Motto serves some of the best Indian food I’ve had in Beirut. It’s a tiny, charming restaurant in the heart of Mar Mikhael. It only has a handful of tables, plus a very small one upstairs (mind your head if you’re tall like me, because the ceiling is low) and a couple of tables on the street in warmer weather. In the summertime, the chef stands next to the diners outside making naan bread on a portable stove, while the local stray cats wander up to the tables to beg for scraps.
Like its sister restaurant Makan, the menu at Motto changes frequently. You can now choose from a selection of reasonably priced dishes, which often feature classics dishes such as butter chicken or tikka masala, covering cuisine from across India. Side dishes might include refreshing apple raita and variations of dal. There’s also a 7-course set menu available. There are no pretensions here – it’s a warm, welcoming and casual restaurant, serving first-rate Indian food and a selection of fine local wines.