Here at Cairo 360, we’re a little addicted to food; and we’re not ashamed to admit it. We order multiple courses at every meal, we aren’t afraid to try anything once; and we’re occasionally prone to giving ourselves stomach aches from sampling too many burgers and sweets. For you, dear 360 Reader, we’ve convinced ourselves that elastic waistbands are, in fact, quite fashionable. We have a great time critiquing Cairo’s most popular restaurants and discovering some of the lesser-known dining treasures along the way. Here are a few of our favourites from recent history.
La Gourmandise (Maadi)
We’ve long loved the freshly baked breads, fresh salads and delectable desserts at La Gourmandise in the First Mall and the quiet neighbourhood of Maadi seemed like the perfect location for a sister branch. Located on Road Nine, the venue is larger than we’d anticipated, sweetly decorated and brimming with display cases of gourmet macaroons. Sandwiches, quiches and salads make this a great spot for a fresh, trendy lunch and decadent cakes available for carryout give us a real reason to celebrate. Although this high-end restaurant/café/bakery isn’t ideal for budget dining, we were pleasantly surprised to find prices are lower than those at the First Mall branch.
A recent curry craving had us heading Downtown to the Ramses Hilton for dinner at Maharaja. We found an authentic but approachable menu at this Indian restaurant, where the tandoor oven is located right in the dining room to give guests a show while they eat. Maharaja’s exciting and spicy menu includes everything from hearty soups and flavourful daal to rich curries of seafood, chicken and paneer, as well as tender meat straight out of the tandoor oven. If you share our dining habits, you may be ordering extra orders of naan to soak up the curry long after you’re full from this Indian feast.
El Sit Hosneya (Dokki)
For a long time, Abou El Sid has been the go-to choice for upscale Egyptian cuisine. However, El Sit Hosneya provides healthy competition for fine local dining. For heart-stopping fatta, incredible molokheya and velvety chicken liver; this restaurant is as authentic as any home-cooked meal that you’ll have in Egypt. And it doesn’t hurt that the prices are much lower than those at Abou El Sid, either.
Villa Belle Époque (Maadi)
Hidden in the heart of Maadi, this exquisite boutique hotel has been stirring up a quiet storm over the past year for its elegant dining atmosphere. The menu blends local flavours and ingredients with a gourmet twist, and every dish is presented in an artistic arrangement. Sauces are homemade and produce is incredibly fresh. Their bread is heavenly and arrives hot out of the oven, and their sea bass is roasted and arranged over sweet-sour potato puree, ruccola, tomatoes, kalamata olives and goat’s cheese. Heaven!
147 Soho (5th Settlement)
Suburban sushi lovers will rejoice for 147 Soho, a restaurant/game room located in The Meeting Point, 5th Settlement’s newest shopping centre. 8LE-pieces of nigiri are fresh and fairly priced, and the crunchy rolls come highly recommended. For the non-sushi lovers among you, the menu has a fair deal of burgers, soups and appetisers to snack on between games of snooker. 147 Soho is still new enough to be a quiet spot for dinner and a game, but once word gets out; this may become a 5th Settlement hotspot.
Blackstone Bistro (Maadi)
Located behind the Sofitel on the Maadi Corniche, this bistro has potential to become a neighbourhood favourite with its quality food, diverse cuisine and freshly baked goods. Blackstone Bistro’s atmosphere may be a little forced, but their food easily impressed us during our first visit. Hand cut, homemade fries mix white potatoes, sweet potatoes and beets for a flavourful side dish on one of the better burgers that we’ve tasted in a while. Though a little on the pricey side for some items (115LE for a rib eye steak), Blackstone Bistro actually provides excellent value for money on a three-course meal.
Al Faqeer (Haram)
A Haram treasure buried deep in Faisal Street, Al Faqeer serves some of the most tantalising Egyptian grilled meats that we’ve had in a long time. 55LE will get you either a platter of two roasted stuffed pigeons (we recommend the bulgar wheat) with tender, juicy meat encased in crisp skin, or half a kilo of grilled kofta and kabab, well-butchered and served on flatbread; so you don’t miss a single dripping! Although Al Faqeer serves other Egyptian specialties like mahshi and molokheya; we urge you to stick to the meat if you’re going to brave the traffic on Faisal Street.
Bella (Garden City)
Last, but certainly not least; lunch at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza’s Italian restaurant, Bella is divine. A three-course business menu for 175LE features plenty of fresh ingredients, such as baby greens, toasted pine nuts, cured mozzarella and beautifully cooked salmon and steak. Try the salmon, which is crusted with black pepper and honey, and cooked to perfection. We recommend passing on the crème brûlée in favour of the molten cake; but nearly everything at Bella is beautiful.