Cairo 360 Guide to Cairo, Egypt

Events

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Highlights

Restaurants

The Tap East: The Closest Thing in Cairo to a Proper Gastropub

The Tap East: The Closest Thing in Cairo to a Proper Gastropub

Ever since its opening in Maadi, the Tap has been close to a phenomenon in Cairo, setting new standards for nightlife as a watering hole that serves great bar food and one that has also emerged as a great live music venue. In capitalizing on the Tap's popularity, founder, Galal El Kerdani, revealed in March that the Tap East would be putting more of the focus onto the food, with a brand new, expanded menu – something we were eager to try. Located in New Cairo's Mohamed Naguib Street, inside Stella di Mare Compound, the Tap East is a large, colourful cosmopolitan venue with red brick walls, a large island-bar in the centre and a stage on one corner, with high tables, arcade games and a fantastic retro mural of the iconic Audrey Hepburn and rock star Jim Morrison adding the kinds of casual, playful touches that have become a trademark of the Tap. One of the most talked about features of the Tap East, however, is the outdoor area, which is as close to a traditional beer garden as you'll find in Cairo, boasting something close to a lively, schoolyard atmosphere, with wooden benches, dim lit red parasols and its own bar. Unlike the Tap in Maadi, whose most popular dishes include bar-friendly eats such burgers, nachos and the all important wings, the Tap East's menu is closer to that of a full-out restaurant, but still closer to gastropub food than that of fine-dining. We kicked things off with Fried Cheese Balls (54LE) as a starter to our meal, while opting for Provolone Chicken (84LE and Filet Black Angus (145 LE) as our main dishes. Served in a small rectangular plate, our starter came as five small balls of hot, melted, gooey cheese, with a lovely crunchy breaded exterior, all perfectly complimented by the accompanying sweet chilli sauce. Meanwhile, the provolone chicken dish was a little different from the traditional version, with the chicken being deep fried. The dish came in the form of two chicken breasts topped with mushrooms, provolone cheese, and served on a wooden cutting board with mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables. The chicken was fried to perfection and well-seasoned, while the provolone cheese had a mildly sharp taste which complimented the chicken rather than overpower it. The mashed potatoes side had a melt-in-your-mouth texture, though the sautéed vegetables were pretty insignificant as they were hidden under the chicken and were more like a garnish rather than an actual side dish. Cooked medium well and served on the same signature cutting board as the chicken dish with the same sides, the 200 gm black angus steak had beautiful black grill marks and was perfectly juicy, delicious and boasted a deep smokey taste. It was a delicious piece of meat which was even greater with the accompanying brown mushroom sauce. Our last stop before we went on our way was to try one of the Tap East's signature burgers – a decision made when we were told that desserts weren't available during the time of our visit. Served with perfectly seasoned and crunchy French fries and some chips, The Western Burger (68LE) came in brioche bread and was topped with beef bacon, lettuce, onions, melted cheese and BBQ sauce.Though the burger was fairly juicy and had all the right ingredients to be a great burger, the patty itself was closer to kofta, suggesting that there wasn't as much fat as there should have been in the meat and that the patty itself was a little too compressed, not allowing what fat there was to trickle in and around it. Despite the disappointment of the burger, the Tap East is by far the best venue of its kind in New Cairo; it takes the best features of the original branch of the Tap – live entertainment most nights, a great atmosphere as both a bar and a casual dining restaurant – and adds an elevated menu to the mix. 

Shopping

Kerdan Home: Handmade Wall Accessories Inspired by Upper Egypt

Kerdan Home: Handmade Wall Accessories Inspired by Upper Egypt

Based out of Dokki, Kerdan Home brings together two very different phenomena that have come to define shopping in Cairo – home delivery and drawing inspiration from classical Egyptian culture. As one of the latest retailers to embrace the convenience of online shopping, Kerdan touches on the continuing popularity and celebration of authentic Egyptian design with a range of creative wall accessories based on the kerdan – a type of jewellery or accessory worn in Upper Egypt, but with a modern twist. To call it an accessory would be maybe doing it an injustice – these necklaces are often treated as family heirlooms that are passed down through generations. Largely made out of wood, Kerdan Home's primary product comes in a range of designs that, as mentioned, put a contemporary touch on the pieces without losing the heritage that they have come to embody. One of the first pieces we spotted while browsing the Kerdan Home Facebook page was one of the closest to the traditional Kerdan, shaped like a crescent, with a row of carved triangles sitting above a row of embossed triangles in red and blue. Taking up a span of 50cm, this piece goes for 550LE. Other pieces that caught our attention, meanwhile, moved further away from the traditional kerdan was made out of two main triangular pieces – rather than the crescent shape of the previous piece – that hang on several chains, with smaller triangular shapes in each of them, as well as hanging down from the bases with smaller chains. Despite being a little more complex in design, this piece goes for only 250LE. Other designs include one that uses traditional iconography such as the palm-shaped Arabic hamsa symbol with the traditional symbol of the 'evil eye' in the centre. Hanging of the palm is smaller palms off of chains and the whole piece goes for 150LE. Other notable kerdans include ones that use a more simple, rectangular shape, while one of our favourite pieces had an almost Aztec or Mayan touch, using zigzag patterns alongside more triangles. While some argue that the continuing use of traditional Egyptian culture in fashion and decor is superficial, we beg to differ. The value of 'buying local' is very real and with so much creativity surging through the veins of local designers and retailers these days, Kerdan Home is one such retailer that has, at least, presented something original. It's a niche, yes, an acquired taste, maybe – but then all the best things are.

Cafés

Yoggy’s: Fat-Free Fro-Yo at Sheikh Zayed's Americana Plaza

Yoggy’s: Fat-Free Fro-Yo at Sheikh Zayed's Americana Plaza

Frozen yoghurt is perhaps the best invention since French fries-except that maybe it is far less hefty and has guiltless calories. Arriving early to the IMAX movie theatre with a couple of hours to spare before the movie starts, we came across Yoggy's, a fro-yo specialist which turns out to be the sweetest waste of time. Located inside Americana Plaza, Yoggy's is a fat-free frozen yogurt shop with a simple, casual purple & white atmosphere, few wooden benches in the outdoor area –similar to the ones you find in school courtyards- not to mention intriguing DIY frozen yoghurt machines which stood out as soon as we stepped inside. Yoggy's has three different cup sizes, only the scale is what specifies the cost where 100 grams of frozen yoghurt costs 24LE. With three machines available, each having two blendable flavours –pistachio, strawberry and bubble gum to name a few- we opted for two medium sized cups of frozen yoghurt, where the first was a mixture of plain Frozen Yoghurt with Blueberry (65LE) and the second was Custard and Chocolate (60LE) ready to be spiked with toppings. Starting from the blueberry and plain frozen yoghurt mix, the consistency was thick, creamy and very smooth. The plain frozen yogurt had a creamy flavour with a tangy kick to it which worked so well with the sweetness of the fruits and the gummy bears, while the blueberry had a fruity, refreshing and zesty flavour which didn't need any additional toppings. Topped with oreos and M&Ms, the chocolate frozen yogurt was bursting with chocolate flavour which made us feel like it wasn't frozen yogurt and more of a soft chocolate ice cream while the custard frozen yogurt had a milky pudding-like flavour to it; a perfect choice for those who prefer sweet flavours overpowering the sour and tangy flavours of the frozen yogurt. Yoggy's is a fun experience and a great outing for those looking for a sweet light treat before heading to the movies or while on a shopping spree. Everything from using the fro-yo machines, watching the luscious frozen yogurt going into the cup and topping it with gummy bears was delightful but it definitely came at a price. 

Nightlife

Loft21: Fine-Dining & Nightlife Come Together in Perfect Harmony at Cairo Capital Club

Loft21: Fine-Dining & Nightlife Come Together in Perfect Harmony at Cairo Capital Club

There's a general feeling across Cairo that suggests that the city's restaurateurs haven't quite figured out how to bring nightlife into the already complex dining equation; an equation that has been the death of many initially promising ventures that tried to do so. Alchemy is one prime example; though praised from all quarters of both their dining and nightlife attributes, the two elements were never really able to find some kind of point of synchronisation in the minds of discerning Cairenes. But the Tap, which opened a new branch in New Cairo this month and will be opening a third in Sheikh Zayed's Westown Hub towards the end of the year, has shown that it can be done and so has Cairo Capital Club, but with a very different approach to the more gastro-pub-insipred Maadi bar. Outrageous minimum charge aside, Dos Canas was the first to open at the Garden City-located huddle of venues, though Loft21 has been threatening to take the reigns as the CCC's premiere spot. Though it took some while to fill up with guests at the time of our visit, Loft21 certainly boasts a unique atmosphere – one reminiscent of hip, overpriced Manhattan bar. The key to that are two things; the stunning Nile view that frames the evening lights of Cairo almost idyllically; and the fact that Loft21's general aesthetic is chic, sleek and, most importantly, simple. If there's one word to best evaluate the feel of Loft21, its subtle; nothing jumps out at you, or is even necessarily memorable, but this very deliberate approach fits what the guys behind the scenes like to call The Loft Experience. And an experience it is. Not unlike its neighbouring Dos Canas, prices are very much entrenched on the expensive side of the scale; Beef Carpaccio and Salmon tartare starters set us back 103LE and 108LE, respectively. The latter was zinging with the fresh, raw, sharp flavours of a seafood tartare – but is it worth 100LE-plus? That's open to interpretation, as is the price of the carpaccio, which was clearly of a good sirloin cut and generous on the parmesan. Mains, meanwhile, are just as elaborate and spectacular as you'd expect – none more so than a 215LE scallop dish. The four large pieces each sat on a mound of champagne risotto, topped with caviar and indiscernible foam that gave each bite a nice acidic touch to the otherwise rich components. The scallops themselves were slightly overcooked and were a little chewy, though the perfectly cooked risotto did maintain its sharp champagne kick to great effect. A slightly simpler, but no less delicious, dish is the Honey Roasted Chicken Breast (118LE). Grilled to a perfect outer crisp and tender centre, the dish was made more interesting by a delectably sweet raisin sauce and a serving of barley, as well as a whole roasted garlic – which is worth the hassle of trying to dissect. As with any respectable evening-time haunt, cocktails (90LE-100LE) are aplenty, as are wines and beers; we enjoyed a couple of Sakaras at 40LE a pop and there was even Corona (100LE per bottle) available at the time of our visit. The prompt bar staff whipped us up a perfect Chinatown - apples, ginger, vodka, and pomegranate - while other creative cocktails include The Ellis (Cardamom, Whiskey, Pineapple, Orange Juice) and The Yellowstone (Whiskey, Cranberry, Apples, Mint, Lemons) amongst a list of twenty overall cocktail options. Essentially, The Loft Experience is whatever you want it to be. It works as a casual drinking hangout, but can also cater to a more formal dining experience. But even if the latter is what you're looking for, you'll invariably find yourself unshackling any kind of formalness to take in what is a smart, elegant and easy package of food, drinks and socialising.

Arts & Culture

Pick a Street: Hassan Ramzy & Local Musicians Take to the Streets of Cairo for Charitable Cause

Pick a Street: Hassan Ramzy & Local Musicians Take to the Streets of Cairo for Charitable Cause

The concept of street performances have existed for thousands of years and, when you think about it objectively, it's an incredibly effective way of communicating art – the stage is public space. However, street performers have become 'buskers' and the idea has come to frame street performers as beggars with a talent. But the initiative we're about to tell you about takes advantage of the grand stage that is public space with a cause in mind. Believing that music can change the society, Egyptian singer-songwriter, Hassan Ramzy, founded Pick a Street - an initiative designed to spread awareness of underprivileged people with hearing disabilities and collecting donations for them to undergo a Cochlear Implant operations through street music performances. "The aim of Pick a Street is to make music, spread positive energy in the country and help make a difference in our society. I am a musician and I wanted to use my talent to do what I can," Ramzy told us, adding that even if he inspires someone who is able to do much more, he has achieved part of his goal. In collaboration with Waslet Kheir, a subsidiary of El Orman Charity Foundation and the first charity specialising in cochlear implants, Pick a Street organises street performances every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in three different streets – announced through the Pick a Street Facebook page – where people can enjoy music and maybe even contribute to potentially changing someone's life. Representatives of Waslet Kheir attend Pick a Street events across Cairo, where they collect donations through 'Kart el Kheir' - a card that attendees can buy and contribute any amount of money they can for the cause. "People by nature want to do good things, but sometimes life gets in the way. Pick a Street is bringing charity closer to people all while enjoying some good music," Ramzy said. Pick a Street's first wave of performance were held between March 31st to April 15th, with performances Ramzy being joined by local bands, Karkadan and the No-Talents, as well as fellow acoustic ace, Shady Ahmed. The performances were a remarkable success, and collected an impressive 5,000LE of donations. "Most people were extremely welcoming to the initiative as a whole and positively interacting with the street performances, though there has been a small minority that has rejected the idea," Ramzy revealed. "But I've learned not to give attention to negativity." As a prominent and popular member of Cairo's underground music scene, approaching musicians to perform at Pick a Street hasn't been a problem for Ramzy, but he's also been reaching out to social media influencers and celebrities to attend the street performances, who according to him, have been extremely welcoming and willing to help with the initiative. Pick a Street is more than just a flash-in-the pan fad, though – it's the real deal, as Ramzy is keen to point out. "We are 100% legal and the NGO itself is registered with the Ministry of Social Solidarity, so we are eligible and certified to collect donations," he explained. April saw the last of the Pick a Street performances take place before the initiative goes on hiatus for spring break and return afterwards with Pick A Street Volume 2, which will include more artists and more than just street music. "I want to encourage street performances in general and I want people to treat street art as a normal phenomenon instead of something frowned upon," Ramzy argued as he went on to explain that he has much bigger plans for Pick a Street, outside of Egypt and dreams of having different performances happening at the same time all over the world. It's an ambitious future that Ramzy envisages, but one that is based on a very simple sentiment. "I am trying to target social problems and I really want to help." Ramzy concluded. Find out more on the official Pick a Street Facebook page.

Health & Fitness

The Great Cairo Kidathon: Omar Samra’s Muricata Launch Cairo’s Biggest Kids Marathon

The Great Cairo Kidathon: Omar Samra’s Muricata Launch Cairo’s Biggest Kids Marathon

Having launched towards the end of 2015, Muricata has been a driving force in bringing fitness, adventure and fun to the otherwise poorly-catered-to children of Egypt. As a subsidiary, so to speak, of Omar Samra's Wild Guanabana, Muricata has opened up a whole new world in its relatively short life-span and will continue to do so on May 6th with an event like no other. The inaugural edition of the Great Cairo Kidathon is set to take place in Zamalek and over 300 kids between the ages of 6 and 14 are expected to attend what is one long day of fun and activities – but more on that later. The Kidathon itself will feature three different mini-marathons; children between 6 and 8 years will take on a 2km run, as will kids between 8 and 11 years, while those falling between 12 and 14 years will take part in a 4km run. Following the El Sawy Culturewheel loop route, the day will be crowned with a special ceremony that will see 18 winners receive prize and all runners receiving t-shirts and medals. After the runs, a whole host of other activities await, including family yoga arts, crafts classes and adventure games, with the cherry on top of this epic ice cream Sunday coming in the form of an exclusive concert from Egypt's biggest band, Cairokee. More than just day of running and funning, though, all participating children are asked to donate a toy through the Marwa Fayed Toy Run NGO, which will then be donated to Abu El Reesh Hospital. Speaking about the event, Samra has a very idea vision of the Muricata vision. "We focus on the physical and mental well-being of the children. We want to motivate families to invest in and support the forthcoming adventurers by participating in such activities, so they build character, learn how to become self-independent; and most importantly become healthier and happier." Muricata is a rare breed of initiative that targets age groups that largely go unnoticed by the increasing number of health-based initiatives; Samra and co. engages children by providing trips and events that allow kids to get hands-on experiences and find their own paths and interests in life. The Kidathon comes on the back of successful trips to Gouna, of which there are set to be more of this summer. For more information on the Great Cairo Kidathon, click here.

Sights & Travel

El Gouna Grandslam 2016 Sets Tone For Another Summer at Egypt's Premier Coastal Destination

El Gouna Grandslam 2016 Sets Tone For Another Summer at Egypt's Premier Coastal Destination

You don't need us to tell you that life in Cairo is, well, let's just call it 'complicated'. It's because of this that summer can't come soon enough – a seemingly never-long-enough window of opportunity to escape Egypt's capital and hightail it to a beach. It's a simple joy that can be found no more than at the unique Red Sea locale of El Gouna. An obvious choice, we hear you say? Maybe, but few places in Egypt tick as many different boxes under the heading 'Things I Need to Switch Off from Real Life'. And switch of we did during a recent visit as part of the 2016 El Gouna Grandslam, which saw some of the world's premier kitesurfers touch down in what still remains one of the most unique seaside destinations in Egypt, for several days of kite-looping, mega-looping and other gravity-defying stunts. From the moment we arrived at Hurghada Airport, to the first signs of El Gouna on the trip to the hotel, to the moment we stepped into the hotel itself – there was that perfect beachside smell in the air; the smell that tells you that you have found safe space where the stresses of Cairo can't find you. We've stayed at several hotels in El Gouna over the years, but never Sultan Bey – a stunning base from which we were to launch into our giddy El Gouna escapades. It's a unique hotel that keeps things fresh and simple, but with the touches of grandeur that one has come to expect from El Gouna. We'd have been happy to spend our days by the pool and the restaurants there, but couldn't help but throw a pair of flip-flops and shorts on to discover how things will shape up this summer – and there was the big final ceremony of the El Gouna Grandslam. It was a distinguished affair that saw the likes of tycoon, Samih Sawiris, and Red Sea Governor, Ahmed Abdallah, attend, alongside winners of in the tournament. As competitors took to the spotlight to receive their trophies and our collective applause, there was a sense that this is just the beginning for El Gouna in cementing itself as a leading destination for world-class water sports.It was a sentiment confirmed by El Gouna Marketing Director, Teymour Hosny, over a quiet dinner at the Smokery Yacht Club the next day. While he's been working with Orascom for a year, he's been a property owner in El Gouna for 15. Talking about El Gouna's evolution, Hosny pointed to the fact that more and more people – be they Egyptian of or expats – are making El Gouna their homes, which has contributed to an organic evolution in its infrastructure and its culture. There was one more matter to attend to on the third day – the enthralling Cairo Symphony Orchestra under the conductorship of Ahmed El Saeidi and featuring acclaimed pianist, Magda Emara. The black tie event was a fitting finale to a short, sweet excursion that reminded us why El Gouna stands as one of the most encompassing, entrenching and eclectic seaside experiences in Egypt.

City Life

Cairo Weekend Guide: The Long Easter Weekend

Cairo Weekend Guide: The Long Easter Weekend

Well hello there, Cairo. If you're reading this, it probably means that you are one of the unfortunate many that will be spending the long Easter weekend in Cairo. Yes, the season of sun, sea and sand is all but upon us, but there's plenty to do across the capital over the next four days. Cairo nightlife is out in full force on Thursday, staring with this week's edition of Bus Stop's House Station, which this week will see the New Cairo bar welcome DJ duo, Gawdat. Elsewhere, Tamer Auf kicks off the Tap's weekend, before heading off to Downtown, where he's part of Zigzag's line-up alongside Man-O. Meanwhile, DJ Tommy in the man in charge of the music at Cavallini, while live music can be found at Cairo Jazz Club, where Amro and the Big Bang Boogie take the stage, as well as at Garden City's ROOM Art Space, where Do'souka perform. Nile-side Giza venue, Eat & Barrel, are staring Friday nice and early-ish with this week's edition of Eat to the Beat welcoming hip-hop DJs, Mobbz and Fedde, while later in the night, you might just catch sunset at, well, Sunset – the Garden Nile Front's weekly party, which this time round welcomes back Phil & Adam, as well as Medoz. Later in the evening, DJ Mash returns to Bus Stop for a night of Oriental-tinted house for Orient Express and DJ Miesh is back at Cairo Jazz Club. Elsewhere, hip-hop is on the menu at the Tap courtesy of your chef for the evening, Man-O. At the other end of the music scale, meanwhile, the Boghdady Band perform a special gig at Cairo Opera House while Mustafa Hussien Al Haky takes to the stage at El Gomhouria Theatre. Saturday is the calm before the Easter and Sham El Nessim storms, though Basheer is back with his Nubian-inspired music at Cairo Jazz Club. It's a busy night over at Cairo Opera House, too, where three different events are taking place, the first of which sees the Cairo Symphony Orchestra return. In addition, the brilliant Belal El Sheikh and his band Sehr El Sharq perform, while opera fans have the chance to catch a screening of Strauss' Elektra, live from the Met in New York. Elsewhere, Hekayat and Shady Moenes perform at El Sawy Culturewheel, while El Gomhouria Theatre goes Indian, with colorful musical performance, Odissi Indian Musical Dance. Things get interesting on Sunday with a host of one-off events, starting at the Garden Nile Front, where DJ Fedde and a belly-dancing surprise await. There's more Easter fun, meanwhile, at Sofitel Cairo's Le Duplex with their special Easter Party, while Bamboo says Hello Easter with the help of belly-dancer, Alla Kushnir. Elswhere, the increasingly popular Black Theama are live at El Sawy Culturewheel and Michelle Rounds returns to Cairo Jazz Club, while this week's Urban Sunday sees DJ Fat Sam provide the music at the Tap in Maadi. For a decidedly more low-key Sunday, though, there are several special dining option available at the likes of Four Seasons Nile Plaza restaurant's, Bella and 8, as well as at the Marriott's Roy's Country Kitchen, and the Semiramis' special brunch. Speaking of which, Monday sees Cairo's hotels go all out with some of the highlight Easter events including Fairmont Nile City's special brunch, which will feature the Hamleys Egypt entertainment team. Cairo Marriott are hosting a brunch, too, in the Garden Promenade Café, as is Four Seasons Nile Plaza's Pool Grill, Four Seasons First Residence's Italian restaurant, STRADA, and Fairmont Heliopolis. Later in the evening, DJ Junior takes the reins at Cairo Jazz Club, while Downtown's After Eight hosts a special Hip-Hop and R&B Ladies Night – just remember that we're all back at work on Tuesday… These are just a few of the events across the capital this weekend – check out the Cairo 360 events calendar for more. Happy Easter!
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Win! Tickets to Cairokee’s Gig at the Great Cairo Kidathon!
Win! Tickets to Cairokee’s Gig at the Great Cairo Kidathon!