Cairo Cafés

Hookah Lounge: Chilled Shisha Cafe in Heliopolis
Published On: 27/11/2014

Shisha, hookah, water-pipe – whatever you want to call it, it's every bit as essential to Cairo cafes as chairs and tables are and the majority of places across the city serve it as a key ingredient to the quintessential Egyptian experience. Located in the bustling Marghany Street, Hookah Lounge stands out with its bright purple sign and white painted walls. We were greeted at the entrance by a waiter, who offered us the choice of either indoor or outdoor seating. Spending any kind of prolonged time outside in Cairo in November is likely to have you shivering to the bone, but Hookah Lounges outdoor area is equipped with surprisingly effective heaters. We were instantly seated in the mildly crowded lounge without having to wait and had our menus laid out before us in a jiffy. The design of the place immediately puts you at ease, boasting a laid back white and silver colour scheme. We especially loved the gigantic, colourful shisha design strewn to the side wall and thought it added a rather charming feel to the place. Going for a rather non-fussy menu, Hookah offers no-fuss mainstream dishes; pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, salads and burgers pretty much dominated the menu. For the shishas, however, they offer a wide range of flavours and mixes. We placed our order and had our shishas by our sides a few minutes later. The blueberry-vanilla (27LE) was quite heavenly, albeit a bit too strong in flavour. We, nonetheless, loved it. The cherry-vanilla (27LE), which wasn't on the menu, but made as a special request for us, was much lighter than the former and tasted just as delightful. Our coal, however, was not regularly maintained and we had to ask the waiter continuously to change it. Arriving right after the shishas, our steaming main dishes looked absolutely mouth-watering. The Fried Mozzarella (25 LE) consisted of four large pieces of fried, breaded cheese with a dip and tasted as sinful as deep-fried cheese should taste. Our Chicken Alfredo pasta (49 LE) came in a hefty serving and consisted of penne pasta – as requested – topped with dense white sauce and grilled chicken chunks, sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Though nothing stands out as being extraordinary in the food department, everything was cooked well and served in big, filling portions. But this being a cafe called Hookah Lounge, the focus is very much on shisha and though it wasn't tended to as regularly as one would like, the quality and variety of the different flavours makes it a haven for shisha fans.


Cafe Supreme: Bustling Cafe in Korba, Heliopolis
Published On: 23/11/2014

In Cairo, the term 'hanging out' has become almost synonymous with cafes. With no short supply of coffee shops and ahwas in Egypt's capital, a few hot drinks and a bit of a smoke were in order; so we headed to Café Supreme's Heliopolis branch. Located in the ever-crowded, yet confusingly charming neighbourhood that is Korba, Café Supreme offers both indoor and outdoor seating. We were greeted by a busy looking waiter who kindly obliged to offering us a table outdoors, despite how crowded it was. We took our seats, but couldn't help feeling squashed amongst the dozens of customers. Our menus were laid out in front of us within seconds and we took a few glances at it, despite knowing we weren't up for a full-on meal. Offering its usual, no-hassle main courses, however, including pizzas, pastas, chicken and beef dishes and salads, Café Supreme definitely makes for a viable eatery.  On a chilly autumn night, nothing seems to warm us up more than some shisha and hot chocolate and with that mind-set, we opted for  Vanilla-Coconut, Lemon-Mint and Blue Mist shishas (each for 37LE) and some Dark Swiss Hot Chocolate (22LE). Our shishas were by our sides and ready to be smoked within a few minutes and tasted quite lovely, with the waiter carefully placing the coal so as not to burn them out too quickly. The hot chocolate arrived a couple of minutes later and it looked and smelled as enticingly alluring as any dark chocolate creation should; it was thick, satisfying and tasted like real, unsweetened dark chocolate. Needless to say, we definitely contemplated ordering seconds. All in all, Café Supreme, as always, seemed to give us the best of both worlds; solid service and quality offerings. The dark hot chocolate was possibly the best we've had in a while and our shishas were regularly maintained, with our waiter stopping by every few minutes to replace the coal. The only problem was the whole issue of too many customers that made us feel a bit suffocated.


Thomas Patisserie: Sweets, Cakes & Desserts in New Cairo
Published On: 17/11/2014

Having already made its name in the Egyptian dessert market, Thomas Patisserie is by no means, an unfamiliar brand. Thomas' latest branch in New Cairo, however, is still new and pristine and so, being the adamant sweet-tooths we are, we decided to hit it up for a much-needed sugar fix. Located in a rather odd part of New Cairo, in the Medical Park,  Thomas is relatively spacious yet lacks any seating areas; it's the type of patisserie you go to when you want to take your desserts to-go. The interior appearance of the venue unabashedly leans to the sleek, dark, black spectrum of decor; an obvious attempt at obtaining a chic and posh design. The whole vibe, however, is a little too much and ends up looking a little tacky rather than the elegant. The place offers a variety of desserts, divided into the two obvious types; Western and Middle- Eastern/ Oriental treats. Taking a glance at all the desserts offered at the time of our visit, we couldn't help but notice that the gateaux and cakes looked much better-stocked and more alluring than their Oriental counterparts. The Oriental desserts on display, however, included lots of the classics like Basbousa (40LE-60LE/ Kilo), Konafa, and Baklava amongst others. You can also order a selection of the three for 130LE/Kilo. We migrated to the better lit display of all the gateaux, tarts and cakes one could ever think of. From round, English-type, breakfast-friendly cakes (70LE) to full-on, occasion-orientated cakes (120LE-150 LE for a small one and 170LE-210LE for a large one), the cakes came in all sizes with all kinds of flavours and toppings.  Moreover, the infamous French delicacies, Macaroons, were also available in a multitude of flavours (175LE/ kilo). Gateaux, both normal-sized (9LE-16LE/piece) and soiree-sized (100LE/kilo), were also available and we opted for a few pieces to indulge in. Other savoury baked goods can also be found at Thomas, including pates, croissants and mini pizzas (5.50LE-8LE/ piece). Gourmet chocolates (175LE/ Kilo) are also offered and would make lovely gifts for any occasion. Our gateaux were well-wrapped in a box and were pleasing to the eye. The classic, sugar-topped, millefeuille was light, yet decadent, with the pastry tasting exceptionally fresh.  The mango tarte was also quite delightful and light. The chocolate gateaux, however, despite tasting alright seemed to lack a certain oomph; chocolate desserts should never taste average. All in all, Thomas offers quite a lovely selection of desserts for all kinds of occasions. Despite its wishy-washy design and quite peculiar location, it still did have adequate service, with super friendly staff. The desserts themselves were not ground-breaking in the taste department, but were still of notable quality.


Café Supreme: Surprisingly Good Food at Concord Plaza Mall Branch of Café Chain
Published On: 03/11/2014

It's not every day that you come across a restaurant or cafe in Cairo that offers high quality dishes that are easy on your wallet. Café Supreme is one such place that breaks the trend. The chain's newest, and fourth, branch in New Cairo has recently opened in Concord Plaza Mall on Road 90. With both spacious outdoor and indoor seating, one could almost always land a table, even on the busiest of nights. The whole design and feel of the place is rather contemporary, with its basic colour scheme and glass panelling. We were led to our requested table outdoors and our waiter promptly brought us our menus. Café Supreme does not necessarily specialise in a certain cuisine, but rather offers no-frills, generic dishes one would expect of a cafe, as well as some surprising items. From Shrimp Konafa (59LE) and an interesting-sounding Munchies Basket (53 LE), to an exotic-sounding California Salad (38 LE), the appetisers sounded promising. The main dishes were no let-down either, offering countless pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and meat-based platters.  The abundance of waiters around meant that one could always be found to take orders in a jiffy and so we made our order and patiently waited. Our food did not take that long to arrive and was laid in front of us, twenty-five minutes after we had ordered it, but, disappointingly, some plates arrived before others. This definitely was quite the pet peeve and just slightly annoying and unsettling. The food, however, was cooked to utter perfection. Our Flamed Grilled Chicken (65LE), arrived in the form of two thick, well-grilled chicken breasts accompanied by our requested sautéed vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy on the side. The chicken was tender and well-marinated and the vegetables were crunchy and neither soggy nor oily. Supreme's Signature Pasta (49LE) was also quite the delight to our taste buds. The huge dish consisted of penne pasta drenched in white sauce - that had the right consistency - topped with a grilled chicken breast and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. The Roast Chicken BBQ pizza (65LE) tasted, however, a bit perplexing. Whilst the pizza dough itself was delicious and thin, the toppings did not taste right and the overall taste ended up being sweet and slightly off-putting. The overall stellar service at the restaurant is definitely worth a mention for it was efficient and on-point. Our waiter even offered us blankets when the weather got too chilly. To wrap up, Café Supreme offered us tasty food of superior quality without breaking the bank, as well as very pleasing service. Sure the pizza tasted a little confusing, but the rest of the dishes were sumptuous and mouth-watering.


Kahve: Cozy Cafe in Sheikh Zayed
Published On: 16/10/2014

At first glance, some Cairo cafes seem to have it all; good atmosphere, design, location and overall outlook. Then, when you actually decide to give them a go, you end up with unprecedented disappointment. Located in a quiet street in the Sheikh Zayed, Kahve grabs attention with its Turkish name and seemingly chilled atmosphere. The place is adequately-sized, with both outdoor and indoor seating available, and despite being full at the time of our visit, it still retained a relaxing ambiance; perfect for reading a book by yourself, or going on a casual date. We asked a waiter if there were any tables available and he, right away, began arranging one for us. Our menus were laid in front of us and we began our search for something to order. The menu's not huge in terms of variety, but it'll do in a pinch. Kahve offers hot beverages (15.50LE-21LE), mostly coffee-based, of which the Nutella Turkish Coffee (16.50LE) was the most striking. Some cold shakes, cocktails and smoothies were also offered (19LE-29.75LE). As for food, we spotted some savoury items including basic sandwiches, croissants with fillings (11.50LE), pizza and crepes (25.75LE). Some desserts are also offered, including chocolate fondant (29.75LE), waffles (15.75 LE), tarts, muffins, cookies and donuts. The final item on the menu was the shisha, of course, which comes in all sorts of flavours and varieties (20LE-30LE). The true beginning of the end came with us placing our order.  Our waiter, quite surprisingly, did not recognise several items on the menu. He then proceeded to deny our request for Salami pizza claiming that the only pizza toppings available were Hotdog, mushrooms and cheese. Quite baffled, and slightly annoyed, we opted for a Hotdog Pizza and a Cheese Lover's Pizza (27.75LE each), green tea, water and the Chocolate Lover's dessert (30LE). A whopping forty-five minutes later, our table was just as empty as it had been when we first arrived.  Our pizzas and Chocolate Lovers dessert only arrived after we had asked for them three times, and our green tea and water came after we had to remind the waiter that we had, in fact, asked for them two times.  The pizzas were quite small in size, thin, crisp and laden with cheese; totally delicious, but not particularly filling. The same, however, cannot be said for the dessert, as it lacked an adequate amount of ice cream and chocolate sauce, had none of the nuts it claimed to have on the menu, and the brownie itself tasted quite stale. All in all, it's a shame Kahve, with its lovely setting, fell so badly in the service department. Sure the pizzas were scrumptious, but they sure weren't worth the wait.  The Chocolate Lovers dessert was a total disaster and our waiter completely forgetting our order was quite a nuisance.


Etoile: Busy Cafe & Patisserie in Downtown Cairo
Published On: 12/10/2014

Located on 26th of July Street, in Downtown Cairo, this three-storey patisserie is both a chic little café on the top floor and a charming dessert shop on the first floor with a great deal to explore in terms of cakes and sweets. Upon entering Etoile, rows upon rows of tasty treats are presented in a long glass refrigerator ready for selection including an extensive display of intricately detailed cakes starting at 4.50LE per slice. We tried a soft sponge cake filled with sweet cream and topped with a delicate layer of moist icing - simple but delicious. The great thing about these cakes is that once purchased, you can keep them in the fridge for up to two days and they will taste just as fresh as the day they were baked.  A dozen of these delicious delicacies can be purchased for the price of 54LE or the more expensive cakes at 60LE.  The café upstairs is a little quieter and offers a selection of the cakes from the shop downstairs plus an exquisite variety of hot and cold beverages. The décor was pleasantly simple with wooden tables and chairs in a comfortable air-conditioned atmosphere. We ordered a slice of Caramel Cheesecake and a slice of Cherry Cheesecake (10LE each). They were deliciously creamy with a soft biscuit-base that had a hint of orange peel.  The cherry cheesecake even had some whole-cherry pieces hidden inside the cream, which created a pleasing texture.  To wash down the cake we also ordered one Strawberry Juice (10LE) which was full of luscious strawberry pieces and one Vanilla Milkshake (11LE) made with creamy vanilla ice cream. Etoile also has a small ice-cream kiosk right beside the entrance with one scoop costing 2.50LE and the variety is much larger than we expected; chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, caramel, cantaloupe, mango and even kiwi, are some of the options. While the chocolate and vanilla were exceptional, the kiwi flavour was debatable.  The variety goes beyond cakes and incorporates a range of Oriental desserts and some very posh chocolates in shiny wrapping, which make perfect gifts for special occasions.  Etoile does have a down side however – it gets crowded to the point where it becomes difficult to even move around the store.


Eduscho Kaffee: Pleasant Cafe in Maadi Grand Mall
Published On: 27/09/2014

Cairo is over-flowing with pleasant places to indulge in a small robust espresso or a tall creamy latte. Located on the first floor of Maadi Grand Mall, Eduscho is a perfect location for a quick coffee before returning to a shopping spree. The café's decor is nothing special though it does take up a large area fully equipped with marble-affect tables and green cushioned wooden seating, plus there are fans above to provide a comfortable atmosphere.  However, Eduscho is an open-area cafe which means you will be surrounded by shops and people walking left, right and center, so if you're looking for somewhere quiet and secluded then this isn't the place.  Nonetheless, it does offer a pleasant and varied menu. After seating ourselves and browsing the generous selection of drinks, we ordered a medium Cappuccino (15LE), one Hot Chocolate (15LE), an Ice Latte (16LE) and a Lemon Juice (12LE). The Cappuccino was pleasant and decently sized, however both the hot chocolate and ice latte were significantly lacking in milk and tasted very watery.  Thankfully the lemon juice served no complaints, it was fresh, zesty and sweet all mixed into one tall glass. It is also possible to have cream or a flavour syrup, including toffee, caramel and vanilla, added to your drinks at an extra 5LE. Despite being a café where the focus is on the beverages, Eduscho offer a small range of sandwiches, salads and desserts at decent prices.  We opted for the Waffles with Nutella which were deliciously moist, sweet and generously smothered in the warm chocolate and hazelnut sauce. Although a fairly ordinary café, we did find something a little special that not all cafes provide. A little built-in shop selling a range of stylish tea and coffee appliances. The good news is there is currently an ongoing sale: one tall trendy water purifier was 100LE now costs 85LE and a coffee and espresso machine is for sale at 1450LE.


Dixie Cream: Donuts Chain Hits Downtown Katameya Mall in New Cairo
Published On: 18/09/2014

The all-American, deep-fried, sugary dessert that is the donut isn't exactly common in Egypt, but sometimes you find yourself yearning for its satisfying taste. Dixie Cream may not be the first or only place to offer them in Cairo, but the American franchise comes with quite a reputation. Sitting pretty in Downtown Katameya Mall, the shop looks like your traditional colourful donut joint with a bright yellow, white and blue theme. It offers an adequate outdoor seating area for those who want to enjoy their treat at the venue. We, however, wanted to take ours to go and so we went in to take our pick. The donuts were placed in a large display behind the cashier's booth which, at the time of our visit, was sadly mostly empty with only a few donuts to flaunt. Our server, however, was quite helpful and cheery, telling us that a fresh-out-the-oven batch was available. The place offers a variety of appetizing options, including icing, powdered sugar, glazing and stuffing. They also serve cinnamon buns, apple fritters, and brownies. We opted for three donuts; one with vanilla icing & sprinkles, another with chocolate icing with sprinkles and a chocolate-stuffed donut (all for 13LE each). The waiter immediately aligned them in a to-go box for us and we were on our way, only to discover later that the donuts were stacked over each other making their toppings stick to one another. The donuts all tasted fresh, sweet and predictably heavy. We thought, however, that they were rather ordinary with no distinctive flavour. The icing, whilst looking pretty, needed a bit of a kick in the taste department; a stronger vanilla flavour and a more unique chocolate flavour would have definitely set them apart. The donuts were still, in the end, quite tasty. To wrap up, Dixie Cream did definitely satisfy our donut cravings. The donuts were not, however, unique in taste and lacked an element of creativity. In a city where the cupcake still very much rules, Dixie Donuts won't break that particular dessert-monopoly any time soon.


Cold Stone Creamery: Mouth Watering Ice Cream in Cairo Festival City
Published On: 07/09/2014

Cairo has no shortage of ice cream parlours. What it does fall short on is ice cream which oozes of pure flavour, rather than oozing artificial flavour. Cold Stone has, in all ways possible, offered us exactly that; delicious, flavourful, icy goodies. The smell of baked waffle cones attracted us from afar in Cairo Festival City mall and we found ourselves immediately heading towards its source; the intimidating and crowded Cold Stone Creamery.  With heaps of people in line ready for their ice cream fix, we almost turned right around, but the colourful display of huge tubs of called out to us. We patiently waited in line and began to inspect the 'creations' menu hanging on the wall. Our attempts to secure a table whilst also waiting in line failed miserably due to the seating area being too small to accommodate all the customers at the time of our visit. We had no choice but to enjoy our ice-cream on the go. Cold Stone offers its ice cream in different sizes; ; 'Like it' (12LE/29LE), 'Love It' (24L/35LE) 'Gotta Have It' (36LE/46LE), 'Mine' (48LE/69LE) and 'Ours' (80LE/110LE), with the 'creations' being more expensive than the regular scoops. As soon as we were in front of the ice cream freezer, the server immediately welcomed us and offered us free samples. We tried all kinds of flavours before settling on Cake Batter, Dark Chocolate, Pistachio and Mystic scoops with the first two in a cone and the second two in a regular cup.  Our pick from the crazily named creations was the 'Cheesecake Fantasy.' Upon payment, we dug into our ice cream with no hesitation and immediately fell in love with each and every flavour. If you're one of those people who like to lick cake batter of a spoon whilst baking, you'll find the Cake Batter flavour a God-sent gift for your taste buds. The Dark Chocolate flavour was intense, but not too sweet; perfect for true chocoholics. Tasting purely of freshly roasted pistachios, the Pistachio flavour was truly authentic, while the Mystic flavour, a play on Mesteka, was traditionally sugary and delightfully elastic. The true showstopper was, however, the 'Cheesecake Fantasy'; filled with strawberries and biscuit bits, it was truly mouth-watering. All in all, our ice cream cravings were righteously satisfied by everything Cold Stone Creamery had to offer. All the flavours were nothing less than delicious and the staff was also generally friendly and swift. The one let down, however, was our inability to find anywhere to sit and enjoy our ice cream due to the shop's small size and overwhelming crowds.


Gelato Mio: Delicious Fresh Ice Cream in Zamalek
Published On: 04/09/2014

We love finding out about a new venue in the already densely packed Zamalek. We're even happier when we realise that we'll be coming back. Such is the case with the newest ice cream vendor in town, Gelato Mio. There's no shortage of dairy products or ice cream in Egypt, but of those, so few are good, and of those, so few remain good for very long. We doubt this'll be the case here, as Gelato Mio is run by the good people over at Pizza Mia, whom we've seen consistent quality from since our first review. The store is relatively small, with simple white decor and three small tables that carry two people each. We opted for a small cup that carries two bowls of ice cream (12LE). For our flavours, we picked a classic chocolate, and something more experimental; fig and ricotta. The small bits of fig in the ice cream were plentiful and you had some in every spoonful, which balanced nicely with the ricotta cheese. The Chocolate ice cream was some of the best we've tasted in Cairo; so rich you could forget you were eating ice cream. We also tried the Caramel and Marron Glacé with Milk flavours, which tasted very strongly of milk, but in a good way. The one flavour we disliked, though, was the strawberry cheesecake. Something about it just tasted off, but we couldn't put our finger on it. As for the sorbets and fruit flavours, they are all made from fresh fruit - no artificial flavours. Being fans of lemon sorbets ourselves, we had to try one, and they were refreshing, delicious and just the right amount of sour. The last thing we tried was the Avocado (19LE) which is a bowl of ice cream of your choice - we recommend the fig and ricotta - topped with a shot of concentrated coffee. Who knew our two favourite things in the world could go into one cup. The final verdict? An overall excellent experience and one we repeated the very next day.


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