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A typical breakfast spread in Beirut
Photo by Emily Elyse Miller

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The Definitive Guide to Breakfast in Beirut

From bubbly flatbreads to lamb-spiked eggs to fresh farmer cheese soaked in honey, here’s how to wake up like a Lebanese local

It’s 8 a.m. in Beirut and the streets are quiet. The night before likely included one too many Almaza beers, making breakfast an essential saving grace for the day ahead. In many homes, a morning meal consists of a few pine nut-studded biscuits and Turkish coffee or Nescafé with Nido — a powdered milk implemented during World War II that has turned into a nostalgic ritual.

At the man’oushe and kaak stands that dot the city, the coffee is strong and the ovens are hot in preparation for a rush of morning commuters. Grab a quick kanafeh sandwich, or sit down to a more leisurely breakfast of fette, ful, or eggs with awarma. The way the Lebanese do breakfast will forever have you questioning your morning meal choices, and these six sunrise staples will catalyze your tourist status to local.


Man’oushe at Fern Bakery
Photo by Emily Elyse Miller

Man’oushe

Note: Despite all appearances, this is not — I repeat, not — a pizza. Yes, it’s round and covered in cheesy, meaty toppings, but this humble masterpiece deserves its own category. The bubbly flatbreads are brought to life on a dome-shaped oven, or saj. You will be ordering more than one, in which case you should use the plural: manaeesh. Head to the nearest fern, or neighborhood bakery, and start with the classic za’atar spice blend, made up of thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. Tell them to “make it a cocktail” and they’ll add a layer of melted akawi cheese—a pro move. Or move up to kishik (dried yogurt with bulgur wheat), which sometimes sports bits of bright tomato.

Streetside man’oushe in Beirut
Photo by Emily Elyse Miller

Where to get it:

Paradise Four Manakish Bakery (Deir El Qamar) No Address. Ask for this bakery when you’re in Deir El Qamar
Four Manakish Bakery in Deir El Qamar, about an hour outside of the city, specializes in fresh za’atar manakish and a special man’oushe with a lip around the rim to hold in the awarma (lamb confit) and egg mixture.

Fern Ghattas Gouraud/Gemayzeh Street, facing saint Antoine Church, Beirut
A hole in the wall at the end of the street, illuminated by a bright green sign. Order the signature three-cheese man’oushe and the spinach fatayer — a small, purse-shaped pastry typically filled with meat or spinach.

Snack Faysal Bliss Street, facing the police station, Hamra
Located on Bliss street in the Hamra neighborhood. Positioned next to the American University of Beirut, this 24-hour spot saves hungry students at any hour.

Furn Emm Salim (Anfeh) No Address
Don’t expect a sign outside this breakfast spot, located in the Tahet el Rih resort overlooking the sea in Anfeh, an hour outside Beirut. Order the egg man’oushe and korban bread.


Kaak

Shaped like a purse, this sesame-studded flatbread is the ultimate on-the-go snack, with a baked-in handle for optimal portability. You’ll spot them hanging from wooden racks at street-corner kiosks, where they’re then split open and spread with Picon—a mild, creamy cheese comparable to Laughing Cow — sprinkled with za’atar, and handed off to the morning rushers for about $1 a piece.

Kaak from Kaak B Semsom
Photo: Kaak B Semsom / Facebook

Where to get it:

Street carts everywhere Served with Picon cheese and za’atar.

Kaak B Semsom Main Street, Jal el Dib
In the Zahle neighborhood of Beirut, bright yellow counters will lead you to a delicious breakfast. It will typically come with a side labneh, but you choose the fillings inside the kaak — we suggest the melted cheese mix.

Fern Ghattas Gouraud/Gemayzeh Street, facing saint Antoine Church, Beirut
With eight variations of savory and sweet kaak along with an extensive menu of man’oushe and bite-sized treats, you could hit this bakery every morning of the week.

Abou Arab Highway, Khalde, Aley District
Situated just south of Beirut, this location of a popular bakery chain is thought to be the best. With no bells and whistles, this is a true Lebanese bakery experience.


Knafeh in Beirut
Photo by Emily Elyse Miller

Kanafeh Sandwich

Kanafeh is essentially a giant circular pan of of cheese with sugar-soaked pastry baked on top. That should really be all you need to know, but wait, there’s more. Bricks of kanafeh are then squared off with a spatula, liberally doused in rose syrup, and scooped up in one glorious cheese-stringy motion before being tucked into a small kaak purse.

Kanafeh, pre-stuffed, from Safsouf Pastries
Photo: Safsouf Pastries / Facebook

Where to get it:

Safsouf Pastries Main Street, facing Blom Bank, Tariq el Jdide, Beirut District
This adored neighborhood sweets shop serves a not-to-miss kanafeh sandwich.

Hallab 1881 multiple locations
At the most famous sweets shop in Lebanon, you can enjoy a coffee while tasting samples and watching as employees create beautifully organized boxes of sweets — and, of course, kanafeh sandwiches for the ride home.

Knafeh Al-Karout Chehade Street, Zaidaniyye, Aicha Bakkar, Beirut District
This tiny, no-frills shop pays attention to every detail of kanafeh, from the cheese to the bread to the syrup.


Fatteh

Even amid the modern-day bowl craze, this centuries-old dish is the hands-down stuff-in-bowls champion. What’s in fatteh that warrants such claims? For starters, how about a base layer of super-toasty Lebanese bread crisped up like a pita chip? Then comes a healthy scoop of stewed chickpeas, followed by thick, salted, garlicky yogurt to fill in the cracks.

Fry up some almond slivers and pine nuts in lamb fat (this was so close to being healthy), then top the whole thing with more crispy chips and a drizzle of olive oil, and you can be done with life now. Pro tip: Don’t forget to try the dibis after your meal: It’s a date syrup and tahini mixture that will rescue your garlic-bombed palate.

Fatteh from Al-Soussi
Photo by Emily Elyse Miller

Where to get it:

Al-Soussi Zeidaniyeh Street, Mar Elias
At the same location since 1975, Al-Soussi is a place to socialize and fill up on dishes that have been perfected over generations of practice. The owner himself will come to your white plastic table to take your order, then immediately head to the kitchen make you breakfast.

Mikhael Restaurant Monot Street, Saifi, Achrafieh
Open since 1929, this is one of the few places in the city to get your fatteh made with fresh arishé (cheese) and house-made yogurt.

Le Professeur Maalouf Street, Mar Elias
Located near the Lebanese International University, this place is known for mastering all of the breakfast classics, fatteh, ful, and msabbaha — hummus with stewed chickpeas and fava beans mixed in.


Ful Medames

One of the most popular breakfast dishes across the Middle East is ful medames — stewed fava beans seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice and served with onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and herbs on the side.

In Lebanon the fava bean mixture gets spiked with balila, stewed whole chickpeas with garlic, cumin, and pine nuts. A simpler Lebanese take on ful is msabhah, a hearty blend of balila and tahini served with the same fresh accompaniments.

Ful from Le Professeur
Photo: Le Professeur / Facebook

Where to get it:

Al-Soussi Zeidaniyeh Street, Mar Elias
The chickpea-studded take at Al-Soussi is not-to-miss, but bring friends to try the fatteh and eggs awarma, too.

Le Professeur Maalouf Street, Mar Elias
The menu here includes 10-plus variations of this fava bean stew, including versions topped with boiled eggs, made with ghee, and combined with stewed chickpeas.

Abou Hassan Mar Youssef Street, Beirut
A quick walk east from the trendy Mar Mikhael neighborhood, Abou Hassan is famous for its spot-on ful and for incorporating tahini in with the yogurt in their fatteh.


Making eggs with awarma at Al-Soussi
Photo by Emily Elyse Miller

Eggs Awarma

Lamb confit and scrambled eggs is one of the breakfast world’s most sublime combinations. It may sound bizarre at first, but the confit, known as awarma, has a subtle gaminess that, when paired with eggs, tastes familiar and comforting. It’s best known at Beirut breakfast institutions Al-Soussi and Le Professeur, where awarma is put to work in a way that will have everyone fighting over the last bite.

Eggs with awarma from Al-Soussi
Photo by Emily Elyse Miller

Where to get it:

Kawkab Cedars Main Street, Cedars, Bcharre
A casual cafe surrounded by a picturesque mountain range, this rural spot makes awarma and many of their offerings from scratch, making it the ideal destination to fuel up before a hike in the cedars.

Al-Soussi Restaurant Zeidaniyeh Street, Mar Elias
After ordering, head to the open kitchen next door to watch the chef-owner preparing your dish. A dramatic flambe melds the lamb, fat, and eggs into one.

Le Professeur Maalouf Street, Mar Elias
You’ll find platters of lamb and eggs among the dozens of dishes covering every square inch of table space at this all-around breakfast favorite.


Arishé with Honey

About an hour outside of Beirut, the Beqaa Valley supplies most of the city’s fresh produce, cheese, meat, and most-things delicious. It’s also pretty much the only place to find arishé, an uber-fresh farmer’s cheese that’s definitely worth an early-morning trek. In the Beqaa, you’ll find the cheese smothered in local honey and wrapped up in a warm crepe-like flatbread that’s slightly more pliable than man’oushe and utterly satisfying.

Jarjoura’s Arishé with honey
Photo by: Emily Elyse Miller

Where to get it:

Jarjoura Highway, Ain Saade
Stop here on the way out to the Beqaa. Laiterie Massabki (below) and Jarjoura are just a few minutes drive from each other, stationed on opposite sides of a very busy highway. Both specialize in freshly made cheeses, including arishé and labneh. Both are worth a stop.

Laiterie Massabki Damascus Road, Chtaura, Zahle District
In case you didn’t get enough on the way out, stop here on the way back from a trip to the Beqaa.

Mikhael Monot Monot Street, Saifi, Achrafieh
Churning out house-made yogurt and cheese since 1929, this is the place in Beirut for arishé, as well as labneh, and fatteh.

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