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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Chacho: Advancing the Waffle & Crêpe Market in Cairo
For whatever reason, waffles, crêpes, and ice cream have become quite a noticeable niche market in Cairo. One of the more recent entries into this market is Chacho, located around the corner from Barclay’s Bank on Road Nine, Maadi.
Chacho indeed offers a new, relatively cheap experience even amongst its closest competitors. In the place of retro American diner-style, Chacho has two granite tables and a granite counter, where customers sit in comfortable red leather stools. While a flat-screen TV shows football, the staff cooks up the food behind the counter right next to the seating area. The smell of fresh waffles and crêpes is unavoidable.
Chacho features a menu of sweet and salty waffles and crêpes. The offered toppings are pretty much the same for both the waffles and crêpes. You can choose Nutella, candy and fruit for the sweet varieties, and chicken, beef, tuna, or vegetables for the savoury ones. In addition, you can enjoy a variety of hot and cold drinks such as cappuccino (14LE), hot chocolate (15LE), smoothies (20LE), or special house drinks called CinaCool, ChachoCool, and Chacho Spring (17LE to 23LE).
For any time of day, it's hard to go wrong with the black & white crêpe, filled with Nutella and bananas, and covered in chocolate sauce (21LE). Not only is it filling enough to be a satisfying breakfast or lunch; the crêpe itself is also really good and fresh. Like the rest of the food at Chacho; expect your order to be ready in five minutes or less.
If you are looking for something heartier, for a larger lunch or even dinner, try the grilled chicken waffle (23LE) that comes with grilled chicken, mozzarella cheese, tomato, onion and dressing. While the chicken, cheese and waffle are terrific; beware that this dish also comes with a healthy portion of chopped olives that it could do without. Even so, the grilled chicken waffle has just the right mix of sugar and salt.
As for the drinks, the specialty cold drinks come at a reasonable price, but they are definitely very sweet. Perhaps try the CinaCool (20LE), but ask for less syrup. As is, the CinaCool is delicious but leaves an overly artificial syrup aftertaste in your mouth. Still, the sugar overkill is the worst part of an otherwise highly enjoyable meal.
If you want a step up from the usual chicken and waffle experience around Cairo, Chacho is definitely worth a visit. Even if you just happen to be in the neighbourhood with a friend; the sweet crêpes and waffles would definitely be enough for two along with an iced tea (14LE) or an espresso (9LE).
A perfect hangout spot can be hard to find in Cairo. Though there’s certainly no lack of cafes, restaurants and bars, it’s simply difficult to find a place that balances entertainment, food and a sense of comfort all at the same time with venues often sacrificing one aspect to keep the rest as high as possible.
Hidden away in the Walk at Beverly Hills,6th of October City, lies Bricks; a simple venue with an emphasis on being a hangout spot with good food. The outdoor area is filled with modernised version of Ahwa chairs painted in white along with wooden top tables with metal centres offering cosy setting.
Bricks also boasts a relatively small indoor area with the same previously mentioned chairs and a ‘PlayStation Corner’ for anyone who’s into gaming – for free – alongside a huge black graffiti-decorated wall quoting famous Beatles song, Come together.
With a relaxed atmosphere, Bricks offer a chilled out mood their seating arrangements, while the availability of playing cards and backgammon, as well as a screen to show matches, it certainly checks two of the boxes for an all-inclusive hangout spot.
After taking a seat outside and looking through the menus we opted for the Mozzarella sticks (35LE) as an appetiser, as well as the Classic Burger (45LE), the Mushroom Burger (55 LE) and a Chilly Hotdog (40LE) with extra cheese (5LE) for our main dishes.
Arriving only a few minutes later, the appetiser came as four mozzarella sticks with a mayo and sweet chilli sauce; the sticks had a satisfyingly crunchy outer shell with a tender gooey cheese centre that was enhanced even further after dipping it into the sweet chilli sauce for an extra spicy sweet aftertaste.
Our main dishes arrived moments later in wooden framed plates accompanied with a small bowl of pickles, alongside some fries. The Mushroom burger had a large burger patty on top of some lettuce and mayo, topped by Swiss cheese and large mushroom pieces and had some curly fries on the side (4LE).
The curly fries were well seasoned and would rival that of Hardee’s, with a crispy exterior and tender hot interior making us uncontrollably eat one after the other. As for the burger, it had a high quality, pure beef flavour with a barbequed aftertaste, working well with the slightly tangy cheese and the saltiness of the mushroom, making it a well-rounded sandwich.
The classic burger followed the same pattern as the mushroom burger in quality, and had lettuce and tomatoes, but was a bit dry. However, that was quickly solved by adding the mayo and sweet chilli sauce.
Moving on to the Chilli Hotdog, it came in a large hotdog bun, topped with some mustard and smothered with chilli, extra cheese and slices of onion alongside some French fries.
Although the fries lacked a bit of seasoning, it was easily fixed with a bit of salt, and were great, similar to ones from other fast food restaurants like Burger king or McDonald’s; crunchy on the outside, soft and hot on the inside.
As for the hotdog itself, it had the traditional familiar hotdog taste with an extra kick from the mustard, while the onions made the flavour of the chilli pop, making the sandwich one of the highlights of the evening.
We also tried the Peanut Butter Milkshake (30LE), which arrived in a tall glass with a straw. Though rich with peanut butter flavour, it was a bit light texture-wise, and could have been all round better if was a bit thicker.
Overall, our visit to Bricks was a pleasant one. With great food and excellent, attentive staff, it makes for a good hang-out spot for both groups and individuals by keeping things relatively simple and letting the atmosphere and food talk for themselves.