Beirut, once hailed the Paris of the Middle East, is in the midst of an all out cultural resurgence and there is something mesmerizing about the combination of new and old, of grit and glam coexisting peacefully in this cultural icon of a city. Interested in eating the best croissants outside of Paris? Dream of sunbathing on the Med and drinking rosé produced in an ancient monastery? Sipping craft cocktails in a Tokyo style bar? Or dancing the night away in an abandoned train station? Beirut has it all and now is the time to visit. Here are a few of our favorite hot spots!
1. Mezyan. An amazing restaurant and bar serving Levantine and North African tapas to hipster crowd of expats and locals on Hamra Street. The vibe at Mezyan is laid back and the food is delicious. Check out their Facebook page to learn more about upcoming live music performances.
2. Trainstation Mar Mikhaël. No trip to Beirut would be complete without a night of bar hopping in the infamous Mar Mikhaël quarter of the city. For a truly unforgettable night be sure to stop at Transtaion Mar Mikhaël, an outdoor music venue and bar in an old abandoned rain station. The spot is the perfect mix of grit and glam. With some of the best DJs in the city.
3. Dragonfly. Looking for a low-key atmosphere and some seriously crafted cocktails? Then Dragonfly is your spot. Think tiny Japanese craft cocktail bar meets 1920’s speakeasy. Dragonfly is located in Gemmayze, an area drawing a bit more sophisticated crowd, more interested in top shelf liquor than cheap (but still pretty good) Almaza beer.
4. Pierre and Friends. Escape the city and enjoy one of Lebanon’s famous beach clubs. Visit the local favorite, Pierre and Friends for an authentic Mediterranean experience that won’t break the bank. Pierre and Friends is less than an hour north of the bustle in Beirut.
5. Music Hall: Beirut Waterfront. For a night like no other in Beirut, your best bet is Music Hall—it’s a throwback to the days of cabaret and eccentricity. From international music acts to Lebanese 80’s cover bands to Elvis and Beyoncé impersonators, there is truly something for everyone. Be sure to head over before 11 pm to ensure you get a spot at the bar.
6. Urbanista. The best coffee outpost in Gemmayze. Whether you need to catch up on work, grab a quick bite or relax with a good book, Urbanista should be your go to spot….plus their baristas know how to brew one hell of a good cup of coffee. While there are several Urbanista outposts in the city, the best location is Gemmayze hands down.
7. Seza. A visit to Beirut is not complete without experiencing the amazing Armenian culinary scene. Seza is the perfect spot sample the city’s best Armenian food in a lovely old house right in the heart of Mar Mikhaël. Be sure to make a reservation online on Seza’s website.
8. Mótto. Motto has become an institution because of its globally oriented cuisine and novel concept where you pay what you think is fair for the food you order. Their Sri Lankan and Indian food is out of this world. Motto also operates a cool program for up and coming chefs, known as ‘Make Me Motto” where chefs submit their restaurant concepts and Motto let’s them test out their ideas. Be sure to also check out Motto’s sister restaurant—Makan.