A wander around Achrafieh
With its delightful streets, full of well-preserved buildings, our friends at Zawarib take us around one of Beirut’s most cherished neighborhoods
On the trail
Similar to the cycles of life, Achrafieh has undergone metamorphosis time and time again. During the Civil War, the historic Beit Beirut in Sodeco acted as a cocoon for Christian militia in the combat zone. Today Sodeco, Monot, Sassine and Sioufi each harbor an ideal playground for Beirutis to collaborate and create brilliant concepts in design, art, cuisine and more.
Strategically encompassed by the majority of Beirut’s influential neighborhoods, a good reflection of the above statement lies in Vinotheque’s
(6) superb selection of Lebanon’s boutique wines. Enter, savor and explore the result of thousands of years’ worth of wine making.
Around the corner are three spots that represent the main components of Beirut’s ever-pulsating nature respectively: Pâte
à Choux (5) for persistence, Café Sho (4) for diversity and Al Falamanki (3) for community. Over the decades, Pâte à Choux’s scrumptious baked goods have made it an ever-delicious landmark. Meanwhile, Café Sho’s pioneering fusion of Asian and Mediterranean cuisine directly coincides with Beirut’s historically outward nature, while Al Falamanki’s faithful embrace of the Middle Eastern culture brings a sense of community in the same way that the city conveys a sense of belonging to all those who visit.
AROUND MONOT & ABDEL WAHAB EL INGLIZI
Abdel Wahab El Inglizi Street and Monot Street both developed their charming architecture during the French mandate and while the influence is still prominent, the intertwining electric cables and persistent scent of orange blossom are pure Levant. Similarly, establishments in the area seem to prosper. Hole in the Wall (1), a live music bar and Tsunami (7), a traditional Japanese restaurant have celebrated their 18th and 15th anniversaries respectively. Monot, however, is also a stomping ground for younger businesses, such as Eat
Sunshine (2), Beirut’s first organic eatery
serving breakfast, lunch and coffee in a sun-room patio.
Closer to Sassine, the highest point in Beirut, a cluster of apparel and coffee shops maintain their popularity as well as a sense of nostalgia by virtue of their 90s shop signs. Here too, young entrepreneurs have chosen to open shop, thus adding even more layers to the mix. Two neighboring spots include Hamsa Yoga Space (8), set in a lovely heritage home and Cantina Sociale
(9). While one offers excellent yoga practice with the breeze from its surrounding green trees, the other is a cozy local hangout, offering hearty food and local wine tasting every night of the week. Both provide experiences with a difference in even more unique settings – a remarkable reflection of contemporary Beirut’s ever-changing nature.
Further east, Sioufi feels a lot more like a village where a promenade can quickly turn into a hike. More residential yet still holding hidden gems, Sioufi is home to one of Lebanon’s boutique winery shops, Chateau
Qanafar (12). The area also has one of the finest gardens in the city, meticulously manicured with views down to the valley and across the Beirut River. Another welcome feature of the Sioufi public garden is its public Wifi service.
Humble by nature, Fassouh offers affordable housing to the youth of Beirut, thus keeping the buzz of its neighboring districts alive. This year, Instruments Garage (11), an extensive music shop located in the area, celebrates its 15th anniversary. With cuneiform tablets providing evidence of how long ago music was first produced in the region, perhaps it’s no surprise that music shops, shows and concerts continue to thrive.
Finally, art and design establishments are well dispersed across Achrafieh. Kaf (10) is one fun art gallery tucked away by the Mar Nicolas public garden, with a unique collection of works by distinguished and local artists.