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Downtown, Cairo, Egypt.
Happy City: Downtown Cairo Rooftop Bar
Happy City’s rooftop is expansive with two large corner tables that are perfect for large groups. Its atmosphere lives up to its name: the rooftop is lit up with red and green holiday lights and bizarre yet whimsical decorations like stuffed parrots hang on the walls. Once you sink into the comfy chairs and take in the leisurely environment, you will probably not want to leave.
A full menu is available at Happy City: main courses include steak, kofta and shish kabab, and range from 20LE to 25LE. A variety of soup is also on offer for 5LE, while salads average at 4LE. Nothing on the menu particularly caught this reviewer’s attention, so we decided to stick to the free mezzas. With every time that this reviewer has visited the bar, the mezza selection differs; but it is always served with stale bread. However, to their credit, the bread still tastes okay and is strangely addictive. And it’s free.
Mezzas include chopped boiled potatoes with seasonings, sliced cucumbers and carrots, mish(incredibly pungent cheese), and bissara (made with split peas). The waiters replenish the mezzas as needed regardless of whether you order more drinks or not. Drinks options include wine and a variety of beers– a Stella costs 15LE. We recommend sticking to drinks, shisha and the mezzas; and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when the cheque arrives.
Shisha is only available in apple and meassel, but it is still a win at Happy City. We had to wait for a while for it to be served, as the shisha man was apparently stuck in traffic. It was worth the wait, though; as the shisha was delicious and the waiter attentively replaced the coals before we even had to ask.
Happy City is the type of bar that you can linger in for hours. The waiters are never pushy and the tables rarely seem to fill up. The crowd always seems calm and down-to-earth; patrons include everyone from endearing older tourists to businessmen. Even though there isn’t anything particularly exceptional about Happy City, we plan to return time and time again.
With many of the most frequented bars in Cairo located in the city's international chain hotels, the lesser-known inns are understandably overlooked when it comes to nightlife. However, such hotels develop a certain, charm while enduring the test of time, and manage to establish themselves as the city's best kept secrets.
Located on the corner of Tahrir Street in Dokki, El Tonsy Hotel boasts a rooftop café-bar that has grown in popularity as a result of its moderate prices and magnificent Nile view. Stepping out of the elevator on the 18th floor, visitors must walk through what appears to be the venue's shisha storage space, before reaching the terrace. The view is undoubtedly the highlight of the place and it certainly provides relief from the immediately obvious shortcomings of Brown Lounge.
Requesting a menu, the waiter handed us a flimsy and greasy booklet which appeared to be on the verge of collapsing into single pages.
The menu seemed full of a wide variety of meals including cheese burgers (14LE), beef or chicken shawerma (11LE-18LE) and taamia (7LE). Salads include green (9LE), Greek (12LE), chicken Caesar (14LE) and an assortment of local dips (6LE/each). The menu also offers a variety of tagines, along with meat and chicken platters.
At first, we were intending to order lentil soup (10LE) and stuffed vine leaves (14LE). However, we were visited numerous times by the waiter to be told that these, and the majority of other options, were in fact unavailable. Spring rolls (11LE) were recommended to us, and we opted for Arabiata pasta (14LE), with penne rather than spaghetti.
With local beers (15LE) and a small selection of wines readily available, it appears food is rarely ordered at Brown Lounge, with most patrons opting for a good drink and smoke by the Nile view instead. Rather than alcohol, we finished our meal with an enjoyable cup of green tea (8LE).
The simple dishes of pasta and spring rolls took almost an hour to arrive; unfortunately, the long wait came to no avail. The pasta was both undercooked and chewy whilst the red sauce topping was tasteless and overly salted. Generously sized, the four, large spring rolls were stuffed with carrots and lettuce, and although the better of the two dishes, they would have benefitted from a dipping sauce of sorts. But in the end, this is a bar, and we're always grateful for cheap beer.
Brown lounge is evidently not a place best suited to fill an empty stomach. However, if you’re ever in the mood to enjoy a relaxing drink with a gorgeous view, this is the place to be.