There are many places, in and around Beirut, where you can still eat a delicious and fulfilling meal, have fun and still keep your money for whatever else.
Some of the cheap places I know and like are:
- Malak Al Taouk (Bliss, Jounieh, Achrafieh, and Furn el Chebbak): One Tawouk Extra will fill you up very well. The sandwiches are huge and cheap (5000 for a sandwich).
- Snack Hammoudi (Zkak El Blatt): A very tiny snack with a couple of stools that might drive away the inexperienced, this place however is worth the try (be prepared to eat while standing). Go all the way and get yourself an Escaloppe sandwich with extra garlic (toum extra). Will set you back L.L. 3500 and will kill your hunger for the rest of the day.
- Go Tango (Koraitem or Beirut Arab University): Huge portions and very reasonable prices. My all-time favorite is the Zinger which is, well the same to the identically-named KFC sandwich, but around twice bigger. I also like their appetizers (twister fries are a very tasty way to block your arteries :D ). You can have a decent meal for around L.L. 15000.
- Falafel Sahyoun (Bechara El Khoury): Falafel is a staple of Lebanese societey, a synonym for being hungry and having little money. While you typically need at least two sandwiches to satisty you, a sandwich is for only L.L. 1500. Best Falafel in town.
- Barbar (Hamra or Spears): A Beiruti placemark that everyone knows. I especially love the Shawarma there. Best enjoyed just standing there on the sidewalk next to the ever-present policeman (Darakeh) who will most likely be eating a sandwich himself, but that's another story. Will fill you up for L.L. 10000 or less.
- Napoletana (Hamra): Their pizzas are just moutwatering. Make sure you try the Quattro Staggione and the Regina.
- Roadster Diner (Ashrafieh,Jounieh, Hamra,Verdun, and others): The combo Fajitas are awesome, and if you like it spicy try the Cuban 220 burger. For dessert, prepare yourself for a sugar rush wih the Marbeled Mud Pie.
- T.G.I. Friday's (Downtown or Jounieh): You absolutely have to try the Quesadillas mmmm. Excellent food quality overall and good service, I also like how they put a piece of peach in the peach ice tea.
- Crepaway (Hamra, Furn el Shebbak, or Jounieh): My personal favorite is the Cajun Chicken platter and for desert, none other than the Godfather himself, James Brownie. Did I mention their salads are awesome? Try the Salsalada. Note however that unless you're willing to deal with a swarm of teenagers and preteens never go to the Jounieh branch on a Friday night, or you'll feel like an old geezer in no time.
- Burger Nation (Hamra): This one is a new favorite of mine. The meat is of a very good quality, and the buns and ingredients are fresh overall. You can create your own burger (yes, this is the new fad) or order something from what they have. Delicious.
- BOB's Easy Diner (Verdun, ABC Ashrafieh and City Mall): OK I was hesitant whether to include this one. You see the food is great but the atmosphere was so-so. Went to the Verdun branch with my girlfriend and the waiter wouldn't leave us alone, always "checking on us", and taking our platters away.. There's something called being TOO nice (khalas ya khayyeh)! Alright I would understand if the waiters did this on a busy day, but the place was almost empty then, they had better left us sitting there instead of hurrying us out; besides they overdid it with the jokes in the posters, and Bob's rules (something along the lines of eat, enjoy, get out!). Anyway as I said the food is great, but maybe next time I'll go to another branch. Try the Ranchero Chicken or the Smoke House burger.
Next, I will write about the phenomenon of Valet Parking in Lebanon.
Enjoy the weekend!