Whenever I am in Lebanon I like going up towards Faraya and having lunch at Al Arzal. The past few times I’ve been there though the food wasn’t as good and the fact that they don’t have tabbouleh which I’ve suddenly fallen in love with after 30 years of hating it meant I needed to find a new place. I wanted to try Al Balad in Faqra but they close during the winter so we decided to find a new place. After asking some friends we were pointed towards a place called Jalsat in Mayrouba. When we got there it turned out to be a place that serves burgers and sandwiches, a place which actually would be cool to pass by after a day of skiing but not a place we felt like having our Sunday lunch. So we headed towards our “Plan B”, a place called Mat3am Al Mawasem. Supposedly the place had amazing food but when we got there we were turned off by the very plain and boring interior seating area. It was basically a large hall with white marble floor and cream colored walls filled with white plastic tables and chairs. They might have good food but with no view and a boring interior we decided to pass on this place. Finally we headed to another place that was also in Mayrouba called Cave Al Siwan.
The restaurant is located next to a small river stream and looked like a large stone hut. We spoke to the guy at the door and he told us they didn’t have any room inside but they had room in the “maghara” which was across the street on a ground floor of an apartment building. I figured since the place was very popular and since they couldn’t expand the restaurant due to the way its built and located, they just purchased the floor across the street and turned it into a disconnected extension. After a bit of “na7na jayeen awal mara oo 7abeen na3od jouwa” nagging the guy magically found us a free table to sit at.
Once I walked into the place I just loved it. The walls and ceiling were covered in stone with goat skin hung up randomly on the walls. It just looked very weird and I wanted something that was weird and out of the ordinary. Our table had a basic mezza laid out before we even sat down, thats because you pay per person and you eat everything they have. As soon as we sat down and started eating they started adding more and more items to the table like raw meat, hot french fries, tabbouleh, fattoosh, makanek, stomachs, pigeon eggs, shrimps and more and they kept adding stuff without removing any dishes so you ended up with plates piled up on top of other plates and you just ended up with a table literally covered with layers of delicious food. We gave our waiter a LL20,000 tip to hook us up and I ended up getting a bucket of ice filled with Almaza beer compared to the single bottle I was getting before the tip. It was just amazing, over-indulgence at its best.
I am really not a fan of Arabic music, I actually hate it but the stuff they were playing was different from the usual and I found it actually pretty weird, I swear if you watch the video above which I recorded it sounds like an Arabized version of the Trololo song. People were really kicking it and it was like 2PM in the afternoon! That combination of darkness because there were no windows and the unlimited supply of Arak probably had something to do with that.
The food was pretty good. I thought the tabbouleh had too much na3na3 (mint) but that was actually my only complaint. Price wise it was around $30 per person. I am not sure if that’s a lot or normal since I don’t live in Lebanon but for the amount of food and the atmosphere I thought that was very reasonable. Finding the place isn’t that hard, if you’re on the road to Faraya, once you see the Mayrouba sign take a left and head into Mayrouba, you should then start spotting signs taking you to Cave Al Siwan. In the gallery below you should find a map that was on the back of their business card plus a phone number. I would highly recommend you reserve before you get there.
Would I go back again? Yes I would since I had a great time and I loved everything about the place. Keep in mind though that I was under the heavy influence of alcohol that day and so my judgement could have been affected.
Oh man I’ve been there for too many family dinner parties (weddings, communions, etc.). The interior is pretty awesome, though the music gets REALLY loud at night.
I can imagine, I mean I was there for lunch and the music was loud and people were dancing and shit so I could only imagine what happens at night!
Never had a disappointing get together there with friends, but it was a usually a guys only affair and i was a smoker then, the food and overall ambiance are good and for the food you get the price is ok…BUT! now I’m a non smoker, an anti-smoker really and the smoke filled air would put me off and make me the sourest person in the place, so i avoid it and many other stuffy restaurants…even outside in the summer, the fumes of the Arguilehs is annoying and puts me off…and the place wouldn’t be the same it was a non smoking restaurant so shame for me…
Forgot to mention, now i’m married and the smoke filled air is not something i would put my kid through…
I should have mentioned there was a lot of arguileh as well but I don’t mind it even though I am a non smoker. What I do mind is cigarette smoke and cigar which luckily there was none nearby when i was there.
what i wanted to ask about after reading this review is smoke. i just can’t stand it.
i think that it’s worth visting during weekdays; hopefully there are less crowds and smokers.
Friskies, i did happen to go there on a weekday some years ago and we were the only ones there…was pretty cool, personalized service, and so many waiters sometimes you get your orders twice LOL…but when i went there in 2004, the price was not much less than 30 bucks so they haven’t marked up their prices by much, ZWZ should go discover how these guys work..
For someone who hates Arabic music, I’m surprised you liked the unbelievably annoying wailing of Melhem Karam
I want to check out this restaurant soon, but if Melhem Karam comes on the speakers, I’m outta there!!!
I’m tell you man drink a few beers and it sounds like Trololo 😉
thanks for article …i will be heading there soon, and 30$ person for what i saw in the pics, i would say its an avg price in lebanon
I think the 30$ doesnt include the drink so you have to add some 10$ maybe. I recommend you go to Manarit el Khaleej if you prefer a calmer atmosphere with less smoke and a great sea view and really good food.
I think $30 includes the drink but doesn’t include argheleh.
again “I think” unless its actually cheaper than 30$ a person. I took the total of the bill divided up with the amount of people that were there and got $30 a person and that was including drinks. So it might be $25 a person and the rest was for drinks..
thanks Mark for sharing, amazing place, music and food, reminds me of Lebanon, actually whenever we go to Leb, Siwan is a place we must step into it.
for reservations: 03-748476
and btw Zaydoun, the singer name is Melhem Barakat and not Melhem Karam
the restaurant decor and the food are really nice! but the music is so loud that you can’t even talk! like seriously this is a restaurant not a nightclub
Je suis fier de mes cousins et de la nourriture raffinÃ©e du Siwan.
Merci Ã Georges, Gilbert et Rock.
after reading your post, we decided to try this place(only a few months later)it’s all that you described it to be and the food was really great..thanks for the review 🙂
Thats good to hear. I’m curious to know how was it with the current weather? do they have AC inside the place?
ur right about al mawassem’s interior design but believe me i’ve been there many times with my family and the food is AMAZING!!!
Hi i’m the dj at al.siwan restaurent and would just like to point out that this review was amazing I couldn’t have written it better myself and its a pleasure of ours to have someone like you mark at our place if your still wondering about saturday nights you’ll have to try it out and reservations are a must its even weirder than sundays.