Cairo Cafés

Nola Cupcakes: Ramadan-Themed Sweet Treats
Published On: 16/07/2014

Once you reach the halfway point of Ramadan, you will very possibly become bored of traditional food and Eastern sweets. Following the trend that started with someone putting mangos into konafa, Nola Cupcakes has marked Ramadan 2014 with a series of specials. Utilising traditional Ramadan ingredients like dates, konafa, basbousa and more, we opted for a Salted Caramel Date (12LE), Red Velvet Basbousa (13LE), Karkade (13LE), Konafa Nutella (13LE), Konafa Mango (13LE) and a Blueberry cupcake with Ramadan-themed frosting (14LE). There's an immediate problem with Nola's; they are far too sweet and this is a recurring theme in almost all the cupcakes. The Salted Caramel Dates cupcake was a relative success; the dates are mixed into the cake itself, which created a nice textural contrast, but the icing was just a little much. The Red Velvet Basbousa was even more intense, but the flavours just didn't add up leaving you with an excess amount of sugar. The Karkade was the least impressive and the taste of hibiscus was undetectable in both the icing and the cake. The Konafa Nutella was the most surprising of all, because there wasn;t so much of a sugar onslaught.  The konafa, however, lacked any crisp and tasted a little stale. The Konafa Mango suffered similar problems, in addition to tasting of burnt butter.. The last cupcake was a standard blueberry muffin, only with a mountain of icing in different Ramadan themed shapes – ours was a prayer mat and beads. Unless you're a serious fan of icing, you may find yourself sliding most of it off, only to reach an average cupcake with very few blueberry pieces. Overall, this was probably not the best dessert we've had this year. It's probably not the best Nola have done either, but with the growing trend of westernising Oriental desserts, almost all confectionaries and bakeries are jumping on the bandwagon, and to that we say: stop. You can't even find a proper konafa with nuts or cream anymore!

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Ramadan in Cairo 2014: Five Great Shisha Spots in Cairo
Published On: 16/07/2014

Egyptians are an uncomplicated people; we don't ask for much and we'd like to think that we have the capacity to appreciate the small things in life – none more so than that divisive contraption called a shisha. Appreciation for the hookah – as the Yanks have taken to call it – becomes paramount during Ramadan. It's a palate cleanser, of sorts, and the influx of wacky new flavours – the increasingly popular bubblegum flavour is a particularly strange one – has made the water pipe as fashionable as it is widely available across Cairo. Shisha enthusiasts tend to have their favourites when it comes to cafes and lounges, but Ramadan is an occasion that deserves something different. Here are five places that all but guarantee a perfectly trouble-free, restful Ramadan night. 139 Lounge & Terrace New to legendary hotel, Mena House, 139 is nothing short of magical. The lounge – tactfully surrounded by fountains and greenery – is in itself a slick, shiny new hangout spot perfect for late Ramadan nights, but the real pull here is the incredible view of the Pyramids. Baladina Not as well-known as other venues on this list, Baladina's rather kitsch, rural-chic ambiance make it somewhat of a hidden treasure. Located in Sheikh Zayed's Arkan Mall, the café-restaurant keeps things simple in keeping with their quirky, laidback approach to Ramadan. Naguib Mahfouz Cafe & Resturant Finding a little peace and quiet in the colourful Khan El Khalili is a thankless task, but the extent to which Naguib Mahfouz provides such a rare commodity makes it a fantastic place to enjoy shisha and tea. Throw live music and a heavy dose of nostalgia, and you have a perfect Ramadan night out. Wahawi Ramadan Lounge Taking over Le Pacha 1901's rooftop in Zamalek, Wahawi ticks all the boxes. Now in its second year, the Ramadan kheima has proved to be popular with Cairo's younger crowds. With a great view and location, a suitably laidback atmosphere, Wahawi takes you out of the Cairo's usual gaudy Ramadan hubbub.   Wel3a An obvious one, maybe, but Wel3a continues to enjoy success as the peak of the modern shisha culture. Popular all year round for frequenters and residents of Zamalek, its Aboul Feda Street branch enjoys a Nile-side setting, with all manner of shisha flavor on offer.

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Beirut: New Restaurant & Cafe Opens in Downtown for Ramadan
Published On: 11/07/2014

The newest cafe to open on Mohamed Mahmoud Street arrives just in time for Ramadan. Located right next door to Costa, Beirut is quite the little delight. It really is tiny inside, with just three tables on the first floor and five upstairs; but due to opening just recently it's still a fairly quiet and laid back environment, and there are also two tables just outside the entrance. The staff inside are very smiley and cheery, which adds to the pleasant atmosphere and they are all happy to go that extra mile for the customers. The interior design is clean and pleasant with three leather couches and wooden chairs around small glass-topped tables.  There is a television and good air conditioning inside plus a toilet on the second floor.  Arabic cloth designs hang on the walls and from the ceiling creating a homely environment though overall it isn't anything particularly special. To start with we ordered, one fresh lemon juice with mint and one strawberry juice at 10LE each and one green tea costing 5.99LE; coffee and cappuccino are also available as well as an assortment of cold drinks.  All the juices are freshly squeezed which is why the prices for these appear a little high; there is the choice of strawberry, kiwi, guava, peach, watermelon, lemon, lemon with mint and orange and all arrive in a tall, chilled glass.  The lemon juice with mint and the strawberry (which contained real fruit pieces) were among some of the best we've tried in recent times. The food menu consists of beef burgers, chicken burgers, hot dogs and all the typical fast foods as well as small salads to accompany these.  Chicken and beef shawermas are available at 15.99LE.The prices are average and the food is too, but not a bad little diner. The menu states that it is possible to have small parties and business meetings inside though booking is required and highly necessary due to Beirut's small interior.  Shisha is available to smoke inside too. Beirut are happy to declare that they will be open very early and late during Ramadan providing breakfast for all and sohour for all.

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Cookies 'N More: Delivery Only Home-Baked Goodies
Published On: 18/06/2014

There's no better way to end a craving than to stuff your face with a batch of cookies.  Cookies 'N More - Cairo's newest homemade goodies and delivery only bakery - is here to treat us with many unique baked-goods to satisfy our sugary appetite. While offering a variety of cookies, brownies, cakes, cupcakes, muffins and biscotti, all baked with fresh ingredients, Cookies 'N More also serve healthier options made with whole wheat flour, oats, fruits, nuts and vegetables as well as gluten free products. All orders are delivered in dozen packs or more; we opted for the Gingersnaps Cookies (40LE), the Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (50LE), Chocolate Chip Cookies (50LE), as well as the Double Chocolate Chip Cookies (50LE) and a batch of 12 Chocolate Brownies (70LE). Orders should be taken a day in advance, since our order was taken right on the spot, it took longer than expected to arrive. Since Cookies 'N More are a delivery only service, we expected more from the packaging; a disappointing and unattractive carton box wrapped with tape. However, inside the box each batch of our order was wrapped in plastic paper -  like Christmas cookies. But don't let the packaging fool you. We dug into the Chocolate Chip Cookies first, and were surprised by how well they were baked; perfectly crunchy on the outside and delightfully chewy on the inside, with the right amount of chunky chocolate chips. Although in taste they feel exactly like a typical chocolate chip cookie, straight out of a box, nothing recognizsably different, except a few butter smears left on our fingers, yet the chocolate chips themselves were ideal; not too sweet nor bitter, whether homemade or product branded they deserve a thumbs up. While Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies are not really a standard order, the healthy sweet snacks are always a good saviour for those on a diet and looking for something tasty with a few calories. Cookies N' Mores' Oatmeal Cookies were the ideal healthy snack; although, they lacked raisins and had a little too much oatmeal. The Gingersnaps, a mixture of ginger and cinnamon, are not for non-ginger fans. The cookie is baked just the same as the others, but the ginger and cinnamon leave a strong after taste that you will find undesirable if you don't like ginger. Worth mentioning are the Chocolate Brownies, exceptionally large in proportion, with a crusty surface and a chewy fluffy core the brownies were impressive. While most brownies leave us fully stuffed almost feeling sick with chocolaty sweetness, Cookies 'N Mores' brownies were light and easy on the chocolate, you could have a hundred of those and still feel feathery. To eat all that and still go for the Double Chocolate Chip Cookies was a suicidal mission, if you want to shut off your sweet cravings, one bite of these and you're good to go. Full of all kinds of chocolate on the inside, and with chocolate chip chunks on the outside, the cookie is only fitting for true chocolate fanatics.  Overall Cookies 'N More did not fail to impress, while they wouldn't be our every day choice when it comes to baked goods, we would still recommend them for special occasions. 

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Cairo 360 Editor's Choice Awards 2014: Bakery & Confectionery Awards
Published On: 15/06/2014

In Egypt, there's a baker around every corner. From the local forn to the more established sweets chains, there's nothing quite like the smell of fresh bread, or the first bite of cupcake. Egyptians' famous sweet tooth and the recent waves of creativity amongst the city's trendier bakeries means that there's no shortage of bakers and confectioners; but only a select few are committed to producing quality; here are the winners of the Cairo 360 Editor's Choice Awards in the Bakery & Confectionery category. Crumbs Cupcakes & More Another of the original troop of cupcake stores, Crumbs holds a loyal following. Not as in the public eye as some of its peers, Crumbs lets its baked goods do all the talking, with their service of customised cupcakes for parties and events being a particular hit with Cairenes.  Delight Offering both classic and playful tarts and cakes, Delight has become synonymous with its products as a go-to for special occasions or even just to indulge your sweet-tooth in a slice of sweetly goodness. Mandarine Koueidar An institution unto itself in Cairo, Madaerine Koueidar's busier periods might come during Ramadan, but throughout the year, the chain is unparalleled when it comes to churning out classic Oriental sweets and other equally enticing treats - try their sorbet. NOLA Cupcakes While Cairo's cupcake obsession might have simmered a little in the last six months or so, there's still nothing better than fresh, scrumptious cupcake for any occasion - or no occassion at all. NOLA, despite vacating their first branch in Zamalek, has proven time and time again to be the leader of the pack. Tiny Treats Cupcakes In a city that holds onto fads and trends with the skin of its teeth, originality is a scarce commodity. Tiny Treats hasn't been around as long as some ofthe other names on this list, butt their inventive cupcake flavours, including a surprisingly delicious bubblegum cupcake.  For a full rundown on all the Cairo 360 Editor's Choice Award winners, click here.

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Basury Restaurant & Cafe: Surprising Eatery in Downtown Cairo
Published On: 13/06/2014

Cafes and restaurants can be found on almost every street in Cairo and often, many go unnoticed but to locals and regular. One such example is Basury Restaurant & Café, located close to Tahrir Square.  This unique and somewhat romantic eatery possesses the quiet, pleasant atmosphere of a restaurant and the simplicity and ease of a café all rolled into one fine diner.  From the outside, it seems like just another local café but once inside it is something quite unexpected. Soft leather seating in the form of comfortable couches and shiny wooden tables in two long rows give this place a comfort. The décor in Basury is a unique exhibition within itself; the walls are decorated in photographic images of the Arabian world that somehow tell a story of their own. Varnished wooden tiles in an authentic and intricate design make up the flooring reflecting the fairy lights above hanging from the ceiling - especially beautiful at night time; an overall impressive design.   Basury offers such an extensive range of coffees that you will find it an impossible challenge to choose just one; Turkish Coffee, Espresso, Latte, Machiato, Mocha, American Coffee, French Coffee, Iced-Coffee and Cappuccino.  One cappuccino costs just 12.95LE; there are no size options available though one cup proved plenty big enough.  Soft drinks and teas are available and for those heat-filled days, a range of fresh juices provide a welcoming pleasure but it's those exotic, mixed cocktails that caught our attention; apple and dates, mandarin and pomegranate and our favourite; a delicious mix of mango, strawberry and vanilla, costing just 10.95LE for a generously-sized glass. Despite having such an enticing drinks menu, this diner also has much to offer in terms of food.  There are a selection of hot soups; Cream Chicken Soup at 11.95LE; Refreshing salads – a large Caesar salad at 22.95LE plus a range of sandwiches, burgers and large melt in your mouth pizzas.  We ordered one margarita pizza at 19.95LE and one vegetarian at 22.95LE.  Basury even had their own signature pizza topped with pieces of smoked beef, olive, pepper, onion and mozzarella. Last but not least, the final page of Basury's exquisite menu is in fact the most exciting: ice-cream. This is no ordinary ice-cream, though; this is something extra special where the flavours and textures are so carefully put together to create the perfect combination and Basury have created their own signature dish again that demonstrates all these qualities; the Basury Coup is a mixture of strawberry, vanilla and mango ice-cream, topped with juicy fruit pieces, draped in a sweet caramel sauce.  This delectable creation costs 19.95LE; delicious but the price proved to be a little steep. Overall, Basury has a fantastic choice on the menu from its light meals, main meals, drinks and desserts all to be enjoyed in a pleasant atmosphere, though it is advisable to be wary about the service charge when paying your bill as we were over-charged.

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Golio's: Great Location, Average Food at the Platform in Maadi
Published On: 19/05/2014

Though it works out in varying success, many restaurants and cafes in Cairo largeley rely on a great location to send them to success. This would seem to be the case at Golio's newest branch. Located on recently built glorified food-court, the Platform, along the Maadi Corniche, Golio's, claims to be a Sicilian café and restaurant offering everything from beverages and shisha to main courses. The Platform itself is very aesthetically pleasing, so to speak; black stone tiles with tinted lights, it's definitely a classy looking place that gets the best of the weather during this time of the year. It's unfortunate, however, that the Platform's aesthetics are the best thing about this review. Golio's is on the far left side of the Platform, with an indoor area themed with their white, pink and yellow colours, and an outdoor area for what would seem to be the biggest attraction of the Platform itself; the weather and Nile view. Our waiters showed us to a table and handed us our menus; we opted for a Crema Di Funghi Soup (27LE) – a cream of mushroom soup – and Antipasto Sciliano (47LE) – an assorted appetiser platter. Lacking any flavour, barely lukewarm and with raw tasteless chopped up mushrooms, the soup was a complete miss. The Antipasto Sciliano contained three pizzettas, fried mozzarella, bruschetta and parmigiana di melanzane; fried eggplant covered in cheese and tomato sauce. The pizzettas were tasty, the mozzarella wasn't too heavy, the bruschetta – made with garlic bread – was actually a nice twist and the parmigiana had so much cheese and tomato sauce you could barely taste the eggplant. It was, overall, an average platter, but generous in portion. Moving on to the main courses, we opted for Grilled Sea Bass (73LE) cooked with lemon butter sauce and Golio's signature Filetta Shalimar (100LE); a beef fillet topped with mushrooms, tomatoes and a light cream. There's a story, apparently, that goes with the Filetta Shalimar; unfortunately that story is only worth mentioning if the dish was any good, and it really wasn't. The raw mushrooms and tomatoes were unappetising and the cream tasted like a sweet gravy. The side of red sauce penne pasta was forgettable at best, which is pretty unacceptable for a venue labelling itself as being Sicilian. To top it all off, the food was cold – another miss. The Sea Bass, served with a side of rice and sautéed vegetables, was mild-tasting, but much better than the beef. A sauce was provided that tasted a lot like the soup, but no taste of either butter or lemon stood out. The vegetables were cooked and seasoned well and, overall, the Sea Bass dish did a lot better than the Shalimar, although the food was slightly cold again. Aside from drinks and a shisha to compliment the great setting, we suggest you skip the main courses at Golio's, or try one of the other venues at the Platform. Shisha and beverages in a great setting like the Platform automatically makes Golio's a nice place to hang out. But when it comes to dining, there are better options steps away.

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Carlo's: Bustling Nile-Side Hangout in Zamalek
Published On: 12/05/2014

On the Cairo restaurant scene, there's little to distinguish between those that play in the genre of international cuisine. Many will serve the same unauthentic, localised dishes in an attempt to attract the rather than presenting accurate interpretations. Located on the Le Pacha 1901 boat on the Zamalek Corniche, Carlo's is both a restaurant and a cafe, offering appetizers, salads, pastas, pizzas and main courses alongside cold and warm beverages, shisha and beers, spirits and liquors. The scent of m3asel is overpowering at first, so unless you're okay with the smell or are here to smoke a shisha, head straight to the far-end where the terrace is open. After sitting down, one of the waiters hastily gave us our menus, and disappeared into the bustle of the half-crowded venue. We opted for vine leaves with yoghurt (28.90LE) as a starter, and from the main course selection, a Ravioli Panna (67.90LE) and beef fillet with mushrooms (108.90LE). In regards to portion size, the vine leaves were satisfying and appropriate. Prepared with meat in the stuffing the only letdown was the yoghurt. It wasn't a yoghurt salad - there were no cucumbers or mashed up garlic; just yoghurt. The Ravioli Panna, prepared with ricotta cheese and spinach, isn't so generous in portion, unfortunately, especially considering its 68LE price. While initially pleasing on the palate, the taste of chicken broth came to overpower the sauce as we dug in more and more. As for the Beef Fillet, we had our usual scepticism about whether or not they would get the fillet's cooking right. In such cases, we order medium to avoid over or under cooking. More often than not, we receive well done steaks after ordering medium or medium rare. This didn't happen at Carlo's. We got the medium we asked for. Tender, juicy and pink on the inside, the fillet was perfect. Topped with cooked mushrooms and delicious gravy, it was by far the highlight of an up-and-down meal. Even the side serving of French fries were excellent; crisp and golden on the outside, soft and mushy on the inside. As for service, well, we've seen restaurants with more attentive staff, and where the food is served faster. But with that said, there were no glaring errors or offences cause. As a space, Carlo's is clean, but not exactly relaxing, thanks primarily to the racket of shisha service. 

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The Tipsy Teapot: Charmingly Unique Cafe in Maadi
Published On: 11/05/2014

When in the mood for a quiet breakfast or brunch in Cairo, Maadi is the place to go.  Located in the quiet area of Sarayat El Maadi, the Tipsy Teapot offers visitors a blend of the welcoming clubhouse feel and the relaxing quiet typical of the green neighbourhood. Following the trend of revamping villas and turning them into places of food and beverage, the Tipsy Teapot gives its customers a number of seating choices in several different rooms all containing comfortable couches, one of which has a wide selection of books for the avid reader and another with a pool table for a night out with the boys.  The Tipsy Teapot's charm comes pimarily from its aethetics, which translates into its atmosphere. The easiset way to describe it is that it somwhere between a gallery, a workshop and a buddy's house. Encouraging and throughtful qoutes are written across the walls and everything blends in a vein of organised randomness. Serving breakfast between 9AM and 1PM, and then lunch onwards, the cafe offers a range of hearty breakfast meals like pork bacon pancake dippers and brie and raspberry jam sandwiches. The lunch menu contains a selection of sandwiches and pastas, plus salmon and steak dishes. The dessert and drinks menus were slightly more interesting with options such as brownies and banana bread, creamy smoothies and fruit blenders. We arrived a little after lunch so we opted for Lemon and Chili Calamari Rings (30LE) for starters and Tipsy's Cheese Burger with Bacon (60LE) as a main course. The calamari was served on a bed of arugula and with a side of tartar sauce and lemon wedges. The burger sat next to some homemade potato wedges, a skewer of grilled vegetables and red cabbage coleslaw salad. The burger, which they claim to be 'the Best in town', was slightly disappointing. While definitely juicy and served within 20 minutes of ordering, the patty couldn't compete against better established burger joints simply because the quality and freshness of the meat. The overall sandwich doesn't blend well together, even though the ingredients are basic, and at times feels like it's coming apart. While it would receive extra points for using real bacon, sadly, the bacon was undercooked and took away from the experience. After lunch we decided to give the tea and desserts a shot. We ordered a Herbal and Fruit Tea (15LE) and Banana Bread (30LE). Disappointing again was the fact that they simply used packets of Ahmad Tea packets which lost some of the authentic value a place bearing the word 'Teapot' in its name. The Banana bread, on the other hand was quite tasty. Although a little too dough-y, it was perfectly sticky with pieces of fresh banana; a greatly enjoyable treat on a sunny afternoon, maybe after a long walk. The garden area outside is welcome to dog owners looking for a refreshment after a day out with their pets, a major convenience for many Maadi residents, most of whom are pet owners.

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Maestro Patisserie: French-Style Delicacies & Baked Goods at Americana Plaza
Published On: 07/05/2014

If there's one thing the usually divided city can agree on, it's the love for freshly baked pastries. Across Cairo's cafes and bakeries, quality and consistency are rare, though.  Located in Americana Plaza, Maestro, offers the city Cairenes quality, French-style delicacies suitable for all occasions. With no seating are, delivery or take-away are your only options. The eatery is stocked with a variety of freshly baked breads, croissants, cakes, tarts, mini-cookies and chocolates, as well as a mixture of mini-sandwiches and oriental sweets. Displayed in a glass-door fridge was an extensive variety of delicious-looking large cakes including a smooth chocolate caramel dome cake, an apple caramel tart-cake with a dash of groundnuts on the top, a raspberry tart-cake fully coated with fresh raspberries and luscious raspberry jam, creamy carrot cake decorated with nuts on the edges, a rich caramelized Croquant cake, as well as the Fraisier & Chocolate cake, split in half with dark chocolate on one side, and juicy looking strawberries coated with strawberry jam on the other side.    Another glass-door fridge is dedicated to multiple-flavoured ice creams at 10LE a scoop, as well as delightful large ice-cream cakes including creamy yoghurt and blueberry ice cream cake (140LE) and a chocolate mint ice cream cake (120LE). With so many mouth-watering French desserts on display, a friendly member of the staff recommended a few to try out; a chocolate mousse cup (11LE), with fudge-like chocolate surface and a soft spongy centre. While the chocolate itself was rich in taste the whole dessert was rather heavy. Also available were Éclairs (9LE) in rich vanilla, chocolate, caramel and mocha flavours. We found mini-sandwiches freshly baked out of the oven, so we couldn't help ourselves. A medium sized box (150LE) includes tuna paste, petite sliced grilled chicken with a hint of mustard, roast beef, turkey rolls with a buttery dressing as well as combination of mixed cheeses. While the sandwiches were not creative and could be found at most similar shops, the bread was fresh, soft and hot. Maestro's vast dessert creations definitely get the appetite confused. While the baked goods are just a little above average, their French delicacies will definitely serve any sweet tooth well.  

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Eid 2014 in Cairo: Enjoying the Holiday at the Top Cairo Hotels

As half of Cairo embarks on trips to the North Coast, the Red Sea and other seaside destinations for the long Eid holiday, there will, inevitably, be a few stranded souls left in the capital, growing more and more bitter at the lack of sun, sea and sand in their lives right now. But to that we say t