Finally, an appreciation for food is no longer a pastime reserved exclusively for the adults in Doha.
So, where can these elusive family friendly restaurants be found and why are they worth a visit? I asked those in the know, the Instagram-snapping, delightfully discerning expert eaters - the parent bloggers of Qatar.
Karen from Clumsy Chic: W Cafe
Naomi and I go on a mommy and daughter date once a week and W Cafe is one of our favorite places to go to. The cafe is small and cosy with a lovely quiet atmosphere and friendly staff. They all know Naomi and I by now and are always so attentive and accommodating to our requests. Full-fat yogurt instead of low-fat one? no problem! No salt? noted.
W Cafe is definitely one of my top go-to restaurants as I know there are a number of child-friendly, healthy Baby Led Weaning approved menu items like their egg avocado, and Naomi's favorite yogurt with fresh berry compote. I also love the fact that the place is carpeted and you'll often find Naomi running around the cafe, while I sit back and watch her from a far with a cup of tea and scones on hand.
Becoming a parent of 3 kids (who are now 8, 5 and 4 years old) caused a lot of changes in our lifestyle including our choices of places to dine out. Frankly, there was a time when we actually stopped going to restaurants AT ALL, because eating out with 3 kids meant chaos rather than fun! This changed when Noodle House opened its branch at Porto Arabia. Now, our weekend stroll and kids cycling at the Marina always ends up with a family meal at Noodle House.
The kids love having their Prawn Crackers and Chicken Satay for starters, followed by Tempura Fish Fingers (Kids Meal). While my husband and I enjoy their Thai Curries, Wok Fried Noodles and other specialities but our all time favourite is their spicy Black Pepper Beef along with Bakmie Goreng Noodles. When the kids are done with their meals, they go back to riding their bicycles while we enjoy our drinks and dessert, sitting on the patio while watching them at the same time.
The location of the restaurant is not the only reason, but also their food quality, flavorful dishes, a lovely kids menu, friendly staff and the value for money, which makes it one of our most favourite restaurants as a family.
Zeke from Best Life Qatar: Max's Restaurant
When asked about our family’s top restaurant picks, our answers are varied and it shows each one’s favorite - and by favorite, we mean having visited it several times already. With three highly opinionated members in our family (good thing our little girl still couldn’t participate in the poll), each one has his/her own preference. But the choice also depends on where we are going and every time we go out to eat, we make sure it is a happy compromise.
Aside from the location, which is close to our house in Mansoura, the familiar ambiance always makes us feel we’re home. They have a wide selection of menu but our standard orders would usually go with their classic spring chicken, ox’s tail stew in peanut sauce, and sizzling cubed tofu and mayo dressing. Surprisingly, there are also non-Filipinos who are dropping by this restaurant and it’s a comfortable place to have practically any celebration.
Fazeelah from Dhillon Deeds: Asia Live!
Dining out with our little girl can get trying at times and I've gotten a few nasty stares in my short time being a mum. So it's not surprising that I keep my eyes peeled for places to have a nice sit down dinner with my little family and not always having to settle for the food court, it doesn't quite scream "fine dining experience".
We discovered Asia Live while looking for a quiet place to catch up with a friend who had jetted over for a quick visit from Dubai. This little restaurant is situated inside the Marriott Hotel and serves mainly Asian-fusion cuisine. We didn't need a reservation which was great! Our daughter is 7 months old so she doesn't need much in terms of food and really just eats whatever we eat but she really enjoyed chewing away on the prawn crackers they served as a complimentary dish that they kept filled for our eating pleasure.
I loved that they had high chairs on hand and that there were other families enjoying their dinner there too. The interior was lightly lit up and had a very romantic laid-back ambiance which made rocking her to sleep so easy. There was also enough space for our stroller right next to our table. I also breastfed her and I wasn't make to feel uncomfortable about it.
The service was flawless, friendly and welcoming. The waiters deserve an extra cheer for being so patient as our little girl threw her food all over the place - the best and worst of baby led weaning. I also loved that the hotel offered valet parking making the drop off and pick up really quick and efficient. Having to circle around a parking lot with a crying baby isn't always the best feeling just before dinner. The restaurant is open for dinner every night except Sunday. Our mission for the evening was to find a child-friendly restaurant that served gluten-free food for our friend. I believe we did well. We will definitely be going back again.
Leona from Wandermust Family: La Veranda
We eat out a lot but the one place that stands out as our family favourite has to be La Veranda! We love their brunch and have sampled it on a couple of occasions. They have the most amazing outdoor seating area which is great for little ones to run around on between courses. The staff are always super helpful ensuring that families have a good table - not too close to the band and ensuring adequate shading, and the high chairs are of a good quality!
Unfortunately there are no changing facilities at La Veranda but the staff always open up the changing rooms and create an area with multiple towels to make sure the little one is comfortable. But most importantly the food is great. Although not the range of other brunches, this brunch is all about quality over quantity and they have lots of child friendly options! Pasta, vegetables, pizza and a variety of meat and fish dishes are available. My little one always eats amazingly well at La Veranda and we will keep returning!
Kiren from Yummy Mummy On Duty: Carluccio's
Well what can I say, Carluccio's is hands down the best breakfast in town. WHY? It's got variety, it's fresh, it's healthy and naughty both at the same time! For kids it's just perfect, a simple menu offering that kids and parents can both relate to.
My top picks: Eggspectation and the Superhero Picnic Brunch at the Ritz Carlton
There are three things that make a restaurant family-friendly to me: good basic baby facilities (high chairs and a changing table are a must), child-friendly menu options (or the option to tailor the menu to your childs dietary requirements and tastes) and staff that like children. Both Eggspectation and the Lagoon at The Ritz Carlton where the Picnic Brunch is held fulfil these requirements in spades.
The restaurants are at the opposite ends of the spectrum in many ways: Eggspectation is a fantastic everyday diner, where a group of mums and I met every Thursday for weeks over the long, hot summer months during our maternity leave last year. Over several weeks, the staff learned all of our names, plus our babies names (not an easy task - they all looked practically identical at that stage in their development!). They gave us our own space away from the main restaurant where the crawlers could roam free. They didn't bat an eyelid at spilled drinks, broken crockery or noise. And best of all, their coffee and eggs saved my days following many a sleepless night.
The Superhero Picnic Brunch on the other hand, is the ideal location to celebrate a special occasion with kids. It's light-hearted, entertaining and chock-a-block with exciting and fun food to entice even the fussiest of eaters to enjoy their meal (if you can tear them away from the bouncy castle that is!).
So there we have it, not just one or two, but EIGHT family-friendly restaurants in Qatar which are very different but equally deserving of a mention.
Over to you - what makes a restaurant family-friendly to you and which ones have we missed?