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Hassouni

Downtown Cafes

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OK so this isn't a review for just one place. The main pedestrian street of downtown Beirut is simply lined with outdoor cafes all serving argileh everywhere you go. The selection, food, and prices of these places are mostly the same.

[color=#1C2837][size=2]Atmosphere: 5 out of 5. This is pretty much as good as it gets. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:[/size][/color]
[color=#1C2837][size=2][img]http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/56/95656-050-845067E0.jpg[/img]
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[color=#1C2837][size=2][img]http://libanva.com/beirut%20terraces.jpg[/img]

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[color=#1C2837][size=2]The only downside, as you can see, is that it gets very crowded in the summer and Christmas/New Year season.[/size][/color]
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Hookah: 4/5. It's the Middle East, they know what they're doing. Lebanese hoses tend to be more restrictive, and the bowls are tiny, but still, great smokes. Of course they use real natural wood coals and have dedicated attendants. If I had to guess I'd say they used Nakhla. The surrounding streets are perfumed with the scent of double apple, it's almost unreal.

Service: Highly variable depending on the season/level of crowdedness. Sometimes it's fine, sometimes they're jackasses and want to charge a high cover or require you to order food. It's worth it, but you've been warned.

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[color=#1C2837][size=2]Food: 5/5. Food in Beirut is excellent in general. Some of these places are Lebanese, some are more European themed, but they all have full menus, really interesting fruit cocktail drinks, and best of all, alcohol!

Price: 5/5. About $8 (or 12,000 Lebanese Lira) for mu'assal. More for 'Ajami. Food is not super cheap at most places, but not ghastly expensive either, unless it's summer and they're charging a cover, in which case they make you order a ton of food. Booze is reasonably priced, about $4 or 5 for a beer.

Overall recommendation: When I think of smoking nargile, this is what I think of. Falamanki may be objectively better in Beirut, but nothing beats chilling on the terrace downtown. Recommended![/size][/color]

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