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With a war in neighboring Syria and multiple crises at home — more than a million Syrian refugees straining the nation, a government without a president, a garbage-removal scandal that has turned parts of the country into a literal dump, and periodic bombings — the Lebanese capital is suffused with a fretful, subdued vibe these days. The nights are another story, however. The latest hot spot is Badaro, a leafy residential quarter of 1970s high-rise concrete buildings that is sprouting indie boutiques, cozy cafes, Mediterranean-modern restaurants, and open-air bars of myriad themes and styles. Amid the swirl of daily concerns, nocturnal relief awaits.
This white-tiled cafe-bar, which opened last winter, first nourishes and later intoxicates the Badaro cool cats who pack its open-air terrace and soft-glowing bar. Stop by during daylight hours for pain au chocolat and banana-chocolate-peanut-butter smoothies. Then come back after nightfall for the district’s top original cocktails, such as Fig ’n’ Oak (bourbon, Scotch, pastis, lime, agave nectar and a whole fig) and Honey Monkey (vodka, coconut milk, Lillet Blanc, lime leaves and honey mead), which was inspired by Thai soup.
Badaro Street, across from Mobil gas station; 961-1-382-992.
With its marble bar, brass rails, mirrored columns, tile floor and cozy banquettes, the year-old Onno Bistro conjures airs of Paris. The cuisine is pure Armenian-Syrian, however, starting with yogurt-drenched specialties like manti (meat-filled crunchy pasta tubes in yogurt sauce) and madzounov kebabs (diced beef cubes in warm yogurt with pine nuts). Balance the savory onslaught with the sweetness of ras asfour karaz — beef cubes in warm cherry sauce with cashew nuts — and the earthiness of soujouk, made from diced sausages in zesty tomato sauce.
Badaro Street, across from SGBL Bank; 961-70-383-203; facebook.com/OnnoBistro.
Snap up some of the repurposed industrial items in this kitsch-cool boutique, which opened in 2014. The offerings might include clocks made from old nautical gauges, lamps constructed from rusted Banania cans, or an unadulterated vintage red Coca-Cola cooler. For more contemporary tastes, the shop also stocks cushions embroidered with intentionally cheesy needlepoint landscapes by the French brand Boboboom, as well as cardboard iPod stations in the shape of classic 1980s boomboxes from Berlin Boombox.
Badaro Street, 961-3-270-857
Entering this upscale but unpretentious restaurant, outfitted in dark wood, colorful neo-Baroque chairs and an Art Nouveau mirror, may spike your blood-sugar level, courtesy of sweets like a Nutella and fruit enchilada, Oreo cookie cheesecake, and French toast with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Still, don’t overlook the small bites like dates with Roquefort cheese and halloumi cheese with cherry tomatoes, both of which pair well with local Ixir Altitudes red wine.
Kfoury Street, Forest Building, 961-1-390-987, cafedepenelope.com.
Grandma, are you drunk again? Outfitted with dusty floral-print armchairs, threadbare couches, stacks of antique suitcases and decaying yellowed paperbacks, this proudly dowdy bar, a 2014 vintage, suggests a zany old lady’s home refitted to welcome an under-40 rock crowd. Order a local Almaza beer or a classic Manhattan and gaze out the wagon-wheel-spoke windows at the ever-changing neighborhood.
Badaro Street, 961-1-382-073, facebook.com/theatticbarbadaro.
Source: The New York Times