Cairo Cafés Guide - Cafés reviews in Egypt

Cairo Cafés

Cake Café:  Zamalek Bakery & Café Still One of the Best in Town
Published On: 23/02/2016

Cake makes everything better – fact. Eager to try some of the best cake shops in town –the few that are rather away from Cairo's never-ending cupcake craze-we headed to Zamalek's cosy bakery and cake specialist, Cake Café. Cornered in a side street next to Gezira Sporting Club, Cake Café has maintained its small two-storey space, with the ground floor housing few seats and an impressive cake display showcasing what's on the menu; the upper floor, meanwhile, has a more homely feel, thanks in part to its small library of books and board games display. With an impressive collection of cakes, cookies, cupcakes and cocktails –think pumpkin ginger cake, chocolate fudge, Oreo cheesecake, pecan tarts and chocolate chip cookies- it took us some time to settle on what we'll opt for; especially that many of the items we aimed for – including the pineapple-banana spiced Hummingbird Cake and Pumpkin Ginger Cake– were not available at the time of our visit. We instead went with Apple Cinnamon Cake (32LE) and Zucchini Carrot Cake (32LE) alongside two cocktails; Kiwi Splash (32LE) and Green Banana (32LE). Starting with the apple cinnamon cake, we loved the cinnamon kick that hit with every bite, but by far the best thing about was how soft, and fluffy it, was – a sign of freshness and, more significantly, the skill that has cemented the venue as one of the best and most enduring in Zamalek. Unfortunately, the zucchini carrot cake didn't fare as well. Firstly, there was an imbalance of flavours; the ginger was overwhelming and it was overall dry in texture, despite the presence of a moist component like zucchini the flavourful, if a little too strong, cream cheese crust. Our cocktails were, surprisingly, what stole the show, boasting refreshing flavours and spot-on chunky consistency. Bursting with fruity flavours, the kiwi splash was a mixture of mild grape, complimented by the sweeter flavour of the kiwi, while the green banana cocktail was just as good, with an overpowering banana flavour concealing the kiwi kick. Our visit to Cake Café wasn't without fault, but there's a reason that it has been steady ship throughout the years, even with the influx of 'concept bakeries', if you will and baked-good-trends (we're looking at you, cupcake). On Facebook, you'll find Cake Café using the words 'simple' and 'elegant' – and that's exactly what you get here. The efforts of Cake Café are channelled into the kitchen and not gimmicks and fads.

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Haagen Dazs: Ice Cream Giant's Latest Branch at Cairo Festival City
Published On: 16/02/2016

One cannot simply stop eating Haagen Dazs just because it's winter; especially when it comes to the sweet ice cream bliss that is Haagen Dazs. Craving some luscious top notch scoops, we headed to the Danish ice cream tycoon, Haagen Dazs at Cairo Festival City. Anyone who abides by the idea that ice cream should be eaten only in summer, clearly doesn't appreciate the concept of ice cream at all – especially when it comes to Haagen Dazs. Though it has had mixed success in Cairo – a Zamalek branch opened and closed pretty quickly – the new branch at Cairo Festival City is awash with people daily. Given that it is almost always packed with people and the limited space, we were torn between grabbing some ice cream to go or waiting in line for an empty table; we were finally happy to decide the latter, though. From the Brownie Explosion (45LE) –brownies served with chocolate, cookies and vanilla caramel ice cream- the Haagen Dazs Fondue (125LE) – a house specialty comprised of mini ice cream scoops, molten Belgian chocolate sauce and fruits – and the Belgian Waffle Dream – pralines and cream ice cream drizzled with butterscotch served on a freshly baked waffles (45LE), the revelation that Haagen Dazs' menu is so much more than ice cream left us overjoyed and excited to try out as many as we could get hands on. After a lot of thinking, we opted for a mishmash of desserts comprised of Haagen Dazs Salted Caramel Crunch (50LE), a Classic Banana Split (65LE), and finally, Haagen Dazs Signature Apple Pie (34LE). A parfait-like dessert comprised of two scoops of salted caramel ice cream, infused with wafer, almonds nibs and caramel sauce, Haagen Dazs' salted caramel crunch was outstanding. With a creamy smooth ice cream flavour, complimented by the wafer cone's discernible crunch, toasted crushed almonds and a perfect caramel coulis sauce; a masterpiece dessert we will be happy to order over and over again. Served with our choice of three ice cream scoops –of which we picked banana chocolate brownie, caramel biscuit & cream and mango sorbet – the classic banana split, was another great dessert choice; with the banana chocolate scoop elevating the overall banana flavour, the caramel biscuit scoop working so well with the almond and wafer bits and finally, an extremely refreshing taste coming from the mango sorbet. Last but not least, and with barely enough room for more, we had a go at Haagen Dazs' Apple Pie. A crumbly crust with caramelized apple which had a discernible bite to it, the apple pie was delicious; only it lacked cinnamon flavour. An addition of cookies & vanilla ice cream (19LE), some hazelnut crunch (5LE) and a subtle drizzle of caramel sauce (5LE) –which we had fun improvising – made this classical dessert all the more fantastic. With a great execution, not to mention a wide variety of dessert on the menu paired with Haagen Dazs' flavourful and unique ice cream is something that will surely caters for all tastes.

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Sun Shadow: A Dissapointing Visit to Manial's Blue Blue Bay
Published On: 13/12/2015

When visiting one of the many restaurants or cafes in Cairo, we're taught by the Cairo 360 editors to never enter with personal expectations – to take something for what it is and judge it on what it promises and how well it delivers. Sometimes, however, you can't help but be effected by a first impression, especially if that first impression is a negative one – something that we couldn't get away from when stepping foot in Manial-located cafe, Sun Shadow. As part of the bay-shaped, Nile-side mall, Blue Blue Bay – so blue they named it twice, clearly – Sun Shadow benefits from a nice view and its large outdoor seating area. The décor and general aesthetic of Sun Shadow tries to replicate that of a Parisian café, but beyond its Eiffel tower-shaped logo, it's a pretty standard, though pleasant, Cairo café set-up – think wicker chairs, wood flooring and dim lighting. The same can be said of the menu; everything from coffees, juices and (virgin) cocktails, to pizzas, sandwiches and desserts and it's the unusual cocktails that caught our eye first, with the café offering peculiar drinks such as mango lemonade and mint & peach (24LE each) – we plumped for a pina colada (24LE), which took an eternity to arrive. When it did arrive it was nothing more than a banana milkshake, which was sent swiftly back, only to return with pineapple and coconut in the banana-milk mixture – still very much not a pina colada. We tried our luck with a lemon and mint smoothie (24LE) but it too wasn't quite up to standard, with the distinct flavours of the two main components being rather faint. Hoping the food would fare better, we ordered a hotdog tortilla sandwich (24LE) which is exactly what it sounds like. Unfortunately the whole thing seems to have been left on the fire for too long; in addition to the slices of bell peppers inside the sandwich being burnt – not charred, but burnt – the whole thing was very heavy and greasy. The chicken pasta (32LE) disappointed, too; served in a white sauce, the chicken was overcooked and very much under-seasoned, leaving the whole dish pretty flat in taste. Meanwhile, a poor chicken pizza (32LE) rounded off an all-round frustrating experience; there was next to know tomato sauce or cheese on what was a very thick base. With a location that many cafes and restaurants owners would die for, we were hoping for more from Sun Shadow; but then the fact that we were privy to infighting between the staff and the fact that the floor was covered in a fine layer of dust, our visit seems to have been doomed from the start.

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L’Éclair Paris: Cairo’s First Parisian Éclairs Patisserie at Downtown Katameya Mall
Published On: 23/11/2015

Cupcakes took Cairo by storm almost five years ago, but with dozens of cupcake specialists and pastry shops trying to bleed everything they can out of the simple baked good – think konafa cupcakes, et al – it's about time for Cairo to latch into a new dessert. Having recently opened in Downtown Katameya Mall in New Cairo, we headed over to L'Éclair Paris, fully open to the possibility of becoming addicts infamous Parisian delicacies. Browsing through the display, of the outdoor-located shop, we were mesmerised by the diversity of flavours ranging, from fruity ones including blueberry, mango, passion fruit and apple crumble, to the more dense chocolate and cream flavours, including Nutella, Kitkat, white chocolate and caramel, vanilla, red velvet and mocha. L'éclair Paris also offers savoury fillings including turkey and cheese, smoked salmon, mixed Cheese, and roast beef and cheese; perfect for breakfast or brunch and they are also available in miniature bites. After initially having a hard time settling on which éclairs to try, we opted for a mishmash of different flavours; a marshmallow vanilla éclair, white chocolate and caramel, mocha, crispy Oreo and chocolate-strawberry (22 LE each). From the savoury choices, we ordered the smoked salmon éclair (35LE) stuffed with Philadelphia cream cheese, fresh smoked salmon and capers. Despite being sceptical at first about the savoury éclairs, we were quite surprised by how the ingredients were balanced with the flavour of the dough which was really light and tasty without being too sweet. Generously stuffed with cream flavours, our sweet éclairs were all made of perfectly light, authentic choux dough and tasted absolutely delicious. The marshmallow vanilla one was topped with mini marshmallows and was stuffed with vanilla cream, though one of the highlights was the white chocolate éclair, thanks to its delicious white chocolate croquant pieces, caramel drizzle on top and cream caramel filling. The mocha éclair, was, on the other hand, every coffee-lover's dream come true; it's infused with coffee cream with a tiny coffee cup made of chocolate on top, while the crispy Oreo was somewhat heavy, being stuffed with Oreo cream and crushed Oreos, with the dough discernibly crunchier than all the others. Perhaps the chocolate strawberry éclair was our favourite; strawberry cream filling and its heavenly chocolate coating – we needn't say more. Overall, we had very little to complain about with what L'Éclair had to offer and we left with light surprisingly tummies, thanks to its incredibly light and well-made choux dough. L'Éclair's location can be easily missed by man - it's essentially a large stall - but it's worth seeking out.

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Skalans: Tasty & Affordable Egyptian Street Eats in Heliopolis
Published On: 19/11/2015

No matter how many foreign cuisines come to the Cairo restaurant scene, there's nothing quite like authentic Egyptian food - a sentiment that had us eager to try recently opened Heliopolis eatery, Skalans. Located in the Sheraton Buildings area, close to Hamada Sheraton – another famous street eats hub in the area serving foul and ta'ameya- Skalans is a small shop with quirky blue garbage cans for chairs and an interior floor designed to look like that of the street. Gaining more popularity by the day, Skalans was already crammed up people at the time of our visit and when we did eventually find seating, we found the chaos left by the people who came to eat before us waiting. Torn between all the drooling choices in the menu – from liver sandwiches, Alexandrian spicy sausage sandwiches (8.50LE-10.50LE each) and Hawawshi (12LE- 23LE), to pastas (19LE) and spicy meat platters (30LE - 32LE), not to mention some grilled cheese sausages – one of Skalans' specialties (10.50LE) – we finally settled on a medium and a large Hawawshi (12LE and 19LE), an Alexandrian sausage sandwich (8.5LE) and two packs of French fries (5LE each). Besides our main bites, we wanted to also try the dessert and between Skalans – a sandwich comprised of cream, honey, jam and halva (halawa) – (8.50LE) and a Nutella dessert – halva with nutella –(8.5LE) we opted for the latter. An hour later, the cashier screamed our number and our food was ready, alongside some complementary pickles. Served in half pita bread portions, our hawawshi was quite tasty; though somewhat greasy, it boasted perfectly seasoned minced meat and good consistency and was surprisingly light. Smothered in Tehina, chopped vegetables and a mere half a sausage, our Alexandrian sausage sandwich was quite disappointing, on the other hand; lacking the traditional Alexandrian pungent, aromatic seasoning, the sandwich was far from flavourful and actually rather bland. Despite the unfamiliar mix, our Nutella-halva blend was perfect; surprisingly light, the two flavours actually worked together and managed to be both creamy and light at the same time. Overall, despite some missteps, such as the slow service and the unnecessary and deafeningly loud music, our visit to Skalans was satisfying enough; just don't expect your visit to be a relaxing one.

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Nino's: Zamalek's Newest Bakery & Dessert Shop
Published On: 16/11/2015

If you tried to count how many bakeries and dessert shops there are in Zamalek, you'll quickly run out of fingers – and possibly toes. But Cairenes have a notorious collective sweet-tooth that is seemingly passed on generation to generation, and the latest store to capitalise on this inherited love of all things sweet comes in the form of Nino's – a name that was spotted at many bazaars and food events in the past. Located on Al Mansour Mohamed Street, the aesthetic of the venue combines kitsch - think traditional wooden ahwa chairs - and the fluffiness of a cupcake shop – think pinks, whites and photos of baked goodies. Like many venues of its kind, in-store seating is minimal; there's one table on the right of the entrance and a bar with high chairs on the left, with the counter facing the shop-front. Browsing the display case and ordering was a little more difficult than it should have been; none of the items were labelled with prices or names, prompting us to ask a million and one questions to the one staff member holding down the fort. We eventually dived headfirst in the jar-stored cakes – one containing chocolate cake and the other containing chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla cream (25LE each). We also tried a Nutella cupcake (15LE) as well as a chocolate and vanilla cupcake (15LE) and a brownie (10LE) – yeah, we were hungry that day. Unfortunately, all the items had one thing in common – they were dry, which was especially strange with the jar-cakes, whose layered build would suggest that they would be moist. Dryness aside, the chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla cream cake jar stood as the highlight. The slight saltiness of the peanut butter was a perfect foil for the sweetness of the chocolate and the creaminess of the vanilla. The plain chocolate cake was just a little too sweet and the chocolate cream contained un-caramelised sugar, giving it an unpleasant graininess. The issue with dryness, meanwhile, effected the brownie most; it lacked that very specific moist chewiness and was actually a little crumbly – and the same could be said for the cupcakes. There was little difference between the Nutella and chocolate-vanilla and the latter's blue icing tasted heavily artificial. Overall, we couldn't help but be disappointed at the time of our visit to Nino's. Visually, it ticks all the boxes, the items are incredibly alluring and the rise of Nino's as a pop-up stall to full-blown shop should be commended; however, the shop needs several tweaks before it can really make an impact – all the ingredients are there.

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Zack’s Bakery & Café: Simple, Fresh Breakfast at Rehab City Bakery
Published On: 12/11/2015

Nothing beats the smell and taste of freshly baked pastries coming right out of the oven with a cup of cappuccino; which is why we headed over to Zack's in Rehab City, Located inside Smiley's Grill takeaway restaurant – a location which caught us off guard - we entered what was a small, six-table shop, furnished with leather sofas, chairs and bookshelves filled with old books with some euphonious jazz music playing at the background. Excited to try out some fresh bites, we checked the menu which had a selection of some typical bakery eats such as sandwiches, loaves, cakes, pies and cookies. It caught our attention that some of Zack's displayed items – especially the croissants- were still missing from the menu. We kicked things off with a brown bread tuna sandwich served with some salty chips (23LE). Enveloped in a multigrain, crunchy and savoury brown bread, our tuna sandwich infused with vegetables was quite tasty and the salty chips on the side complemented it perfectly. Looking to try Zack's desserts, the diversity of sweet bites including brownies, pies and cookies; we went for Zack's signature chocolate biscuit cake (18 LE). Comprised of small pieces of biscuit blended smoothly with chocolate and coated with a thin yet rich chocolate layer, our chocolate biscuit cake was perfect. We concluded with a refreshing Ice Latte (24LE) and a Heart Beet cocktail (25LE) – a vegetable and fruit blend – which was among several other large and healthy energising drinks. A mix of Cabbage, half lemon, half orange and a green apple, the Heart Beet cocktail was a match made in heaven; a guiltless cocktail drink which was both tasty and quite fulfilling - the perfect end to our breakfast. Perhaps Zack's location is somewhat unconventional – some might even think it's a turnoff – but the food, the music, the reasonable prices and the attentive staff made our experience quite pleasurable and all the more worthy.

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Sweet Frog: Fro-Yo Fun at Mall of Arabia
Published On: 25/10/2015

Like so many fads in Cairo, frozen yoghurt came, saw and conquered the minds, hearts and sweet-teeth of many a Cairene. Egyptians love all things sweet – regardless of what time of the year it is – and frozen yoghurt is no different, with several fro-yo specialists enjoying popularity across the city, mostly in malls. Several have even used the healthy snacking angle, while the endless customisation options only sweeten the deal. This is the case for one of the newer ones in town, Sweet Frog. In a matter of five years, the American chain has gone on to settle into almost 350 locations – from the UK, to South Korea, to the Dominican Republic, to 6th of October City's Mall of Arabia. As is the case with other frozen yoghurt joints, you're left to your own self-serving devices; pick an appropriatey-sized cup, fill it with the desired flavour of yoghurt, then go nuts at the toppings station. Said toppings station affords you a fittingly eclectic range of munchables, including cereals, nuts, chocolates, gummy sweets – the list goes on. One of the first things Cairo's fro-yo fiends will notice is that Sweet Frog's cup sizes just make more sense; unlike other stores, the smallest cup isn't insultingly small and the largest isn't needlessly big. Either way, you are master of your own destiny when it comes to pricing as it's all done by weight. But let's get to the important parts – the creation and consumption of frozen yoghurt. We decided to see if we really could put together a healthy snack, growing for the low-fat option, with muesli with chocolate and coconut (160gm/28LE) – that's pretty healthy, right? Unfortunately, the low-fat yoghurt was also low on flavour, having little-to-no discernible taste. Luckily the toppings added the required flavour, but the whole creation lacked the creaminess and subtle sourness of yoghurt. Deciding to get a little more experimental with our next fro-yo, we went for plain yoghurt and water melon yoghurt together in one cup – yeah, we like to live on the edge – as well as a coffee and chocolate (155gm/26LE). combo, the latter of which were outstanding, especially in tandem, with the sweetness of the chocolate working well the slight bitterness of the coffee The water melon, meanwhile, was excellent, too, so much so that we would recommend trying it by itself. Generally, at the time of our visit, the toppings station was a little bare in the sweets and chocolate department, but everything in the fruit section was glowing with a noticeable freshness. All in all, it's difficult to weigh up these kinds of places next to each other, because few of them really do anything different and rely on being weirder and wackier when it comes to the toppings. What Sweet Frog does deviate with to a certain extent, is the types of fro-yo offered – just to reiterate, the water melon is fantastic.

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El Forn: Reasonably-Priced Bakery at Sheikh Zayed's Downtown Mall
Published On: 20/10/2015

While the endless expansion of the Cairo areas such as 6th of October City and New Cairo is well-documented, Shiekh Zayed doesn't seem to get the same attention despite being home to some of the best dining and entertainment facilities in the city, the latest of which has come in the form of Downtown Mall, where we came across El Forn. Presentation is the name of the game for the bakery, which was first caught by Cairo 360 radars thanks to its Facebook page and website, which position the venue as a one-stop shop for all your baked needs. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit, much of the 'menu' was unavailable, though El Forn generally offers everything from breads and croissants, to cupcakes and donuts. As a space, El Forn carries an easy, airy vibe. Off-white walls and wooden fixtures come together to create a pleasant and simple aesthetic. Of the items available, we went for 1/8 kg of Menen with rouny cheese and 1/8 kg of Menen with white cheese and olives – both 50LE per kg each. With a fairly generous amount of filling, they were surprisingly light, unlike the ghee-heavy ones you might find elsewhere. A chocolate muffin soon lured us and at 7LE, it would be criminal not to try what turned out to be a rich and chocolate-heavy snack. The muffin opened the proverbial floodgates; next up on our anonymous tasting-tour was a small custard donut (5LE) – large donuts sell for 8LE – which was soft, sprinkled with plenty of powdered sugar, though it could have done with a little more custard. Of the other many temptations at El Forn we took away a pack of two seeded baguettes (9LE) and some Baton Sale with sesame seeds (32LE per kg). The former were unremarkable but proved great value-for-money, while the latter were a little soft to the bite, rather than crunchy – in all fairness, however, they were delicious and there are crumbs and sesame seeds across the keyboard as we speak. While El Forn's baked goods might not be on the same level as some of the other more established bakeries in Cairo, their great prices and advantageous location suggest that it'll be around for some time to come.

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Nutelleria Egypt: First Nutella Shop in Cairo Meets Expectations & Then Some
Published On: 09/08/2015

One day, someone will tell the story of how the world fell in love with a hazelnut chocolate spread created in a small town in Italy. Yes, we speak of the worldwide phenomenon that is Nutella. Few countries love to indulge in their sweet-tooth than Egypt and so news of a Nutelleria shop opening at Porto Cairo Mall and bringing Nutella-infused happiness was greeted with a delirium – and we're not exaggerating when we say that. With fresh smell of baked chocolate treats ghosting through the area, Nutelleria's Porto Cairo mall shop is difficult to miss. Decorated with several sizes of Nutella jar – including gigantic ones – and an extravagant melting chocolate fountain, our arrival and amazement was something akin to when Charlie entered into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Excited to try out everything and anything, we ordered a chocolate waffle infused with Nutella (24LE), a plain waffle with Nutella topping (24LE), a date tart with Nutella sauce (25LE) and a 'Nutella injection' – Nutelleria's avant-gardist approach to consuming Nutella through a syringe (10LE). With the venues still in soft opening mode, some items on the menu are unavailable – but everything we were able to get our hands on were outstanding. The waffles were the perfect combo of soft and crispy, smooth and chewy, with the Nutella adding the perfect chocolate kick. The base of the date tart was crunchy and crisp making for a perfect textural contrast with the soft dates and rich Nutella sauce. We then sealed the deal with a Nutella injection comprised of Nutella's pure hazelnut spread – it's like a neater version of eating Nutella with a spoon. Recovering from our Nutella fiesta, we were offered a complimentary Fiore Tea by the friendly staff; a tea made from a dry flower that blooms in hot water. Served with basil leaves, the tea, which filled the air with a strong, sweet aroma of sweetness, was perfectly soothing. Nutelleria also offers a large variety of cheesecakes, assorted tarts, ice-cream, as well as many other chocolaty items, soon to be available after their ground opening – and based on our visit, we can't wait. In the end the experience delivered what it promised. There's no critiquing Nutella itself – it is what it is – but as fans, we were relieved to find that the kitchen's craft was up to scratch – let's just hope it stays that way.

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Cairo Weekend Guide: Nacelle & Omar Khayyam Team Up, the Great Cairo Kidathon & More!

With the long Easter break behind us, those that were lucky enough to travel have been bitten by the summer bug as we count down the days till we can hightail it out of the city and make our way to the beach. But the weather in Cairo is perfect right now and there's too much to see and do across the