Sometimes, you’re not looking for an avocado-smash-on-rye kind of breakfast, you’re looking for a massive portion of comfort food (and bottomless coffee refills). When this is the case, make a beeline for iHop. Though they serve all manner of diner-style sandwiches and burgers, the breakfast is what you should visit for… at any time of day. The towering stacks of fluffy pancakes – you’ll struggle to finish two, let alone the four that come with each order – are smothered in whipped cream and magnificently synthetic and sugary syrups and sauces from strawberry and blueberry to chocolate. Perhaps too sweet for some, but we can’t get enough. There are also gargantuan portions of vanilla cream-stuffed cinnamon-raisin French toast, waffles, build-your-own omelettes and huge fry-ups.
Open Sat-Wed 8am-11pm, Thu-Fri 8am-midnight (4452 9637).
Turkish chain Kosebasi is a fairly reliable spot for kebabs and Turkish mezze. Try the Yogurtlu Kebap which is served with homemade tomato sauce and yoghurt, or the Tavuc sis (barbecued chicken cubes marinated in light, spicy sauce). The setting can feel a bit bland and characterless, but the reasonable prices more than make up for it, especially when it comes to the doughy pides. Round off the meal with a cup of Turkish coffee and a slice of Turkish kunafa (Kadaynf) or thick, creamy Dondurma ice-cream.
Open daily noon-midnight (4035 7229).
Expect colourful salads, Mediterranean tapas, and a mostly Italian selection of pasta, risotto, paninis and pizza. There’s also an interesting dessert selection including a pumpkin cake with mascarpone and caramel. Food isn’t perfect, but this is a better spot than most for a more substantial café meal (the creamy risottos are a highlight). The upside-down theme of the décor is a little odd (tables on the ceiling, and chairs that appear upside-down), but makes a change from the generic venues you usually find in malls.
Open daily 12.30pm-11pm (4476 3545/5009 8899).
Argo Tea Café
If you’re of the belief that a cup of tea instantly improves life, you’ll love this colourful tea emporium. Their “loose tea vault” contains numerous varieties (Earl Grey crème with vanilla; ginger peach; strawberry green tea; Armenian mint) to enjoy hot or iced. Argo also serves signature blends and teappuccinos. There are bubble teas, sparkling teas, coffees and baked goods to enjoy while you sip – including “healthy” bites such as flaxseed slices.
Open daily 7.30am-11.30pm (4035 7201)
Brioche Doree is a great place to people-watch, with tables spilling out into the mall. It serves prettily-presented cakes and pastries and has a long menu of, well, basically everything. You could get a quiche, a French baguette or a salad, or you could go for an American sub, grilled beef tenderloin or chicken supreme. Generally the food is good, and, at the very least, generously portioned.
Open daily 9am-11pm (4031 0641).
Healthy burgers aren’t a thing. But Burger Boutique gets close with its all-organic, hormone-free, grass-fed, free-range chicken, recycled packaging, transfat-free fries way of doing things (in that rustic, natural-landscape inspired setting that’s that everyone loves to Instagram). You’ll find creations like the Mississippi (made with jalapeno tempura, three chilli sauce, mushrooms, onions and American cheese) among classic options and sliders. There’s also a delicious sweet potato and lentil veggie burger. Lotus biscoff fans will enjoy the lotus tiramisu or waffle, but we say try the karak cheesecake. It’s a unique, local spin on the global favourite.
Open daily 1pm-11pm (4436 8844).
Dippingo Chocolate Bar
Sweet, creamy, caramely, chocolatey dreams are created here. Oven-baked hazelnut cookie dough topped with ice-cream, gooey date puddings, caramelised apple crumbles, melting chocolate domes. There isn’t a savoury item in sight, so don’t arrive expecting a meal, and it’s another café with a bit of a biscoff obsession. We’re fans of the local flavours in the pistachio waffle, which comes with a rose-flavoured vanilla cream, and the crêpe stuffed with hazelnut spread, marshmallows and milk chocolate, smothered in biscoff crumbs and caramel pecan sauce. Tooth-achingly sweet, in a good way.
Open Sat-Wed 8am-10pm, Thu-Fri 8am-11pm. (3351 1529).
Eau de Rose
One of the newer additions to the mall, Eau de Rose is sleek, modern and far more exciting than your usual run-of-the-mill mall café. Its menu is the usual wide-ranging selection of café food – excellent egg dishes like eggs benedict for breakfast, and mains like burgers and creamy pasta dishes – but peppered with unusual flavour combinations like the shrimp edamame salad with lemon, pineapple and curry dressing or the moreish spinach and artichoke dip. Mocktails and ice-cream sundaes arrive at the table smoking (the latter also being piled high with whipped cream, bananas and, perennial Gulf Mall favourite, lotus biscuits).
Open daily 8am-midnight (3377 7898).
The Rice Room
As the only Vietnamese eatery in the city, it’s worth visiting Gulf Mall just for a hot bowl of Pho (which comes in eight different varieties). It’s aromatic, light and authentic, as is the goi ga (shredded chicken, cabbage and toasted sesame) and the wok-fried mains like tamarind chilli chicken. Seafood dishes are pricier than you would expect from a mall kiosk, but don’t be fooled by the location – the quality is far superior to usual food court fare.
Open Sat-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri 1pm-midnight (4417 8132).
The British chain opened its first overseas branches in Qatar at the start of the year, serving juices, smoothies and milkshakes. There are some amazing pre-created shakes like the Shake Wars which is made with Milky Way, cola bottles and popping candy, or the Cherry Pie which consists of blended cherry bakewell, rhubarb and custard sweets, topped with honey nut cornflakes. We love the delightfully creamy and nutty Prince of Persia, made with dates, pistachio and baklava. If none of those take your fancy, build your own from the very long list of ingredients. Brits will love its focus on very British snacks (curly wurlys, hob nobs, jaffa cakes, Werther’s Originals and even Extra strong mints), though there are some American favourites, too (Reese’s peanut butter cups and lucky charms). Not sugary enough? Order the Purple Rain. Made with bubblegum Millions and candy floss, it’s pretty much ice-cream blended with coloured sugar. Proceed with caution.
Inside Cineco. Open Sat-Thu 9am-midnight, Fri 1pm-midnight. (6648 5707).