Insider Picks: Where to Eat In Beirut
In Lebanon, the land of milk and honey, fruits and vegetables grow abundantly on mountain groves and along the sea; mutton is deliciously fatty and strongly flavored, and fresh seafood is sold daily along the shore.
Lebanon’s cuisine celebrates the land’s rich flavors with light, subtle dishes that come in infinite variations depending on the season and region. All over the country, families gather weekly around gargantuan meals that last several hours and include mezzes, whole fish, grilled meats, lavish fruit and sweets platters.
Aromatic narguiles (water pipes) and arak (a strong anise-flavored liquor), of course, are the necessary accompaniments.
And while today’s generation is more calorie-conscious than our ancestors, people still like to meet for long meals. Beirut’s vibrant restaurant scene represents this passion for all things culinary.
If you ask any artist, designer, architect or gallerist what their favorite restaurant is, they invariably mention Casablanca. This traditional Levantine villa overlooking the Corniche is decorated with fun, pop art–style touches. The restaurant serves light, fresh Asian-inspired dishes that are exquisite and fun: fresh seafood tartare, botarga pasta and flavorful salads. Enjoy the view of the Mediterranean from the tables near the arcade windows.
Insider Tip: Casablanca serves a very popular weekend brunch with scrambled eggs, bagels and a particularly appreciated mimosa
Rue Dar el-Mreisseh, Ain el-Mreisseh | Qaddoura Building, Second Floor, Beirut, Lebanon
When Kamal Mouzawak brought together Lebanese farmers at the Souk el Tayeb market, he started a small Slow Food revolution in a country that had started to lose its ancestral traditions. At Tawlet, his quaint Mar Mikhael eatery, he hires women from different regions of the country to concoct traditional dishes. The buffet is often composed of salads, mezzes, stews, and of course dessert. Knefeh, a melting sweet cheese with a crunchy crust saturated in sugar syrup, is the one I go mad for. And those who want to learn the recipes can sign up for the weekly cooking classes
with the master.
Tip: Ask for the homemade lemonade – with a dash of rose water. It’s refreshing
Beirut, sector 79, Naher street
#12 (Jisr el Hadid), Chalhoub
building #22, ground floor
+961 1 448129
In the hot new SoPo district, this modern brasserie designed by Karim Bekdache offers fresh, delicious dishes and finely crafted cocktails. Order a mix of plates and share: the lightly fried seafood, whole cooked fish and fragrant pastas are musts. The salads come from owner Johnny Farah’s mountain grove and are lightly dressed with lemon and the finest olive oil; the cocktails are made with fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil and lemongrass.
Insider Tip: Ask for the rashad salad, a delicate and peppery green you will not find anywhere else.
Lux Organic Gourmet and Urban Lounge
Al Jamarek Street, Port District, Downtown, Beirut
+961 1 444 311