The food is definitely expensive for what you would expect it to be. Be ready to pay 7-8$ for a wrap/shawarma. But you can find some comparably cheaper places with amazing food, some of them are below.
Where to Go
Zaatar w zeit: My favourate café in the whole country. They are already a chain and you will find them in many cities. The branch in Hamra was really great. The food was absolutely delicious. We liked literally everything we tried there from mankousheh with cheese and zaatar to wraps and to sweets. Staff were very nice. They go above and beyond to make you feel welcome.
T-Marbouta: Such a lovely place. They have an absolutely cute garden. The space inside is also decorated very tastefully, with a lot of books. The café is almost always full though, so keep in mind to either go during the less busy times or book it in advance.
Mezyan: This café turned out a bit difficult to find, it took a couple of tries 😊 It is located in an office building. You will have to go inside through a door, which you think just leads to offices. They have yummy mezes, humus and babaganoush were veeery tasty. The service is not as great, as in some other places, but the staff are quite all right.
Chocolate Bar: Ah, I adored this chocolate filled place. They have s stand downstairs and places to sit upstairs. We tried double-triple chocolate ice-creams, delicious cakes and coffees with mountains of cream and deliciousness on them. I didn’t get to try fondue there, so looking forward to going back some day.
B.Hive: One of the many newly opened modern cafes in Beirut. This café is great for working. There is a silent space downstairs, where people sit with laptops and work. They also have great coffee – hot and cold.
Where not to Go
Barbar: This chain has many branches, including in Hamra, which shows that Lebanese like it. It is indeed cheaper than other places in Beirut, but the food is terrible. We tried donners (shawarma) and hated them. The chicken didn’t taste like chicken at all, Portions were tiny. Overall, it’s not worth it going here for cheaper food.
Le Chef: This place was recommended on a number of forums, so we decided to check it out. The prices were okay, but the food was terrible – the kofte were greasy, the boiled meat very hard and basically not chewable. We left more than half of the food. On top of this, the staff are extremely rude, they just dump the plates in front of you and scowl at you, like you have their debt.
Bonus: Outside Beirut
Abdul Rahman Hallab & Sons 1881 In Tripoli: This is heaven for you, if you like Arab sweets. They have great baklavas, tasty ice cream and tons of different cakes. It is an authentic Lebanese place. The staff are extremely nice and helpful. We spent a lot of time choosing what we wanted and they were very patient giving us recommendations and helping choose.
Restaurant Abou Deeb in Tyre: A cheap restaurant with quite good food. Meat tasted nice, hummus was yummy. The environment is not modern, looks more like a canteen, but it definitely is worth it given good food and cheap prices. The staff were also very nice and helpful. Go here, if you are in Tyre, instead of to the very expensive and faceless restaurants on the promenade. It is definitely worth a visit.