MY 7 FAVORITE CAFÉS IN BEIRUT, LEBANON
1-KALEI COFFEe CO.
KALEI COFFEe CO.
I haven't been to every cafe in Beirut, (but it's definitely on my list of things to do this summer, so stay tuned for more posts on that) but Kalei is my favorite cafe in Beirut, hands down. Why? Because of the atmosphere. And the aesthetics. The coffee is also on point (if you care about that sort of thing). I never go to Kalei to chill, I always go to study or work, and I once stayed there for 7 hours, physically fusing my bottom to the chair I was sitting on, and it was great. Kalei's food is a bit overpriced (like everything else in Lebanon), but it's very green-movement friendly, which basically means you'll find a variety of options, particularly if you're vegan or vegetarian. They also have a rooftop, a garden, and an indoor area, in other words, Kalei will have something for you, no matter what your preference is. The place is located on a quiet road on the outskirts of Mar Mikhael that is always mostly quiet. The only problem is the fact that it's always crazy packed with people on weekends (because it's that great), so I'd advise going on a weekday or really early to be able to get a good table.
My favorite item on the menu: The Espresso Lemonade.
2-DAWAWINE (closed down)
To call Dawawine a cafe would be an insult. With its own library, a 32-seat movie theater, and a bookshop, this bistro turned café is actually a living breathing cultural center. With all that it has to offer you'd think that Dawawine would be packed with people on a daily basis, but that's not the case, you can walk in on any given day and usually find a place to sit at, granted it might not be the best seat in the house, but it will be a seat nonetheless. Dawawine is designed in a way to make you feel like it's never packed (even when it is), it isn't saturated with seats and tables as to maximize the number of people that could fit in, there's just enough seats to make you feel like it's not completely deserted, but not more. Overall, the music they play is great, the place is great, and the people are great, they're also always changing the menu which makes it fun to go to.
My favorite item on the menu: there used to be a brioche bun burger and a pineapple salad that I loved.
RAOUCHE OR SESSINE
I'm not going to sit here and explain to you what Starbucks is all about, chances are you've already been there. The reason these two particular Starbucks locations are on my list is that they're opened 24/7. I'm a forever night owl, so Starbucks Raouche and Starbucks Sessine are lifesavers. Thank you, Starbucks. Please sponsor me.
My favorite item on the menu: The Iced Black Coffee.
Salon Beyrouth is a gem. The interior design theme is to die for, the aesthetic is stunning and the food is delicious. I love this place and the only reason it's not my favorite café in Beirut is because I haven't been to it a lot because I've discovered it only a few months ago. If you're a fan of working in the outdoors with a natural light setting but you can't stand the Beirut heat (who can really at this point?), Salon Beyrouth is perfect because they also have a sort of huge plastic tent area with high ceilings and walls (transparent obviously) that will make you feel like you're outdoors when you're really indoors. The only con is that it gets pretty crowded at night, so night owls who like peace and quiet, this one might not be for you.
My favorite item on the menu: The Saucisse merguez.
5-DE PRAGUE(closed down)
Art meets coffee meets delicious food at De Prague. This place has an overall general cozy feeling to it, very chill and friendly, perfect for a casual night or day. The music is nice and calm, and they even sometime showcase old silent black&white movies. This is one of the rare places on the list where I go to even if I don't have work, just to enjoy my time with some friends.
My favorite item on the menu: The Brie au Four.
Urbanista is one place that took over Beirut by storm, in a couple of years they have managed to open up branches almost everywhere: Gemmayzeh, ABC Ashrafieh, Bliss, Downtown, Minet el Hosn, and more. And although the Gemmayzeh branch is the one I've been the to the most, my favorite one is the branch in Quoreitem. It's the same food ( they tend to add and remove stuff from their menu almost every couple of months) but the decor is more modern and sleek, whereas the Gemmayzeh one is more of a hipster/graffiti vibe. Also, it's closer to my home, so: convenience. When it comes to studying or working, some people will tell you that this isn't the greatest place as they tend to play their music pretty loud, but you can just bring your earphones or noise canceling earplugs and shouldn't have any problem.
My favorite item on the menu: The Chicken, Spinach, and Strawberry Salad.
Compared to all the above-mentioned places, Sip is a relatively new kid on the block. Its first branch opened in Gemmayzeh a few months ago, and it did so well that they already opened up a new one in Aishti by the Sea in Antelias (which I haven't been to YET). My only two issues with this café are the same ones that I have with Kalei: I think its a bit overpriced (again.. everything in Lebanon is overpriced) and it's always (almost) fully packed, so you really do need to come early or be very lucky. I think you've noticed by this point, but the cafés I prefer really need to be either extremely aesthetically pleasing (with good food and coffee obviously) or very convenient (24/7 opened), or both. Sip is extremely aesthetically pleasing, the atmosphere is chic yet laid back and the staff is super friendly, it's also very quiet, even when packed with people.
My favorite item on the menu: the g.o.a.t.