With my time in Lebanon quickly winding down, I headed to Beit Meri, not far from Beirut, to have some authentic Lebanese mezze. Come with me on my Lebanese mezze food adventure!
My guide Nico and I would be heading to one of the best restaurants in the country for mezze, Mounir. Mounir has been in business since 1970 and offers hot and cold mezze. Mezze is the word used to describe appetizers throughout the Mediterranean and the Levant. Everything Mounir offers is farm-to-table, and they have the reputation of having the best mezze in the country!
Inside, we met Fahim. I learned from him that they make their own arak! He took me into the kitchen, where I watched them make their famous Lebanese mezze. First saj bread in their oven, as well as a crepe-like wheat bread.
Next, I watched some guys make some kafta and some grilled meat with some sauce and chilies! They added black pepper, salt, herbs, chilis, and spices to some ground lamb and mixed it well. You can eat it raw and grilled.
They also made chicken thighs with marinade. Then, they took some marinated lamb chunks and grilled them. They also made some raw kibbeh with parsley, onions, and ground wheat. Then, they mixed up some tabbouleh with parsley, tomatoes, onions, lemon, and oil. They even add some lettuce.
One of the cooks fed me some tabbouleh on the lettuce. It was so good! I also watched them make fresh hummus.
They also grilled some onions and tomatoes on a skewers next to the chicken thighs and lamb kebabs. We’d have it with some spicy bread with parsley, onions, pepper, and more. They grilled it over the charcoal!
At our table, we had a huge spread of Lebanese mezze. We had loubya bi zayt (green beans in tomato sauce), ful (fava bean stew with olive oil and cumin), hummus with chickpeas, hindbeh (dandelion greens with olive oil and caramelized or fried onions), and moudardara (lentils with fried onions).
We also had tabbouleh, kibbeh nayye (raw lamb), kafta (lamb kebabs), chicken thighs, cheese with thyme and olives, balela (chickpea salad with sauce and oil), fattoush (essentially Greek salad without feta cheese), and raw lamb kafta. What a feast!
I started with a spicy pepper and some kibbeh nayye with thin pita. I loved it with the olive oil! Next was the raw lamb kafta with bread. The kafta contained wheat, which makes it different from the kibbeh nayye. It was so fresh!
The lamb tenderloin was tender and had the spicy marinade on it, which I loved. Next was the smooth arak. Then, I had the moudardara and fattoush. The fattoush was super fresh, and the moudardara was fantastic. It was so simple yet so delicious!
The spicy grilled bread with the tomato sauce, onions, parsley, and kafta was amazing. I loved the tender, smoky meat and the spice of the bread! The hummus added a creaminess.
The chicken thighs melted in my mouth. They paired fantastically with the hummus and creamy tarator (garlic paste). The tabbouleh lettuce wraps also blew my mind. The fresh lemon juice made it pop!
Then, I had some shisha, which felt good. Next, it was time for more arak and then the loubya bi zayt. The cheese with thye and olives was even better than mozzarella, and I loved the tomatoes and onions in the loubya bi zayt.
The cumin in the balela balanced out the garlic. The oil and lemon juice was fantastic. The hindbeh had a creamy texture and the crispy onions were wonderful.
For dessert, we had atayef (pancakes stuffed with ashta cream), biscuits made of vermicelli noodles with pistachios and ashta cream between them, and ashta cream with honey.
The atayef was a creamy and decadent pancake, while the ashta with honey was fluffy and sweet! The one with vermicelli was crumbly and creamy! Finally, I finished my Lebanese mezze feast with coffee, arak, and shisha!