on Jul 21, 2014 By Danielle Issa
You’ve just spent most of your paycheck getting sloshed in Gemmayzeh, crawling from one pub to the next, trying to drown out the vestiges of a strenuous work week. The hunger starts to set in, but you pull out your wallet and peer in skeptically, a few thousand liras staring back at you with menacing reproach. You have to get some grub in that paunch, but pride won’t permit you to pose as homeless, and you’re certainly not pawning those Tom Ford’s. So who’s going to host a binger on a budget like you?
Steady yourself. I’ve got five life-saving dining outlets lining Gemmayzeh that will happily trade tasty nosh for your beer-stained bucks.
Massaad is new to Gemmayzeh but certainly not to Lebanon - it is a veritable foodie’s mecca in Zahle and has become celebrated for its uniquely presented taouk sandwich. Dubbed a “taouk tabliyeh” (10,000 LL), this hefty wrap comes served on a small wooden breadboard heaving with sides of coleslaw, hummus, garlic aioli, fries, pickled wild cucumbers and horseradish. A quick digest of the wrap itself: fragrant cubes of grilled chicken taouk are outfitted with French fries and garlic and bundled up into a taut sandwich, which is then crisped over a flame before being smeared with zaatar and olive oil. For a final and distinctive touch, Massaad slices up the roll à la sushi, offering a satisfying cross-sectional view of this little beast’s juicy contents.
Image via Blog Baladi
Don't question its name (who in their right mind would want to pose as a French expression meaning “so-so”?!), but Comsi Comsaj has utterly transformed Lebanese saj as we know it.
Here’s the concept: a round flatbread is heated on a dome-shaped oven and then spread liberally with toppings and fillings of your choice - yes, you can even get hamburger patties and hot dogs stuffed in saj. The turkey-and-cheese number comes with all the trimmings: Romaine lettuce, tomato, mustard and a lick of mayo. The vegetarian pizza is another absolute must, but quite frankly, you won’t go wrong with any of Comsi Comsaj’s ravishing wraps.
*Other locations across Lebanon.
Image via Facebook
Le Chef is a 50-year-plus fixture of Gemmayzeh that has become a hit with tourists, expats, and cash-strapped backpackers seeking a more traditional bite along the Gemmayzeh drag. Recently renovated to a more pristine and hygienic interior, Le Chef serves a steady menu of mezza favorites in addition to a rotating plat du jour.
Dishes fare between 6,000 LL and 10,000 LL and include staples like baba ghannouj, lentil soup, mloukhieh (Jew’s mallow) with lamb, and fried cauliflower with a special tahineh dipping sauce.
Image via The Daily Star
In the heart of Saifi Urban Gardens, Café Em Nazih welcomes people from all walks of life for a chilled-out, unpretentious atmosphere jazzed up with live musical performances, quiz nights every Wednesday at 9:15 p.m., and home-style cuisine that won’t put a dent in your wallet.
The spiced potato cubes, batata 7arra (4,000 LL), embody the perfect crisp-to-tender ratio. And if it’s real comfort food you’re craving, order the lentil pilaf, mdardara (8,000LL). Just be prepared to cope with a mélange of expats, exchange students, and the requisite self-service (gasp!).
Saifi Urban Gardens
Image via Foursquare
Though Zaatar W Zeit may strike you as a clichéd option, there’s a reason they’ve popped up ubiquitously in Lebanon as they continue to reinvent themselves and streamline their “wholesome goodness.” ZWZ’s zaatar & cheese wrap (4,000 LL), featuring the best of both worlds on one round flatbread, is supreme, and if you order it with multigrain bread, fresh tomatoes and olives, and a handful of peppermint leaves, you’ll double your pleasure and nutrition.
If it’s something more substantial you require, the Famous Chicken (11,000 LL) will do wonders with its hulking chunks of chicken breast, melted cheese, and the imperative aioli sauce to keep muggers at bay.
Gourard Street facing the Police Station
Image via Foodspotting
Danielle Issa is a food blogger in Lebanon. You can find her on Twitter, and be sure to check out her blog, Beirutista.
Hi Danielle. Just wanted to let you know that Abu'Shanab has closed down in Gemmayzeh.
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