After dreaming about it for over a decade, I finally made it to Lebanon, my 85th country! My adventures in the country started in Sidon, a coastal city about 45 minutes south of Beirut. Come with me as I go on an incredible Lebanese street food tour of Sidon!
Joining me as my guide on my first Lebanese food tour is my friend Nicolas Abou Chedid, who goes by Nico. He’d be taking me to the souk and the best spots in town to have sweets, baked goods, and even some more exotic far like sheep brains!
Our tour began at Al Baba Sweets to have some knafeh, which is popular Middle Eastern snack. It’s made from semolina dough or phyllo dough and stuffed with cheese! Here, they stuff a slice of it into kaak bread and top it with some sugar syrup! Al Baba is the best place to have this Lebanese food in Sidon, Lebanon!
They also had lots of other sweets, including namoura, sanyoura, and basbousa. They reminded me of sweets I’d tried in Armenia! There, their employee Najah told me that the sanyoura is a Sidon specialty and is filled with pistachio.
The sanyoura was like a flaky cookie or biscuit with pistachios inside. It wasn’t too sweet. They also have different varieties of ma’amul with walnuts, dates, figs, apricots, pistachio, sesame seeds, orange, and more. It was really airy!
The namoura was made with semolina flour, rose water, a sugar syrup called atter, and honey. It was like a sweet, dense, and sugary cake. I liked it a lot!
Then, we tried the knafeh inside the kaak bread. It was gooey, sweet, and savory! I loved the combination of the soft filling and crispy bread! It was delicious and decadent!
Next, we drove through Sidon to the souk, or market. Along the way, Nico told me a lot about Sidon. There were lots of palm trees and beautiful buildings.
At the Port of Sidon, I could see the famous citadel. We met a fish vendor there. I could smell the fish coming from the port! We also saw a famous building where merchants would sell their goods hundreds of years ago. It looked almost like a fortress!
We passed down a narrow alley between shops and apartments near the Bab Al Saray Plaza, Abou Nakhleh Mosque, and El-Omari Great Mosque. We were going to find a man who makes cheese. I loved the architecture of the buildings!
The man makes a yellow cake called sfouf, which also contains turmeric and saffron. It was a crumbly, sweet, and airy cake with almonds and lots of saffron flavor!
Next, we headed to a coffee shop. The people in Lebanon were so friendly. We passed a lot of vegetable and sweets vendors. Walking the lanes of the Old Town felt like taking a step back in time!
Then, we headed to Saint Louis castle, which was in ruins and built in 1253 during the crusades. There are lots of ruins and archaeological excavation sites, as this is ancient land. They discover them when they try to build on the land!
We walked down the wider streets on the outskirts of the Old Town and headed to a shop that makes sheep brain, sheep membrane, and sheep tongue sandwiches! The brain by itself with salt and pepper was gooey and soft!
In the brain sandwich, they added garlic sauce, membrane, tomatoes, and pickles. I loved the soft texture, toasted bread, and garlic flavor! They say if you eat brains, you become smarter! Both sandwiches were good, but the brains were better. The owner was so nice!
Unfortunately, we couldn’t go to Saida Sea Castle due to the high winds and waves, but we drove to a bakery called Motul. We watched them make some pita and manakish, which is like a Lebanese pizza. I loved the thyme, cheese, and crispy dough!
Our final stop was Falafel Al Akkawi, the best local falafel shop. You can get them in a sandwich or alone with tarator (a tahini-based sauce with lemon). They were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside!
Then, we had them in a sandwich with parsley, onions, tomatoes, chilies, and pickles. The chilies reminded me of peperoncino. Overall, the sandwich was a nice, fresh vegan wrap. It was so good! It cost just over $1 USD!
What an incredible way to end my Lebanese street food tour of Sidon, Lebanon!