If you are ever in need of food, and good food, in Beirut, your search has ended. Head on over to the happening food emporium for the savvy foodies in town: Goodies.
Conveniently located on the corner of the high-traffic Verdun road with a parking lot on its side manned by several attendants, Goodies makes shopping there a no-brainer.
As soon as one sets foot inside, a feverish, animated buzz (unique to Goodies) permeates every corner. Everywhere your eyes land there is food, but the best, the freshest, the most tantalizing, be it seafood, meats, deli items, dairy, juices, produce, pastries, confections, or breads. And everything is calling you. Here and there you catch the friendly nod of a staff member, with an inquiry, or an engaging smile. Goodies staff know their regular patrons, but are open to increasing their number. My parents used to shop there for decades. That most-favored neighborhood market and caterer has now turned into a mega food enterprise, producing many of its items (dairy, baked goods, confections, traditional meals)
Thing is, they’ve got it all. A bakery and pastry shop making breads from scratch, like the paper-thin markouk with oats or the kaak (basket bread from street vendors), to French-style cakes or Arabic confections called malban, and maamoul and baklavas, to name just a few. A juice bar next to the produce section displays every exotic fruit imaginable, from mangos, to passion fruits, to pomegranates to apricots, peaches, jujube (when in season), fresh lychees, green almonds, fresh pistachios, etc.
The staff at Goodies is knowledgeable. I got into a conversation with a produce staffer once on eggplants and its different varieties, and he obviously knew what he was talking about.
Here is in a nutshell what I love about Goodies: Not only are their products and selections superior, gourmet to a fault, but their staff is super pro, friendly, genuine, and the atmosphere is convivial, frenzied at times, focused on the task at hand, i.e. prompt and excellent customer service, delivering highest quality products, always.
For instance, a customer getting ready to travel can place an order at the flagship store in Verdun, and pick-it up sealed and vacuum-packed at the airport store, a few hours later, right before boarding!
The shawarma sandwiches were the best I have ever tasted, perfectly seasoned and juicy!
The spices, dried fruits and snack section reminded me of Istanbul’s Bazaar.
Taking a look at their menus scattered throughout the store, here’s what I found:
In their sandwiches, in addition to the regular cold cuts, there’s vegan options, like a dandelion salad (hindbeh), cauliflower; lots of tasty cheeses, like goat labneh, halloumi, kashkawan or Bulgarian feta, with either pita, markouk or baguette. Their hot sandwiches include ten different kebabs (Turkish, Iranian, Orfali, Izmirle, etc), plus the shawarmas and traditional Lebanese and Armenian meat pies. They also offer these as platters with hummus, pickles and all the trimmings.
Their hot dishes include all the traditional Lebanese classics such as moghrabiyeh, frikeh, fawaregh (stuffed tripes), eggplant makloubeh, baked kafta, shish barak in yogurt sauce, sayadieh (fish and rice pilaf), as well as the international favorites like paella, curry, biryani, or trendy foods like quinoa with veggies, Asian favorites, etc.
Their salads and appetizers are just as tantalizing, with daily creation of tabbouleh, fattoush, muhammara, stuffed grape leaves, moussaka (Lebanese and Turkish version), vegan and meat kibbe balls or torpedoes, all kinds of savory pies and turnovers, as well as contemporary mixed salads to please the gym crowd (purslane with strawberries and dried fruits or smoked hams, among many others).
Needless to say, ALL of the food offerings at Goodies, from seafood to meats and produce and breads and pastries are always as fresh as can be. A business operating from both ends of the supply chains such as this one can guarantee freshness, since their bakery, workshop, commercial kitchens and dairy are all part of the Goodies family.
I thought this was a carrot cake, but NO, its actually a delicious roast beef sandwich and the flowers are made with sweet potato shavings! One of the hundreds of items to order for a fancy brunch.
Truffle (kema) and wild zaatar salad with pomegranates.
Strawberry salad with pine nuts and dried fruits and baby arugula. Scrumptious.
Sujuk and goat labneh rollups.
Juicy and perfectly seasoned shawarma sandwiches served with all the trimmings.
Salmon rolls with a creamy veggie sauce, outstanding!!!
Loved that artsy watermelon bowl carved out of the skin.
Dainty savory bites, among them pumpkin kibbeh, zaatar puff pastry, purslane mini-fatayer, olive puffs.
Homestyle desserts to go include muhallabieh (a silky smooth milk pudding) topped with fresh mango coulis, or meghli (spice pudding) topped with nuts, plus the whole array of French cakes and pastries, as well as baklavas, maamouls, confections, sesame and other nut brittles, and others.
Incidentally, the store opened a brunch section with glass enclosures and tables laid out with tablecloth and pretty silverware, interspersed with indoor plants. I am including some of the items I sampled at the brunch, one of the best I’ve had!
I would definitely recommend visiting Goodies if you’re ever in Beirut or trying their hot meals if you live in the capital. I am impressed that this family business has managed to survive and thrive since 1880.
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