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Balima Café

2 Mar

To all the Madames: Balima’s Croque-Monsieur is the new man of your dreams. Fluffy, dulcet bread topped with velvety baked cheese (ham or turkey) will have you begging for a second date. Rich and delicate to the palate, and best served with mustard spread, this monsieur will never disappoint. Comfort food at its best, your stomach will be singing sweet songs of love. Even McDreamy can’t dare to compare.

The wait staff on the other hand, generally embody the McDreamy antichrist. Frequently non-responsive, the concept of customer service has not yet landed on Balima Island. Forget them, nothing should stop you from enjoying your man.

Except maybe, their soups of the day…Garden-fresh, spoonfuls of heaven like the Shrimp Corn Chowder make for a delightful meal on a cold day (a heavy compliment coming from a Bostonian!).

The only café in Saifi Village, Balima is home to Posh Nation. Goes to show, sometimes love is found in the most peculiar of places.

Ghalghoul Street, Saifi Village

Tel: +961 01 985295

Open Monday-Sunday, 8am to 12am


The Greedy Goose

2 Mar

Trivia Night is the golden egg of the Greedy Goose resto-pub nestled on a dim-lit corner of Monot. Every Monday night, at approximately 9-after-dark, teams like The Snozberries, Decepticons, and Stop-This-Quiz-I’ve-Got-to-Wee, gather in the English old stone pub to eat, drink, and compete for trivia master titles. A wide range of topics are tested; from album covers to biology to cinematic history.

The word “Trivia,” originates from its Latin parent, “Trivium,” meaning “where three roads meet.” Consequently, all paths cross at the Greedy Goose. However, it takes true brit to contend!

To go along with a fine course of Trivia, the Lamb Burger with Strawberry Sauce is a scrumptiously juicy selection, washed down with their Ecusson Cider–makes for a truly classic experience. Forget the ordinary appetizers, their Stew of the Day will most likely knock you senseless.

Beware, this Goose is Greedy indeed, and your wallet will suffer the consequences.

Tel: +961 01 227883

Monot Street, Monot

Open Monday-Friday, 5pm to 1am, Saturday & Sunday 11am to 1am


Coop D’Etat

9 Feb

Coop d'Etat, Beirut, LebanonCoop D’Etat may not be the stomping ground for your local Sons of Anarchy, but its rooftop refuge attracts the most amusing international bunch. Foreign professors and students alike gather to indulge in backyard-barbecue under the Beirut sky. Chow tasty homemade hotdogs, burgers, and beer, on simple tables lit by one giant billboard and colored lights. Coop D’Etat rests atop the Saifi Institute for Arabic Language; down from Gemmayze and just above the Autostrad. You might even happen upon a night of live music. All beware, Coop D’Etat’s bar is short and its tables fill quickly!

If the weather permits, welcome into your weekend this bohemian nook!

Tel: +961 71 134173

Saifi Urban Gardens, Pasteur Street, Gemmayze (behind Coral Gas Station & Mandaloon Grill)

Open Friday-Saturday February & March (7 days-a-week all other months!) 7pm to 2am


Cassis – bistro bar

6 Feb

No one speaks Smoked Salmon Tartar like Cassis Bistro & Bar on Uruguay street. A perfectly-sized treat, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and served on beet carpaccio. Wow, I loathe beets… but lo’ and behold Cassis, I now love beet carpaccio.

Monday through Sunday, Cassis packs em’ like sardines. No reservation, you’re sitting at the bar. Don’t worry, the bar isn’t such a bad place. Paul the bartender will tell you so. Fresh drinks and pleasant picks of wine by-the-glass–a hard thing to come by in Beirut (we obviously don’t like drinking in single servings). Cassis even has a delectable non-alcoholic fruity cocktail selection that’s ACTUALLY on the menu.

Forget the pasta, fish n’ chips, & standard food expectables…

Like a meteorite, Quinoa hit Beirut restaurants with a bang. Beirut is wild about you, Quinoa. Even my Teta makes quinoa. Who thought that Andean Shepherds and Abou Abed could share something in common? (Not a biggie, they also share Maté) So the quest for the best Quinoa in Beirut ensues…

Drumroll…Cassis, you have the best Quinoa Salad yet! It’s that nitty gritty grain-like substance that requires special care to master. Should it taste soapy or sloppy, it becomes the peasant meal that it is (think “bulgar”). When cooked to perfection, it becomes a divine Fair-Trade delicacy.

Expect all intimate conversation to end by 10:30, when the music goes nuts.

Tel: +961 01 989811. Call ahead for reservations.

Uruguay street (behind An-Nahar building), Downtown Beirut. 

Monday-Sunday, 9am-3am.

Joe Peña’s (“Joe Rock’s”)

4 Feb

DIOS MIO las fajitas mexicanas de Joe Peña’s are top in town! Yes, some cool cat named Joe actually labeled his restaurant, “Joe Rocks.” Wait a minute, that’s just his name. Yes, it’s an undercover restaurant chain, and cool Joe will empty your wallet before the night is through. Sadly, it’s so worth it.

Tucked away on a side street of Gemmayze, Joe Peña’s hip milieu brings together a different crowd every night.

Let’s start with the 17,000 LL Guacamole. The first time I ever paid about $12 for Guacamole was at Joe Peña’s. It’s like paying $12 for Foul. For the record, Guacamole is not so exotic, it costs pesos to make-it-yourself at home (even in Beirut). Confession: I still order it every time.

If you like reading books, pick up Joe Peña’s drink menu, and sing your cocktail ABC’s. Margarita pitchers & fine Caipirinhas aside, Joe Peña’s also makes a mean Mai Tai.

Gettin’ to the gold: Try one of the more daring fajita mixes such as the Chicken, Banana & Coconut, the Beef & Pineapple, or the Camarones (Shrimp) & Chicken. However, prepare your stomach because these bad boys are fillers. One order of Fajitas is suitable for two.

Boutros Dagher Street, Gemmayze

Tel: +961 01 449906.  Call ahead for reservations.

Open Sunday-Tuesday 5pm-1am, Wednesday-Saturday 7pm-2am. Kitchen closes at 12.


¡GARCIA’S! Cantina y Cocteleria

2 Feb

¡Ode to Margaritas! There are but a few places in town where a kid can get a fresh Marg– Garcia’s is one of them. Nestled between Bread Republic and Gloria Jean’s in Hamra, you can’t miss the steps to the red building with Carlos Santana booming through its doors. In Beirut, it’s hard to get a true fix of TexMex. So when a new place opens up, everyone’s there.

I was warmly ushered in by the manager Tony, who gave me the menu rundown. The following weekend, Beirut went Mexican and Garcia’s was jammed.

And there began the sad story of my margarita…

15 minutes ordered…no margarita. 25 minutes ordered twice…no margarita. 45 minutes ordered thrice…no margarita. And when it finally came, it was lonely without salt.

“Excuse me, but I ordered my margarita with salt–“

Waiter: “Do you want to wait another 15 minutes for it then?”

Now that, is serious customer service. Applause Beirut, you’ve done it again. The Lebanese have outdone the French in restaurant service reputation–another success for the Guinness World Records (plus it’s really a different story when you’re serving Osso Bucco).

The Enchiladas, however, were the tip of the iceberg. In fact, they almost flung me off of the iceberg when I had to pay $20 dollars for my half-eaten plate of dried-out Enchilada-impersonators. My mexican friends would’ve shed tears over the Burrito and the Quesadillas as they were no exception. I would’ve been happier microwaving frozen taquitos from Spinney’s.

The Truth: In the Motherland Mexico, not even gringos pay $20 for Abuela‘s handmande enchiladas.

My Advice? The bar is the safe-zone. Stick to the drinks, if you can get them.

Nehme Yafet Street, Hamra

Tel: +961 1738538


Open Monday-Sunday, 6pm to 2am. Call ahead for reservations.

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