Léa Sednaoui: where to eat in Beirut

Born in Paris and raised in Beirut, Léa Sednaoui brings the flavours of both to her two London projects – Chew Choose and Brunette Brisket. The former is a multi-platform affair that includes a podcast and dining club, all underpinned by a focus on food that nourishes soil, body and soul. This ethos is also very much in evidence in her pandemic project, Brunette Brisket, which sources ingredients from regenerative farms in the UK to create a restaurant-standard sous-vide brisket that you can heat and eat at home. We talked to her about the best homely joints in the food capital of the Middle East

‘After the explosion that devastated Beirut in 2020 and the ongoing corruption crisis, Lebanon is in a bittersweet place, and it’s been hard for the country’s restaurants. But the Lebanese are a people who retain a vital force in the face of adversity and many of the places that are dear to me have remained open. When I go back, I usually stick to eating simple local food of the sort that I miss when I’m in London. (Although my mother’s home cooking remains the best.)’



Tawlet is a restaurant, a market, and a passion project run by Kamal Mouzawak, a man on a mission to bring the Lebanese terroir to the fore in all its subtlety and brilliance. He invites women from different villages across the country to cook at the restaurant so you can try the same dish prepared completely differently one week to the next. Expect to rediscover traditional Lebanese dishes – stews, dips, salads. At Tawlet, you can taste all styles of kibbeh, so if it’s on the menu, be sure to order one of the baked kibbeh or stews.

Chalhoub Building, Sector 79, Naher Street, Mar Mikhael, Beirut 

Abou Joseph 

This kebab house in the Dekwaneh neighbourhood serves the best shawarma I’ve ever eaten. The shawarma master stands tall before his roasting pit, shaving off the most succulent slices of lamb or chicken into moist Arabic bread and condiments. The chicken and lamb are both excellent, but whichever one you’re having, make sure you order extra toum, as it’s one of the best garlic aïoli around. Toum is usually only served with chicken – they can frown all they want but I love it on lamb too!

WH4G+99F, Zalqa, Beirut


This restaurant is a little hidden gem in a beautiful old Lebanese house, which is only open to the public a few days a week. It’s part of a foundation created to support widows by giving them a space to sell their arts and crafts, and make some money cooking the specialities of the different regions they come from. An eclectic mix of people eat in the lovely garden at the back and the food is ever-changing but always classic Lebanese. Think stuffed vine leaves and chicken freekeh.  

VFVW+54M, Beirut

Ichkhanian Bakery  

Ichkhanian Bakery  

My Armenian family would not be happy if I missed off this iconic Armenian bakery near Al Zarif. Its speciality is lahm bi ajeen, which is a paper-thin Armenian version of the Turkish lahmacun. The ones they serve here come topped with minced lamb, cooked with spices and pomegranate molasses, and a choice of “reb har”, which is a traditional regional chili paste. They also do vegetarian ones made with mushrooms. Don’t miss their amazing Ayran, a kefir-type cultured milk drink, which goes perfectly with the lahm bi ajeen.  The only problem is deciding how many you will have!

VFVW+PP6, Beirut; ichkhanianbakery.com/



Casablanca is a pillar of the Beiruti dining scene. I’ve been going there since my early teens and it’s always been such an inspiring place to gather. It belongs to the wonderfully creative couple, Johnny Farah and his wife Cyn. Together, they tell us their story, infusing every bite with eastern and western influences, both maestros in the kitchen. The venue is an exceptional old Lebanese house by the Corniche, completely modernised inside, with eclectic and colourful art and design. The excellent food is a mix of Chinese and continental European – shrimp cabbage rolls (my favourite) on the same menu as French toast (they do the best brunches). At night, it’s really vibey and they do great drinks: their saketini is a must! 

Rue Dar el Mreisseh, Ain el Mreisseh Qaddoura Bldg 2nd Floor, Beirut; instagram.com/casablancabeirut

You can follow Léa on Instagram here: @chewchoose; chew-choose.com; brunettebrisket.com

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