In spending eight months in Beirut, going out to eat almost every night, I got to taste much of the booming food scene. I want to help others find the best source and so have compiled a list of my favorites (more to come soon). Voilá my top picks for Lebanese, American/Grill and Japanese restaurants.
*Note: All the restaurants on this list I have been to at least twice to double-check my taste buds.
Lebanese Al Aajami
This restaurant is very old school Lebanese but the food is innovative and oh-so-fresh. The appetizers change daily: from artichoke salad to a cheese dish with pomegranates and the best hindbe (greens) I have ever tasted. Al Aajami is known for its shwarma and kabab and after trying their meats I can say there is nothing like it! I have always thought of shwarma as street food, but I had no idea what I was missing! Their shwarma is so tender, succulent and just melts in your mouth. The restaurant is a hot spot for those in the know, such as a parliament member who only gets his food from this hidden gem. Unlike most Lebanese restaurants, the menu is in Arabic only so bring someone that speaks the language.
I have been to the other famous Lebanese restaurants (Mounir, Tawlet, Babel, Karamna etc.) and this restaurant is two steps above these delicious Lebanese staples.
Rafic El Hariri Ave. Ramlet El-Baida
American/Grill Aarayes Restaurant
Even after going to eat at The Corner Bistro in NYC (rated best burger in the city) Aarayes burger rates higher on my list. The meat is lightly spiced and of the highest quality. I have tried their cheeseburger (which is not too cheesy but still melts in the mouth) as well as their Mexican burger (peppers etc.) and both hit the spot. Their meat is not greasy but feels luxurious. I also love their grilled chicken; even when I asked for well-cooked meat, it was still juicy and so tasty—not dry at all. The quality and chicken beats Hawa and all the other brands hands down and, if I may say so, tastes even better than home grilled.
This restaurant/diner is immaculately clean and their food is always on point. I have never been there on an “off” day. If you walk into the small casual restaurant and it isn’t crowded don’t fret: most of their customers order delivery!
Boulevard Camille Chamoun
+961 76 166 156
I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at this famed downtown spot, but I would soon taste freshness and innovation not seen in other Beiruti sushi restaurants. Contrary to the sushi, Kampai is unassuming. Unpretentious, the service is very good even when it’s crowded. The sushi salads are especially tasty and abundant. The spicy crispy salmon salad is my favorite and comes in a cocktail-like glass; perfect if you want to avoid rice. All the fish tastes extremely fresh unlike at other sushi restaurants (for example at Soto). They also have a wide variety of cooked dishes and their chicken teriyaki was authentic and tasteful. Reservation recommended for dinner.
Ground Floor, Palladium Building, Rafic Salloum Street