Cairo Restaurants

Cortigiano: Wholesome Family Diner in Maadi
Published On: 22/11/2014

There's something about these quintessential family restaurants in Cairo. It might be the wholesome meals or a sense of nostalgia from hundreds of Fridays spent eating together. Cortigiano is one of those. It's come a long way since we visited their original branch in Dokki, so we decided to stop by one of the other branches in Maadi. Located on the quiet Road 7, Cortigiano takes up a cozy spot that you can identify from the red brick and plant pots exterior. Inside, the décor is different shades of brown and beige, with all the seating options looking quite comfortable. A friendly waiter showed us to our table, handed us our menus and retreated for a bottle of water. We opted for the surprisingly pricey Shrimp Cocktail (76.95LE) from the appetisers and a Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad (36.95LE). For our mains, the Beef Tenderloin with Black Pepper (93.50LE) caught our eyes, as did the Pollo Alla Griglia (61.95LE) Serving time isn't as fast as you'd hope, unfortunately. It's not that the service wasn bad - it just slow. When the Shrimp Cocktail arrived, we were quite disappointed; rubbery shrimp, that tasted quite bland, with a slightly metallic-tasting cocktail sauce. The salad came next, featuring the regular iceberg lettuce, grilled chicken strips, and Caesar dressing. The dressing was thin, diluted and ultimately quite weak in taste, and there were minimal croutons. The Beef Tenderloin was a pleasant surprise, but we're unsure if that's because the starters set the bar so low. Served with the traditional two sides of sautéed vegetables and fluffy white rice, the Beef Tenderloin, albeit not being the greatest quality meat, was cooked to the requested medium, and the sauce pleasingly subtle. The Pollo Alla Griglia is a barbecued chicken breast marinated with lemon, herbs, oil, garlic and thyme, and served with two sides. While again, the chicken wasn't incredible - the marination didn't leave the kind of mark that the potency of its ingredients would have you believe - it was cooked nicely and the dish was extremely filling. Practically all the items on the menu were huge in portion, but the prices aren't as affordable as they used to be. In fact, they've almost doubled since our 2010 review. But while some of the food is hit and miss, the pleasant atmosphere and all around comfortable feeling you have at Cortigiano seems to keep people coming back.

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Lujo's Fresh Junk: Fresh Gourmet Fast-Food in Zamalek
Published On: 19/11/2014

Every now and then, you're body demands the strangest of cravings. It wants fast food, it wants new fast food that's different to all the fast food that you've been having, and it wants it right now. This sensation may hit you at home or at the office, but what's certain is all the effort you're willing to exert is eating the food. Enter Lujo's Fresh Junk; a joint in Zamalek that pulls together all the kinds of fast food onto one menu, and presenting them in a new way. The restaurant is rather small; the indoor area consists only of a counter over which you place your order. There are a few bar stools, but we don't recommend occupying them since you'd be sitting face to face with the cashier - awkward. The outside area has a simple wooden table with two chairs. We don't recommend sitting here either as you'll be sharing your food with the cats over the ambiance of the next door workshop's loud music. After a quick glance through the menu we opted for the Wasabi Shrimp Tempura Wrap (38LE) and a Mushroom Truffle Pizza (44LE). Additionally, we opted for Zucchini Fries (10LE) with Mayo Pesto Dip (6LE). Our food was served, not so shortly after, on wooden slabs that resemble chopping boards, while the Zucchini Fries were served in a small metal bucket. The Wasabi Shrimp Tempura wrap consisted of fried shrimp tempura topped with pickled sesame cucumbers, shallots and Wasabi tartar sauce on a bed of mixed greens. The wasabi was unfortunately missing from the mix, but that was the only let down in an otherwise great sandwich. The flavours were in perfect harmony and the shrimp remained crispy despite the toppings. Similarly, the Mushroom Truffle pizza was delicious. The truffle oil and fresh mushrooms worked well with the arugula and balsamic vinegar. The pizza had a nice, thin consistency and a good ratio of toppings. We did, however, find the mushrooms a little scarce. The Zucchini Fries had a nice crispy golden layer coating i, and a good consistency all around, which isn't easy since zucchini cooks very fast. We felt like we ordered the wrong dip however, since Pesto Mayo was a little too heavy. Finally, we opted for a Peanut Butter Cookie (9LE), which, unfortunately, let down what was an otherwise enjoyable meal; it was mall, too moist and barely tastes like peanut butter at all. Lujo's is perfect for takeaway and ordering from home, especially when with a group. While the prices are higher than your average fast food, the gourmet touches elevate the menu.

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Mikado: Express Sushi in Maadi
Published On: 16/11/2014

There's an Italian restaurant in Maadi that we've been fans of for quite some time. In our last review,  Il Mulino boasted a breezy, comfortable outdoor area, combined with authentic Italian dishes that valiantly tries to stay clear of localisation. So when we heard it opened up an express sushi centre by the name of Mikado on its premises, frankly, we were a little alarmed. The concept of Mikado is very much an easy and unfussy express approach to sushi; you needn't bother with a menu or even be that aware of the many different types of the Japanese delicacy. Mikado make ready packaged boxes of 10, 20, and 40 pieces at affordable prices. You can specify if you want them roll based or Nigiri, but you don't have much control besides that. Curious to see what the selection would be like, as well as just how affordable they are, we opted for an All Rolls 40 Piece (169LE) platter; the 10 piece goes for 59LE and the 20 pieces for 99LE. The large plastic wrapped platter comes with two soy sauce and two teriyaki sauce dips, as well as the traditional ginger and wasabi. As for the rolls themselves, there were 12 rolls of crab, salmon and shrimp Hosomaki collectively, as well as 28 of their special Uramaki rolls broken down into four Philly Rolls, four Mikado Rolls, four Caterpillar Rolls, four Rainbow Rolls, four California Rolls, four Tamago Rolls and four Green Rolls. The special Uramaki rolls featured some of the more creative options like the Tamago - a Japaense omelette roll - and the Mikado Roll featuring salmon, mushrooms, cream cheese and green caviar. Unfortunately, while the sushi was certainly cheaper than practically any other restaurant in Cairo, the quality is somewhat reflected by that. Everything tasted a little stale, and nothing is particularly bursting with flavour - except for possibly the teriyaki sauce. Sushi, as mentioned before, is a delicacy and the express approach employed by Mikado somewhat diminishes and corrupts the very core of what is an already problematic and difficult food in Cairo. All in all, there are much better, if more expensive, sushi option around the capital and it isn't the kind of food too skimp on when it comes to cost. Unless you happen to trip and fall into Mikado, Il Mulino's very decent Italian food is a much better and safer option.

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Zooba: Adding Colour & Character to Citystars
Published On: 13/11/2014

Despite the increasing number of foreign cuisines that can be found across the Cairo dining scene, there's just something about the variety of strong, quite eccentric , flavours of Egyptian food that trumps all. Sometimes, all one wants is to please one's taste buds with some classics and Zooba is the perfect place for serving up exactly what we have been craving. The third branch of the popular chain is located in the Mosaic food court in City Stars and is easy to spot from a distance, with its big, colourful, bright sign and overall unique appearance. Designed much like a contemporary street food eatery, the restaurant has no doors or walls separating it from the walkway. Adequately-sized, with quite a few tables to offer, worrying about not finding a seat there is rather unnecessary. We took our seats and immediately made our way to the refreshments fridge to quench our thirst, opting for a bottle of Lemon Mint juice (13LE), which was quite zesty and refreshing. With a chalk board having all the dishes offered scribbled on it hanging over the kitchen and an open fridge showcasing a handful of dips, salads, desserts and drinks, the place feels quite homey and cosy like its other branches, despite its mall location. A stand holding multi-coloured loaves of Baladi Bread definitely caught our eye and added an exquisite touch to the already interesting place. We made our way back to our table and our waiter immediately came by to take our order. For those that may not be familiar with Zooba, the menu offers all the Egyptian street food items you can think of; from Foul and Taamia to Koshari (and its healthy alternative) to Hawashi, sausages and liver options. From the array of dips, we opted for Beetroot Besara (21LLE), alongside small portions of Wholegrain Koshari  (15.50LE) and Classic Koshari (13LE), Hawashi (18 LE) and a small plate of Spiced Sausages (21LE). Our food literally took just a few minutes to arrive, much to our delight, and we began to dig in. The Beetroot Besara came in a moderately sized container, accompanied by a Baladi breadbasket and tasted quite delicious and dense. The Classic Koshari left us quite disappointed as it was, at best, average-tasting and lacked any oomph. Made with brown pasta and rice, the Wholegrain Koshari, was surprisingly delicious.  The Hawashi was the biggest let down of all the dishes; it was oily and small in size, unlike the the Spiced Sausages which came in an adequate portion and were bursting with flavour. Zooba has become a staple for those that don't dare to delve into the more traditional purveyors of Egyptian street food, offering quick bites in a lovely setting. The whole feel of the place, with its funky design and choice of background music (we heard a few songs by indie Arab bands), helped set the mood and the dishes, with a few exceptions, tasted as delightful as they sounded. 

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Chili's:Stellar Service at All-Time American Eatery at Cairo Festival City
Published On: 12/11/2014

Sometimes, when shops expand, attain numerous branches and become household names, they end up forgoing a few of their standards and their service levels take a deep plunge. With this one, however, we found the opposite to be in fact the case, with the service being better than ever. Located around the fountain area in Cairo Festival City Mall, Chili's offers both adequate outdoor and indoor seating. With the rather chilly weather (ha!), we opted for indoor seating, and our waiter immediately guided us to an impeccably set table in the non-smoking section, as requested. Carrying the traditional jazzed up American diner trademark look,nothing in this branch of Chili's particularly stands  out as different. From the sinful Texas Cheese Fries (52.99 LE) to the Boneless Buffalo Wings (59.99 LE), the appetisers sounded as good as always. The restaurant also offers a few soup and salad options, like the Quesadilla Explosion (55.99 LE), that are anything but bland-sounding. Moving on to the even more dense main course options, we were not disappointed; from sandwiches to steaks to burgers to pastas to chicken dishes, the Americanized Tex-Mex options were endless. Our Tostada Chips (36.99 LE) were crisp, hot, and fresh and laying before our eyes just 5 minutes after we had ordered them.  Needless to say, we demolished them in a few minutes and our waiter, being as efficient as they come, immediately refilled them for us without having been asked to with a fresh batch. Our main courses arrived just a few minutes later and Chili's continued to impress us with how tasty and neat everything was. The Classic Bacon Burger (59.99 LE) was everything a good burger needs to be; the buns tasted fresh and fluffy, the patty was well seasoned and bursting with flavour and the toppings added the right finishing touches to an already perfect burger.  The French fries are also worthy of a mention as they were not at all greasy or over or under salted. Imagine a sizzling mountain of well-marinated chicken strips drenched in Jack cheese and topped with mushrooms and bacon bits and you'll have The Mushroom Jack fajita (79.99 LE), which we totally devoured to the last bite. The overall amazing service did not end here, but persisted throughout our whole visit with the manager stopping by to make sure all's well and our check arriving two minutes after we asked for it. All in all, Chili's truly surprised us with the level of quality it has managed to retain throughout the years. Our food arrived on time and was delicious and our waiter was as swift as can be; what more can we ask for?

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Anas Al Demashky: Syrian Comfort Food in Nasr City
Published On: 11/11/2014

Every now and then, certain food cravings must be met. For some its burgers, for others its sushi; personally, this reviewr needs a fix of good old Syrian food every once in a while. While there has been no shortage of Syrian restaurants popping up on our food radar, one in particular has been a personal favourite. Opening up just before 2011, Anas El Demashky has held its spot on El Nasr Road in Nasr City through four of the toughest years Egypt has faced. With a modestly sized venue, and the typical open kitchen and shawerma stands at the entrance, the seating arrangement is as basic as it gets, which is a reflection on the food itself. Think comfort food - you don't really need much from this kind of venue besides delicious food. The menu features all items you would expect from a Syrian restaurant, starting off with the mezzas and salads through to the manakeesh, pastries, Shawerma and even broast faroug. They also offer mini baalbakiyat or mini pastries for catering purposes or special events. We opted for our favourites, Labnah with Olive Oil (13LE) and Vine Leaves (8LE) from the appetisers, and a Beef Shawerma Fatta (36LE) and Anous (38LE) for our mains. The freshly made Labnah is whipped up into a plate and drizzled with olive oil, served with a basket of warm bread and a side of pickles. The Vine Leaves had a zing to them in the traditional Syrian manner. Both appetizers do exactly the job of keeping you eager for more food. A short while later, two generous portions of fatta were served. The Beef Shawerma fatta features basmati rice is topped with fries, tomeya, pickles, fried bread and a quarter kilo of shawerma. The chicken had that crisp layer that gave it extra flavour and the whole ensemble was very tasty. Anous, is exactly what embodies comfort food. Shish tawook, a crispy chicken breast, chicken shawerma, and kobeba, all on basmati rice, fries, tomeya, fried bread and pickles. The food is extremely filling, delicious and accurately priced. The greatest thing about this kind of restaurant is the simple relationship between it and its customer. They know you don't expect fancy décor or waiters explaining the specials, you expect filling, satisfying food and that's all they serve.

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Jacket Potato: Baked Potato Goodies Now in Maadi
Published On: 09/11/2014

Across Cairo restaurants, there are certain and foods that are served in almost all international cuisine menus, sometimes as a side and sometimes as a dish of its own. But no matter how expensive it is or where you choose to try it, it always seems half-baked (ha!) and just not given enough attention. A prime example of this are baked potatoes. Sure, you can sprinkle some salt and pepper and add some butter, but there's more to this seemingly simple thing than people seem to realise here. While the only other restaurant that puts this much focus into the dish is Simply Potatoes, now the residents of Maadi can rejoice at the fact that there's another option on their very own Road 9. Jacket Potato – as the Brits call it – opened up for business just last month, boasting a rather stylish-looking, moderately-sized restaurant with both an outdoor and indoor area. An open kitchen reveals a salad and topping bar with all the extras where you can have one of the staff prepare one of the items off the set menu, or build your own. We were greeted warmly at the door and shown to an empty table, but we opted to head straight to the topping bar and figure out what to order. The menu offers various chicken, meat and vegetarian options, as well as salads and sweet potato desserts. We opted for a classic Cheesy Minced Beef (37LE) and a Chicken Paprikash (39LE). Serving time is very short as they have a constants stream of potatoes coming out of the oven ready for toppings. The potatoes are served in perfectly-sized green boxes that contain the mess and could even be used as an on-the-go plate. The Cheesy Minced Beef was every bit as deliciously decedent as it sounds, pulling together a generous amount of minced beef with Worcestershire Sauce, minted yoghurt and plenty of grated cheddar cheese. The bottom of the potato had just the right amount of char to create some crunch and the dish was very filling. The Chicken Paprikash was also a hit, featuring chicken breast marinated in paprika spices, sour cream, mushrooms and, again, a generous amount of cheddar cheese. We decided to try one of the dessert options as well, and so we opted for a Sweet Potato with Cream and Honey (19LE). The potentially sickly sweetness of the honey was dulled down slightly by the cream, creating a very simple tasty combination. While the prices of upwards of 30LE for baked potatoes may seem much, but trust in Jacket Potato; it's worth it for a quick, tasty, simple meal.

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Mori Sushi & Grill: Premium Sushi Restaurant Still Retains its Quality in Mohandiseen
Published On: 07/11/2014

Long gone are the days when Sushi was a rare delicacy found in only a limited number of exclusive spots around Cairo restaurants. Now, it has become ridiculously commercial with sushi places popping up everywhere - some even named almost identically. With its increased availability and abundance of all-you-can-eat promotions, sushi restaurants have inevitably decreased in quality. One of the first brands to launch the sushi concept in Egypt was Mori Sushi, and with a bit of caution, we revisited the Mohandessin branch in hopes of finding it still retaining its prestige. The restaurant hasn't changed its décor, which is anything but worn out, and the black, grey and orange modern Asian theme is still pretty much pristine. The place is moderately sized and boasts a few tables, as well as an open kitchen in the back. We were immediately greeted by a friendly waiter who led us to our spotless table, that already had all the cutlery laid on it; quite a lovely and professional touch. Our menus were laid out instantaneously, and as always, they were well-organised and looked quite posh. The sushi menu is pretty much the same as it has always been; brimming with endless options of Nigiri, Ura Maki, Dynamite and Hot Tempura rolls as well as Sashimi options amongst many others. The grill menu, however, did feature a few new items including a couple of burgers, and some delicious-sounding chicken dishes such as the Brazilian Chicken Thighs (60LE). Our order was served in a surprising few minutes despite its intricacy. Our sushi platters looked picturesque as always and tasted absolutely fresh. Our absolute favourite rolls were the Pink Panther Roll (39LE/ 4 pieces), the Kiwi Rainbow Roll (39LE/4 pieces), and the Crispy Shrimp and Avocado Roll (40LE/4 pieces). The real surprise, however, was the grill section. The Rib Eye steak (95LE), drenched in Wild Mushrooms Sauce (9LE) was heavenly, and grilled to our requested medium-well. The Sizzled Chicken Breasts (60LE), which consisted of chicken chunks drenched in Soy Sauce and seasoned with various peppers, was also quite delectable despite being quite scarce in its size. Its side of vegetable rice was also bursting with flavour. Our waiter continued to be quite helpful, amicable and never out of sight. Our empty dishes were not left lingering on our table, but were removed in a flash. In a nutshell, Mori Sushi has successfully managed to avoid the pitfalls of most sushi restaurants nowadays. While the novelty of sushi has long worn off, Mori has been able to maintain a level of quality and service unlike any other restaurant. While the rolls were expensive, they were equally delicious, and the grill section exceeded every expectation we had.

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Fuddruckers: Decent Food, Slack Service at American Diner Chain in Maadi
Published On: 06/11/2014

Among the family-favourite Cairo dining is Fuddruckers, the 'All-American diner'. Come to think of it, most of the family weekend lunch restaurants are American diners. Regardless of how or why that particular cuisine became their most favourite, these diners are known for some top notch burgers and tex-mex appetizers. We dropped by the Maadi branch of Fuddruckers to check in on the food, and more importantly, the service-current popular opinion of Fuddruckers is very harsh on the service, so we figured we would give them a chance to redeem themselves. The restaurant wasn't as crowded as it usually is on the weekends, allowing you to see more of the typical diner decorations with yellow walls and blue outlines mimicking the restaurant's colour scheme. Other props and memorabilia are hung on the walls in typical diner fashion. We were greeted by a waiter who led us to our table and laid out our menus. We proceeded to pick out some of our favourite dishes including Appetizer Platter (62LE), a Fillet Steak (139LE) and, of course, a 2/3 Lb The Works (62LE)-we were heartbroken to find out the one pounder burger has been discontinued. Tex-mex appetizers take no time to prepare, so we got very impatient when serving us took upwards of thirty minutes and more so when it was all served together after forty five minutes. Not a good start, but let's examine the food. The Appetizer Platter consists of chilli cheese fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, buffalo chicken wings and quesadillas. Our favourites were definitely the fries which were both tasty and plentiful, and the Buffalo wings which were perfectly messy and spicy. The mozzarella and onion rings were nothing special, and quesadillas were falling apart. For all those concerned about the burgers, we're happy to tell you they're doing quite well. The bread is fresh, the patties juicy and the toppings plentiful and tasty. Rock solid burger, plus the wedges are pretty awesome too. The steak, on the other hand, didn't fare so well. So, 139LE for a 220g steak is quite a lot, so from the get-go it's under a lot of pressure. Add to that the fact that it was served well-done when we asked for medium-rare and you have yourself a large waste of money. The seasoning, the taste of the meat itself, basically anything that contributed to it being so expensive was lost from a few extra minutes of cooking. The staff apologized about the mistake, but the dish wasn't replaced. We see why Fuddruckers' service has been under such heat. It's no good. Taking way too long to serve food, not compensating for their own mistakes, and charging far too much for otherwise charred meat. While the burgers are still good, we can't imagine how bad the service gets on the crowded weekends.

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La Pietra: Italian Dining with a View at the Platform
Published On: 05/11/2014

In the few and far moments when Cairo's weather is both sunny and breezy, there's nothing better than dining outside. One of most popular spots to do exactly that in also happens to have an excellent Nile view; Maadi's the Platform. Having worked our way through almost all of the cafes and restaurants there, La Pietra was beckoning. While enjoying good weather and a great view is a plus that all the Platform venues enjoy, it also brings a lot of traffic and, more often than not, the Platform is packed. Service time is generally slow and you may end up changing which restaurant you're going to eat at rather than wait for a table to clear up. The outdoor decor in the Platform is almost universal across the venues. At La Pietra, simple yet elegant dark cushioned chairs and glass-top tables suit the general ambiance of the Platform quite well. We browsed through the menu and opted for the Mushroom Soup (22LE), Chicken with Honey and Mustard (56LE) and Beef Escalope (75LE) - all of which we were really made to wait for. It took thirty minutes to serve the soup and it arrived cold - cold enough, in fact, to send back. In fairness, however, once re-heated, the soup was actually better than most efforts across Cairo's restaurants, being extremely dense in ground mushrooms rather than just cream. About fifteen minutes later, our main courses were served. The Chicken with Honey and Mustard is a dish we've previously tried before, and thankfully, they didn't shatter our good memory of it. The dish was hot, the chicken was tender and the sauce was brilliant and deep in flavour. The fluffy side of rice was particular tasty with the sauce and the smooth mashed potatoes with sharp spring onions completed the ensemble. The Beef Escalope, served with a creamy mushroom sauce and sides of pasta with tomato sauce and French fries, was equally as successful and this reviewer would have no qualms in recommending it to anyone. The generous strip of beef was well marinated, cooked right and coated with a crunchy breading. Dipping it in the rich sauce was the cherry on top. The side of farfalle pasta with red sauce was without fault but unspectacular, almost forgettable and futile, and the French fries were pleasingly crispy. Cold soup and slow service aside, La Pietra's food is as good as any other's at the Platform and manages to do something that few restaurants around Cairo do - keep things simple.

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Cairo Weekend Guide: Student DJ Battle, Panorama of the European Film & Brunches Everywhere!

Hello Cairo! The nights are getting longer and the weather colder, but we have plenty of parties, brunches, art galleries and cultural events to keep you warmed up! The Panorama of the European Film is set to close on Saturday, but there's still plenty to see at Cinema Galaxy and Zawya; for details