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Danielle Issa 01 Jan 2015

Food Concepts We Wish Would Come to Beirut in 2015

In Lebanon, we are fortunate to have delicious cuisine rich with Mediterranean flavors and fresh local produce. From the lavish mezza spread to heartwarming home-cooked stews, our gastronomy is undoubtedly wholesome and well-rounded. But there’s a ton of superb savors out there that we could be wiser to enjoy in the mighty Beirut capital.

Follow me as we voyage overseas to bring home the best the foodie world’s got to offer. Here’s hoping 2015 will see some of these incredible edibles pop up on the Lebanese landscape.


(Image via Washingtonian)

The other night, I hosted some friends over for tacos and was incredulous when one inquisitively asked what tacos are. That ignorance should be a cardinal sin. Tacos, and their cousins the burritos, are the epitome of Tex-Mex cuisine. The former can comprise crispy or soft corn tortilla rounds folded in half and stuffed with seasoned minced meat, salsa, diced tomatoes, finely shredded lettuce, and grated cheddar. The latter features a soft flour tortilla bursting at the seams with a bean-and-beef mix and much the same garnishes as in tacos. I rule that the days of hot dog stands are numbered—it’s high time we ushered in tacos and burritos!

Smoked Meat Sandwiches

(Image via Follow me Foodie)

If you’ve ever lived in Montreal, you know that nothing compares in succulence, tenderness and juiciness to the smoked meat sandwich. Montreal-style smoked meat is a type of deli made by salting and curing beef brisket with spices, allowing it to absorb the flavors for over a week, and finally hot-smoking and steaming it to completion. The meat is typically served in rye bread slathered with yellow mustard, accompanied by a giant pickled cucumber to munch on. No such specimen exists in Lebanon, although the newly-opened Acoté in Mar Mikhael has introduced a more understated edition of the legendary sandwich. We’ve still got a long way to go.

Lobster Rolls

(Image via Food Republic)

Head due south from Montreal, and you’ll wade into the shores of Maine, the northeastern-most state in the grand US of A. Here, locals snack on lobster rolls, or sandwiches filled with butter-soaked lobster meat and served in a steamed hot dog bun slit on top. To be sure, the lobster meat includes knuckle, claw and tail meat chunks, with 4oz of meat (“1/4 pound”) advertised as the common serving size. Again, Acoté produces an admirable and perhaps less calorific take on the lobster roll, but I wish these sensational seafood sandwiches would become less of a rarity in Beirut.

Ramen Noodles

(Image via Week Nite Meals)

I grew up on ramen noodles in Southern California, but unfortunately few folks in these parts can relate to the delectable soup dish hailing from Japan. While there’s certainly a cheap, commercial version for students and budget eaters that comes in the form of a square package or microwaveable Styrofoam cup (aka “instant noodles”), what I’m referring to are the freshly cooked Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat- or occasionally fish-based broth and flavored with soy sauce or miso. Toppings can accommodate sliced meat, dried seaweed and green onions. Wouldn’t Beirut be the better if it had a couple noodle bars lining its cosmopolitan streets? Slurp.

Frozen Yogurt

(Image via Chevydetroit)

This last entry has already taken Lebanon by storm, but I’d like to see frozen yogurt priced as a staple good and NOT as a refined delicacy. Honestly, the prices associated with frozen yogurt in Lebanon, whether by cup size or weight, are astronomically high, and for what?! You leave Pinkberry with a 15,000 LL bill for the swirly frozen novelty and some toppings to ornament it.Contrast that to the US, where self-service bars and significantly lower prices make it accessible to everyone. Lebanese vendors, take note—we demand affordable froyo!