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

Lebanon Traveler - - CONTENTS -

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.


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.

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