Coara Vegan Lebanese
Coara is an amazing farm-to-table vegan Lebanese restaurant/winery/brasserie in the town of Chouf, on Mount Lebanon. It is run by a couple, Walid and Maysoun, who have been dedicated to the vegan/eco movement in Lebanon for decades. The food is exquisite, the location is serene and the atmosphere is breath-taking. It is also 100% vegan, organic, local and homemade!
We were lucky to be blessed with beautiful weather on the very day we went to Chouf, which is a small town on Mount Lebanon. The restaurant is located on the mountain, and boasts an incredible view of the surrounding vineyards, landscapes and sea. It is truly stunning! The cafe had a big swing/sofa to sit on, as well as an outdoor table.
We were immediately greeted by one of the owners, Maysoun, who is just one of the sweetest, loveliest and kindest women on the planet. We LOVED her, and she really made the entire experience extra special. She was so attentive to us and really strove to give us the best possible experience. When we were sitting on the swing outside, admiring the stellar view, she gushed how excited she was for people to be trying authentic vegan Lebanese food — made by hand and with love!
We chose the set menu option, which included several courses, as well as local, organic red wine. Olives, zaatar (thyme-toasted sesame mix, local olive oil and nuts, to eat with wholewheat pita bread. Traditional vegan Lebanese fare.
Next came shawarmas with homemade seitan and creamy tahini sauce. The seitan was tender and delicately spiced. It could fool any meat eater! My friend had never eaten at a vegan/vegetarian restaurant before. He was amazed at the texture and taste.
For those who don’t know, seitan is a wheat product that Tibetans have ben making for centuries. It resembles meat in taste and appearance, and, thanks to the high protein structure of the gluten, in texture too. It has all the protein of meat but without the fat content and acidity.
Along with the shawarmas came turmeric kibbeh with sunflower seeds, fresh quinoa tabbouli, flatbread with fresh olives and house made almond cheese and crispy dried kale chips with organic olive oil and sea salt.
The kibbeh was light and fresh. Kibbeh is sometimes deep fried – but the ones at Coara were baked until crispy golden brown on the outside, and just cooked enough for the sunflower seed mix to be tender and juicy on the inside.
The almond cheese on the flat breads was delicious and light, like a ricotta. It paired well with the fresh vegetables and local olives. I couldn’t get enough of these!
PS the little black purse is a handmade creation from Palestinian designer Mai Hammad. She makes extraordinary pieces — fashion and accessories — using traditional Palestinian modes of craft making. I ADORE her stuff, so check it out here! Supporting Palestinian crafts is like supporting eco/vegan establishments; vote with your dollar and create a world you are proud to live in.
The next course was herbed and sprouted green hummus, more shawarmas and a dish I had never heard of before… Shish barak! Shish barak is normally made with lamb dumplings, stewed in a warm yogurt mixture. Since Coara is dedicated to recreating vegan Lebanese dishes, we were served a version of this dish that was made entirely from plants. Seitan-mushroom dumplings, baked, and served in a pool of creamy, homemade coconut-almond yogurt. You could taste the freshness!
The dumplings were warm and crunchy, and paired delectably with the creamy-yet-tart yogurt. Everything felt so clean, making it just delightful to eat.
Coara sells their own vegan Lebanese products – shanklish, labneh, cashew cheese, kishk – in a small shop in the back of the restaurant. They also have other organic products for you to take some with you!
We were served a local, organic red wine. So local, in fact, that the bottle had no label. That is truly how wine was made to be enjoyed.
The view from the patio. Avocados are grown in-house! As were all the herbs, teas and olives.
We finished our meal with homemade carob-agave cake and herb tea; comprised of a selection of herbs from the garden. The cake was moist from tahini, chocolatey from carob, and sweet from the agave, all whilst maintaining a nutty earthiness. It paired perfectly with the fresh tea.
All in all, I cannot recommend Coara ENOUGH. This place was absolutely gorgeous. Sitting on the swing and basking in the Mediterranean sun lit my soul afire. The food was made all the better by the obvious love that was poured into and poured out of it. Tasting all these delicious vegan Lebanese dishes, you could feel the passion and soul that had gone into its creation.
I cannot wait to come back here, many, many times! Please, support this local business. Share it with your friends, and make the trip out to Chouf. These are exactly the kinds of establishments we should give our patronage to. Full of love, dedicated to sustainability and founded on compassion. Tell them Soraya sent you! You may get something special 😉
Check out their Facebook page here.
For more info:
Arabic Cuisine Ebook Fundraiser for Refugees
Just in case you can’t make it to Lebanon. Karvan is creating an ebook of 100% vegan, traditional and homestyle recipes from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan, Kurdistan and Iran. All proceeds go towards its tech projects serving refugee populations.
Sign up to the newsletter here to be notified of its progress.
You can also check out my vegan Lebanese and Middle Eastern recipes here.
If you enjoyed my article or want to see more of my travel pictures, food and daily life, follow me on Instagram: @soraya.beheshti and subscribe to my Youtube channel for more recipes, travel videos, tips, spiritual/life advice and law of attraction videos.
Use code ‘SORAYA’ for 15% off your order at Sunburst Superfoods
— my favorite place for affordable, organic ingredients & superfoods. I get a small commission with each purchase and you get to buy amazing, organic health foods at discounted prices. Seems like a win-win!