Most all countries, especially Lebanon, are full of marvelous sites to see. When visitors come to Lebanon they figuratively speaking have hit the tourism jackpot. While it’s true that Lebanon possesses astonishing roman ruins, a true wonder of the world entitled Jeita Grotto, breathtaking countrysides, an unmatched nightlife scene and more, sometimes the best destinations can be found in a local neighborhood. I have toured Lebanon visiting tourist sites, clubs, beaches and more only to find that my favorite spot in the entire country is located in my own neighborhood. Ashrafieh, an area I consider to be the center of modern Beirut nightlife, fashion and more. My beloved expanse is a shopping area by day, social gathering by night, traffic island christened Sassine Square.
Sassine Square is located in an ideal location if you adore the hustle and bustle of city life. Where can you find youth zooming around honking their mobylette horns, sophisticated business men and women taking a break from the attractive office buildings (located on Sassine), senior citizens who deservingly sit and chat over cups of coffee and games of backgammon, and fashionistas enjoying lunch after an enjoyable day of boutique shopping…the answer is Sassine Square! The numerous cafés with outdoor patios are perfect for people watching and waiting for familiar faces to walk by to wave a friendly hello. I walk over to Sassine a few times a week and still have yet to discover all it has to offer.
My preferred spots include:
L’escroc: This café and eatery is located a little further down from the round about. It is perfect for chillin’ out smoking water pipe, enjoying delicious plates chosen from a full international menu and watching the World Cup (when it’s that time). The inside is decorated with classic vinyl records and album covers which add to the relaxing atmosphere. I suggest sitting outside on the covered outdoor patio.
Librarie Antoine: One of my favorite book stores not only in Lebanon but also on Earth. Two levels of mind food is how I describe Antoine. The books sections are perfectly labeled which makes it possible to find exactly what you are looking for. The magazine stands are full of content making it a one-stop shop for any type of reading material. But most importantly, the number one reason I love this bookstore is the La bande dessinée (comic book) section downstairs.
Costa Coffee: Costa Coffee is a British coffeehouse company founded by Italian brothers. Now being the second largest coffeehouse chain in the world (behind Starbucks) it has spread to countries all over the world including Lebanon. I enjoy having coffee at Costa Sassine because the tables are spread out, I can always find a place to sit and last but not least the free wifi.
Chase Café & Restaurant: I have one word to describe Chase, and that word is gourmet. The menu is full of delicacies, which are served in a deliciously artistic way. The warm colors of the interior and furniture provide a calming quality. During the day the outdoor terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy deserts with a cup of coffee.
The shopping at Sassine Square is another subject and a world on its own. My advice is to turn down every street because the best shops and boutiques are hidden down every turn in every alley. I will mention SAGA for dresses; they have gorgeous gowns if you have the extra dollars to drop, as it is costly. Pretty Shoes for your high heel needs, and of course the ABC Mall Ashrafieh is at your footsteps.
Enjoy a day at Sassine and if you see me shopping do wave a friendly hello!