For those of you that are still getting to know me, you will quickly discover something that those who know me well will definitely attest to, I love to eat! I’m a bit of a foodie, though Desert Dad just says I’m a fussy eater, but what is for sure is that food is always on my mind and any story or anecdote I share with anyone will usually start with what I ate. Thankfully living in Qatar means you are never far from food. There are so many great places to eat and to suit all budgets. The beauty of visiting The Pearl means that not only do you have so many great options of places to eat, but also stunning views of the marina. On our way to our antenatal class this week, Desert Dad and I decided to take a quick detour down to The Pearl and had an early dinner at ISLA Mexican Kitchen.
I have been a few times before and never been disappointed. The menu has a decent selection without being overwhelming; there’s a substantial range of appetisers and these are probably my favourite dishes; soups and salads that looked packed with goodness although not especially full of Mexican flavour; tacos which most definitely do pack that fresh chilli and coriander punch; a small selection of enchiladas and for those looking for something a little more filling a fab choice of specials. For dessert, they do have a small selection of ice creams and a variety of churros but I have to admit I’m not a churro fan so haven’t had these yet. But never say never right?
My favourite appetisers I’ve tried to date are the quesadillas and the shrimp chicharron (in the pic below). The quesadillas were so soft and light with just the right amount of cheese. Often I find quesadillas can be over cooked, greasy and overloaded with cheese which can be ok for the right occasion but for a light appetiser just not what I’m looking for. These ones however, were cooked to perfection with a delicious scoop of guac on the side. The shrimp chicharron is probably the best appetiser I’ve had there so far and I’ve ordered it several times. As soon as it arrives in front of you, it’s fragrant and the smell of fresh jalapenos and coriander is mouthwatering and refreshing. It has just the right amount of spice without over powering your taste buds before the main course. The sauce coating the fried shrimp is not too heavy either making it the perfect starter. I have tried the Acapulco Style Shrimp Ceviche but wasn’t particularly keen and it left me feeling somewhat underwhelmed. The sauce was lacking in flavour and just reminded me of a marie rose sauce you’d have with a pub prawn cocktail as opposed to a ‘habanero tomato sauce’. But that’s just one dish and not every dish is for everyone. I’ve also had the traditional guacamole and that’s also worth a try especially if you’re sharing starters with someone else.
From the mains menu I’ve tried the tacos and one dish from the specials. I’m not really a soup or salad person when I eat out as I do prefer something a little more substantial. However, those who I’ve visited ISLA with previously have tried them and definitely seemed to enjoy. This week I tucked into the beef tacos and omg… I could have eaten them three times over! They were that good! You get three small tacos with tender, juicy chunks of beef inside and a light garnish of avocado, onion, chilli and coriander. I opted for the flour tortillas and they were delicate and soft and not too heavy as I find they often can be. The tacos are served with a small portion of rice and charro beans. I’m not a fan of beans, so swapped the charro beans for fries. While I wasn’t blown away by the sides I certainly enjoyed the tacos and next time will certainly be tempted to try the lobster or Al Pastor options. Desert Dad opted for the beef burrito and only managed one half. He must have enjoyed it though because the other half came home with us.
ISLA has a great choice of mocktails which is perfect for me in my current pregnant state. My favourite is the spicy orange. It has a little fizz and little spicy kick to it from the slice of jalapeno (yes spicy drinks are a thing, I’m a lover of hot food and drinks with a hint of spice are just as good). The ISLA sangria and apasionado look light and refreshing too.
Overall I’d say ISLA is the perfect destination if you’re looking for something light that won’t leave you feeling like a beached whale. Believe me, I can’t control myself when it comes to food and I often order so much food I leave having to waddle back to the car and then pass out into a food coma while Desert Dad drives me home. ISLA has it’s portion sizes just right though. They aren’t small but they’re not so big that you eat your starter and wish you hadn’t bothered ordering a main. The decor inside gives the restaurant an intimate feel but the splashes of vibrant colour give it that lovely latin vibe. When it’s not too hot outside there’s ample seating to enjoy the view of the marina and people watch in between courses. I would say ISLA is reasonably priced for what it offers. It’s not the cheapest but it’s certainly not the most expensive. I think the food is excellent quality for the price you pay. This makes it the perfect casual spot for a chilled date night, afternoon lunch with friends or flavoursome family meal.
If you have been before, share your experiences and thoughts below in the comments. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram if you want to see live updates on my instastories of when I’m out and about in Doha.