Lebanon’s capital Beirut is an exciting city with abundant culture, history and delectable tastes. The gastronomic choices available are diverse – here are the top 10 exceptional places to eat in the city.
Image Courtesy of Classic Burger
Karam bridges simplicity and tradition; the experience here is based on hearty Lebanese food that is both generous in portion and mouthwatering delicious. Karam might just offer the perfect introduction to Lebanese cuisine with mouthwatering halloumi and fatash salad, in addition to serving the best mezze in town, which comprises a number of simple yet tantalising small platters: hummus, kebbeh, kofta, preserved vegetables, yoghurt, pita bread and many others. With Lebanon’s national anise-based drink, arak, and the quiet but central location and outdoor sitting area, Karam makes an ideal venue for groups, families or romantic dining.
Tawlet is an exceptional restaurant with a great concept behind it. Everything is produced from local ingredients, which helps to support local farms. As a branch of Souk el Tayeb, a market where regional farmers from every region of Lebanon come together to sell their products, Tawlet offers traditional Lebanese food served in a buffet form. Besides the notable high-quality food, Tawlet’s is also active in promoting culinary life by hosting invited chefs from the country, who explain culinary delicacies of specific villages. Therefore, Tawlet is the ideal place to try not only Beirut-inspired flavours, but also to sample from full-fledged Lebanese gastronomy in all of its diversity. The restaurant enthusiastically celebrates food and tradition; they share their passion for food by offering authentic cooking classes.
A small, off-the-beaten-track restaurant with few tables, Onno is considered to be the best Armenian kitchen in the country. Guests should not expect a grand venue, but should visit instead for the food. Their authentic Armenian food and hospitality are praised countrywide, and Onno has earned its reputation among tourists as well. One of the oldest dining spots in Lebanon,, the cherry kebab, manti and Armenian salad are surely among the best choices. Each dish is created with great care and passion. Onno is an ideal place for a gastronomical treat for those seeking fully authentic Armenian tastes with affordable prices.
Em Sherif is a perfect spot for an unconventional fine-dining experience in the heart of Beirut. It is a themed restaurant with an opulent atmosphere, where the owner, Em Sherif, personally ensures that clients are served delectable tastes of only the highest quality. While the menu is characteristically Lebanese, including the traditional mezze, the wine selection contains a fine selection of French, Italian and Lebanese wines. The venue boasts a sophisticated and exclusive design that is rich in detail, while also offering varying entertainment options featuring the live band, Tarab, and traditional Middle Eastern music.
Liza, which first debuted in Paris, opened its signature restaurant in East Beirut in 2013. Named after one of the owners, Liza Asseily, it is a remarkable place that received a warm welcome in no time. Offering Middle Eastern and Lebanese dishes, Liza stands out for its extraordinary setting: located in a former Abdallah Bustros Palace, the spacious 500-square-metre venue received a great deal of attention when it opened, with tasteful, differently named rooms bridging traditional and modern styles. The creamy colours and light-filled tables give Liza a flawless finish. With its impeccable reputation, Liza is a must visit for all who wish to enjoy meticulousness both in the surrounding ambience and in the food.
Jaï Kitchen is a take-out restaurant with an Asian style. With a menu based on spicy Indian, Thai and Vietnamese dishes, with offerings such as chicken, shrimp rolls, fish cakes, noodle soups, all spiced with the perfect mix of coriander, cumin, ginger, or curry, Jaï is heaven for Asian-food enthusiasts. The concept at Jai is both open-minded and cosy, creating a tranquil atmosphere with an open kitchen, where on a first-come-first-served basis a few patrons can have the opportunity to dine at a prime viewing table. Chef Wael Lazkani guarantees high quality food in Beirut’s Kantari neighborhood. Opt to dine-in or take away.
The latest addition to the energetic and constantly changing Beirut culinary scene is the recently opened Gilt (2013). Set in the Saifi Village in the centre of Beirut, Gilt is one more in the impressive list of achievements of renowned restaurateur Marwan Keyrouz. Gilt is, however, much more than just a place to dine. It combines food, design and music, turning a simple dining experience into an evening of cultural immersion. The menu, a cosmopolitan fusion of excellent Mediterranean, Asian and Peruvian dishes, features a multitude of enticing innovations. While the subdued grey and white interior might give a relaxed impression, the architecture – a spot-on mix of cool, modern style accompanied by the warmth of wood and the ambience of dim lights – is unique. With an eclectic selection of music always playing, Gilt definitely knows how to create an intimate environment. Gilt also offers a bar area where a large selection of expertly prepared cocktails can be enjoyed.
Gilt, 752 Gouraud St. Saifi Village, Beirut, Lebanon, +961 76 997 676+961 76 997 676
Classic Burger Joint
‘Hamburgers is all we do’ – but they do it well. Classic Burger Joint serves the best burgers in town, if not in the whole country. Their reputation is steady and the quality unquestionable. A truly American-inspired venue, where nothing is fancy nor chic, they are straightforward with the food. The menu offers burgers of all types and in a great variety with some side dishes, such as chips and salads. The venue also offers take-out menus, but make sure to sit in, because besides great food, the atmosphere and friendly servers make for a great dining experience.
A recently opened venture that already stands out by offering an ‘architectural dining wonder’, Stereo Kitchen is located in Gemmayze area on top of a 1960s office building that ensures stunning views of both the city and harbour. However, the venue is also a beautiful architectural showpiece of Harvard alumnus Paul Kaloustian, who created a minimalist, contemporary space with a masterful combination of steel, glass, concrete and metal. Stereo Kitchen serves modern Lebanese food and international appetisers under the professional hands of Chef Fouad Kassab. While on weekdays the place is a high-end fine dining restaurant with soft background music, on the weekends it is more of a high-end lounge.
A true landmark building of Beirut, Cafe d’ Orient has stood for decades. It prides itself not only on its long history and great food, but also for being the culinary choice for visiting Hollywood stars, politicians, high-level dignitaries, while also welcoming families, couples and providing an exclusive venue for any occasion. Located right by the waterfront, it offers outdoor sitting at the water’s edge, accompanied by a sea breeze. La Plage, as it is commonly referred to, offers amazing seafood choices that, thanks its location, are fresh every day. Though it boasts a locally inspired kitchen, the menu does not overlook delicious international tastes either, sushi being the most popular choice. Cafe d’ Orient is an absolute must for a chic Lebanese dining experience.