Cairo Restaurant Tips by SabrinaSummerville
Cairo Restaurants: 368 reviews and 540 photos
Fridays Stunning Setting
TGI Friday's is an international chain that I visited for the first time in Cairo. It proved to me that even chain fast food restaurants have their own individuality from country to country.
Friday's Cairo is snuggled right on the banks of the Nile, practically opposite the Sofitel Maadi. We ended up there after a magical afternoon sailing in a Felucca on the majestic river and to be honest I wasn't prepared for the magic to continue in a chain restaurant - but it did!
We had a Nile-side table and, as it was late in the afternoon, the sun was lower on the river and silhouetted the gentle sailing craft as they meandered their way over and back along the Nile.
The sounds were magical - chirping birds, lapping waters, gentle breeze, happy chatter. It was Friday, which is the Moslem Sunday, so the place was full of local families enjoying the afternoon as it stole into evening.
Giant fans waft sprayed perfume into the air and sheeshas are readily available to all patrons. People seem to linger a long time here, and it doesn't surprise me. Busy though it may be, it's a magical place and the gardens are gorgeous.
Favorite Dish: The food was (again surprisingly) gorgeous.
Hungry from the day on the river, I ordered a selection of "picky things."
Chicken gougons were moist with a crispy coating, served with a perfectly fresh salad; a portion of garlic mushrooms was enormous and succulent (my experience with mushrooms abroad hasn't always been good as generally they are served pickled in vinegar - these were not); guacamole appeared freshly made; chicken wings were again juicy and meaty.
We washed the lot down with non-alcoholic cocktails. Believe me, the best places in the world to get a non-alcoholic beverage is in a country where alcohol isn't a staple beverage.
I loved this place!!
Address: Corniche El Nile, Maadi, Cairo.
Comparison: less expensive than average
Little Italy is the name given to the Italian restaurant situated in the little shopping mall to the rear of the Sofitel Maadi.
It's very prettily decorated in a true Italian style and there's live guitar music every night.
The food, too, is quite delicious and amazingly inexpensive.
I started with beef carpaccio which was perfectly served with slivers of parmesan.
This I followed with a pizza - simple, tasty, and perfect.
Service was prompt and very pleasant and when the bill came it made the meal all the more tasty because of its reasonableness.
The Hotel itself is used quite a lot by business travellers, and accordingly so is the restaurant.
Favorite Dish: I highly recommend the pizza.
Address: Sofitel Maadi Towers, Cairo.
Comparison: less expensive than average
Local Seafood Soup
This is the sort of restaurant that I probably wouldn't dream of eating at if I were on holiday, but as this was a business trip and as my host suggested it I could hardly refuse.
From the outside it looked like a local "shack" and as we pushed open the door it didn't look much better - long bench style tables covered with cloths, fans blowing some cooling air (air conditioning hasn't been heard of in this restaurant), groups of locals huddled around a tv watching Man Utd v Man City in Arabic (I kid you not), and the "menu" consisted of large coolboxes filled with fish wherefrom you chose your own. As soon as I saw the fish, however, my initial impression changed and I figured I was going to get something worth eating.
In what I have learned is Egyptian style, plate after plate of delicious food arrived at the table for all to share - delicious mezze with puffy pitta bread, bowls of steaming freshly made local fish soup, calimare in hot salsa type sauce, deep fried calimare, giant plates of grilled king prawns in the shell, and the biggest, freshest, tastiest whole grilled fish you ever had.
This was washed down by bottle after bottle of refreshingly chilled water - soft drinks are also served, but not a drop of alcohol in sight.
If you're willing to "rough it" in this heat that even the fans cannot cool, then you will simply love this place.
Favorite Dish: Anything seafoody - you simply cannot go wrong.
I am addicted to the local fish soup which contains whole crab that you are expected to suck the meat from as the soup dribbles down your chin. It's divine.
Address: Ain Soukhna, Egypt.
Directions: 20 kms south of Suez.
Cairo at Night from a Height!
This stunning restaurant is situated on the top floor of the taller building of the Cairo Hyatt.
First you will be whisked by high speed elevator from the elegant lobby to the second flor from the top. Be sure to sit here first and enjoy the panoramic view of Cairo at night from one of the very comfortable armchairs as you sip a cool refreshing pre dinner martini. You can’tavoid admiring the most unusual walls set with what appear to be glass affect waterfalls (or perhaps that should be waterfall affect glass!!).
From here you will enter another elevator which will take you to the top floor. The room is highly elegant and stunningly furnished. The ceiling sparkles with an ever changing constellation scene complete with shooting stars and your eyes are drawn from this to the exterior view wich alters over a period of two hours as your dining room revolves.
Apart altogether from the stunning views the food is superb.
I started with carpaccio of beef served with decently thick grated slivers of parmesan and a basil puree.
I followed this with rack of lamb, which was medium to the point of rare (just the way I love it)and served with tiny spring rolls on a bed of aubergines (this seems to be the most popular vegetable in Cairo). Side orders were of asparagus, wild mushrooms, carrots, butternut squash, cauliflower, and french fries. They skimp on nothing here. Portions were generous without being too big and there was just about enough room for dessert.
I wasn’t going to indulge but my host insisted and as his very slim and beautiful wife was tucking into rich chocolate cake I opted for the trio of creme brulee, all of them perfect, but my favourite being the raspberry with its secret heart of raspberry puree.
A full bodied Egyptian red complimented the meal perfectly and the combination of great food and excellet interesting company made the night fly.
I cannot comment on price as my very kind host paid, but from the menu I could see that this is at the upper end of the market price wise.
Favorite Dish: Go for the food, but expect to be distracted by the view.
Address: Grand Hyatt Hotel, Cairo
Directions: This restaurant is situated on the top floor of the stunning Hyatt, right in the centre of the business district.
This restaurant is situated on the first floor of the Sofitel Maadi Towers where they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In this tip I’m just going to deal with dinner.
Tables were beautifully set with white linen covered by heavy rich cream lace tablecloths. The place setting plates were gold, but these were whisked away as soon as we sat down.
Our table overlooked the Nile and, as we were early eating, we watched the dusk darken into night as the cruisers and feluccas sailed the Nile.
I started with marinated grouper and smoked fish which was served with diced sweet onion. I loved the smoked fish but found the grouper a little stringy in places.
My companion had a vegetable terrine with shrimp served ceviche style in a tomato coulis.
I followed this with the lamb. This was served in a roll and stuffed with diced lamb’s kidneys in a kidney gravy . I love kidneys so it was great for me, though it wasn’t stated on the menu and kidneys aren’t to all tastes. The vegetable was a terrine of aubergine, tomato, and cheese – absolutely divine.
A bottle of Obelisque Blanc dAlexandre 2005 was the perfect accompaniment and just on the right side of dry.
We were the only ones in the restaurnt, but I have learned that this is what you expect in Cairo if you dine at 7.30 – most people are still working at that time!!
Comparison: less expensive than average
Directions: First floor of the Sofitel Maadi Towers.
Cortigiano's Comfortable Interior
This Italian style restaurant is part of a chain which has branches all over Cairo. We visited the branch in Nasr City and found it to be a most enjoyable experience.
The entrance is up a number of covered steps decorated with white fairy lights and, once inside, you find yourself in a large but cosy looking dining room. It’s very Italian looking, but this is then belied by the almost completely local customer base and the fact that no alcohol at all is sold here. The decor is very much dark wood and heavy beamed ceilings, with pretty green plants and various items of memorabilia hanging on the walls.
The menu is also Italian but my host waved this aside and made a special order. First of all baskets of crusty Italian bread and others of garlic bread were presented. This was followed by this wonderful fish soup that the Egyptians so adore – this one full of chunks of white fish, prawns, clams and squid. Mop up the milky white broth with your bread and be careful as the broth runs down your chin – it’s hard to avoid. After that we had a giant seafood salad to share between three. It was artistically presented on a large serving platter with circles of cucumber, tomato, grated cheese, grated carrot, egg, olives, prawns,slivers of smoked salmon, and tuna. It was impossible to finish all this glorious food, yet we managed to make room for home made ice cream with flavours of choc chip, mango, and toffee.
The lack of alcohol didn’t bother me, though it might disappoint some. The food would certainly bring me back.
Address: Misr Al Jadida
Chef at the Fish Market
This gorgeous seafood restaurant nestles on the banks of the Nile overlooking the Yacht Club.
We were quickly seated at a Nile view table and our host guided us to the “market” area of this restaurant. Fish and shellfish were displayed buried in a mountain of crushed ice and the chef pulled piece after piece of delicious fresh fish from the ice for us to choose. Each piece is then placed in a plastic bag, weighed, and sent through a little hatch to the kitchen for cooking.
When we returned to our table we discovered that a little side table had arrived and this was set with at least a dozen plates of mezze from which we were to choose what we wanted. I hadn’t a clue, so our host chose some dips made of pureed aubergine and garlic, and other dips made from I know not what but which I couldn’t stop eating as they were so delightful. He also chose giant tomatoe stuffed with garlic and something green, stuffed aubergines, marinated aubergines, and a huge very fresh salad with the most gorgeous sliced hot radish and sweet sliced onion. These were served with fresh baked pitta breads puffed out like balloons.
The first course consisted of a fish soup which was like a milky broath full of crab pieces that you are meant so suck the meat from the shell of, prawns,clams, and fish pieces. The best way to enjoy is to use your fingers.
Next a plate of deep fried succulent calamari arrived, followed by another large serving plate piled high with grilled prawns coated in some spices.
The final course was fish – seabass and sea bream served whole on the bone. These are also coated in spices before they are grilled and the tastiest bits are by the bone of the tail where the spices seem to lodge.
We had two bottles of Egyptian white wine and my favourite of the two was the Obelisk – perfect with our meal.
I can’t comment on cost as our generous host paid, but I can say that I am so very much looking forward to returning. You simply must eat here when in Cairo – it’s one not to miss.
Better again - they also deliver!
Favorite Dish: Just choose your favourite seafood - everything is better than divine!
Address: Corniche El Nile
Directions: In front of Maadi 2 entrance.
Exotic ceiling at Al Rubayyat
The Al Rubayyat at the Mena House Oberoi is a delight not to be missed for many reasons.
The restaurant is situated in the old part of the hotel and the surroundings are both palatial and exotic.
Service is good (though not excellent, as one might expect it to be) and the floor show is spectacular. The show starts late, so if you are dining, book for a late sitting. As I recall, the floor show did not start until about 10pm.
The food was very good indeed - perhaps some of the best I had eaten in Egypt. The surroundings are very upmarket, the settings silver service - but something is missing, and I cannot quite put a finger on it.
When I checked into the hotel I asked to make a reservation at this restaurant, as I had read that it could be difficult (even for residents) to get a reservation here. The supposedly helpful desk cleark indicated that there was no need for residents to reserve, even for the assurance of a good table. This was very poor advice indeed. On the night we sought to dine here (our last night in the hotel and in Cairo) a medical convention had booked most of the tables in the restaurant and we were refused a sitting on arriving there ( I must remind you that on checking the previous night I was advised that no reservationwas required). When I protested they found me a table behind a pole, making it difficult to see the floor show. Thankfully those at a neighbouring table vacated early, and we could clearly see the floorshow when we moved to their seats.
yes I'd go again, but I'd book early.
Address: Mena House Oberoi
Comparison: most expensive
Price: US$41 and up
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