Lebanese food in London is usually associated with Edgware Road: where many restaurants and food shops line the busy street stretching from Marble Arch to Maida Vale; it is here that the diaspora — arriving in London following the civil war in the 1970s — brought a taste of Lebanon. There’s everything from Beirut street-side snacks, to dishes that wouldn’t look out of place in the coastal city of Tripoli. But while that stretch of central/west London might be a mecca for all things man’oushe, this guide also features lesser known locations, some best-kept secrets and some icons (and no, that’s not a reference to legendary Lebanese singer Fairuz.)Read More
14 Brilliant Places to Eat Lebanese Food in London
Edgware Road — and beyond
This tiny Walthamstow (Wood Street) offspring of Holborn’s Hiba Express specialises in Palestinian and Lebanese food. Fill up on generous portions of moutabal baba ghanoush (creamy charcoal-grilled aubergines) and sambousek bi-jebni (deep-fried pastries filled with feta cheese.) Fancy going the whole hog? Feast on ‘Today’s Platter’: four mezzes bursting with houmous, moutabal, tabbouleh, falafels and mixed grill. Be sure to save a little room for mouhallabieh, a light milky pudding, and their signature dessert. Hiba’s namesake is a “lovely surprise” and it delivers just that. If venturing central to the Holborn branch, catch a glimpse of the restaurant’s matriarch, the head chef loving referred to as “Queen.”
Sure, the savoury side of Lebanese cooking might get all the glory, but this sweet emporium in an otherwise nondescript industrial estate in Acton could convert even the most ardent savoury aficionado. Since 1997, Sweetland has been serving up rows upon rows of traditional Arabic sweets, like maamoul, rose Turkish Delight and Halawet-El-Jibn (sweet cheese rolls), all handmade in-house. But it’s the knafeh — a creamy cheese dessert drizzled with rose blossom syrup — that really hits the spot; a fave among the local community.
This may well be the most unlikely of locations in which to find London’s best Lebanese sweets. This Acton institution — not far from Sweetland — wouldn’t look out of place in Beirut, and doubles as a restaurant and shisha bar. The dessert list is pretty exhaustive, but don’t leave without taking pistachio-filled Bird’s Nest pastries and fried Moushabak sweets, back home for later.
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Al-Jabal is one of a clutch of Lebanese and Iraqi restaurants and bakeries at Park Royal’s Acton Business Centre, where prepared dishes and sit-down restaurants interface directly with bakers and butchers in a mixed space London largely lacks. Here, the move is kibbeh. With a shell that cracks and fissures like an egg upon biting — do not bite a raw egg to secure this analogy — and well-seasoned, heavily spiced filling, it’s hard to believe that one is only 60p, and even reheated will outdo many of its fresh siblings in the city.
This lively, affordable Soho eatery sets the benchmark for Beirut-style street fare in London. Load up on the classics like labneh and batata harra — spicy sautéed potatoes that do well from extra harissa. Shawarma may well be found all over London, but the chain restaurant’s breadless chicken version is an institution all on its own. Wash it all down with their extensive wine list from the Bekaa Valley; Lebanon’s historic wine region.
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen Paddington
Formerly called ‘Ya Hala’, Paramount Lebanese Kitchen’s recently revamped Paddington branch delivers exactly what they pride themselves on: Lebanese hospitality. Barely a two-minute walk from Paddington Station, pop in for an authentic Beirut-style lunch and prepare to be treated like family. The menu might be heavy on classic dishes that can be found in Lebanese eateries across London, but the kibbeh (deep-fried lamb meatballs) and mixed grill are stand-outs. It’s worth heading here early though — the place is usually rammed.
In need of a luxe Lebanese dining experience? Feast on generous portions of traditional dishes, from light yet filling falafel, to their stand-out dish, samakeh harrah — a dish of spicy sea bass, originating from the coastal city of Tripoli — in a room decked with framed Arabic calligraphy. With bottles of Ksara from the oldest winery in the Bekaa Valley to hand, and attentive staff to boot, it’s not hard to see how this Notting Hill stalwart once scooped London’s best Lebanese restaurant. Sure, it might be more a more upmarket affair than most, but it’s worth the premium.
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Stock up on groceries at Green Valley, one of London’s largest Lebanese food halls. From deli counter to in-house butcher, it’s worth splashing out on hard-to-find items; from kilos of freshly roasted nuts to molokhia. Not surprising then that expats and “Lebophiles” flock here from all over London. No trip is complete without stopping off at the patisserie section.
No round-up of the capital’s best Lebanese food is complete without this Edgware Road stalwart. Maroush long dominated London’s Levant food scene for good reason. Come for the classics — freshly made lamb shawarma, or shish taouk (charcoal-grilled skewers of marinated chicken) — but stay for the belly dancers and live singers. Come the weekend, the eatery’s energy is reminiscent of a rammed Beirut bar in the early hours.
Yasmina Restaurant and Bakery
This little T-junction corner spot off the asphalt roar of the Westway bills itself as a Lebanese restaurant and bakery, but perhaps it should be other way around. Specialising in man’oushe, Yasmina — with head baker and chef Ramadan at the helm — is peerless. A long-running “battle” with Zeit and Za’atar — still excellent — one thoroughfare south on the Uxbridge road can be surrendered with a single bite, burnished crust giving way to a bread so light it might have been secretly inflated with a bike pump. It’s not: it’s all in the bake, best hot from the oven with za’atar, spiced mince lamb, or garlic sauce whose pop belies its beige. Little has changed here, despite so much having changed.
Zeit and Za’atar Ealing
An offshoot of the Shepherd’s Bush institution open since 2005, this little spot on the way to West Ealing station has come in hot serving the best man’oushe in the area, a boon for days when the journey to Yasmina is just a few stops or steps too far. The eponymous option is the move, with a heady floral perfume escaping the bag, while the chocolate and nuts sweet iteration is for the greedy.
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It’s always a good sign when Lebanese tourists flock to a place. The iconic Edgware Road branch closed its doors for good last June, but its cousin’s Kensington café still sates those sharwarma cravings. Sunday brunching? For something sweet, opt for ossmallieh. For something savoury, it’s hard to go wrong with grilled halloumi meshwi.
In need of an offbeat dining experience? Look no further than this living-room style restaurant, where chef-patron James whips up memorable mezzes and kebabs from the cooker at the corner of the room. With quirky multi-coloured face masks, lanterns and ornaments decorating every available wall space, Mes Amis doubles up as an eccentric, intimate art gallery. At around £35 for two, there’s no better Lebanese bargain this side of west London.
The minimal décor belies the impressive food at this hole-in-the-wall gem, owned by a former Tyre native. Meza put Tooting on the map long before Sadiq Khan, for its crowd-pleasing cold mezzes like wara einab (stuffed vine leaves), tabbouleh and some famous hummus. If it’s cold out, warm up with falafel and spinach fatayers — pastries filled with spinach, onion and pine nuts — and a pot of mint tea. At under £20 a head, it’d be rude not to.
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