Below is a brief description of local and foreign restaurants in Lebanon. You will also find a summary of Lebanese cuisine.
Being a hospitable people who also have an eye for business, the Lebanese are natural when it comes to preparing and serving food. The high standard of hospitality extends to service as well. “I’ve never seen a bad Lebanese waiter,” one visitor to Lebanon remarked. That same visitor might also have added that he’d never had a bad Lebanese meal, For quality and value, nothing beats this popular fare.
You can find Lebanese restaurants almost everywhere in the country, often tucked away in river valleys or outdoors in shaded glens. In summer mountain restaurants often operate under simple shelters of reed mats or arbors of fruit trees and grape vines. Tables are set beneath waterfalls, beside rushing rivers, or clustered around icy spring-fed pools.
Mezze & Main Dishes
The extravagant Lebanese mezze represents the high point of the country’s hospitality. The mezze can have 10 or 20 small dishes of appetizers but on grand occasions there may be as many as 50 or even 100. Mezze staples are hommos – a chickpea puree with lemon and sesame paste – and bahaganouj – a dip made of roasted eggplant, sesame paste, lemon and garlic. Raw or fried kibbe – fresh lamb pounded with ground wheat and seasoned with onion, fresh mint, salt and pepper – is also a favorite.
Lamb is very popular and is used in many traditional dishes. Lamb roasts are often stuffed with rice and nuts. There is kafta meshwiyye – minced lamb mixed with finely chopped onion and parsley and broiled on skewers over charcoal. Shawarma – slices of highly seasoned lamb cooked on a slowly revolving spit – is an old standby, while sheesh kabab, lamb cooked on a skewer, is perhaps the biggest favorite of all.
Sophisticated and well-traveled, the Lebanese are always ready to try foods from abroad. The story of foreign restaurants in the country reflects both international relations and the contacts and experiences of individual entrepreneurs.
That French cuisine was one of the first to enjoy popularity is not surprising, given France’s long historical association with this country. But by the 1960’s the flavors of Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Hungarian. German, Indian and American food were added. Today the list is nearly endless with newly popular Tex-Mex Thai, Greek cuisine and dozens of others vying for attention.