Ah, Mar Mikhael, where do we even begin?
A pretty big chunk of our lives are spent in Mar Mikhael: those Tuesday after-work happy hours (that extend till late evening), sporadic lunches and dinners (followed by drinks) throughout the week, random shopping here and there, it's definitely our favorite hood.
The whole area is arguably the most happening neighborhood in Beirut. From bars, to restaurants, to fashion stores, everything you'll discover in there is more or less a totally unique local concept (no McDonalds or H&Ms!).
The beauty is that the owners of all these places are young, current, hip and want to bring something new to the table. It's really a culmination of the trendiest local hip places and people.
14 Local Fashion Destinations
When it comes to fashion stores and designers specifically, Mar Mikhael is essentially a hub of local gems and treasures. Unlike central shopping areas, fashion stores here are dispersed in various alleys and little streets that you need to walk around and discover - and for us that's really the beauty and charm of the whole shopping experience there.
Here is a comprehensive list of the 14 local fashion stores (listed in alphabetical order) that are situated in Mar Mikhael. If you're on the look-out for unique local designs, this neighborhood must be the first on your list.
1. Andrea Wazen
Andrea Wazen is one of Lebanon's very first hand-made luxury footwear designers for women. Her shoe designs are super gorgeous, and the store is equally impressive. The whole vibe is a big high-end (and expect the shoes to be a bit pricey) but there's an edginess to the brand that reels you in. So, if you're a trendy city girl who has a little shoe obsession, you'll definitely be interested in checking out this store. Do not miss it.
2. Aura Headpieces
Aura Headpieces by Carolina Chammas sells headpieces and hair accessories in this super cute tucked away boutique. If you are looking for unique headpiece designs then you found the right place. You can even customize a headpiece design with Carolina - we've seen a lot of bridal headpieces that are seriously stunning. On the other hand, if you think you're not the girl who'd wear a headpiece, honestly just go and see for yourself. We guarantee you'll find something that fits your personality somehow (and we're talking from experience!).
Depot-Vente is one of Beirut's most popular vintage fashion stores. They sell everything from clothes, to jewelry and accessories as well as even turntables, furniture, and other odd ends. If you a vintage-lover, vintage-seeker, vintage-dreamer - you've got to make your way down to Depot-Vente and get digging for some treasures.
4. Diane Ferjane
Boutique Diane Ferjane is one of the more authentic fashion stores you'll find in Mar Mikhael. The designer produces clothes inspired by Lebanese history and tradition, and it's very evident in the clothes as you'll see for yourself. ‘I create clothes for women who do not follow trends but create their own fashion,’ explains Diane. ‘But the heart of my collection will always be the craftsmanship and the story the garment tells; everything starts from my obsession for details and my love for tradition.’
Here we have the only specialized menswear store in Mar Mikhael, bringing a selection of niche Italian brands to the scene. We really love this store - not only because it's a great place to take your boyfriend shopping, but because the experience there is always super flawless. The sales attendants are as equally knowledgeable as the owner himself on the brands, the cuts and even what they recommend guys to match. The prices are super reasonable for the quality you're buying at this store.
This is one of the latest stores to open up in Mar Mikhael by designer Ghada Rizk. The designs are super modern, trendy and unique in terms of what else you'll find in town. We actually tried some pieces on and they were really great, the prices were also very decent as well for designer clothes.
Jum is a tiny boutique in Mar Mikhael where you can find clothes, jewelry, accessories and other fashion items. To be quite honest we don't know it very well but you'll be on that street anyways so make sure to pop by.
(Sorry there are no pics, they don't have any online references that we could find!)
8. Liwan Beirut
Liwan Beirut is a lifestyle concept store specializing in home-ware as well as some fashion items: cushions, blankets, caftans, hand-carved soaps, sandals, and clothes (we saw some kaftans there in case you're looking for some). It's another very cool store that's a bit more diverse in terms of what you can take back home with you.
9. Pink Henna Bazar Style
Pink Henna Bazaar really feels like you're walking into a tiny private bazaar. The store sells vintage fashion accessories, collectibles, and antiques that are scattered all over the place - so you really need to take your time and discover what little treasures are hidden here and there.
10. Paula K
Paula K is another Lebanese designer who actually started her career working with jewelry and stones. She then started designing scarves and got into making all sorts of attire: dresses, capes, scarves, sarouels, and much more. We'd definitely say there's a touch of tradition in her designs so here's another boutique you should check out if you're looking to take something back home that's more authentically Lebanese.
11. Ralph Masri
Ralph Masri is a beautiful fine jewelry designer located right next to where a lot of Mar Mikhael restaurants are (where you'll want to have lunch when you break from shopping, namely at Acote). You really do have to see his website and Facebook Page to get an idea of how gorgeous his statement pieces are. We've personally never bought anything from there ourselves but really hope to one day (when we have enough money :)).
12. Rosa Maria Concept Store
Alright, Rosa Maria Concept Store is absolutely and totally unmissable. You HAVE to pass by her store. She is really knows for her amazing rings, as you see below - especially for how you can stack them all together, a real testament for the phrase 'the more the merrier'. And very important to mention: she designs jewelry pieces for both men and women. Other than that, you'll find really unique clothes, shoes, accessories and more, also for both men and women.
13. Sara Melki
Sara Melki is by far one of the most talented Lebanese designers that we know personally. Her designs are filled with a combination of ethnic influences, refined materials, and graphic cuts. When you wear a Sara Melki piece, anyone with an eye who knows her will be able to tell it's her. We absolutely encourage you to walk in her store.
Vanina is one of the most well-known fashion accessory brands in Lebanon. The girls behind the brand have been successfully designing really cool and unique necklaces, bracelets, earrings, bags, shoes and have recently extended their product line to include clothes as well. It's not possible to visit Mar Mikhael and not pass by Vanina, you must get to know them.
Recommended Food & Drink
Here are the places that we regularly frequent and highly recommend when it comes to nearby food & drink in Mar Mikhael.
Smoking Bun: this is hands-down one of the best burgers in town. They only offer one kind of burger and nothing else so rest assured it's being made down to perfection.
The Food Dealer: This is Mar Mikhael's first deli concept where you can eat delicious sandwiches and salads, drink freshly squeezed concoctions, as well as buy various food products like olive oil and organic quinoa. The best time to go would be in the afternoon to sit outside and have some wine with food, we love this place.
The Happy Prince: *mouth-waters* Okay we are very much regulars at The Happy Prince, the food is generally excellent and they serve really nice cocktails. They are also known for a really mean burger (you have to try it at least once), but our other favorite on the menu is their Steak & Egg sandwich. They don't take bookings here (unless you're a party of 7 or something), so we'd recommend you pop by around 8 to guarantee a table.
Acote: This is one of the newer restaurants in Mar Mikhael, by the same owners as Prune which is right next door. Most of everything we tried there is delicious, especially their very big and generously-portioned salads. They also do have quite mean desserts.
Vyvyans: This is by far the bar we go to the most. It's a small place relative to the corner-bar next door - that would be Internazionale - but there's a certain 'home-iness' that we've developed for this place over the years.
Internazionale: You simply can't go to Mar Mikhael to drink and not have one at 'Inter'. It's become a staple bar there and it's the same owners as Torino - a super staple bar in Gemmayzeh. These guys just get the whole bar scene.
Memory Lane: This place serves a whole dinner menu as well, but we frequent it more for drinks. It's relatively new, the space is pretty huge, and we love getting there early and sitting outside for some happy hour drinks, cigarettes, and hearty chats.