Karim Arsanios first caught our eye with his beautiful recipes on Instagram – but it soon became clear that his passion for food ran much deeper.
After 8 years working in the banking industry, Karim left behind his career in Finance in search of something more meaningful. He headed to San Francisco to study for an MBA in sustainable management, exploring several areas before eventually committing to agriculture and gastronomy.
When he had return to Lebanon in 2019 due to a family emergency, he ended up staying, and he quickly began building what would become Solar - an organic extra virgin olive oil company using his family’s olive trees in the remote village of Kour, in northern Lebanon. Karim also caters private dinners, with his eye on opening his very own restaurant in the future!
As a dedicated foodie, we figured Karim would know some of the best places to check out in the country’s capital, Beirut…
SPORTING BEACH CLUB
Legendary Lebanese haunt
"A beach within the city, Sporting has been around for over 70 years. It offers a panoramic view of the Mediterranean, with planes passing just over your head, giving this spot an Ibiza-like vibe. In summer, at night, the beach is transformed into an open air club called Decks on the Beach."
Where nights become mornings
"It's the oldest bar in gemmayze, a street full of bars - a real institution. The music is eclectic and the dim lights mixed with the hip décor gives an ambiance close to Berlin's Club der Visionare. Even if it's considered a bar, nights can easily turn into mornings."
"An upscale bar/rest, you can enjoy classy drinks with fine dining. It's a chic contemporary space with an architecture of its own. It has a retractable roof to its long, dark tunnel bar, from which you can enjoy the lights of Beirut. The two-storey space occasionally brings DJs that play soothing jazzy beats, creating a flirty atmosphere."
A kaleidoscope of colours
"The museum has one of the most significant collections of minerals in the world. The space is a kaleidoscope of colours and offers interactive experiences through high-tech software. There's a certain tranquility and peaceful energy that takes over when you're inside. Hard to top that feeling."
"A favourite Lebanese restaurant in Beirut. The former Abdullah's Boutros palace offers the traditional layout of a 19th Century Lebanese home. Its high ceilings, marble tables, and tasteful wallpaper gives this restaurant an elegance and aesthetics you can hardly find elsewhere. Liza offers a menu of contemporary Lebanese cuisine, giving this rich cuisine a welcome twist."
We originally reached out to Karim before the horrific explosion that destroyed and damaged large parts of the city of Beirut in August 2020. With Karim’s blessing, we wanted to go ahead and share this article as the city continues to rebuild. - We asked Karim to share some recommendations of NGOs providing invaluable support in the rebuilding of the city. Please check them out + do consider making a donation:
Solar produces 100% organic extra virgin olive oil, using the knowledge, wisdom and experience passed on through the various generations who have nurtured the family’s olive trees in the same way for over 150 years. The trees have always been free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the alkaline soils rewarding them with a fruit that’s packed with flavour and an extra virgin olive oil rich in polyphenols and antioxidants.
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All photos are copyright 51 Squared B.V. except: Portrait (Image courtesy of Karim Arsanios); Sporting (Instagram @sportingclubbeach); Torino (Instagram); Centrale (Centrale Website); Liza (Instagram @lizabeirut); MIM Museum (Instagram @mim_museum). This feature was not paid for in any way.