Dining Out Magazine

Lebanon’s Battle of the Burger

By Nogarlicnoonions @nogarlicnoonion

Time Out Beirut’s selection of the best burgers in town

DING DING DING! ‘Round one – FIGHT!’ Everyone loves a good brawl (none more than us at TOB), so we’ve pitted all the boasters of Beirut’s best burgers against each other for our very own Hunger Games. Let battle commence!

Marky_Burgers_Mkalles_Lebanon13

  • Bar Tartine: 15/20
  • Go here for: Beirut’s best bun
  • Lean and Mean Burger: LL28,000

Although there is much to be said for the juicy ground beef patty, served with ludicrously sweet and tangy caramalised onions and creamy camembert, it is the bun that really makes Tartine stand out. Made on-site, their multicereal bun is nigh-on impossible to best in Beirut and people would do well to imitate their baking methods. (71 466788) Armenia Str, Mar Mikhael

  • Bedivere: 15/20
  • Go here for: A knightly feast
  • Tavern Burger: LL18,500

While the place might feel ye olde fashioned there is nothing medieval about the burger. Diced steak tumbles out of the sides of the bun like boulders clinging to a cheesy mountain-side. The bun is tasty if a little unstable but this only added to the round table atmosphere, we put our reservations aside and got stuck in. (01 748909) Makdessi Bldg, Jeanne d’Arc Str, Hamra

  • Beirut Cellar: 15/20
  • Go here for: A real mouthful
  • The Mexican Burger: LL24,000

¡Ay Caramba! If you’re looking for one colourful, pretty and sloppy mess then the Mexican Burger is the way to go. A patty as swollen, solid and curvatious as a tanned body-builder’s bicep is cloaked on one side with pungent chilli con carne and on the other by silky guacamole. The sides of sour cream and potato salad adhere to the Mexico-mould and are a welcome addition. (01 216990) Chehade Str, Achrafieh

It’s reassuring to know that here we have a place utterly devoted to burgers of serious quality. When the concept is so burger-centric it is no surprise to find one so fiercely heavy,  uncompromising and thick, bursting with juice if, like us, you’re a fan of a pink patty. Try their speciality fries, cascading with oozing parmesan and gently showered with the a-la-mode truffle oil often used to smarten things up. (01 333511) Abdel Wahab El Inglizi Str, Monot

  • Classic Burger Joint: 13/20
  • Go here for: A reasonably priced quick fix
  • Lebanese Burger: LL16,000

The North-American styled outlets of this solidly successful burger chain are not without style, though their burgers could do with just a little more substance. Nice to see the Lebanese burger an option, as when ravenous there’s no need to have the sides aside, just stick them in the bun! Gourmet meat this is not, but for the price there’s no need to complain. (71 059729) Hamra Str, Hamra

  • Burger Bites: 14/20
  • Go here for: Those moments when you feel like feasting on the tiny
  • LL4,000-LL6,000 per mini burger

What is it about tiny things that are so enjoyable? Merely the hint of miniature seems to double the size of available fun. We get the feeling that the guys at Burger Bites have been enjoying themselves coming up with the countless concepts for these small sandwiches. The Britishness in our magazine’s origin is tickled pink by the English Breakfast Burger, lying openfaced with a cheerful fried quail’s egg and little rashers of bacon. (01 215424) St Joseph University Str, Monot

  • Deek Duke: 13/20
  • Go here for: Bun-derfull burgers for a quick bite
  • Beef Press Burger: LL18,250

Duke’s burgers look like they’ve been plucked straight from the thought bubble of a cartoon character. The burger was maybe a little bun – heavy and the chicken outshone the beef by a country mile (a little disappointing since it can’t feature in the line-up). The deep-fried cheese layer, however, was a novel addition. (01 344744) Crown Plaza Bldg, Hamra

  • Crepaway: 9/20
  • Go here for: A limp, spongy sandwich
  • Queen’s Burger: LL12,750

A ludicrously soft bun, meat and filling makes eating these burgers feel a little like chewing a sponge. Even the chips lay like little cardboard cut outs – having neither appearance, nor substance. Maybe the name was a hint to stick to the crêpes but at least our ice tea was cold and bottomless. (01 745845) Hamra Str, Hamra

  • Couqley: 19/20 (Critic’s Choice)
  • Go here for: A delicious departure from the norm
  • Cheese Burger with Pommes Frites: LL38,000

Couqley tosses the classic burger aside, boldly seeing the scope for radicalisation of a well trodden dish. They use sumptuous Black Angus beef, enveloped with Portobello mushrooms, brie and truffle shavings that adorn the flavours with simple, subtle class. This all lies on a single slice of artisanal, countryside bread, mocking those who believe in the traditional bun and ‘closed’ burger formula. (01 442678) The Alleyway, Gemmayzeh

  • The Hangout: 16/20
  • Go here for: A casual dish in a deceptively smart setting
  • The H.O. Gourmet Burger: LL24,000

With a name like ‘The Hangout’ you’d assume that we’d be directing you to some laid-back diner or student-friendly café, but this restaurant is sophisticated in the extreme. Their burger is as pretty as the restored Ottoman house itself, boasting 180g of course, juicy Black Angus beef topped with comfortingly aromatic smokey bacon and a thin wafer of parmesan cheese. Upmost care is taken in the presentation. (01566234) Nahr Ibrahim Str, Gemmayzeh

  • Frosty Palace: 17/20 (Critic’s Choice)
  • Go here for: Wonderfully juicy burgers in a retro setting
  • Brie and Blueberry Burger: LL26,500

Expecting this cute and kitsch American-style diner to be a burger specialist is a fair assumption, and happily you’d be proved correct. Their brie and blueberry burger is sweet and sumptuous, with meat of such quality you’d be hard-pushed to find a better patty elsewhere in Beirut. (01 449595) Pharaoh Str, Mar Mikhael

  • The Gathering: 14/20
  • Go here for: Classic taste in bizarrely serene highway-side spot
  • Gathering Burger: LL25,500

There was a relaxed air about our simple, archly American burger in The Gathering’s beautiful old courtyard that impresses despite its location next to the perennially busy Charles Helou Road. A soft collection of gently medium-done meat and classic American cheese melting, wilting over its fleshy bed. (01 566196) Pasteur Str, Gemmayzeh

  • Gordon’s Café: 16/20
  • Go here for: A sophisticated burger brunch
  • Grass Fed Prime Beef Burger: LL25,000

Gordon’s burger looks almost surreally perfect, each layer competing with each other to be most virile, most luminescent. With munching, the beef is a little overdone, but of quality nonetheless. The toppings are the highlight however, with finely sizzled bacon and a scarlet tomato slice the size of the palm of your hand. (01 962862) Le Grey Hotel, Martyr’s Sq, Downtown

  • Fred: 19/20 (Critic’s Choice)
  • Go here for: A gourmet burger of heart-arresting quality
  • Fred’s Bistro Burger: LL28,250

When we tried Fred’s burger there was silence – our attention totally consumed by the need to consume. The flesh, meaty with a broad, confident taste, looked so tempting and aristocratic that we rather assumed that we’d been tricked into eating something prepared for a Sursock. Topped with peppers and rich, melted cheese that only added to the full flavour, a quick mention of the fries is due – blisteringly hot and crunchy, they were the best we found. (01 203036) Sursock Str, Achrafieh

  • Latest Version Diner: 17/20 (Critic’s Choice)
  • Go here for: B-I-G taste and B-I-G portions
  • Swiss and Mushroom 6oz: LL24,000

These guys know their meat and even have a slideshow of their quality steaks. What does this mean for the burger? That they’re great, we mean really great. The portions are American level big but they don’t sacrifice on the taste to get there. For starters grab the sharing combo – it’s a fried feast of nachos, chicken and cheese. (04 403803) Marina Seaside Rd, Dbayeh

  • Paninoteca: 11/20
  • Go here for: A burger without pretenses in a homely atmosphere
  • Juicy Lucy: LL15,000

The burger is simple but nicely served on a wooden board and is surrounded by thick-cut chips, a generous bowl of green salad and extra-pickles that would make many happy. The meat is well cooked but unfortunately not of the best quality, though the cosy atmosphere and family service will make you overlook that. (71242295) Gouraud Str, Gemmayzeh

  • Julia’s: 5/20
  • Go here for: A miserable moment in an ostentatious arena
  • Julia’s Burger: LL25,000

Some people say ‘a burger is just a burger’, prompting us to scream back at them ‘then eat Julia’s for the rest of your life you idiot!’ So little love and care has gone into this particular example that we wonder if it’s been placed on the menu begrudgingly. Totally out of kilter with the pseudoopulence of a columned and mosaicked dining room, its blandness is matched only by its lack of adventure. Cheese that serves only in cheapening the meat and salad so depressed we want to take it home with us. (01 219539) Abdel Wahab El Inglizi Str, Monot

  • Marky’s: 17/20 (Critic’s Choice)
  • Go here for: Food like an American car – big, tasty and not at all subtle
  • Juicy Lucy: LL15,000

No one can say Marc doesn’t know his stuff, he travelled all over the US to bring the real thing to Beirut, and he serves some mean regional variations of the classic patty-bun combo with new specials all the time. The Juicy Lucy is a cheesy implosion – big bun, plenty of salad and a patty stuffed to the core with molten cheese (but book ahead to order it). (01 511801) Horch Tabet Main Road, Sin El Fil

  • Roadster Diner: 14/20
  • Go here for: The burger bar from the movies
  • Cheese at Heart: LL16,750

There is a reason this diner became an instant classic, it feels like you’re on the set of the dance scene in pulp fiction every time you step inside. The dark American cheese which hugs the firm patty like a limpet to a sea wall is tucked-up under a thick layer of crisps which create a complimenting dry crunch to the burger – certainly an interesting and welcome addition.. (01 577575) Sagesse Str, Achrafieh

  • Rod’s Burgers: 12/20
  • Go here for: The biggest burger in town
  • The Cowboy Burger: LL20,000

The Cowboy Burger at Rod’s is comically large – realistically only for the very brave, very large, or to split with friends. The 500g organic local beef patty comes on an oversize bun with all of the fixings and then some. We dare you to try and finish it – and don’t be surprised if people ask to take a picture. (76 837323) Gouraud Str, Gemmayzeh

  • Shake Shack: 15/20
  • Go here for: The taste of the Big Apple – shiny, sweet and really juicy
  • Shack Burger: LL17,000

Burgers that shine as if the chef’s actually been polishing it. While they might look as minimal as the surroundings, they taste sweet and juicy right through. We got the Double Shack Burger, which was all about the meat. The salad and sauce are luscious but are only there to give a sturdy base from which the meat can shine. (01 281549) Beirut City Center Mall, Hazmieh

  • Shakespeare and Co: 9/20
  • Go here for: Décor that makes you feel like Mr. Darcy
  • Beef Burger: LL20,000

It’s like sitting in an episode of Downton Abby the amount of lace adorning everything (including waiters), but if you though that the food would be dainty you’d be wrong – the burger sat menacingly on the plate like an angry doormat, but sadly it tasted about as dry as one too. The only redeeming course was a desert to die for. (71 008448) Dbayeh Hwy, Dbayeh

  • Street Burger: 14/20
  • Go here for: A quick stomach-lining fix when out on the tiles
  • Illegal Burger: LL12,000

Be under no illusions, the name says it all. Not bad for the price, we have to say, and if you mistakenly believe that eating four burgers in one towering bun is impressive then this is the place to come. The illegal burger, however, comes wrapped in bacon with molten cheddar secreted within the beef. You will either devour or despise. (01 575030) Alexander Fleming Str, Mar Mikhael

  • The Happy Prince: 15/20
  • Go here for: A good feed on Mar Mikhael’s trendiest artery
  • The Cheese Burger: LL23,000

Rather a meat-centric restaurant this, and their burger was not disappointing. Thankfully rather generous with the size of the beefy flesh lurking beneath a fresh, colourful salad. Why not ravish yours at the delightfully twentieth century bar, washing it down with a cocktail? (01 569040) Alexander Fleming Str, Mar Mikhael


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