Winner Best Budget Turkey Central Nothing can keep the crowds away from this Doha establishment. The selection of nearly two dozen Turkish mezzes are legendary but people go there for the grilled meats that are jam-packed with flavour. It’s not uncommon to attend a dinner party with Turkey Central shawarmas and spatchcock chicken served on fine china and have it disappear in minutes. Al Nasr Street (4443 2927).
Highly commended Albisana Shawarma and Kunafa The concept for these two joined eateries couldn’t be more simple – you start your meal with a shawarma and end with kunafa. The clean premises and simple décor make this a comfortable pit stop in Katara. Although one pays near-gourmet prices for the shawarma, it’s still a budget offering and the dessert is so good it satisfies any sweet tooth’s cravings. Katara Cultural Village, West Bay Lagoon (4408 1200 / 4408 1400).
Bharath (Vasanth Bhavan) This cosy vegetarian Indian restaurant is always packed to bursting with natives from India enjoying a family meal out. The menu is split into two – dishes from the north and south, and everything turns out to be delicious. It’s authentic, not so oily and totally unpretentious. Plus it’s as cheap as chapatti. B Ring Road, next to the Jaidah flyover (4443 2211).
Habesha This little gem serves mega portions of traditional Ethiopian injera bread with a wide array of other dishes on offer. The tibs (meat cooked in spices) and beye ayinetu (vegetable medley) are crowd pleasers, and for the more adventurous try the kitifo – Ethiopia’s answer to beef tartare. Everything is made to order, plus two people can dine like royalty for under QR100. Ibn Seena Street, Al Muntazah (6679 0019).
Ric’s Kountry Kitchen The only time the word ‘diet’ is uttered here is if you’re ordering diet soda. But that’s the way we like it at this all American diner. The all-day breakfast menu goes on for pages, Tex Mex specialties are everything you want, alongside classic American desserts. Expect to wait for a table on weekends but it’s worth it for the sheer gluttonous joy of it all. Ras Abu Abboud Street (4443 7846).
Thai Smile It doesn’t get any more authentic than this. Although there are two branches, the outlet in Umm Ghuwaylina is our favourite. Forget the ambience, however, because we’re here for authentic, freshly prepared food, particularly the crispy fish ‘yamplaafu’ mango salad and a mean green curry. Also try the one-dish meals of perfectly portioned rice and a main. Umm Ghuwaylina (4441 52222).
Thai Snack This is a veritable Doha institution where almost everyone has been at one time. With funky albeit odd décor, the venue also has indoor and outdoor seating, and what’s on offer is a dazzling range of authentic Thai food which, for the most part, is very tasty. Al Nasr Street (4432 9704).