Cafe Beirut Authentic Lebanese Food

Cafe Beirut JP

About Us

In the last 20 years or so, it hasn’t been too hard to find a decent falafel or shawarma in and around Boston. There have always been iconic places one could go to get these. But, where could one go to get truly authentic Lebanese fare? Outside of asking your Lebanese friend’s mom, there really wasn’t anywhere you could go. That’s why, in the early spring of 2012, Café Beirut first opened its doors in Jamaica Plain.

Chef Ali Hachem and Sami Saba teamed up to bring the residents of JP, and the rest of Boston, authentic Lebanese down-home cooking. All the dishes are prepared exactly as they would be if your Tayta or Sitoo (grammy or gramma) would.

Chef Ali uses ONLY Halal meats in the preparation of his dishes as well as only the freshest produce available. (Halal denotes or relates to any meat that is prepared as prescribed by Muslim law). He uses lots of aromatics and fresh herbs to enhance the flavors of our dishes; he really takes a no-holds-barred approach to preparing his meals! He doesn’t try to tone down any of the flavors in order to satisfy the western palate. Instead, he uses cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, cardamom and in ways that we in the west are not accustomed to.

It’s true that Café Beirut does serve Falafel, Shawarma, Hommous, and Tabooli, but, where the selection ends for other Middle Eastern places, ours is just starting. Chef Ali makes two kinds of sausage from scratch, makes his own Labneh (a strained yogurt) from a culture that’s been in his family for over 100 years, and he cures his own Bastorma (without trying it, it could only be described as the Lebanese love-child of corned beef and pastrami). We also carry a fried chicken liver roll-up sandwich as well as a lamb brains roll-up (you gotta try it before you say “ewe”…..pun intended!!!)

We implore you to come on down and give us a try. Let Chef Ali transport your taste buds to a place very few people get to go. Between our excellent food and superior customer service, you will not be disappointed with your time at Café Beirut.

Sami Saba

Sami was born and raised in Boston. The son of Lebanese immigrants, Sami didn’t exactly have a normal upbringing. His parents started Boston’s very first falafel food truck just before he was born (Sami’s Falafel). You can say he has falafel in his genes. Every day, before school, after school, during the summer, Sami spent his spare time learning the ins and outs of the “falafel biz,” focusing most of his efforts on the management and customer service aspect of things.

After graduating from Boston Latin School in 1998, Sami went on to receive a Bachelor’s of Science from UMASS – Boston with a concentration in Managing Information Systems. Soon after college, Sami’s father was diagnosed with colon cancer, at which point he was finally handed the proverbial keys.

In 2012, Sami decided he needed to do something on his own. After some restructuring, he handed the reins to his sister so he can start Café Beirut with his partner, Chef Ali Hachem. He thought it was about time Boston got a taste of REAL Lebanese food.

*Just under a year after opening, his father, the founder of Sami’s Falafel, Ghazi “Big Sam” Saba succumbed to complications caused by his cancer.

**Sami’s still has one location, just a stones-throw from the original spot on Longwood Ave.

Chef Ali Hachem

Ali was born in a small sea-side village near Tyre, southern Lebanon, in early 1968. From a very early age, he had aspirations of providing the masses his culinary creations. From mini chicken and garlic roll-ups to chilled pomegranate and rose water drinks, Ali would serve whatever he could to the people at the nearby beaches.

At the tender age of 9, Ali went to work at his cousin’s restaurant nearby. This is where he learned the basics of how to run a kitchen. He continued here part-time until he was about 11, when his father passed. He quit school and went on to work in restaurants full time, honing his craft.

When he was 15, he went to a culinary institute in Beirut where he not only learned everything there was to learn about Lebanese cooking, but he also learned of the other cuisines from around the world. It was this new-found knowledge and years of experience that led him to his new job in the border town of Naqoura.

At just 16 years old, Ali found himself running a large restaurant just outside the UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) base. He was responsible for feeding everyone from the basic UNIFIL staff to foreign dignitaries every day. Business was booming, both figuratively, and unfortunately, literally.

Due to the constant civil unrest and volatile environment that is southern Lebanon, Ali had a decision to make. So, Christmas-time 1988, Ali backed up his bags and made his way to the US. For the next six years, Ali worked hard and saved his pennies. He worked as a clerk at what used to be Christy’s Market (now 7-11) in JP. He was a line cook at McDonalds as well. He also worked in the kitchen of some other well-known Middle Eastern restaurants such as Sabra, The Phoenician, and The Middle East.

In ’94 he opened a small shawarma counter inside a halal met market in Roslindale Square. After a few years of success, he partnered up with his cousins and opened up Shawarma King in 1996. Business was good for them. They moved from their Northeastern location to Brookline and made a killing.

Time went on and Ali and his cousins got married and had kids. The one business was too small to support everyone. So in 2012, Ali sold his stake in Shawarma king and partnered up with Sami Saba to start Café Beirut.

Cafe Beirut’s gourmet food will inspire your taste buds and invite you to the authentic and delicious cultural flavors of Lebanon.

The Team

 

 

Cafe Beirut uses ONLY Halal meats in the preparation of our dishes

Specialties

“Love the authenticity, love the falafel wrap with hummus, and love the warm and easy going service.”

Testimonials

“I’ve never tried Lebanese food before, so I can’t say how it compares to other places, but I would definitely go here again. Lots of Vegan options and a staff that is usually helpful and friendly. (Actually, it was the multitude of Vegan options that made me want to try the restaurant in the first place. Area restaurants should take note.)
The menu is so clearly marked as to what’s Vegan and Gluten Free and also provides definitions in case you don’t know what Fool Moudammas is. The prices are very reasonable as well.
I’ve been here 3 times; twice with the Boston Metro-South Vegans (facebook.com/groups/Bost…) and the staff are always accommodating. Sometimes we’ve had to move tables and chairs around to get the group to sit together and that’s never been an issue with them.
Also, they accept LevelUp so sometimes your purchases lead to rewards. Yay!”

Alexa R. – Jamaica Plain, MA

“I loved this place. My friend and I came today and we haven’t been been to Jamaica Plain in so long so we forgot that there were so many good places like Beirut around. We both got the falafel rollup (mine spicy) and we both literally finished in less than 10 minutes. Sooooo good. Their baklava fingers=TO DIE FOR. So worth it. Cashier was great as well. Loved it and will be returning soon.”

Safinah B. – Boston, MA

My experience at Cafe Beirut was great. The food was delicious (lots of vegan and vegetarian options!) I called a head after making plans to meet a friend, and they told me about their vegan gluten free options. I got a veggie plate, you can choose from about 10 diffrent options. Fried okra, hummus, babagonush, spiced potatoes and tahini. It was delicious! I was a big fan of the fried okra and the tahini sauce was on point.
The service was also great, the man behind the counter was patient while I looked at the menu, he was friendly, and cracked a few jokes. I will definitely be returning.

Brandie S. – Boston, MA

Love the low price point, love the authenticity, love the falafel wrap with hummus, and love the warm and easy going service. Oh, definitely try the lentil soup too. To die for! Maybe the ambience leaves a little something to be desired, but with the right company, you really can’t lose here, and I’ve had warm and intimate conversations each time I’ve eaten here. The food was most definitely an aid to the deep communion.

Morgan D. – Lenox, MA

love, Love, LOVE the fried cauliflower sandwich (#37)!!! the cauliflower…the pickles…the tahini….just thinking about it makes my mouth water :-) Don’t know much about anything else. Can’t seem to stray from the cauliflower sandwich!

Nina H. – Jamaica Plain, MA

Like a phoenix from the ashes, Cafe Beirut rises from the legacy of Sami’s Falafel. Having been to Sami’s more than a few times, I can say this change is a world of difference. Also having lived in Coolidge Corner for years, I can very favorably compare Cafe Beirut to the neighborhood favorite Shawarma King. Which makes sense since Cafe Beirut stole one of their cooks.
Unlike most Yelpers, I tend to wait until I’ve been to a place a few times before making up my mind enough to review. I’ve been going to Cafe Beirut pretty regularly since they first opened and know it’s only a matter of time before they take off. The food is excellent; the falafel is as good as any I’ve had in the city, as is the shawarma. The variety is excellent; lamb brains, meat pies, delicious makanek and soujok, and plenty of other very unique Lebanese foods I’m delighted to try. The service is excellent; the owner is there 90% of the time and is friendly, helpful and an all around great guy. And the prices are excellent; where else can you get such awesome food for between $3 and $8?
Without a doubt, these guys earn one of my rare 5 star ratings.

Brian S. – Jamaica Plain, MA

I invited FIVE of my friends here and we were all more than happy with what we had. Their Kafta looked great, and my friend loved. My brother who is all about the shawarma (Lebanese), loved the lamb shawarma. Their meat was great and cooked just right, I noticed that many places around Boston tend to have dry shawarma. I did prefer the lamb or beef over the chicken, but they were all great.
I definitely recommend this place, prices are reasonable but the food is more than worth it! I compare it to Mediterranean food from back home, and it does great in comparison. Not on par with my mom’s dishes yet, that is a 6-star feat. :)

Rayan S. – Middlesex, MA

Cafe Beirut Authentic Lebanese Cuisine

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Café Beirut Featured on BostonGlobe.com

  • July 11, 2014
  • In News

Lebanese specialties earn A’s for authentic Moujadara is a Lebanese specialty of lentils with rice. It’s a dish made so many different ways in its country of origin that you can imagine old women in villages discussing how they cook theirs. At Cafe Beirut in Jamaica Plain, the grains simmer with onions, and when it […]

Café Beirut Using Bicycle Courier Service in Jamaica Plain

  • July 11, 2014
  • In News

Right Coast Courier is a bicycle messenger owned and operated courier service that specializes in direct from restaurant food delivery. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, RCC prides itself on offering fast delivery, environmentally friendly courier mediums, and excellent customer service. By using bicycles as our primary mode of transportation, RCC is able to move products at […]

Café Beirut featured in Boston Phoenix

  • May 16, 2014
  • In News

Many Middle Easterners will tell you that Lebanese cuisine is the best in the region. But disappointingly, most Americans go to places like Café Beirut and only get hummus and falafel. Don’t get me wrong — Café Beirut has exemplary versions of both — but limiting yourself to those things is like only ever listening […]