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No visit to Beirut is complete without trying Lebanese culinary specialties; the cuisine here is considered among the best in the Arab world and the Mediterranean. Beirut also has a large Armenian population, with some interesting twists on traditional Lebanese fare. Fresh fish is plentiful, meat is grilled to perfection and the variety of mezze (appetizers) is a delight for vegetarians and food lovers in general. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best Beirut food experiences.
1. Manouche. This bready delight is cooked in a superheated oven where it gets crisp and bubbly, then drizzled with olive oil and spices. Some people swear by Zaatar W. Zeit, others are fond of the manakeesh at Furn el Hamra.
2. Soujouk. This meaty and spicy cured sausage that might show up at breakfast with eggs or stuffed into sandwich. Try it at Mano; its spicy and tangy taste is really addicting.
3. Falafel. Made from ground chickpeas and or fava, seasoned and fried, falafel warm from the fryer is absolutely delicious. We especially like them tucked into a flatbread along with tomatoes and slathered with garlicky sauce. You’ll find two first-rate shops side-by-side called Falafel Sahyoun; they’re run by brothers.
4. Foul. A filling and sustaining bean stew with pureed fava beans and whole chickpeas, foul is garnished with chopped tomatoes, onions and parsley. Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you try it at Sousi restaurant.
5. Ice Cream. If you’re thinking you’ve had ice cream before; trust us, you haven’t live until you’ve tasted Hanna Mitri’s Middle Eastern ice cream with sensuous flavors like cardamom, rose water and saffron.