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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.
While the number of bars and clubs in Cairo is always on the increase, the nightlife scene in the capital is somewhat cliquey congregations, some with expensive minimums and tough door policies.
Not blessed with a bar scene to speak of, the Korba district of Heliopolis has recently welcomed the Garden.
Having suffered at the wrath of Facebook-users of Cairo for an alleged screening process that pries into Facebook profiles, we were glad our photos were up to par, managing to secure our group a table mid-week. Situated at the end of a small alley, right next to the Coffeeshop Company, the Garden is spread over a large outdoor patio and an indoor – but open fronted – bar area.
Complete with bare-brick walls, hanging Edison light bulbs, copious numbers of potted plants and charming bright red shutters on the exterior windows of the building above, the Garden has been meticulously designed to be chic, contemporary and stylish for its mixed-bag of fashionable clientele. With DJ Hishram Zahran on the decks at the time of our visit, the place was filled with chilled out dance beats, at a decent level so that conversation was still a possibility.
Despite being mid-week, the bar was packed, with most of the crowd standing inches away from one another and the staff running around like headless chickens. Choosing from a fully stocked bar and a long list of cocktails, we ordered several Smirnoff vodka (70LE) and Red Bulls (35LE), as well as a glass of chilled, Omar Khayyam white wine (50LE). We also took our own bottle (250LE for bouchon), and were afforded ice buckets to keep it cool.
Whilst we could appreciate the place was busy, waiting around 45 minutes – and having to nag constantly for our drinks every time – seemed a little ridiculous and the same gruelling process applied when ordering the check.
From a full menu of international appetisers, main meals and desserts, we opted for an Oriental sampler as a sharing platter (80LE). Also taking forever to arrive, and served cold, the best thing about the herby sogo’, crisp cheese and meat sambousak, and rich liver, was the attractive presentation on a wooden chopping board. We also spotted a number of impressive-looking, thick hamburgers floating around, whilst hearing complaints regarding long waiting times from a large number of diners.
While the Garden’s energy is buzzing, and the aesthetics are undoubtedly fabulous, the service most certainly is not – yet.