The summer guide to Lebanon: Beirut and suburbs

The common clichĂ© of how Middle Easterns are close minded in and out has been a talkative discussion over the past decades. Although I’m Spanish, my parents are Lebanese and I couldn’t be more proud of my double culture. This helped change my classmates’ perspective about the incorrect stereotypes about gender inequality, lack of freedom of speech and lack of woman empowerment in the Arab society. My friends had the chance of visiting Lebanon and many ended up repeating.

Today I am here to talk about the most modernised Middle Eastern city known as Beirut. They are known for their incredible food, sunsets, beaches and night life. Night life? Yes night life! In Beirut, you’ll get better parties than in Barcelona, Ibiza or even Saint-Tropez. What? Am I listening correctly? In an A-r-a-b city I will get better parties than in Spain or France? As surprisingly that may seem, YES!

Let’s begin talking about their food.

In the mountains of Lebanon, there’s an authentic Lebanese restaurant known as Fadel. You’ll experience the life of a local eating outside of Beirut’s heat in a summer day or around snow in a winter day. In most Lebanese restaurants, you order several plates to share known as “Mezze”. This concept is to open your scope of choices and to try different food at once. As a result, it works better if you’re a party of 5-7 as the more you are, the more plates you can order. The idea here is to try a little bit of every dish until you find the ones you mostly like. You can read more about Fadel’s different dishes in my latest post about Beirut:

https://bcnmetropole.com/2019/01/09/primera-entrada-del-blog/

From left to right: Fermented yogurt, chickpeas, rocket salad, tabouleh and fries
From up to down: Eggplant puree, rocket salad and chickpeas hummus
Butter cookies with pistachio filling dipped in honey
Sunset from Fadel

When driving back to the city, you can watch a Lebanese sunset from the mountains.

Another restaurant in the mountains that is worth trying is Le Montagnou. Although it’s known for their raclette, pierrade and frittes under their chimney on a winter day, you can perfectly eat there in summer and take a swim in their infinity pool.

Le Montagnou Faraya

Please order their chocolate cake: one of the most delicious cakes I have tried.

Le Montagnou Faray

Seray is my favorite restaurant in the city for its food, elegancy and service. In my opinion, the quality of the food is better than Fadel’s. Also, their service is more professional and elegant. To add, you don’t have to drive for an hour to get there as long as you don’t get stuck in traffic. However, this restaurant has a limited exterior lounge that gets fully booked quickly so it’s more of an indoor restaurant. Their food is served beautifully in plates of a Lebanese designer.

Raw meat (Steak tartar style) and Chickpeas Humus

Lebanese desserts are normally topped or filled with raw pistachios.

Arab ice cream with pistachios
Puff pastry filled with ice cream and pistachios

After Seray you can walk around the city, in a colourful street with Lebanese graffitis known as Gimmayzeh.

Colourful stairs (August 2018)
Colourful stairs (August 2017)
Polaroid image (August 2018)
Graffiti designs
Walk in the old village of Gimmayzeh
Walk in the old village of Gimmayzeh
Walk in the old village of Gimmayzeh

And end up seeing a sunset with city views.

Sunset from the city
Sunset from the city

Or maybe grab dessert from a nearby fresh restaurant named Acoté.

Chocolate flourless cake from Acoté

Or bread sticks with Nutella and Lotus biscoff spread from La PizzAria.

La PizzAria’s most popular dessert

Another in my favorite list is Jamal: a restaurant in the beach of BatroĂ»n. Although you’ll have to drive for almost two hours, you can perfectly spend the entire day in this restaurant. I would suggest arriving around 1 pm, swim and tan in their beach and then eat lunch in their tables that are right above the sand (these have to be reserved within a month of advance!). While you’re eating, your feet will get refreshed by the water of the beach: a beautiful and different concept.

Jamal’s entrance

They are mainly known for their Mezzeh plates and their fresh daily fish selection.

Two of my favorite dishes: Fattoush and Hummus
Taboulé salad and eggplant puree (baba ganoush)
Shrimp spring rolls
Grilled fish
Jamal’s dessert: Lebanese puff pastries with sugar

Moving towards Lebanese breakfast, my favorite are: Kaakeh Square, Kalei and Al Falamanki Raouche.

Kaakeh Square serves a typical square shaped bread made of sesame seeds also known as Kaakeh. You can either eat in their shop or order home. Eating there directly rather than ordering it home is much better since the bread should be eaten immediately once removed from the oven. There are many options of fillings but last time I customised mine with halloumi cheese, zaatar and olive oil and it was delicious.

Kaakehs from Kaakeh Square

Kalei is a different concept. As soon as you enter you feel in a tropical Australian or Californian coffee shop which makes your coffee relaxing, delicious and enjoyable. I recommend coming here with your friends or alone to read or work productively while you’re laying down in their comfortable chairs.

Kalei
Kalei

Their breakfast is delicious… I recommend their fermented yogurt called “Labneh” that is served with olive oil and sourdough bread.

From top to bottom: Cheese manousche and Labne
Kalei’s tricolor omelette
Kalei’s pistacho & zaatar manoushe

Don’t forget to take a picture in their famous flamenco wall.

Kalei’s secret bathroom

Or in their exterior space.

Kalei’s entrance

Another Lebanese breakfast spot is the old and famous Al Falamanki located in Raoche. Their decoration is meant to make you feel in a Lebanese house, with comfortable and decorative couches. Also, they have Lebanese table games to spend an engaging morning eating, talking and playing with your friends or family.

Al Falamaki Raouche

A Lebanese breakfast includes always stove cooked flatbreads, Manouche al saj, topped with grilled halloumi cheese, Za’atar or both. These are normally served with tomatoes and cucumbers. Al Falamanki has salty and sweet options as Nutella Manoushe with chopped strawberries, berries or bananas. Also, fermented yogurt with a drizzle of olive oil and some basil leaves. All of this food is accompanied with Arabic tea, coffee and/or fresh squeezed juices.

Manouches
Labne: fermented yogurt with olive oil and basil

Although Lebanon’s fish selection is not as fresh as in Spain because it’s frozen and unfrozen dozens of times, Meat the Fish has fast importers from Alaska that receive fish products to Lebanon quickly and maintain the fresh taste. Their menu changes everyday and is based in meat and fish options accompanied with sides such as grilled potatoes or salads. Their Korean meat tacos, sirloin steaks and sashimi avocado salad are delicious.

Sashimi avocado salad

Everyday they bake a different cake and always have a refrigerator with different options of ice cream from a nearby store named Oslo.

After eating in Meat the Fish you can visit the Mohammed Al Amin mosque.

Mohammed Al Amin mosque
Mohammed Al Amin mosque
Mohammed Al Amin mosque

Their interior architecture is beautiful.

Inside the mosque

Moving towards a different topic…drum rolls….NIGHT LIFE. This opens a big scope of OPTIONS that you’ll never get tired or will have to repeat place because there’s ALOT of places. Locals may club every night, from Wednesday to Sunday. Clubbing in Beirut begins around 10 pm and can end at 12 am or 2 am or 4 am. It depends on your energy.

In the city, my favorite two places are AHM and the disco banana party in GÄRTEN. Furthermore, Iris and Four Seasons Hotels are two places more for a sunset drink but have the best music and views of Beirut’s downtown.
If you have the opportunity of driving up north to Oden and Frozen Cherry, you’ll experience one of the most beautiful sunsets. Don’t forget to bring up a jacket since it gets chilly as the sun sets.

Summary:

  • Rooftop for a sunset drink:
    • In Beirut city:
      • Iris
      • Four Seasons hotel
    • More towards the north in the Lebanese mountains:
      • Oden
      • Frozen Cherry
  • Night club:
    • Love night (Thursdays) or pop night (Fridays) at AHM club
    • Disco banana party (Wednesday) at The Gärten
Oden Faraya
Oden Faraya
Frozen cherry Faraya

Now begins my favorite part: BEACHES.

Seray sur le mer is the newest beach club outside of Beirut, towards the south. You’ll be able to swim in the sea and eat delicious Lebanese food from Seray.

Seray beach

Orchid is one of my favorites. As soon as you enter, you feel in the Maldivian islands. Their sunset is out of words.

Orchid Batroun
Orchid Batroun
Orchid Batroun
Orchid Batroun
Orchid Batroun
Orchid Batroun

Last but not least, Lazy B.

Lazy B Jiyyeh
Lazy B Jiyyeh
Lazy B Jiyyeh
Lazy B Jiyyeh
Lazy B Jiyyeh
Lazy B Jiyyeh
Lazy B Jiyyeh
Lazy B Jiyyeh
Lazy B Jiyyeh

To end this blog, Sursock museum is my latest discovery in Beirut. Their contemporary art collection is worth a visit!

Museum
Museum
Museum Sursock

Thank you for reading this long review on Lebanon! I highly recommend visiting in the summer so you can explore a three in one: Food-Beaches-Nigh clubs.


3 thoughts on “The summer guide to Lebanon: Beirut and suburbs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s