Magical mezze and so much more at some of the capital’s best Arabic eateries.
Beirut Sur Mer - Marsha Al Saadiyat
You’ll find this much-loved outlet at the stunning Mamsha beach on Saadiyat Island. Beirut Sur Mer is a Lebanese restaurant that boasts a contemporary yet eclectic ambiance, and is open all day, meaning you can try their extensive breakfast menu as well as its substantial and varied list of lunch and dinner dishes.
Not surprisingly, mezze is a big deal here, but the menu doesn’t stop there. Highlights include grilled halloumi with sweet and sour figs, poached eggs on spiced hash brown halloumi with avocado with zaatar avocado dip, plus slow-braised octopus chunks with zereshk. The minced pumpkin fried dumplings with vegetables and pomegranate molasses also bring the wow factor, as does the garlic sautéed beef cubes.
The restaurant, which serves alcohol, earned recognition in 2022 from the Michelin Guide, which lauded its commitment to good quality, value cooking. Beirut Sur Mer has become a noteworthy dining destination in the nation’s capital, and should be on the visit list of residents and tourists alike.
Grand Beirut - Galleria Mall, Al Maryah Island
Under the management umbrella of the team behind Beirut Sur Mer, this eatery, located in both Al Qana and Galleria Mall, offers a menu suited to big family visits and communal dining. In fact, the Lebanese grub on offer is both plentiful and tasty, with its owners often banging the drum about their commitment to quality ingredients.
The eatery provides an authentic Lebanese and Mediterranean culinary experience, boasting an extensive menu featuring a variety of hot and cold mezze alongside tlameh. Signature dishes include hummus Beiruti, halloumi ithmaliyeh, and a moreish batata bil belfol. Adding to the repertoire are the savory spinach fatayer, offering a delightful twist, and the refreshing quinoa with chickpeas, prawns, and avocado is an enticingly fresh option. Their kunafa is also a winner.
Visit here if you want a lively setting reminiscent of Levantine streets, friendly service and decent quality dishes.
Byblos Sur Mer - Intercontinental Abu Dhabi
Byblos Sur Mer has been a favourite in Abu Dhabi for several years now – and the critics agree. The restaurant has garnered recognition from Time Out and What's On in the UAE, solidifying its status as a noteworthy establishment.
This Lebanese outlet is nestled in a contemporary, two-level dining space, where you can enjoy authentic grilled meats and a diverse selection of mezze platters.
Guests laud Byblos Sur Mer for its stylish décor and live entertainment, which helps to create a jovial, relaxed and friendly ambiance. The terrace offers a picturesque view of the marina around the Intercontinental Hotel, and shisha can be ordered here.
The menu features standout dishes including a super smooth garlic hummus, shanklish cheese mixed with tomato, onion, and parsley, plus lamb sausages with oriental spices and lime, and a delightful mixed grill platter encompassing taouk, lamb, tikka, kofta, and more.
Another winning Kunafa dessert in the capital, this one is hailed as one of the best in the city.
Li Beirut - Conrad at Etihad Towers
An upmarket Lebanese restaurant set in an intricately designed space which delivers a mix of traditional and contemporary Levant dishes with some European influences thrown in for good measure.
The restaurant's appeal lies in its modern styling, marina views, and Beirut-inspired decor, which contribute to the overall ambiance.
Dishes of note include the Kunafa Wrapped Tiger Prawns, Cauliflower three Different Ways, and a variety of mezza options, including vine leaves and Baba Ghanouj. The terrace provides you with tranquil views of the Arabian Gulf. Make sure you leave some room for the dessert options including Honey Fudge and Umm Ali, among other favourites from the region.
Mijana - Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
Located inside the Ritz-Carlton hotel, Mijana offers traditional Lebanese cuisine against an elegant backdrop.
This contemporary Arabic restaurant also regularly offers regular live music, shisha, and traditional tea. Named after the poetic lyrics that initiate Lebanese folk songs, Mijana blends old and new, embodying the theatrical side of contemporary Arabic cuisine.
Inside you'll find frosted glass that surrounds the chefs, adding a touch of mystery as they prepare dishes and they offer events such as family nights and special seafood nights.
The menu encompasses an extensive cold mezze selection, featuring kibbeh and hummus, warm mezze dishes, classic shawarmas, and notable mains like Kibbah Labaniyaeh. Local specialties include the Lamb Ouzi, while the grill offers juicy meat options and seafood delicacies like the Mashawee Bahreeh. Still got room for dessert? You can choose from a selection of Arabic sweets or zesty sorbets.