Sunday, January 11, 2009

Torino Express

Most aptly described as a pint-sized hole-in-the wall, this café-cum-bar located in Beirut’s boisterous Gemayze district, is one of Lebanon’s epicenters of social ferment. Throngs of diehard regulars made up of local and expatriate artists, journalists, and creative young professionals descend in waves upon this cellar-like intrusion to revel the night away to the strangely eclectic musical selections of DJ-proprietor "Andreas" – Torino’s celebrity half-German, half-Lebanese owner known for his bushy salt-and-pepper beard, scotch-taped headphones and glassy-eyed disposition. He is both loved and held in contempt for sending his parties into convulsions by throwing sudden wrenches into the musical fray – German beer garden music, classic Julio Iglesias, and Mirielle Mathieu being some notable selections. Lab-coat clad bartenders serve up bottles of Almaza, trademark mojitos, and some of the best toasted salami sandwiches found anywhere east of the now vanished Green Line. Often packed like a sardine can, this bar is not for the claustrophobic or faint of heart.

All text and photo in this post copyright John Zada and John Bell 2009

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