Buns and Guns: Killer burgers in Beirut

Special to The Times

With the sound of helicopters hovering overhead, Samir hunched behind a pile of sandbags and sank his teeth into a hamburger.

The thirtysomething Beirut resident was not a warrior taking a moment of respite on the battlefield. He was a regular customer dining with his black-veiled wife and little son at Buns and Guns, a new, war-themed restaurant where every detail, from the menu and decor to the names of sandwiches, is inspired by the military world.

The eatery, which looks like a military outpost, was designed to be an unconventional hangout, but it also resonates because of recent armed clashes in Beirut and the many tanks and troops deployed in the capital.


The restaurant is in a crowded street of Dahiyeh, Beirut’s southern suburb and a Hezbollah stronghold that was the scene of heavy airstrikes during the militant group’s 2006 war with Israel.

“We wanted to create a new, attractive idea inspired from the events that our country went through,” said Yussef Ibrahim, the restaurant’s general manager. “People from all backgrounds come here and find the place amusing.”

At Buns and Guns, a meat sandwich is referred to as an M16 Carbine, a burger is called a Mortar and a veggie snack is known as the Terorist (sic) meal. Potato wedges are Grenades and chicken wings are called Stinger missiles.

On the bullet-shaped menu, food items are associated with photos of the weapons they are named after. The food, which comes wrapped in camouflage paper, is made by a chef wearing a helmet instead of a white toque and served by waiters in berets and military baggy pants. A computer produces digital recordings of wartime special effects, including the sounds of choppers swooping in and rockets crashing.

For take out, the doggy bags at Buns and Guns are labeled as “top secret” items.

“We live in an environment of war with Israel,” said Samir, who like many Shiite Muslim residents of this part of Beirut is supportive of Hezbollah’s military struggle with Israel and asked that his last name not be published for fear of drawing attention to himself in a Western publication.

“This place reminds us of the resistance mood,” he said.

The slogan of the restaurant -- “Sandwiches Can Kill You” -- is displayed at the entrance with a photo of a hamburger with a pistol sticking between the buns.


“The first day I came here to work I was shocked by all this display of weaponry,” said 20-year-old Katherine, a biology student in a pink head scarf who works behind the counter and also identified herself only by her first name. “It did remind me of the war in the start, but now I think it’s rather fun here.”