Lebanon, a land of of diverse influences.

Lebanese cuisine has long been beloved for its vibrant flavors and diverse influences. In recent years, some interesting new trends have emerged in Lebanese food that are putting a fresh spin on traditional dishes. Here’s a look at some of the latest Lebanese food fads.

Vegan Lebanese Food
One of the biggest trends right now is vegan and vegetarian Lebanese options. As more people adopt plant-based lifestyles, restaurants like Tawlet in Beirut and Bab Sharki in Byblos are evolving classic Lebanese dishes to be meatless and dairy-free. For example, veggie kafta is made from chickpeas and lentils instead of lamb. Vegan labneh is made from cashews or coconut yogurt rather than dairy. And mujadara is made with olive oil instead of ghee. Many modern Lebanese eateries now have dedicated vegan menus featuring plant-based shawarma, falafel, hummus and more.

New Twists on Mezze
The small starter plates known as mezze are essential to Lebanese dining. And chefs are putting creative new spins on traditional mezze items. Some examples include fried Brussels sprout kibbeh, labneh cheesecake with berry compote, and harissa spiced chicken wings. Mini dessert mezze are also trending, like tiny cups of cinnamon rice pudding or rosewater panna cotta. Restaurants like Em Sherif in Beirut are making mezze feel fresh again with these contemporary renditions.

Hybrid Dishes
Lebanese food has always been influenced by surrounding cultures like Turkish, French and Mediterranean cuisines. This blending continues today as Lebanese chefs experiment with fusing other global flavors. Popular hybrid dishes include Lebanese-Korean bibimbap bowls at restaurants like Centrale, Lebanese tacos with shawarma meat at Bar Tartine, and Lebanese sushi with tabbouleh rolls at Sushi Rechmaya. These crossover foods represent the ongoing evolution of Lebanese food.

Health-Conscious Alternatives
As consumer concerns over diet and nutrition grow, chefs are creating healthier versions of indulgent Lebanese fare. For example, baked kibbeh instead of deep-fried at restaurant Jasmine, or cauliflower rice tabbouleh as a low-carb alternative. Spiced chickpea fries instead of potato fries for more fiber. And za’atar spiced chicken skewers using breast meat and yogurt sauce instead of shawarma. Traditional Lebanese ingredients like olive oil, herbs, veggies and legumes make it easy to lighten up recipes.

Gourmet Manaeesh
The beloved Lebanese street food flatbread manaeesh is going upscale. Bakeries like Manousheh are now topping manaeesh with premium ingredients like smoked salmon, dry-aged beef, truffle oil or imported cheeses. Others are doing “pizza manaeesh” with creative toppings like fig and prosciutto or arugula and fried eggs. Fancier manaeesh bakeries are popping up focusing just on elevated, gourmet manaeesh.

Local, Seasonal Ingredients
There is a growing emphasis on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients in Lebanese cuisine. Menus at restaurants like Em Nazih change based on what’s harvested at that time of year from Lebanese farms. Dishes like nettle and goat cheese fatayer in spring, or pumpkin kibbeh in winter. This seasonal approach showcases Lebanese produce and supports local agriculture. Some restaurants even state what village their mint, tomatoes or fruit came from.

Lebanese Breakfast
Lebanese breakfast was traditionally very simple – just tea, pita and labneh for many. But modern chefs are expanding morning menus with dishes like shakshuka with caramelized halloumi at Café De L’Aube, fruit-stuffed crepes at Crepaway, and eggs with lamb bacon. Plus Arabic coffee drinks like mocha lattes and saffron cardamom cappuccinos. Full Lebanese breakfast spreads are becoming popular at trendy brunch spots.

Craft Beers and Beverages
Lebanon has a thriving craft beer scene with breweries like 961 Beer, Colonel, and Lazy B. Local pomegranate, date, strawberry and peach beers are popular. And grapes from Lebanon’s wine country are even made into beers. Beyond beer, creative new Lebanese craft beverages include wine cocktails at Cuvee, araka cocktails at Arabica, shiso lemonades at Juicery, and sparkling rosewater. These craft drinks spotlight Lebanon’s fruits and botanicals.

Market-Style Dining
Many modern Lebanese restaurants like Mar Mikhael are opting for a lively market or food hall-style dining space. With food stations for manaeesh, grills, mezze and sweets instead of traditional plated service. Diners can pick and choose from the various stations. Large communal tables encourage guests to sample new dishes together family-style. It evokes the convivial atmosphere of a Lebanese souk.

Bringing Back Ancient Grains
Lebanon’s ancient grains like millet, barley, einkorn and emmer wheat are being revived. These ancestral grains are nutritious and sustainable crops that are native to the Levant. Chefs are using heirloom varieties in dishes like emmer tabbouleh, green barley dolmas, fried millet kibbeh and einkorn berry salads. Menus proudly name the local farm where the grain was grown.

Overall, Lebanon’s amazing culinary traditions are continuing to adapt in creative ways. By fusing global flavors, focusing on fresh ingredients and updates to traditional cooking, Lebanese food is undeniably on the cutting edge and perfect for adventurous eaters. The future looks bright – and flavorful – for this delicious cuisine.


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August 2023