In the midst of the labyrinth of markets and restaurants in Souq Waqif, lies a hidden gem that will introduce you to distinct Qatari hospitality. A cafe with Qatari taste – that’s their tag line. And true enough, it was like getting a warm Qatari welcome in a traditional home right in the middle of a busy market.
NEW YEAR’S WELCOME
Being in the region of the world that doesn’t celebrate Christmas or New Year, it takes a lot of creativity and research in order not to spoil the fun. And since the festive celebration fell on a regular working day, many expats have less time to prepare for it.
And just like many others, we opted just to go outside to have dinner with the family. And being a planner that I am, I checked for places where I can bring them with some festivities and a place to eat that doesn’t really cost much, aside from the usual hotel or fancy restaurant.
So, we headed to SOUQ WAQIF which was also having their WINTER FESTIVAL during that time. The vibrant street shows and the colorful street parades were definitely a feast in the eyes… Jasmine was overjoyed seeing performers in their glowing costumes. There were a lot of people, many restaurants are packed, it was one big party place… less the NY countdown and the fireworks. Well, it’s definitely way better compared to getting stuck at home.
RIGHT AT THE BACK OF SOUQ WAQIF ARTS CENTER
Prepared with a location map, we found the recommended restaurant in no time. It was right at the back of Souq Waqif Arts Center which was more silent compared to the ones along the main street. Though there were still more guests inside during that time, it was still more comfortable and less stressful.
The ambiance was like an old house transformed into a cafe. Very homey and the interiors speak more about local culture and tradition. We don’t know what to order so their staff guided us through their menu. Better ask for their menu with photos since we struggled to understand local food until they showed us the one with images.
LOCAL FOOD SERVED IN STYLE
We had Machboos (mixed rice dish) which is a staple Qatari dish prepared and served across almost all Qatari households all year round. As with most of the traditional dishes, there are numerous variants to this dish. We tried their Machboos Dajaj which is machboos rice with roasted chicken and Biryani Rebyan which is a shrimp biryani for our main. We had the house recommendation, the traditional Shekshoka which is scrambled egg mixed with tomatoes and onion with special spices served with kuboos (Arabian pita bread) on the side. We also ordered cheese chappati and hot karak. Noticeably, the food was served nicely in both unique and traditional dinner wares. The serving was so generous that we really enjoyed our dinner that night.
SIDE NOTE: This same story line was being picked up by a local news paper which featured stories of how Filipino expats celebrated their New Year in Qatar.
As compliments from the restaurant owner, we came for breakfast and tried their other specialties. Though we came back the weekday after our first visit, our breakfast was even more exciting. They served us their breakfast set which consists of karak, balaleet, sheksoka, green beans, zaatar labna with a bread basket, and house chapatti. We also had fries and chicken nuggets for Jasmine plus additional egg and cheese paratha rolls. And of course, we didn’t miss the desserts. We had E’aqaili which is a cake with saffron cream and vanilla ice cream and pistachio shavings. We also got the instragrammable chocolate cake.
FIRST STORE IN SOUQ WAKRA
Prior to our visit to their Souq Waqif branch, we also had the chance to try their first store in Souq Wakra in November 2016. It has a beautiful beachfront view and is one of the few stores who’s serving breakfast in the area during that time.
EASAIR CAFE – Souq Waqif
Tel: +974 4444 5199