One of the perks of living in the heart of the booming cosmopolitan city of Beirut is the abundance of cafes and hangout spots. When walking around the traditional and slender streets, one can stumble upon a variety of spots to relax, have coffee, work or just socialize.
Ranging from cozy, and laid-back creative spaces that serve whatever mixes of coffee your heart may desire; to smaller and quieter spaces that mostly serve strong coffee and croissants; these spaces are crucial meeting points for the thriving community of local and international youth, artists and entrepreneurs.
Café Younes is one of the most popular cafés amongst the local youth. It lies in the heart of Hamra Street, between the two renowned American universities of Beirut AUB and LAU. It comes as no surprise that most of its frequenters are students, who meet up to socialize whilst catching up on some schoolwork in a buzzing environment. The interactions one could expect in such a café are with the younger and more upbeat crowd who integrate into one mass. The tables merge and everyone is lively, making new connections, asking for advice or simply just making jokes with one another. Café Younes is a small and welcoming place with both indoor and outdoor seating. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in addition to a variety of drink mixes that are sure to get anyone’s taste buds ravished.
Another favorite of the Hamra residents is De Prague, it has a relaxing ambiance that is complimented by its cozy interior decoration that ranges in shades of red; it is usually dim lit and is generally quieter than other cafés. De Prague generally hosts an older crowd, who are looking for a laid back space where they can focus on work or just enjoy a good read. Unlike Younes, the interactions are mostly limited to the people at the table. Because of its soft ambiance, the crowd is more reserved and focused mostly on what they came to do. De Prague serves exceptionally good food, offers free WIFI and serves cocktails during all opening hours.
There are many cafés all around the city, mostly concentrated around Hamra, Mar Mikhail, Gemmayze, and Badaro. Some of these cafés turn up their music and get ready to serve the party crowd after sundown. Radio Beirut is one of these cafés. The café/pub located in Mar Mikhail street amidst several other cafés and restaurantst has a unique concept of owning an internet radio station. It host musicians, rappers, poets and performers for the sit in audience and their online listeners.
Radio Beirut is a relatively big space; it has two small balconies, and an amazing atmosphere. It serves as a space for artists’ meetings, for university students who are looking to get some of their school work done, and surely as a hub for musicians to jam. Their concept is extremely welcoming to artists, so this is the crowd one would expect to encounter there. By 9pm, the tables are filled with groups of young people drinking Almaza beer, munching on salty pumpkin seeds and conversing with the waiters. RadioBeirut is one of the local crucial spots for artists, to meet, collaborate and eventually exhibit whilst having a good time.
Another well-known café in Beirut is Urbanista. It has many branches around Lebanon but the most visited one is the Gemmayze branch. The café/restaurant has become one of the main spots for working and mingling. It is often crowded especially at lunchtime. It has a small terrace for smokers and sunny days. It is closest to De Prague in terms of crowd and formality; people are often reserved and focused on their tasks at hand. Urabanista serves alcohol but the place is better known for its quiet atmosphere and its all day coffee and croissant combo that gives one the proper fuel needed to dive head first into work.
Another place definitely worth mentioning in Gemmayze is Demo, a little café/pub located just a little off the Gemmayze main road. It’s for the more alternative crowd that appreciates a relaxed atmosphere, but don’t do so well with conventions. Tables and seats are wooden and rustique. The place has a yellow-orange gleam that results in an extremely comfortable light. Demo serves remarkable coffee and offers free and fast WIFI. The best thing about it is most certainly the music, so there is no need for headphones while working. The crowd it hosts is generally young and laid back, just looking for a good time and to meet similar people. Demo also serves alcohol at all opening hours.
The cafés around Beirut are innumerable, and each offers a different ambiance and caters a certain type of clientele. They are the real flavor of Beirut city. The best thing to do to find those local hangout spots is to wander around the city. You would be surprised at the treasures you’ll find in the alleys and narrow streets of this lively urban capital.