Shawarmas may be standard fare for the city’s 3am crew, but the Lebanese-London connection runs deeper than kebab shops. After seeking refuge during the 1970s civil war, the Lebanese diaspora first settled in the Edgware Road, setting up long-established eateries and earning it the name ‘Little Beirut’. Westminster may have the highest concentration of Arabic speakers in the capital, but thriving Lebanese communities now exist in Kilburn, Northolt and Ealing too.
There’s more to Lebanese culture than food, of course, but breaking bread could be an Olympic sport for Lebanese Londoners, such is their devotion to hospitality. Baba ghanoush, aubergine, pomegranates and artichokes have been mainstays of Lebanese food long before wellness bloggers cottoned on to the Mediterranean diet, and they look just as good on your Instagram as they taste. No wonder Londoners have taken to Beirut-style cooking with such gusto. Layla Haidrani
Did you know? The Lebanese-owned Al Saqi in Westbourne Grove was the first Arabic bookshop in London. It’s known for publishing books that are considered taboo in some Arab countries.
Layla’s favourite Lebanese spots in London
For street-style Beirut food and drink, try Yalla Yalla. They import wine from the Bekka Valley and there’s a whole menu of arak, the Levantine version of anis.
Hit an art auction at the British Lebanese Association, set up in 1984 to encourage friendship between the two countries.
Dance the dabke at the Lebanese Festival. With 10,000 participants every year, this annual summer party is the biggest overseas Lebanese cultural event.
Convert savoury fans at Sweetland, a hidden gem of a sweet shop in Park Royal. Patchi next door stocks traditional Lebanese baklava and shortbread.
Vegetarians are spoilt at Edgware Road’s Al Arez, with offerings including stuffed grape leaves and falafel. Then wash it all down with traditional Lebanese tea.
The best of Lebanese London, according to you
‘Ya Hala in Paddington. Friendly, food is fresh and delicious, the meal deals are good value and the apple/mint/ginger juice is perfect.’ @nickynak3 via Twitter
‘Maroush restaurant on Edgware Road.’ Seta M via Facebook
‘Hiba is a really good Lebanese/Palestinian café in Holborn that also does takeaways.’ Rania H via Facebook
‘Lebanese Grill on New Kent Road. Always a queue. Proper coal-grilled kebabs.’ @Balfour93 via Twitter
‘For yummy Lebanese groceries, Green Valley on Edgware Road.’ David S via Facebook