It’s a hot, sweaty August day in Beirut when I first come to Dar Bistro & Books. I find it by chance, signposted by a colourful mural of bicycles outside the entrance. Walking into the plant-adorned outside terrace is a literal breath of fresh air. The coffee shop is nestled in an old heritage house, with a luscious plant-filled garden. It’s an instant oasis of calm away from the bustle of Hamra. The bistro also has a cosy indoor space where you can buy hand-picked books (including many by local authors and illustrators), and local hand-blown glass products.
I love the tables and chairs painted in cheery ice-cream shades, and there’s a personal touch to the service here, with fresh-cut flowers in a vase on every table. Dar Bistro & Books serves food all day long, with much of its dishes using local, home-grown ingredients. My favourite things are the zesty smoothies, and the breakfast menu with bagels, eggs and pancakes.