There are as many different types of food in Lebanon as there are religions all vying for your devotions. New restaurants spring up weekly and the list of what’s hot and what’s not changes with dizzying regularity. The current fad is for barbecue and southern soul food - lots of pulled pork, brisket and smoked meats. Best of these newcomers is Ferdinand (Hamra) which has a laid back, speakeasy vibe. If you’re after something more traditional, head to Abdel Wahab (Monot) to order a selection of classic Arabic mezze with hummus followed by the chicken in yoghurt. For a taste of the Lebanese highlife, head to Le Gray - Beirut’s ultra-hip designer hotel in the newly regenerated central district, close to upscale shopping centre Beirut Souks. Make your way past the fashionistas lolling gracefully in the art gallery-like lobby and take the lift to the rooftop restaurant ‘Indigo’ for its signature Tajima Wagyu beef and a glimpse of the church spires and mosque minarets that clash below in Martyr’s Square. If your budget will stretch, a room at this stylishly refined landmark hotel will put you at the heart of the shiny new Beirut, enjoying Chanel and Rolex for neighbours as well as drawing respectful admiration from anyone asking where you’re staying (an important quality to the image-conscious Lebanese).
After dinner, head to Mar Mikhael with its overflowing bars and raucous street scene. There’s plenty of choice for the party crowd here but, as a sample, try the retro themed Internazionale, popular with the creative set, and Radio Beirut which belts out cheesy Western and Arabic hits to weekenders throwing shapes on its tiny dance floor. Drinks are overpriced (even by London standards) but measures are generous and you’ll soon be having so much fun you’ll forget how bad the post-Brexit exchange rate is anyway. Try the locals’ shot of choice - “Dou Dou” - vodka with lemon juice, olive and spicy chilli.
If your fun antennae are still twitching at this point, grab a cab to The Grand Factory - a dark, cavernous nightclub grinding out dirty deep house on its state-of-the-art sound system and stunning laser graphics. It’s incongruously perched on top of a decaying, brutalist tower block that looks as though it might have been used as the launch-site for Hezbollah’s rockets during the war. To get to it, after paying your $33 entrance fee (includes one drink), be prepared to be herded into a huge, sweaty industrial elevator manned by a gurning lift operator who will gladly pose for saucer-eyed selfies with a chemically-induced twinkle in his eye. It may not tick all the health and safety boxes but you’re going to struggle to find a better “I once went to this amazing club…” story to tell your friends.