On a recent trip to Dubai, I was mesmerized by the endless array of dining options you could find inside the mall. Every chain to have ever opened in North America, Europe and even Lebanon seems to be serving the finest fare to droves of people shuffling through.

Here’s what most struck a chord with my inner foodie and what I dream will make a debut in Beirut in the near future.

1. Eataly

Eataly is a gourmand’s mecca filled with high-end Italian food products, baked goods, and even small restaurants where you can pop in for a freshly-cooked meal. Founded in 2004 and sprouting up in cities across the world, Eataly has secured a sizeable location on the lower ground level of Dubai Mall. Venture in for a picture-perfect cannoli and follow it up with an espresso or ristretto at the Illy coffee counter. You can also find all your favorite Italian deli meats, cheeses, pastas, nougats, and more at this gourmet emporium. Dear Eataly, Lebanese = Italian. Therefore, come to Beirut!

Find out more about Eataly here.

2. The Butcher Shop & Grill

A friend in Beirut had raved wildly to me about the food at The Butcher Shop & Grill, a South African restaurant famous for its aged beef and perfectly done steaks. Indeed, on my visit, I was left dazzled with the Pulled Beef Sandwich, featuring stringy succulent chunks of beef smothered in melted Swiss and stuffed between two thin slices of toasted brown bread. The thick, crunchy steak fries and sweet pickle shavings were also first-rate, but the onion rings took home the cake. With the perfect onion-to-breading ratio and lightly battered texture, they were easily the best I've ever had. Ever. Rumor has it that The Butcher Shop & Grill is moving into Beirut Souks in the shopping complex adjacent to Cinema City. I cannot contain my excitement!

Find out more about The Butcher Shop Grill here.

3. Angelina

Anyone who knows their Parisian sweet tooth knows that Angelina is the queen in the City of Lights. With superior hot chocolate that’s quite literally a melted slab of chocolate, as well as the world’s finest chestnut-puree Mont Blanc dessert, Angelina is a luxury patisserie and café where you’d be lucky to secure a seat. Before you indulge your sugar craving, though, the Eggs Benedict are a must, with poached eggs quivering gently over golden brioche bread topped with hollandaise and a protein element of your choosing. Beirut can never pack enough French pastry shops…venez vous à Beyrouth, chère Angelina!

Find out more about Angelina here.

4. The Ice Cream Lab

With a slogan like, “A Delicious Experiment” and some very enticing freezing apparatuses, you can’t help but be drawn to the counter at the Ice Cream Lab. The idea, born in Beverly Hills in 2013, revolves around the molecular gastronomy cooking concept utilizing liquid nitrogen to instantly freeze different natural ingredients into ice cream. Freshness takes on a whole new meaning here, and you won’t find any of the gunk normally piped into store-bought ice cream. I could totally see this becoming the next big thing in Beirut after froyo.

Find out more about The Ice Cream Lab here.

5. Jimmy the Greek

Ever sampled souvlaki while abroad? The popular Greek fast food consists of small pieces of meat—typically pork or chicken—and occasionally vegetables grilled on a skewer. Stuffed inside a pita, souvlaki is then garnished with sliced tomatoes and onions and sauced with tzatziki, a cool strained yogurt mixed with cucumbers and garlic. Jimmy the Greek is a storied Toronto institution that opened its doors inside Dubai Mall and is serving scrumptious souvlaki to the masses. Doesn’t the fact that we have ancient Greek ruins sprawled across Lebanon justify the presence of Greek cuisine in these parts? That’s a unanimous yes!

Find out more about Jimmy the Greek here.

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