Lebanese cuisine is one of the world's finest; eating is a highlight of any trip here. Most meals start with a choice of mezze (small dishes) and are a godsend for vegetarians. Seafood and grilled meats often feature as mains, and decadently sweet pastries follow.

In Beirut, the diversity and quality of food on offer matches many international cities: you’ll find it all here.

Lebanese Cuisine

The equivalent of Italian antipasto or Spanish tapas, Lebanese mezze are the most famous elements of the Lebanese menu and are the perfect way to start a meal…or, with enough little dishes, to form a meal in themselves. The following form the nucleus of the Lebanese mezze menu and are almost always served with pita bread.

Hummus Chickpea-and-tahini (sesame-seed paste) dip

Kibbeh Croquettes of finely ground meat and minced onion encased in burghul (cracked wheat) and either fried or cooked in broth; a popular vegetarian version features spiced pumpkin

Kibbeh labaniyye Kibbeh balls cooked in a warm yoghurt sauce

Kibbeh nayyeh Raw spiced minced lamb topped with herbs and olive oil

Labneh Thick yoghurt seasoned with olive oil and garlic

Moujaddara Lentils cooked with rice and onions

Muttabal Eggplant-and-tahini dip

Sambusas Fried cheese or meat pastries, similar to samosas

Shanklish Strong-tasting aged cow- or sheep-milk cheese, often rolled into balls and covered in dried zaatar or thyme

Warak arish Stuffed vine leaves (also known as wara anaib)

Three popular salads are often ordered alongside mezze:

Fattoush Toasted pita bread, cos lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and sumac

Roca and wild-thyme salad

Tabouleh Parsley, tomato, spring onion, burghul salad and mint

Main courses tend to be meat or fish dominated, and include the following:

Kofta Mincemeat with parsley and spices grilled on a skewer

Sayadieh Fish and rice topped with onion sauce

Shish tawooq Chicken marinated in olive oil, lemon, parsley and sumac and then grilled on skewers

There are also tasty fast-food options on offer:

Falafel Deep-fried balls of spiced chickpeas and/or fava beans served on a platter or wrapped in pita bread

Lahme baajin Spiced ground meat and tomato pizza

Manakeesh Thyme-and-olive-oil pizza

Shawarma Thin slices of marinated meat garnished with fresh vegetables, pickles and tahini, wrapped in pita bread