothers

Another gem of a place to eat is Afghan Brothers/Afghan House. Their grilled chicken at QR25 is perfectly chargrilled and generously served on a bed of buhkari rice, along with a side salad and tasty broth.

The restaurant are also well-known for their chicken mandy and their “chicken machine,” pronounced “makeena,” which are each QR20.

Chicken at Afghan Brothers
Chicken at Afghan Brothers

The menu also has beef, fish and lamb choices, such as a tasty Australian beef “machboos” for QR25.

The original Afghan Brothers restaurant is in Al Rayaan near the Saudi Market, and there are six other branches throughout Doha to tempt your palate and ease your wallet woes. Find more information about them on Zomato.

The Mirqab Al Jadeed branch is open daily from 11am to 1am. It can be reached at 4488-8556.

Al Huda Lebanese Bakery

I admit it. I might have had one too many dry falafel over the years, especially having lived for several years in Cairo.

However, the mini falafel sandwiches at Al Huda Bakery quickly changed my mind about these chickpea patties – they are scrumptiously prepared on a bed of fresh mint, tomato and homemade sesame “tahina” sauce, all for QR3 each!

Falafal at Huda Bakery
Falafal at Huda Bakery

Two or three of these bites are enough to feed a hungry adult.

Huda’s shawarma sandwiches at QR18 are also delicious; served with a generous portion of crispy fries and Lebanese pickles.

The menu at Huda Bakery is extensive, creative and extremely reasonably-priced. They have tasty Lebanese pizzas called manakish as well as traditional Italian-style pizzas, in addition to a huge array of mezze choices.

The restaurant area is clean and family-friendly, and the bakery/deli have take-out and delivery options as well. It’s located in the Al Emadi Building on Salwa Road and open from 6am to midnight from Saturday to Wednesday; 6am to 2am on Thursdays and 6am to 11:30am, 12:30pm to 2am on Fridays.

The Huda Express in Thumama is open 24/7 and Huda Express Umm Al Sanim is open from 6am to midnight daily. Huda can be reached at 4469-3214.

Yemen Hadhramaut restaurant

For quick, cheap and delicious Yemeni food, check out Yemen Hadhramaut. Their traditional Yemeni “salta” is a delectable mildly-spicy stew made with ground beef, tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, okra and potatoes and is QR25.

It’s served in a traditional clay pot and comes out bubbling hot, accompanied by fresh Yemeni flat bread that’s the size of a large beach ball. Kids will love it.

Salta at Yemen Hadhramaut restaurant
Salta at Yemen Hadhramaut restaurant

The salta is served with a simple, tasty broth and is accompanied by a fresh tomato and coriander salsa called “sahawig” that reminds me a bit of a Mexican salsa with a spicy kick.

And lastly, their Yemeni tea called “adani” is a gorgeous mint-infused caffeine boost and costs QR1.

The restaurant is spotlessly clean and has traditional seating on the floor or at tables, as well as a family area. Take-out is also available.

The restaurant is located in Al Rayyan on Al Aseel St., in front of the Civilian Monuments. It’s open daily from 11:30am to 11:30pm and can be reached at 4441-5002/3366-6900/3355-5100.

Tofu House Korean restaurant

Tofu House gets very busy during peak eating hours (noon to 2pm and 6 to 8 pm), so arrive early or late if possible. The restaurant is quite small, but clean and with a pleasant, modern look.

Service is quick thanks to a “dumbwaiter,” a device that allows the kitchen staff to deliver the hot food up to the waiting servers through an efficient pulley system.

Tofu House ramuyun
Tofu House ramayun

The restaurant’s ramayun is a huge, piping hot bowl of mildly-spicy ramen goodness for only QR15. The gimbap, a Korean-style sushi, is also a deal at QR15.

I have to mention their sweet and crispy chicken or the garlic chicken, each QR35, because they are both so tasty. And spicy! Although the chicken costs a bit more than the QR25 limit, these dishes can easily be shared.

Finally, the Korean dumplings are QR15 and seem to be a hit with kids.

Tofu House is located on Al Jazeera St. in Bin Mahmoud and is open daily from 11am to 10pm. Takeaway is available and the restaurant can be reached at 4435-9678.

Which affordable restaurants would you recommend? Thoughts?

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