My incredible road trip through Lebanon continued in Deir al-Qamar, a village in the mountains of south-central Lebanon about 45 minutes southeast of Beirut. Come with me on my Lebanese restaurant tour of Deir al-Qamar, Lebanon!
It’s a historical village that dates back to the 13th century known for its cobblestone streets, sandstone structures, and its castle!
On this adventure, I’d be joined by my friend and guide, Armando Maalouf. It was really chilly and rainy, but we were going to have some fun, starting with a local bakery!
The village felt like other Ottoman villages I’d visited. I could see a mosque, a museum, and gift shops. On the way, we passed vendors selling fresh produce.
At Paradise Four Manakish bakery, they made us three types of manakish, which is a type of Lebanese flatbread. They baked us one topped with cheese, one topped with za’atar, one with meat, and one with wild thyme and cheese. They all looked like Lebanese pizzas!
We started with the wild thyme and cheese manakish, which also contained tomato! I loved the soft, airy bread and the mix of herbs, tomatoes, and cheese!
The za’atar manakish was unreal. I loved it! It was crispier than the first one and the flavors of the thyme and other herbs were so powerful. It was heavenly!
I loved the manakish with lamb and lemon juice. It was my favorite of the three! This one was dense and doughy and a little crispy on the outside. It was just the right amount of meat, too!
From there, we saw the main square, where there are a lot of souvenir shops, a museum, and a mosque.
In one shop, I bought some little coin purses and a carved wood wall decoration made from cedar trees for roughly $26.66 USD. Always support the locals!
Next, we headed down a medieval, 16th-century cobblestone street. There’s a natural spring nearby and lots of old sandstone houses and buildings. They’re beautiful! It reminded me of old towns I’d visited in Albania!
I saw some hot peppers growing outside a house. They were really hot! Through an arched tunnel were more old homes and gardens, all connected by walls along the labyrinthine lanes.
Next, we drove to Moussa Castle, which was built by a Lebanese visionary named Moussa Abdel Karim Al Maamari from 1962-1969.
Each brick was individually carved with pictures of animals and objects. I could see snakes, turtles, an axe, a key, the sun, scorpions, and more! Inside is a museum, but we wanted to explore the grounds.
There, we saw a vintage car and a courtyard. Below us were rooms for guests! I could also see mosaics, and the terrace looked over the village and the forest!
Then, we drove to a local restaurant and bed & breakfast in Deir al-Qamar, Lebanon. It’s called Deir al Oumara and is located inside a renovated old stone school. It was beautiful and felt like I was in an old cellar!
We started with arak, a distilled drink made from grapes and anise seeds. We also got some fattoush (salad with fried pita), rakakat (fried cheese rolls), batata harra (spicy potatoes), sawdeh (chicken liver), and muhammara (spicy walnut paste).
The rakakat are crunchy, fried cheese rolls with herbs inside. They’re flavorful and airy! The sawdeh with the pita was earthy, dense, and flavorful, with lots of oil and iron flavor.
The muhammara was spicy and flavorful and contained bulgur. I loved the heat in the crispy batata harra. They’re some of my favorite potatoes of all time!
The lettuce, radish, cucumber, and tomatoes in the fattoush went well with the crispy fried pita. I loved the pomegranate marinade! It was like a nice summer salad. I was in love with it!
Everything was so tasty and fresh! I couldn’t get over how delicious it all was! And it only came to $13 USD! What an incredible restaurant tour of Deir al-Qamar, Lebanon!