For a number of years, Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine was unfairly portrayed in London as just late-night kebabs devoured at 2am. In truth, Lebanese food has far more to offer than just a Doner, as evidenced by the army of stellar Lebanese restaurants which operate in the capital.
Whether it’s in the well-heeled neighbourhoods of Belgravia and Kensington which welcome many Middle Eastern tourists during the summer season, or in central London spots such as Fitzrovia and Covent Garden, there are many Lebanese restaurants to choose from in the city. We’ve made sure to include Lebanese restaurants suited to a range of tastes and budgets in our list, so there should be something for everyone. Once you’ve settled on where to visit, your biggest problem will be wondering how many baskets of bread is too much? In our humble opinion, there’s no such thing.
Noura, Belgravia and Mayfair
What: Whether you’re dining in the two-tiered Belgravia flagship or the basement of the seductive Mayfair offshoot, you’re sure to find something you like on Noura’s expansive menus, which champion sharing dishes. Feast on sharing platters filled with grilled meats, tabbouleh and hummus, or munch on a selection of hot and cold mezze – think spicy potatoes, Bulgarian cheese and bread topped with seasoned minced lamb.
Where: 16 Hobart Place, SW1W 0HH; 16 Curzon Street, W1J 5HP
What: Maroush has been thrilling lovers of Lebanese cuisine since back in 1981, and has since expanded to a few locations around the capital. The Edgware Road original is still the best of the bunch though, and can often be found packed to the rafters even though it stretches across two floors. Top picks from the menu include shawarma lamb and king prawns, while capable veggie dishes see roast aubergine and a green bean stew.
Where: 21 Edgware Road, W2 2JE
Abd el Wahab, Belgravia
What: Beirut export Abd el Wahab boasts 18 restaurants around the Middle East, but chose Belgravia for its sole London outpost. Here, you can expect to tuck into Lebanese comfort food which is free of fuss or pretentiousness, with mezze dishes including the classic likes of stuffed vine leaves, grilled halloumi and deep-fried cheese rolls. Follow them up with lamb or chicken from the grill, all served with the usual mix of vegetables and roasted potatoes.
Where: 2 Pont Street, SW1X 9EJ
What: Plenty of Belgravia’s moneyed residents hail from the Middle East, so it’s no surprise that there are lots of Lebanese restaurants in the area. Ishbilia is a welcoming spot which benefits from a large outdoor terrace, and serves a menu of classics. Pick from chicken breast skewers or lamb cutlets which are cooked on a charcoal grill, or try your luck with one of the daily-changing specials. There’s also a decent wine list which is worth exploring.
Where: 9 William Street, SW1X 9HL
Orjowan, Earls Court
What: Differing from many other Lebanese joints in the capital, Orjowan not only offers up a restaurant, but also a basement karaoke lounge for some after-dinner entertainment. Before you warm up your vocals though, you can line your stomach with a selection of hot and cold meze, followed by chicken shawarma or roasted lamb shank. Round off your meal with traditional desserts such as baklava and Lebanese rice pudding.
Where: 6 Kenway Road Earls Court, SW5 0RR
Meza, Tooting Broadway
What: As its name suggests, Meza specialises in mezze, otherwise known as dynamic Lebanese small plates to share. Head here to chow down on the likes of labneh, tabbouleh and hummus, alongside hot dishes such as calamari, sautéed prawns and cheese-filled pastry parcels. It’s no surprise that the fish dishes impress here, as founder Hikmat Antippa kick-started his culinary career at legendary seafood restaurant J Sheekey in Covent Garden.
Where: 70 Mitcham Road, SW17 9NA
What: Basement restaurants sometimes feel lacking in atmosphere, but Levant’s subterranean space is well matched to its Arabian Nights-style décor – think hanging lanterns, intricately carved wood panels and colourful scatter cushions. The room is well-designed for groups, so if you’re here with an entourage, make sure to go for the mixed grill: charcoal-grilled lamb kofta, a lamb cutlet and chicken taouk served with vermicelli rice and salad.
Where: Jason Court, 76 Wigmore Street, W1U 2SJ
Al Waha, Westbourne Grove
What: Open since the 90s, Al Waha boasts a welcoming and friendly atmosphere, serving up classic Lebanese dishes in a split-level dining room, which includes a mezzanine that is great for groups. A pocket-friendly wine list is matched with hot and cold mezze, followed by meat and fish options delivered in generous portions – our top picks include the hummus Kawarmah, which arrives at the table topped with fried diced lamb and pine nuts.
Where: 75 Westbourne Grove, W2 4UL
Arabica Bar & Kitchen, Borough
What: Arabica sits beneath a railway arch in Borough Market, with the room occasionally trembling as trains go by overheard. The food and infectiously fun atmosphere make up for any noise though, as does the wide-ranging menu of Middle Eastern fare. Top shouts from the menu include the hummus with spiced lamb and the grilled halloumi, while other dishes tap into modern dining trends, such as the mushroom and truffle flatbread.
Where: 3 Rochester Walk, SE1 9AF
Comptoir Libanais, various locations
What: With sites across the capital and beyond, Comptoir Libanais has won legions of fans for its menu of uncomplicated mezze. We’d recommend coming in a group, so you have the opportunity to try more dishes. After admiring the kitsch murals and colourful patterns splashed across the walls, you can choose from the tempting likes of filled wraps and slow-cooked tagines, or keep it simple with a selection of hot and cold mezze.
Where: 59 Broadwick Street, W1F 9QH
Yalla Yalla, Fitzrovia and Soho
What: There are two Yalla Yalla’s in London, with the first finding its home in an intimate venue in Soho's Green Court, and the second in a much larger space in Fitzrovia. Both restaurants do a good lunchtime trade when takeaway wraps are the stars of the show, but come back later in the day for larger plates such as spiced aubergine moussaka or roasted seabass. The Middle Eastern influence stretches to the cocktail list too, which includes a Turkish Delight Martini.
Where: 12 Winsley Street, W1W 8HQ; 1 Green’s Court, W1F 0HA
What: Translating from Arabic as ‘treasure’, Kenza is a real trove of Middle Eastern décor, combining intricate tapestries and Moroccan lamps with colourful pillows and the occasional belly dancer. The basement cocktail lounge is the place to go for after-dinner drinks, but before you get there feast on the likes of lamb kibbeh, falafel and grilled halloumi served with figs in rose syrup.
Where: 10 Devonshire Square, EC2M 4YP
Maison Bab, Covent Garden
What: While not the most traditional of Lebanese restaurants on this list, Maison Bab has had lots of fun with its attempt to reinvent the classic drunken kebab as a gourmet fast food option. Our top shouts include the doner beignet (essentially a dough ball filled with lamb and garlic sauce), and the crispy golden fries, which are served with pots of thick fondue for liberal dipping. Fair pricing and a fun list of cocktails are further draws.
Where: 4 Mercers Walk, WC2H 9FA
Mes Amis, Hammersmith
What: The kind of rare place that your Mum would love just as much as your mates, Mes Amis is a perennially popular spot in Hammersmith that is as cosy as it is intimate. It only opens for dinner and is often full, so we’d recommend booking ahead. Once you’ve secured a table, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with fluffy and warm pita bread, shish kebabs topped with tahini sauce, and traditional chicken prepared with onions and garlic.
Where: 1 Rainville Road, W6 9HA
Paramount Lebanese Kitchen, Paddington
What: Serving up a slice of famous Lebanese hospitality, every diner at Paramount Lebanese Kitchen is made to feel at home. Conveniently found just two minutes from Paddington Station, you can come here to try classic dishes such as moussaka or chargrilled lamb fillets with a hummus dip. Finish up with baklava and pistachio ice cream, while sipping on a selection of fruit juices or hot teas.
Where: 26 London Street, W2 1HH
Beirut Express, Kensington
What: This Kensington café serves an expansive menu of Lebanese and Middle Eastern favourites, alongside a dish of the day which might be a spinach stew or pastry parcels filled with lamb and dressed with a yoghurt sauce. Sweet options include Lebanese milk pudding topped with rosewater syrup, and Knefeh (cream cheese topped with semolina), while the list of wines by the glass features a few bottles hailing from Lebanon.
Where: 65 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3JS
Lebanese cuisine is well matched to sharing, so why not check out our pick of the 14 best buffet restaurants in London.