Victor Hugo Street, Ashrafeih
Chef MireiIle Hayek has opened some of the city’s most popular restaurants (La Parrilla, Yasmina), and her prix fixe menu at this locals-packed traditional Lebanese restaurant includes favorites like fattoush salad and hummus, alongside more unusual dishes like kibbeh nayeh (raw lamb mixed with wheat and spices) and sawda djej (chicken liver topped with pomegranate seeds). The ice cream with caramelized pistachios and spun sugar is just…there are no words.
Saint Nicolas, Achrafieh
Inside this bullet-riddled, semi-decrepit, since-1949 building is arguably the best ice cream in Beirut. The family-run shop makes “booza araibeh,” sticky, taffy-like ice cream made with mastic gum and salep. Ingredients are pounded with a giant wooden paddle until scoopable. There are only eight flavors, all of which sell out every day. The menu covers universal loves, like chocolate and strawberry and pistachio, as well as local flavors like rosewater and apricot with pine nuts.
Rue Pasteur, Gemayze
One of the most romantic spots in Beirut, the Loris restaurant is named after a socialite who once lived there. Call ahead to reserve a spot on the patio, where you can smoke hookah (mint and apple mixed together is especially good) under twinkling lights. The chef’s modern twists on traditional Lebanese and Armenian dishes like manti (beef and pasta in a yogurt sauce) and muhammara (a spicy red pepper dip) are fantastic. You really can’t go wrong, even if you’re unfamiliar with the cuisine.
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