We chatted with celeb Chef Dani Garcia who was on a flying visit to the city for the launch of his new restaurant Lobito de Mar in Qatar.

When did the first Lobito de Mar open? And, how did you initially come up with the concept?
The first Lobito de Mar opened five years ago in my hometown, Marbella.
Our group headquarters are also in Marbella and it’s where we opened our very first restaurant – Dani Garcia – which now has three Michelin stars. We open every one of our restaurant brands in Marbella first, then Madrid, then elsewhere.
I was born in Marbella, the entrance to the Mediterranean. Forty years ago, it was a little fishing town and when I was very young I would go to the market every Saturday with my father. We went early morning to buy fish to cook at home. Sometimes my father would cook paella or my mother would prepare fried fish. It’s in our blood. Lobito de Mar is a brand that truly represents Spanish food. It serves my mother’s and grandmother’s recipes and showcases the food they used to cook for me when I was young. This is how the concept of Lobito de Mar was born.
Spanish food outside of Spain is often limited. Many people think it’s only tapas, but this is only a small part of Spanish cuisine. For example, in the south of Spain, we have some of the best tuna in the world, people outside of Spain might not know this. I want to change this, through giving people the chance to experience a real Spanish restaurant.
It’s a challenge for me and my team to do this and also a responsibility actually.

Lobito de Mar has previously been described as a beach bar without a beach, what does this mean? How is it possible to recreate a beach atmosphere?
When I created the first Lobito de Mar in Marbella, it was impossible for us to get a location on the beach. I wanted to create a beach and seafood ‘chiringuito’ (beach bar). We didn’t have the beach, but we had a fantastic space, so why not create the chiringuito atmosphere ourselves? In Doha, it’s the same concept – we’re not on the beach, but we have sea, an incredible view, fantastic seafood, good music, lights and excellent service. We’ve created our own chiringuito here.

How will you deal with ingredient availability here, in line with what you have in Spain?
We’ll bring our own products from Andalucía used for our brands in Spain, here to Qatar. This includes our tuna, olive oil, and many other specific ingredients. Nowadays, it’s very easy to transport our products to our restaurants globally. We live in a connected world and can use real Spanish ingredients. Of course, we’ll also use local ingredients in our recipes, because there are a lot of fantastic ingredients here too.

Have you created a one-off menu for Qatar?
Please tell us about it. There are a lot of local products here that we respect greatly and have included on our menu in Qatar. For example, my mother used to prepare a very special dish with the fish ‘Al Limón’, but here in Qatar we’ll make the same dish with local hamour.

Lobito de Mar in Spain is renowned for its cellar, will your cellar in Doha be on a similar level?
Cocktails and mocktails are very important for us. And of course, for Spanish people, grape is crucial. For all of our restaurants in Madrid and Marbella, whether fine-dining or casual, we make sure we have an incredible grape list. Lobito de Mar in Doha will be no exception.

This is the second outlet you’ve chosen to bring to Qatar, what makes Doha so special for you?
This year, 2022, is important for us because we’re opening restaurants in Miami, Paris, Amsterdam and London. But Doha will always have a special place in our heart because it’s where we opened our first international restaurant – BiBo Doha. We’re proud of that – it’s the first time we showcased our concept to the rest of the world. We feel comfortable here and have a good relationship with our partners Al Fardan. We love Qatar.

What can your fans in Qatar look forward to seeing from you in the future?
Doha and Marbella have a lot of synergy, and I’d love to continue opening restaurants here. I’m keen to open our steakhouse brand Leña. People love meat in Qatar, so why not? There is huge potential for Leña, and I hope people here will enjoy it.

Finally, you launched Lobito de Mar just before Ramadan, did the restaurant adapt for the Holy Month?
We were open in Ramadan, serving our traditional Spanish food throughout the whole month. There was à la carte, Spanish iftar and our paella proved to be very popular. ✤