Whether in the vibrant pubs, restaurants, bakeries and cafes in the Mar Mikhael neighborhood to the quiet, hidden-away spots serving authentic Lebanese fare, Beirut residents and visitors have lots to choose from.
While the hospitality industry has been hard hit by inflation and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are lots of great options when it comes to dining out.
Here’s a look at the 5 best restaurants for diners of all types in Beirut.
With locations throughout the Mideast and, most recently, London, Em Sherif delivers authentic Lebanese fare. The Beirut location is nestled in the heart of Ashrafieh, Monot, and features first-class dining in a setting intended to evoke a luxurious Middle Eastern mansion.
Traditional taarab music, Ottoman mirrors and waterfalls add to the old-school ambiance. While there is a menu, the restaurant is renowned for its small plates, with a massive succession of 30 meze dishes. The cuisine features traditional fare, from tabbouleh to fattoush. The wine selection features native varietals and a wide variety of Italian and French offerings.
Chef Mireille Hayek, who has no formal training, oversees the Em Sherif restaurant group. She opened the first Beirut restaurant in 2011. The restaurant features spaces for private events and a terrace for those wanting to partake in shisha.
Bedivire Eatery and Tavern
Located on Jean d’Arc Street in Beirut’s Hamra district, Bedivire Eatery and Tavern opened in August 2012 and features creative cocktails and delectable cuisine. It’s proven to be popular with locals and visitors alike.
The medieval motif delights patrons, who are likely to enjoy a host of drink options, known as “potions.” Samples include the “King Arthur (Irish whiskey, honey, lime and grapefruit) and the “Pendragon” (bourbon, Southern Comfort, apricot brandy, banana and strawberry).
The menu features traditional American and Italian fare, with a smattering of local cuisine. Entrees include burgers, pizzas, pasta dishes and sandwiches. The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Babel Bay’s location in Zeltounay Bay puts it in the middle of the popular destination replete with a marina, restaurants and shops. Opened in 2012, Babel Bay’s exquisite interior replicates the city’s shoreline and lays atop 7 sandstones, recognizing the city’s history.
The restaurant is known for being among the best for seafood in the city. The fresh fish display varies from day to day, featuring bass, mackerel, crab, shrimp and grouper among many others.
The hot mezza options include ample seafood choices, including octopus, shrimp and calamari prepared a la Provençale; and lobster, squid and seafood rolls. There’s also a broad selection of raw-fish dishes, included marinated salmon, mackerel and tuna and seasonal selections such as sea bream.
“Mayrig” means mother in Armenian and the Mayrig restaurant features Armenian recipes lovingly passed down from mother to daughter. Located in the city’s Gemayzeh quarter, Mayrig creates a homey feel, a place that is unrivaled for its Armenian hospitality, with servers and managers deeply attentive to their patrons.
The menu features items not seen at other restaurants in the city, with authentic Armenian dishes that include spinach, cheese or crispy beef dumplings, marinated veal or minced beef kebabs, and adventurous options like havgitov basterma, which features Armenian bread, thin cured beef and quail eggs.
Looking for Thai food in Beirut? Look no further than Jai. This spot gets rave reviews and features all the classic Thai cuisine. Rolls, dumplings and samosas can kickstart your dining experience.
There are curries galore, dhal makhana, pad thai and butter chicken as main dishes. You can also choose from banh mi, tandoori chicken or grilled coriander shrimp among the many sandwich options, or pho as one of several soups available.
Beirut has a vibrant culinary scene, giving you great options no matter what you’re craving.