Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar
From chocolate fondues, lava cakes and chocolate spring rolls to toasted baguettes topped with dark chocolate, sea salt and olive oil – and even just straight up plates of truffles – anyone with even the slightest sweet tooth will feel like Charlie Bucket here. But don’t be fooled by this café's fervent enthusiasm for cocoa, there are plenty of chocolate-free salads, sandwiches and light bites on the menu, too.
Open daily 6am-1am. Porto Arabia, 1 La Croisette (4495 3876 ext. 1311).
The mezze list here is quite possibly one of the longest we have ever encountered. From moutabal and muhammara to labneh bi toum and lahmeh bi ajine (and everything else in between), it’s the perfect pit-stop for a small snack or a huge feast. Order multiple plates to share – with a few grills and salads thrown in – relax outside and watch the world go by.
Open Sat-Thu noon-11pm, Fri 2pm-11.30pm. 30 La Croisette, Porto Arabia (4002 8411).
Tuck into a quinoa panaché or cranberry almond salad and feel totally cultured as you try and work out what that psychedelic, geometric sculpture in the corner of the gallery (in the same venue) is “saying” to you. Browse paintings, photographs and more from a range of emerging and established artists, or relax over a healthy breakfast and flip through a magazine. This place is all about the laid-back, leisurely vibe.
Open Sun-Thu 10am-7pm. Parcel 17-30 La Croisette, Porto Arabia (4002 7437).
Often, there’s nothing better than fresh seafood eaten al fresco (or inside beside a huge aquarium, if it’s mid-August). Named after the old fishing spot in Old Doha, this new spot goes back to basics with locally-sourced ingredients, a salad bar, and a selection of fresh seafood to have grilled, fried or baked.
Open Sat-Wed 11am-11.30pm, Thu-Fri 11am-1am. 1 La Croisette, Porto Arabia (4441 2001).
This Italian eatery is a favourite with families, and for good reason. Kids receive play packs and children’s menus (and will be beside themselves over the ice cream sundaes), while adults can indulge in fantastic pizza and pasta dishes. A failsafe option if you’ve got little ones in tow.
Open Sun-Thu 10am-midnight, Fri-Sat 10am-1am. Parcel 10 (6690 1777).
Debs W Remman
Step out of The Pearl and into the heart of Beirut. This Lebanese restaurant's eclectic décor is the closest thing you’ll find to Mar Mikhael without hopping on a flight, and the food is fresh, vibrant and authentic. The mezze and salads are particularly good, but we’d recommend trying the comforting baked potato with awarma or the slow-cooked vine leaves stuffed with lamb shoulder.
Open daily 9am-1am. Plaza Andalucia Building B07, Medina Centrale (4456 8374).
Emporio Armani Caffe
This stylish café has a loyal following of the trendy and well-heeled. You’d expect an outlet from the likes of Georgio Armani to have big focus on style, and so it does, but not at the expense of substance. If you can’t find something you like from the long list of (very good) burgers, pizzas and classic Italian salads, you’ll find, at the very least, excellent coffee and pastries. Order a basket of assorted croissants and people-watch over your perfectly-frothed cappuccino.
Open Mon-Sun 10am-11.30pm. Porto Arabia, Parcel 4 (4413 5306).
Fish and chips connoisseurs (or just Brits) will be more than familiar with this decades-old institution. You might find that portions can be on the small side, especially if you’re used to the gargantuan helpings back in Blighty, but there’s no denying that this chain remains one of the best places to find a quality plate of the seaside favourite.
Open Sun-Wed noon-10pm, Thu and Sat noon-11pm, Fri 1pm-11pm. Medina Centrale (4468 3231).
You’ll find a more casual affair at Junko. Its simple little bamboo-strewn dining room is as authentic as the food; on the menu alongside the usual sushi, sashimi and udon noodle soups, you’ll find lesser-known traditional Japanese dishes like Chawanmushi (steamed savoury egg custard with various veg or seafood) and Inari (deep-fried tofu filled with sushi rice). Finish with a cone of soft chocolate matcha ice cream.
Open daily noon-midnight. Porto Arabia 178, 12 La Croisette (4002 8294).
Sophisticated and imperial, Krane (formely Tsé Yang) is hung with majestic, tasselled chandeliers, bevelled wall mirrors and geometric wrought-iron lattice. We’d recommend opting for one of the set menus, or tucking into a Peking duck feast before indulging in the black sesame ice cream.
Open daily noon-midnight. 6 La Croisette (5539 5025).
Hailing from the trend-setting streets of NYC, Megu’s modern Japanese fare is something of a revelation. Mundane-sounding dishes like the famous crispy asparagus – lightly fried in crushed rice crackers and served from a brick – are anything but, and its stylish, uncomplicated food allows each ingredient to really shine. You can’t go wrong with a plate of sushi (it’s some of the best in the city), but don’t leave without sampling the miso lamb cutlets, too.
Open daily 7pm-midnight. 6 La Croisette, Porto Arabia (4495 3876 ext. 2101).
You may be surprised to find that this brand new Middle Eastern-sounding restaurant is actually Italian with a menu full of the likes of parmesan fondue, edible flowers and foie gras risotto. Though the atmosphere can be a bit hit and miss – and the décor perhaps not the most inspired – it’s worth a visit to try some of the more unusual creations. You won't find anything similar in the area.
Open Sat-Wed 1pm-10pm, Thu-Fri 1pm-midnight. Medina Centrale (5000 9876).
Opening soon in The Pearl
Is there ever such a thing as too much egg? Probably. But we still think Eggspectation is one of the best things since boiled egg cups. The huge menu covers salads, crepes, flatbreads and much more, but we’d recommend bypassing all that and going straight to the dedicated eggs Benedict section. Got more of a sweet tooth? Peruse the huge list of pancakes, waffles and French toast. Eggspectacular.
Lord of the wings
An all-American outlet serving burgers, nachos, grills, cheesy potato skins and the like. This is the kind of place where almost everything has “Ranch” worked into the name, and the wings are the star of the show. They come in portions of six, 12 and 18, and the 16 sauce options range from mild honey mustard to Buffalo Suicide.
Camille’s Ice Cream Bars
Pick an ice cream bar from gourmet flavours like Key lime pie, banana yoghurt and Sicilian lemon ice, then have said ice cream bar dipped in the chocolate of your choice, and then dipped again in a topping or two (choose from options like shaved coconut, crushed Oreos and chopped M&Ms).