Karam sits on the border between simplicity and rich tradition. The experience here is all about the food, hearty, filling Lebanese food that is both generous and tasty. And for that reason, Karam might just offer the perfect introduction to Lebanese gastronomy. With this in mind, the mezze is one of the best options here. Similar to the Italian antipasto, but richer both in variety and quantity, the mezze comprises a number of simple but tantalizing small platters: fattoush (salad with vegetables and breadcrumbs), hummus (a creamy dip made from chickpeas), preserved vegetables, yoghurt, pita bread and many others. Arak, Lebanon's national, anise-based drink, makes for a great finish to the rich meal.
Tawlet has a great concept behind it. A branch of Souk el Tayeb, a market where small-scale farmers from every region of Lebanon come together to sell their produce, Tawlet offers typical Lebanese food made with fresh ingredients brought by the farmers themselves, served as a buffet. But in addition to the high-quality food, Tawlet's most characteristic feature is that every day, a different guest chef from a different village in Lebanon cooks a lunch based on the culinary delicacies of his or her area, making Tawlet the venue to sample Lebanese cuisine in all its regional variations. At Tawlet, food reflects culture and for those who really want to get in touch with Lebanon's culinary culture, the restaurant also offers cooking classes.
For typical Lebanese food on the go and on a budget, visitors to Beirut should plan a stop at Kabab-ji. From a single outlet which opened in Beirut in 1993, Kabab-ji has grown to become a chain of restaurants covering all major cities in Lebanon, with a few extra around the world. However, this is by no means a simple fast food venue. Despite the fast service, the char-grilled meats (and the kebab) that are served in sandwiches or on platters are prepared with care and fresh ingredients, and make Kabab-ji a favorite among locals.
The mission of Al Balad is to twist traditional Lebanese recipes to introduce ingredients and flavors from around the world, while remaining faithful to the essentials of the country's cuisine. Customers can choose from a variety of grilled meats, salads, pitas and fetteh, a typical dish that has breadcrumbs as its base, and which can be mixed with a variety of other ingredients. Of all dishes, the most popular must be the kebbeh, a sort of large meatball covered with rice or bulgur, and fried.
Em Sherif is perfect for those seeking an unconventional fine-dining experience in the heart of Beirut. It's a themed restaurant with a luxurious atmosphere inspired by the far-away Orient. Em Sherif boasts a sophisticated and exclusive decor rich in detail, and features a band playing classical Arab music, conveying Lebanon's culture. Despite the Oriental setting, the menu is typically Lebanese, and sure enough it includes the traditional mezze. Alongside carefully presented and generous portions, customers can choose from a fine selection of French, Italian and Lebanese wines.
The Culture Trip