Summer is around the corner and I am always looking forward to these great times I spend when I travel to Lebanon for a break. I have discovered this unique country thanks to my boyfriend who was born and raised there. Most of the Lebanese people’s favorite activites include a social aspect. Indeed, they love to gather with friends and family anytime of the year. In Lebanon, the staff is rarely unprofessional or not friendly. They have important values, are loving and caring and I believe that Lebanese families are one of the best! Let me share with you the places I have discovered after 6 holidays in Beirut.
- Lina’s (Kaslik):
Lina’s is a chain of “sandwicheries” offering a varied choice of easy, healthy and delicious food (Salads, sandwiches). This chain has been implemented all over Europe so it is not 100% Lebanese but the difference between Lina’s in France for example and Lina’s in Lebanon is pretty impressive. In France, the restaurant is a place where you eat fast food and leave, whereas in Lebanon, you go to Lina’s for a drink, a cocktail, and to gather or chill with your friends. I suggest you to go to the one located in the Kaslik area (not far from the seaside) because it is the one that reflects the Lebanese spirit the best. It is in a street filled with boutiques, shops (Zara, Aldo, Mango, Jack&Jones, La Senza, Oysho…) and nice cafes. During the Summer time it is the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing drink on the terrace, relaxing in a comfy sofa, whilst watching people on the street. The prices are affordable, the staff couldn’t be more professional and efficient and the decor is original.
- Edde E Cafe (Byblos):
This area of Lebanon is one of my favorite ones. Byblos/Jbeil is a major historic city located on the seaside and hosting very charming and traditional souks. Edde is a Lebanese chain of restaurants, hotels, and beaches. This venue is quite small but it only adds up to the delightfulness of the cafe. I discovered it during one of my Winter trips in Beirut and was very lucky to be able to sit on the terrace at the beginning of December. It is a very convenient and nice restaurant to have a drink after an interesting and enriching visit of the city.
- Sweet Tea (Beirut Souks):
Have you ever heard of Yannick Alleno? Well, if not, let me introduce you to the most business oriented but also truly talented French Chef ever. Why am I talking about him in a post that is supposed to be about Beirut? Well, he happened to open his very first 2 restaurants there!! And one of them is a Tea Room called ”Sweet Tea”. This restaurant is located in the centre ville, at the center of the Beirut Souks and is becomming one of the capital’s best addresses. It reflects a harmony between old and new, sophisticated and simple, colorful and sober tones, technique and passion… Here clients are offered a wide choice of 100% French pastries and cakes as well as healthy food such as salads, fruit cocktails or hot beverages. All of this happens in a very relaxing outdoor terrace invaded by nature on the roof of the building. In general the portions are not as generous as the dishes you’ll find in other restaurants accross the country but it only adds up to the superbe taste. I suggest you to try the mini “St Honore” that is literally too cute to eat
- Paul (Centre Ville/Gemmayzeh):
This French pastry shop is located in the very lively area of Gemmayzeh, in front of the great and impressive blue mosk, and offers you traditional French breakfast, brunches, pastries and sweet treats. It is not a Lebanese brand either but Lebanese love stuff that come from abroad in general, so Paul is pretty popular there. You can also enjoy some “tartines” and “salads” for a quick lunch.
- Kitsch (Gemmayzeh):
Gemmayzeh is a district next to the centre ville that is alsways on the move. Bars and restaurants are constantly opening, closing, changing. One night when we were about to attend an opening, we literally passed in front of a traditional old building/house and looked through the window. Through the window we could see a unique original and colorful interior and decor. Once inside, I truly wanted to stay in there and forget about the opening… Wow… everything I like was in this small cozy cafe: outstandingly colorful and attracting cupcakes, impressive (and very expensive) Lebanese designers’ clothes, gadgets, fine jewellery, modern designs…. There is not a single word to describe the Kitsch. The waiter inside saw that we were so pleased with what we were experiencing that he offered us 2 cupcakes (picture below): a nutella and a vanilla one. We ate them with passion whilst he was telling us the story about how the Kitsch concept happened. Even if you are not going to eat or drink or shop at Kitsch, I suggest you go there to see what a great cafe it is. You can learn more about this original place on this blog!
Best Cocktails Ever
- Kahuna (on the main road from antalias to bikfaya):
If you are looking for a purely and traditional Lebanese experience, this cocktail is part of it. You must stop at the Kahuna restaurant to taste one of their cocktail. When my boyfriend takes me to Kahuna we always have the same one but they offer so many things on the menu that I would also love to taste another one. All of the cocktails are prepared in front of you so you can be reassured about the hygien matters. The prices are very affordable and the place has just been renovated. Now, it is more colorful and modern. Little tip: dont eat before the cocktail. I would consider the cocktail as a dish in itself
Traditonal Lebanese Cafes
These traditional cafes and restaurants are all very similar, this is why I have decided to write a general statement rather than writing 4 times the same thing. So they are all very big, a lot of tables and chairs, all of them offer traditional Lebanese food bot also great desserts that you will definitely have to try such as: “chocolat mou”, “crepe au Kinder” and many others… They all open until late in the night and the staff there is always very welcoming, nice and friendly. Considering the prices, in general its quite affordable and you have large portions. These are the best places if you want to grab a bite after partying all night, or have a drink with friends in the afternoon.
- Petit Cafe
- Zaatar W Zeit (Achrafieh – Sodecco)
- Mandaloun Cafe
*Don’t expect me to give you indications on how to get in these places ’cause they dont really have street names or street numbers or even indication pannels in Lebanon