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Asia > Middle East > Lebanon > Beirut > Beirut/Hamra

Beirut/Hamra

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Hamra is in Beirut. Prior to 1975, Hamra Street was referred to as Beirut's "Champs Elysées" as it was frequented by tourists all year round. It hosts a good number of hotels, furnished apartments, and coffee shops that cater to visitors and students from close by American University of Beirut and Lebanese American University. It has been revitalized, with many new upscale bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops opening, and is becoming a popular district for shopping, nightlife, and cuisine once again.

Get in[edit]

Map of Beirut/Hamra

Hamra lies to the west of Downtown Beirut. Hail a taxi or walk to the short distance.

See[edit]

Do[edit]

Theater[edit]

  • 1 Metro Al Madina, Hamra St (basement of Saroulla Center), +961 1 753021. An independent theater, music venue and cultural hub with a broad repertoire.

Spa[edit]

  • Dermaline, Ras Beirut Clinics, +961 1 750773. Open M We Sa 9AM-6PM, Tu Th F 9AM-8PM. Offers a variety of dermato-cosmetic procedures and body treatments including endermology, cellulite removal and body modeling. . . .
  • Houna Holistic Centre (Reflexology), Montreal Bldg, Hamra Street, Hamra, +961 3 676285. Open M-F 10AM-1PM, 5-10PM. This two-room relaxing treatment centre in the heart of Hamra gives a soothing session for US$36 (around 50 mins). Other treatments (including Reiki) average around $20. Advocates a holistic approach to health - you won’t find the latest pill-popping techniques here. Yoga classes are $10 per class, or $30 for the month. Qi Gong and Capoeira classes are also available.

Buy[edit]

  • Miss ABC, Hamra street (facing Cinema strand), +961 1 344740. Open M-Sa 9:45AM-7:45PM, closed Sunday. Women's speciality store.
  • Harmony - Holisitc Empowerment for Mind, Body & Soul, Hamra , St. Estral Bld., Next to Kababji, +961 3-938554. Reiki, NLP, energy and alternative healing techniques, life-coaching, self-empowerment workshops, feng shui, yoga, etc.
  • House on Mars, Abdul Aziz street (facing Cedarland Hotel), +961 1 749 746. 11:30AM-7PM. Body piercing & tattoo specialized in Arabic calligraphy. Ethnic clothing, speciality T-shirts (classic & underground music movements), gifts, spiritual incense accessories, fashion accessories, Indian & Asian themes. Affordable custom tailoring and repairs on premises.

Eat[edit]

  • Blue Note Café (Live Local and International Jazz, Blues, Latin and Oriental Music), Makhoul Street (Facing Al Saydeh Church), +961 1 743857. Monday to Saturday. Blue Note Café is the main live Jazz restaurant in town: local and international jazz musicians every week. Famous musician who have played at Blue Note include Deborah Davis, Muralli Coryell, Steve Potts and Ray Vega among others. In addition to Jazz, its weekly music program includes live Blues, Latin and Oriental music. Reasonably priced, the cuisine is a mix of oriental and international food. The atmosphere is authentic, jazzy and relaxed. Meal for two with wine: around US$45.

Budget[edit]

  • Pasta Di Casa (pasta joint), Popular with American University of Beirut students, the menu is not elaborate and the premises are small and cramped. But that makes it cosy and you can expect large portions of everything with that home-cooked ‘pasta à la mama’ feel. It’s reasonably priced and has homely service; the dishes are generous enough to share. Emile Rubeiz Street (Jumblatt Way), Clemenceau. 01 363368. Meal for two with wine: around US$35.
  • Kabab-ji, Excellent grills and sandwiches with decent mezza and even better prices. The taouk is tender and tasty and the lamb chops are delicious. Also order the arayess (minced meat between grilled pita bread). The setting is a little bit clinical (lots of neon lights going on) but its not unpleasant for a quick, tasty bite. Saroulla Bldg, Hamra Street. 01 741555. Open daily 8AM-2AM. Meal for two with wine: around YS$40.
  • Souseh, A Time Out Beirut recommended restaurant, earning four stars. A great ‘mom and pop’ foul and hummus joint with must-have dishes like moussabha. Also order the fresh zaatar salad sprinkled with onions and pomegranate. Just off Shehadeh Street, Mar Elias. Open daily 7AM-1PM. A plate of foul and hummus for one: around US$10.
  • Wadi Walima (Lebanese), Reasonably priced Lebanese cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. The menu is creative and brunches are exceptionally good. Offers mezza and traditional home-cooked plats-du-jour. Try out a local wine with your meal. Sit out on the beautiful garden terrace. Makdisi Street 01 343128. Open M-Sa noon-midnight. Meal for two with wine: US$30.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Al Istambouli (Lebanese), Lebanese food in a very casual but slightly drab atmosphere, the mezza is quite good (order the tabouleh for sure) but the grills are much better. One of Hamra's best kept secrets. Commodore Street. 01 354398. Open daily 8AM-midnight. Meal for two with wine: around US$50.
  • Caravanserail, Baalbek Street (Immediately to the left of Hotel Commodore (if facing)), +961 1 350 199, . Fridays from 9PM, Saturdays from 10PM. Caravanserail was opened in December 1969 by George Karajian and he is still running the live music bar and restaurant! It is open on Fridays and Saturdays; Fridays are home to one of Beirut's finest live jazz bands and Saturdays are reserved for traditional oriental/Arabic music from their resident Oud and Derbake players. The food is simple, tasty and reasonably priced, consisting of mostly small dishes inspired by tapas and mezze-type portions which are great for sharing, although there is a main dish available for the more hungry! All of the food is homemade by George. The decor is vintage and cosy with low ceilings in parts and soft furnishings and fabrics around the venue. There is still space for a dancefloor on a Saturday night though! Many of the fixtures are the same as they were on opening day in 1969 and you can feel the atmosphere coming through the walls! Worth a trip just to listen to the music and meet George and his head waiter, Ali, as they are Caravanserail. Average spend US$30-40 per person. $7 Live music charge.
  • Marrouche, Hamra Street. Lebanese cuisine at decent prices. This is one of two restaurants with the same name.
  • Roadster’s (Burger joint), American themed restaurant with good all round diner fare. Order the tangy Buffalo wings and mozzarella sticks for starters. Hamburgers and sandwiches will delight but try the Roadside Crab or the Chicken Slider with mayo. For a very sweet tooth order the rich chocolate fondant or the banana split. Crowne Plaza, Hamra Street. 01 363487. Open daily 11AM-1AM. Meal for two with drinks: around US$30.

Splurge[edit]

  • Benihana (Japanese), Good Japanese cuisine which also includes an extensive sushi menu with all you can eat sushi for US$29 starting 9PM daily. Definitely try the entertaining Teppanyaki which is cooked live in front of your table with the chef tossing around meat, chicken, seafood, vegetables, rice and noodles on a habashi board. Branch also in Ashrafieh. Meridien Commodore Hotel, Commodore Street, 01 350400. Open daily noon-4PM, 8PM-midnight.
  • Cru (wine bar), Makdessi St., Hamra (near intersection with Jeanne d'Arc, in the Liban Post building), +961 1 344 565. M-Sa 6PM-1AM. If "Cheers" were an upscale wine bar, it would be Cru. The owners really care and it shows: American-born Karen and her Lebanese husband Wael treat you like family, and you'll immediately feel at home. The dinner selection isn't expansive, but it doesn't need to be. The steak is delicious and goes nicely with the wide selection of Lebanese wines available for you to try. The atmosphere is welcoming but not overwhelming; definitely quiet enough for you to have good conversation. There's occasionally a singer on Tuesdays as well.

Drink[edit]

  • Samra (Bar), Inspired by old Egyptian celebrities who have made an everlasting impression through their work in cinema and music. Fatin Hamama, Abed El Wahab and many more celebrity pictures hang on the wall. Retro and modern colours are found while the furniture is mainly chairs and tables with few black and red couches spread around. A Japanese orientated garden provides a nice spot to chill and enjoy the oriental and jazz music. 03 066342. Spears Street, Sanayeh, Hamra, daily 5PM-2AM. $10 for Dinner and Drink. F: Oriental night; Sa: Jazz and blues night.
  • 1 Café de Prague, Makdisi St, +961 3 575 282. Daily 8AM-2AM. Simple trendy decoration with non-matching colourful sofas, antique furniture, candles and mirrors as well as a fireplace warming things up in winter. Art films are shown on Sundays. In the afternoon a variety of coffee and cakes are served from the kitchen, and at night great drinks and music by the DJ take centre stage, playing lounge, Acid jazz and Funk. Normally packed with a trendy artistic crowd.
  • Caffe Pasucci Shop, Hamra Street, facing Piccadilly Theater, +961 1755886. Daily 10AM-midnight. Pascucci Hamra has something for everyone: a lounge area, study area and business center; therefore making it the perfect place for anyone and everyone from students wanting to study, to a group of friends simply wanting a coffee and a chat. The business center is fully equipped with laptops, wifi and printers, and is available for rental. Both the business center and the study area are non-smoking areas. In the evening the lounge area is transported into a chilled out venue where friends can enjoy a cocktail and relaxing music. As well as excellent coffee, Pascucci offers a range of dishes and appetizers from coconut chicken curry to rocket salad. A wide selection of delicious cakes and pastries are also available. Drinks from US$4.
  • Marqueez, Bachir Daouk Bldg, Ardati St (go down Bliss St, take the first left after Byblos Bank and continue down, the bar is facing the Lighthouse Pharmacy on the right side of the street), +961 175-2150. 5PM-2AM daily. Decorated with bold colors and 50s style furniture, Marqueez is a classic venue offering a varied eating and entertainment experience. Relax indoors or outdoors, sit at the bar, small tables or the bigger dinner tables to chill, work or hang round. The menu offers a fairly priced fused variety of Mediterranean dishes, drinks and wine. An eclectic selection of music and live performance is scheduled weekly. Food and drink $15-20.
  • Cribs (Lounge), Hamra, Off Makdessi Street (Facing Olio), +961 1352384, +961 71685586. 10AM-3AM Daily. Cribs is a charming merge of old style decor and attitude mixed with modern outlook and approach. Through the day, relax in the calming atmosphere and enjoy a coffee or a beer while listening to lounge music. At night, Cribs is the place to be at, playing a mix of soft, alternative, oldies, hip hop and Rn'b music with a cosy modern ambience. Indulge yourself in the signature cocktails or just have a few drinks with colleagues and friends after work during happy hour. Cribs is your home away from home with its intimate setting and down to earth vibe. A special delicious international food will be served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

  • 2 Gefinor Rotana Hotel, Clemenceau St, +961 1 371888.
  • 3 Le Commodore Hotel, Commodore St, +961 1 734700. Le Commodore Hotel features a range of meeting and banquet facilities, an outdoor swimming pool, and “Lifestyle,” Beirut’s finest health club. $180-600.

Connect[edit]

This district travel guide to Hamra is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.