A traditional restaurant in Zouk Mikael's old souk, Layali el Mir is not a fancy restaurant, but one with a small dining space and a beautiful terrace. Traditional furniture, authentic masterpieces and a sign telling visitors that the poet Elias Abou Chabki used to spend his days there.
Karki was distilling the next batch of Arak while we sat down for lunch. A bizarre space to say the least which needs urgent refurbishing, but the setup is nice, so you don't expect much from it.
We were welcomed by the owner who told us more about the restaurant. He told us that the kebbeh, sambousik, Labneh and halloumi cheese are all made in-house, as well as the Arak.
The hummus is as good as you'd expect, the Labneh is firm and flavorful, the grilled cheese rolls and sambousik are exceptional, the salad is fresh and the stuffed grapevine leaves are not bad at all. The moutabbal contains excessive garlic and the tabbouleh needs way more juice. The king of the table is the grilled halloumi plate, served on hot metal. Two large chunks of halloumi, which they say are made in-house, are unsalted and served as is on a grilling pan. Melting inside and out, the halloumi is phenomenal. Extremely tender, juicy and flavorful, this was the best thing I had that day. The potatoes, thickly sliced and grilled with their skin on, were great. With butter or Labneh, the potatoes are delicious.
It surely needs work; it's not a big Lebanese restaurant with waiters, action and a fancy decor, but I nevertheless enjoyed lunch and might come again for a cozy experience and tasty arak while Fairuz sings in the background.