Foodies, it’s time to book a flight to Beirut. Lebanon’s capital and largest city offers a bewitching blend of various regional cuisines, making it the best of multiple culinary worlds. And if you know which sections of the city to explore, you can experience some of the best foods in the region—if not the world.
Souk el Tayeb
Venturing into the Souk el Tayeb (pronounced sook ty-IB) will give you a delicious taste of Beirut: it was the first farmers market established in Lebanon. Here you can sample a wide variety of authentic eats, including fresh produce, handmade Lebanese sweets and locally produced dairy products. You can experience this culinary fun in any of three Souk el Tayeb locations in Beirut:
- Map: Trablos Street, open Saturdays from 9am to 2pm.
- Map: Clemenceau at the Gefinor Center, open Wednesdays from 12pm to 6pm.
- Map: Village Dbayeh, open Thursdays from 11am to 6pm.
The Gemmayzeh neighbourhood (pronounced gem-AYE-zay) is arguably one of the most charming areas of Beirut. It’s located in the eastern part of the city on Gouraud Street, and has a definite Mediterranean feel. Luckily, Gemmayzeh is also a hot spot for some wonderful restaurants and cafes, including:
- Lux: Located between Charles Helou Street and the Beirut Pier, this upscale but casual brasserie has a mouth-watering selection of fish and seafood dishes, as well as pastas and salads.
- Em Nazih: For discriminating eaters in search of an authentic Lebanese flavor, this café on Pasteur Street is going to be one of the best bets. Em Nazih’s daily specials are extremely popular. They also feature live Arab music on the weekends.
This charming village-within-a-city in central Beirut will captivate you with the traditional Lebanese style of its pastel houses and buildings. Saifi Village is known to be an oasis of peace and quiet even in the middle of the city. Apart from its aesthetic value, it is also a must-visit area for foodies thanks to its truly spectacular eateries, such as:
- Meat the Fish: This meat and fish market is a must-visit spot for foodies as it offers daily food specials showcasing the city’s best veal, chicken, seafood, beef and lamb. All of the sources for their meats and seafoods are traceable and sustainable.
- Gilt: The sleek, modern décor and haute cuisine blend of Asian, Middle Eastern and Peruvian flavors ensures travellers a memorable dining experience. You can also enjoy live music on selected nights.
The Beirut Souks may have a lovely, old-fashioned name, but in fact make up a glittering, modern complex offering some of the best shopping and dining experiences in the city. The top eateries in this area include:
- Al-Sultan Brahim: Founded in 1961, this restaurant serves up a wonderful selection of Lebanese food and seafood dishes. Need an endorsement? It was voted Best Quality Restaurant in the Arab World by the League of Arab States.
- La Cave de Joel Robuchon: While not strictly an eatery, this “wine library” is a foodie’s mecca, featuring more than 500 of the finest wines from around the world with tasting and pairing services available from in-house sommeliers. This is not a spot you want to miss!
- Café Libanais: This Lebanese-style brasserie serves up an impressive display of local foods, using regionally sourced olive oil and spices to create a true taste of Beirut. Locally inspired desserts and drinks are also available.
A trip to Beirut is nothing without experiencing the finest foods the city has to offer. These locations will help you find the best of the best to make your next trip to Lebanon an experience your palate will never forget.