Cairo Restaurants Guide - Restaurants reviews in Egypt

Cairo Restaurants

Joe's Diner: American Diner in Heliopolis Looks the Part, But Falls Down on Food
Published On: 28/04/2016

It's never been easier to keep up-to-date with what's happening in food scenes around the world and one concept that seems to be becoming popular again is the concept of a traditional American diner. Diners offer a great variety of American comfort food in a casual ambiance with a cheerful interior – something that we found with Joe's Diner in Heliopolis. Despite the gloomy black painted walls, purple lighting and mainstream industrial-style ceiling, Joe's Diner captured everything we imagined a diner to be; from the black and white chess-like flooring and the cheerful red and white furniture, to the cartoony neon signs and retro posters. The ambiance was just remarkable – all that was missing was a jukebox. We started our meal with Joe's Sloppy Cheese Fries (39LE) as an appetiser, and as our main we opted for Louisiana Fried Chicken Plate (69LE) and Joe's Special Burger (59LE). Starting with Joe's Sloppy Cheese Fries, the fries themselves were perfectly cooked, but sadly the scant amount of cheese and flavourful sauce and chilli was disappointing, while the bacon needed to be crispier. In addition, scallions were used instead of chives, but they added great pop to the flavour regardless. Overall, the fries stayed crispy because the appetiser was far from sloppy. Moving to the mains, the Louisiana Fried Chicken was the star of the meal; two pieces of tender-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside fried chicken with a mouth-watering crunch, topped with simple gravy made of cream and peppercorn. The dish is served with smooth mashed potato topped with the same gravy as the chicken and Mexican rice which was bursting with flavours, but a bit watery. We were keener, however, to try the burgers at Joe's Diner – because what's a diner without outstanding burger? The Joe's Special Burger came in the form of a juicy patty cooked perfectly to the requested medium-well and topped with processed cheddar cheese, soft bacon, and crispy onion rings. Aside from the fact that the cheese hadn't melted at all, burger patty was ruined by the noticeably un-fresh bun and the carelessly thrown-together toppings, as well as the fact that the fresh mushroom and the BBQ sauce promised in the menu that didn't make it to the sandwich. The burger is served with coleslaw mixed with apple cider vinegar that added a unique flavour, and French fries which confused us because it was cold and soft unlike the fries in the appetiser. We finished our meal in true diner style, with Vanilla Milkshake (25LE), Strawberry Milkshake (25LE) and Chocolate Chip Pie (39LE). The vanilla milkshake had a perfect consistency and a spot-on amount of sugar, while the strawberry milkshake tasted closer to artificially flavoured ice cream. As for the chocolate chip pie, it was basically a cookie stuffed with chocolate and topped with ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Flavour-wise, it had an overwhelming taste of flour and the stuffed chocolate was mild in flavour - but the ice cream was good. All in all, Joe's Diner looks the part, but in focusing on the look of the restaurant, our visit suggests that it has come at the expense of the food. 

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The Tap East: The Closest Thing in Cairo to a Proper Gastropub
Published On: 26/04/2016

Ever since its opening in Maadi, the Tap has been close to a phenomenon in Cairo, setting new standards for nightlife as a watering hole that serves great bar food and one that has also emerged as a great live music venue. In capitalizing on the Tap's popularity, founder, Galal El Kerdani, revealed in March that the Tap East would be putting more of the focus onto the food, with a brand new, expanded menu – something we were eager to try. Located in New Cairo's Mohamed Naguib Street, inside Stella di Mare Compound, the Tap East is a large, colourful cosmopolitan venue with red brick walls, a large island-bar in the centre and a stage on one corner, with high tables, arcade games and a fantastic retro mural of the iconic Audrey Hepburn and rock star Jim Morrison adding the kinds of casual, playful touches that have become a trademark of the Tap. One of the most talked about features of the Tap East, however, is the outdoor area, which is as close to a traditional beer garden as you'll find in Cairo, boasting something close to a lively, schoolyard atmosphere, with wooden benches, dim lit red parasols and its own bar. Unlike the Tap in Maadi, whose most popular dishes include bar-friendly eats such burgers, nachos and the all important wings, the Tap East's menu is closer to that of a full-out restaurant, but still closer to gastropub food than that of fine-dining. We kicked things off with Fried Cheese Balls (54LE) as a starter to our meal, while opting for Provolone Chicken (84LE and Filet Black Angus (145 LE) as our main dishes. Served in a small rectangular plate, our starter came as five small balls of hot, melted, gooey cheese, with a lovely crunchy breaded exterior, all perfectly complimented by the accompanying sweet chilli sauce. Meanwhile, the provolone chicken dish was a little different from the traditional version, with the chicken being deep fried. The dish came in the form of two chicken breasts topped with mushrooms, provolone cheese, and served on a wooden cutting board with mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables. The chicken was fried to perfection and well-seasoned, while the provolone cheese had a mildly sharp taste which complimented the chicken rather than overpower it. The mashed potatoes side had a melt-in-your-mouth texture, though the sautéed vegetables were pretty insignificant as they were hidden under the chicken and were more like a garnish rather than an actual side dish. Cooked medium well and served on the same signature cutting board as the chicken dish with the same sides, the 200 gm black angus steak had beautiful black grill marks and was perfectly juicy, delicious and boasted a deep smokey taste. It was a delicious piece of meat which was even greater with the accompanying brown mushroom sauce. Our last stop before we went on our way was to try one of the Tap East's signature burgers – a decision made when we were told that desserts weren't available during the time of our visit. Served with perfectly seasoned and crunchy French fries and some chips, The Western Burger (68LE) came in brioche bread and was topped with beef bacon, lettuce, onions, melted cheese and BBQ sauce.Though the burger was fairly juicy and had all the right ingredients to be a great burger, the patty itself was closer to kofta, suggesting that there wasn't as much fat as there should have been in the meat and that the patty itself was a little too compressed, not allowing what fat there was to trickle in and around it. Despite the disappointment of the burger, the Tap East is by far the best venue of its kind in New Cairo; it takes the best features of the original branch of the Tap – live entertainment most nights, a great atmosphere as both a bar and a casual dining restaurant – and adds an elevated menu to the mix. 

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U Bistro & Bar: High-End Dining at its Finest in Zamalek
Published On: 23/04/2016

When the great Zamalek institution that is, La Bodega, closed down last year, speculation quickly followed as to what was to become of the fantastic space. Though it took some a while, U Bistro & Bar stepped forward with the promise of a unique dining experience – a promise that was more than satisfied at the time of our visit. Those that were familiar with La Bodega might be taken aback by how different the space really looks and the obvious amount of effort exerted in forming a unique aesthetic. That's not to say that it's gaudy; in fact, all and any elegance at U Bistro & Bar is subtle and seems lived-in, with blacks and browns defining the chic, sleek appearance, while pieces of artwork and a huge classical mural at one end of the restaurant adding more flamboyant touches. After plenty of indecision – the menu boasts some truly inspired-sounding dishes – we kicked off what transpired to be a top-notch meal with a Smoked Salmon Caesar Salad (80LE) which was a perfectly crisp, cool and light starter on a warm evening. Everything was noticeably fresh, with the lettuce boasting a distinct but subtle sweetness that played as a perfect base for the other ingredients, especially the generous and quality smoked salmon. There are several interesting starters, including a scallop dish served with shrimp, leeks and cream cognac sauce (190LE) and foie fras with a port wine jelly (190LE). We went for a classic of northern Italian cuisine, Vitello Tonato (95LE) – a cold Piedmontese dish that brings together thin slices of roasted veal with tuna sauce as well as olives, sun-dried tomatoes, capers and pine nuts, all topped with fresh arugula. Tuna sauce is usually made by simmering fresh or canned tuna until cooked, in white wine, cider vinegar, white onion and garlic, before being pureed with olive oil, vegetable oil and egg yolks into a mayonnaise-like consistency. Unfortunately, this tuna sauce was a little more watery than it should have been and lacked the complexity of a combination that brings together many strong, complimentary flavours. However, the veal was of a noticeably good quality and the portion served was very generous. When it comes to mains, again, there are plenty of inspired-sounding dishes, but in testing the kitchen's execution with dishes a little closer to home, we tried the slow-cooked, Moroccan-spiced lamb shank (195LE) which was nothing short of outstanding. Served with incredibly light and fluffy couscous, the lamb was also generous in portion and was cooked to a perfect tenderness. The seasonal vegetables were a nice, safe side but little in number, while the roasted almonds added a little textural touch and a flavourful one, too. We also tried the Rossini beef fillet (275LE), which, in keeping with all other dishes, was surprisingly large in portion. We're not complaining – it's just that high-end dining largely follows the less is more approach. Not U Bistro, though; the beef fillet is huge, and is presented folded up – it's not as peculiar as it sounds – with a small cutlet of foie gras, which was perhaps a little undercooked, as not all of its fat had cooked down. Alongside delicious sliced truffles and small globules of port wine sauce, though, it added a decadent, sweet touch to the dish. The quality fillet, meanwhile, was cooked to a perfect medium as requested and the side of potato gratin served with the dish was deliciously creamy; overall, it brought a huge range of different flavours together effortlessly. As the evening progressed, and more guests arrived, an easy bustle developed around the restaurant, to the backdrop of music that wavered between folksy-inspired lounge music, to higher tempo electronic music that crawled a little too close to a club ambiance at times as dessert beckoned. We ended with a dessert that put a small twist on a French classic. U Bistro's Crème Brûlée (60LE) doesn't feature the traditional rich custard, but a more light, soft cream sitting on a bed of crumbled Italian biscuit. It's a much lighter take on the traditional version and the addition of the biscuits keeps things interesting with what can otherwise be a one-note eat. One thing that U Bistro keeps the same, however, is the hard layer of caramel which is every bit as satisfying in its crackle as you'd want it to be. In addition to the fantastic food, another thing that left a big impression was the level of service. The staff was incredibly and unobtrusively attentive, while the kitchen was impressively prompt, and cocktails and alcoholic options are aplenty. With that in mind, consistency is the key for U Bistro's long term success – it ticks all of the boxes for contemporary high-end dining, but we don't think we're the only ones that wish that it was a just tad more inexpensive.

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20 Cairo Restaurants that Prove that Brunch is the Best Meal of the Day
Published On: 20/04/2016

"Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week." Thus argued British author, Guy Beranger, back in 1895. We don't know when or how this ingenious combination of breakfast and lunch seeped into Cairo's restaurant scene, but what we do know is that the capital's restaurants and cafes have adopted the meal spectacularly, with many restaurants introducing brunch items or crafting brunch menus. We did the digging for you and, without further ado, we give you not 10, but 20 restaurants that serve great brunch in Cairo. Zamalek Left Bank Noise and the occasional loud out-of-place music aside, the vibrant cosmopolitan glass-house on the Nile that is Left Bank has great choices for brunch, from sandwiches and wraps like Chicken Pesto, Smoked Salmon (around 60LE each), Thin Crust Pizzas (up to 70LE) and some delicious lighter options, including Spinach Orange Salad and Caprese Salad (from 50LE). Tip: Try Left Bank Almond Croissant or Chocolate Brioche. La Brioche Dorée La Brioche Dorée is one of the cozier restaurants and cafés in Zamalek which often goes overlooked. The French bistro, located right next to Hilton hotel, involves a great culinary variety perfect for a midday brunch – Savoury Quiches (from 20LE), Turkey, Roast Beef, Chicken and Salmon sandwiches (50LE-70LE), fresh salads like Quinoa and Mediterranean (50LE), in addition to dishes like Saumon Grillé (115LE) and Boeuf Stroganoff (100LE) for a more substantial brunch. Tip: Try La Brioche Dorée's freshly baked goods; Pain au Chocolate, Mille Feuilles au Chocolat or their Tartellette au Chocolat -basically just anything with chocolate. The Lobby One of the newer restaurants on this list, the Lobby, is already impressing with its cosy atmosphere and unique menu, which also makes a great choice for brunch. While brunching, opt for a Fresh Shrimp Salad (75LE), Pulled Duck Sandwich (75LE) or try their Salmon Burger (75LE) and if you feel like there's still room for dessert, the Lobby's dessert menu, offered by the Better Half & Co., will seal the deal. Tip: The Lobby has two menus, a regular and a monthly one that rotates. Downtown Eish & Malh Boasting Italian food with fresh and daily specials at affordable prices, popular Downtown diner, Eish & Malh, is one of our favourite when it comes to simple Italian meals. Eish & Malh's menu includes typical Italian dishes perfect for a filling brunch – Fungi pizza (35LE), Chicken Rucola Salad (28LE), homemade Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli (37LE), not to mention, a special Friday brunch menu that includes delicious dishes including pancakes with lemon curd, granola with fruits, and traditional shakshouka. Tip: Always ask about the daily specials. They're served fresh and rarely disappoint. Institut Français D'Égypte Cafe Aside of being a hub of arts and culture, Institut Français D'Égypte houses an outdoor bistro which offers decent sandwiches, omelets and crepes for a simple French brunch. It's a great choice for a reasonably-priced meal in Downtown area at any time of the day. Tip: Savoury and sweet crepes are a must try. Night & Day Located inside Intercontinental InterContinental Semiramis in Garden City, Night & Day boasts the finest international cuisine in its all-inclusive Big Friday Brunch (290LE per person). There's an Asian corner covering everything from sushi to chicken curry, Latin flavours in the form of like fajita wraps and guacamole dips, a special station for grills and a luscious dessert corner covering fresh fruits and delicious bakes – and more. Night and Day is where you can brunch like a king at the heart of the city on a weekend. Tip: During weekdays, you can just aim for some simple house-made Lasagna (80LE), a sautéd Duck Wrap (85LE) or a platter of fresh smoked salmon (105LE). 8 Dim Summing – a new verb for eating dim sum that we just made up – at brunch might not be for everyone. But if you're a fan of the popular Chinese delicacy and fancy an elegant dim sum brunch by the Nile, there's no better place to be than Four Seasons Nile Plaza's 8. The restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat dim sum buffet every Friday from 1PM to 4PM for 420LE++ covering a large variety of dumplings catering to all tastes. Tip: All-you-can-eat Dim Sum is offered only on Fridays and during holiday promotions. On weekdays, you can still enjoy some dim sum dumplings and other authentic Chinese dishes from 8's menu. 6th of October City/Sheikh Zayed Gaby's With a special selection of perfectly executed international dishes, Gaby's is a restaurant where you can have a perfectly filling and delicious brunch – two things that don;t always go hand-in-hand across Cairo restaurants. Think Eggs and Salmon Soufflé (55LE), Chicken Enchiladas (75LE) or Gaby's Signature Burger (65LE). Tip: Gaby's has a great breakfast menu. For 75LE, you can enjoy a hearty breakfast tray comprised of foul, eggs, grilled halloumi cheese, sojouk and fresh bread. Qahwa A gem for residents of Sheikh Zayed and New Cairo, Qahwa is where you should go for a great breakfast with an impressive selection of egg dishes with the Spinach and Mushroom Omelette (32LE) and Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs (40LE) being particularly popular. While the café doesn't have a brunch menu per se, you can still enjoy a simple brunch from Qahwa's Quesadilla corner (30LE- 45LE), a flavourful Cobb Salad (49LE), or you can make your own sandwich with your choice of bread, protein and filling (from 25LE). Tip: Qahwa has great coffee blends and different types of milk. You can customise your coffee to your taste. Ovio With a fantastic menu inspired by European cuisines, Ovio is one of the best restaurants and delis in Cairo and an obvious choice for a great brunch. Like the foods of Europe, Ovio's menu is huge and versatile. For brunch, try an Apple Chicken Salad (62LE), Artisan Salmon Toast (56LE) or a delicious Madame Ovio sandwich (66LE). Tip: Ask about Ovio's homegrown products. Shakespeare and Co. Though it may not be an obvious choice for brunch, Victorian-styled Shakespeare and Co has you covered with an all-day breakfast menu which includes English, American and Lebanese breakfasts, not to mention a great selection of savoury crepes (54LE -70LE), sandwiches and salads befitting a delightful midday brunch. Tip: Try something from Shakespeare and Co.'s great selection of refreshing herbal drinks. Tableya Located d right after the Hyper One entrance to Sheikh Zayed, Tableya is not your average brunch place, but with a simple, colourful, Nubian-inspired atmosphere and a menu that includes a great selection of traditional and affordable feteer (35LE-50LE), the seemingly primitive café promises an exceptional experience. Tip: Tableya tends to be overcrowded. Make sure you reserve before you go. For reservation call 01000544332. Maadi Brunch and Lunch Though located on Maadi's busy Street 9 and the fact that you actually have to visit the neighbouring Greco Café to use the bathroom, Brunch and Lunch is a great choice for brunch in the area – it's in the name after all. The café boasts a creative selection of brunch items including Spaghetti Pesto (45LE), Spinach salad (45LE) and Smoke Salmon Burger (62LE). Tip: Ask about the chef's special menu for brunch! Il Mulino As a bakery and café, Il Mulino is a Maadi favourite and another great choice for brunch, thanks to its delicious baked goods and large menu with plenty to choose from. For brunch, opt for Spinach and Mozzarella Quiche (29LE), a fresh panini sandwich (45LE-60LE) or one of Il Mulino's croissant sandwiches (39LE-45LE). Tip: Get there early for baked goods at the peak of their freshness and deliciousness. Lucille's Burgers, fried chicken, American-style pancakes and bacon; popular Maadi diner, Lucille's, has always been about comfort food. If you happen to be in Maadi and feel like a brunch greasier and more filling than a salad bowl or some ravioli, Lucille's juicy burgers (50LE-100LE) or a perfectly fried Chicken Strip Platter (89LE) might just do it for you. Tip: Lucille's has an all-day breakfast menu, too. Nasr City and New Cairo Casper and Gambini's A proverbial Jack of all trades and one of the few restaurants balancing variety and good quality, there's plenty to choose from at Casper and Gambini's for a delightful midday brunch. Think delicious platters of Prawns and Couscous (69LE), a hefty Crunchy Seafood Basket (42LE), Crusted Parmesan Eggplant (35LE) for a lighter choice or Casper and Gambini's signature Club Sandwich (65LE). Tip: Want to brunch at home? Casper & Gambini's delivery service is quick and efficient. El Khal Located inside Intercontinental Cairo CityStars hotel, El Khal is a newcomer to Cairo's Oriental food scene, promising Egyptian classics. Though the restaurant is still new, El Khal offers an exquisite brunch buffet every Saturday (200LE++) that brings together a large selection of Oriental fresh salads, hot tajines, a kebda and sujok station, and classic Egyptian grills station that includes kofta, hawawshi, ribs and tarb. Tip: El Khal's molokheya station with is a must, giving you a choice of chicken, rabbit or shrimp with it. Shogun Imagine beef, shrimp, lobster, chicken, and scallop chunks masterfully chopped, swirling in the air then served sizzling on your platter. If you're craving an authentic Japanese experience and an exquisite live Teppanyaki show, Shogun will give you just that. Hidden inside Intercontinental Cairo Citystars, Shogun is where you can enjoy a delicious brunch with authentic Japanese flavours from stir-fry salads (30L 85LE), Teppanyaki platters à la carte (195LE–300LE) or some of Shogun's signature sushi rolls including Shogun Maki (110LE), Tiger Eye Roll (95LE) or Kamikaze Roll (115LE). Tip: Shogun holds a brunch buffet for 210LE++ every Saturday from 1PM to 5PM with a large assortment of sushi, salads and a selection of Teppanyaki dishes. Tamara Lebanese Bistro When it comes to Lebanese, Tamara is one of our go-to favourites in Cairo and one of the best restaurants for a light Oriental brunch. Opt for a mishmash of appetiser platters comprised of fresh tabbouleh, fattoush or hummos salads (30LE-45LE), savoury safayeh, fatayer or manakish (30LE-40LE) alongside a delicious platter of makanek with pomegranate dip (50LE) or a mix mini shawerma dish (45LE). Tip: The rule of thumb for brunching in Tamara is to always go for the appetisers. The Smokery Boasting a breathtaking view of Katameya Heights' Golf Course, the Smokery is, without a doubt, one of the most sophisticated fine dining experiences in Egypt's capital, introducing the crème de la crème of French and European cuisine. With a newly crafted brunch menu boasting the Smokery's signature dishes – The Smokery Fiesta for two (130LE), Carpaccio de Boeuf (85LE) – along with classic brunch dishes – eggs Benedict and club sandwiches- the Smokery is exactly where you should be for a more refined brunch. Tip: Always keep an eye out for the Smokery's special holiday menus. Happy brunch, Cairo!

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Win! Brunch for Two at Conrad Cairo Hotels Family Friday Brunch at Solana!
Published On: 19/04/2016

As one of the top hotels in Egypt's capital, Conrad Cairo Hotel is also home to some of the best high-end restaurants in the city – restaurants which serve ups some of the best cuisines from around the world. Cairo 360 has, of course, dined at the likes of Oak Grill and Jayda several times over the last few years and we can tell you from experience that, when confronted with the hotel's dining options, indecision sets in pretty quickly – so much to choose from, so little stomach-space! With the hotel's new, recently-launched Friday Family Brunch at Solana, however, you don't have to choose – you see, this particular brunch is bringing the best of each of the hotel's restaurant under one proverbial roof and the folk at Conrad are giving one lucky Cairo 360 a dining treat like no other…. What? Win a lavish Friday brunch for two! Where? Taking place every Friday, Conrad sets-up its brunch at Solana, where food from the hotel's other restaurants will also be served. Why? Because with summer on the horizon, there's no better time to get up early on a Friday and dive headfirst into brunch. Also, because brunch is awesome. How do I get my hands on it? It's easy – just answer this simple question: With the brunch bringing different tastes together from restaurants Oak Grill, Solana and Jayda, which other Conrad restaurant will be serving its delicious South East Asian cuisine? (Pssst…here's a clue, but don't tell anyone we helped you out) Now what? Send your answers to freestuff@cairo360.com, with your full name, contact details and 'Upper Deck Competition' in the subject line. The competition ends at midnight on Tuesday 3rd of May 2016 so hurry up and send your answers in! Terms and Conditions apply.

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10 Great First Date Restaurants in Cairo
Published On: 18/04/2016

There are few words that insight as much fear, panic and a cringe than that of 'date'. Wanting to impress and the potential of friendzoning are just two of the many figurative snakes that can penetrate and slither in the mind, leaving you a nervous wreck ahead of that first, fateful date. Across Cairo, however, there a select few places that can ease the inevitable rampant insecurities and neuroses, providing a great mix of atmosphere, food and other notable date-worthy features – leaving you to sit back and look lovingly into the eyes of your companion as you lie through your teeth so that you can impress him or her. Antique Khana One of the more unlikely additions to the list comes in the form of cosy Zamalek bistro, Antique Khana. Don't expect a masterclass of dining – Antique Khana's appeal is owed to the sum of its parts. Said parts include its unique, nostalgic and casual atmosphere that makes it just as suitable for a cup of coffee rather than a full-out dinner date and the occasional live music to the backdrop of what is a casually rustic venue. Barbacoa For a less stuffy and formal date, look no further than the colourful Barbacoa. Maadi's Mexican Grill has been a revelation since it opened and one revamp on, it stands as one of the more entertaining dining experience you can find in Cairo. That's not to say that you should expect entertainment – but the food, the atmosphere and the occasionally DJ-manned downstairs area all give the place an intangible energy – maybe better for a second or third date when things have got a bit more comfortable. Beetroot Born out of the ashes of another popular Zamalek lounge-come-restaurant, many had dismissed Beetroot as nothing more than a repackaged Lemon Tree & Co. Contrary to that, Beetroot has come to take on a personality of its own, with markedly different features than the Lemon Tree. With excellent food and subtle, décor that doesn't intrude on the hushed atmosphere and a comfy Nile-side location, it's one of the better date options in Zamalek. Dos Cañas​ The first of two entries on this list to be located at Cairo Capital Club in Garden City, this taperia is effortless in its combination of high-end and casual, offering classic Latin tapas favourites, as well as little touches from other cuisines on what is a concise but varied menu. Functioning as a bar as much as a restaurant, Dos Cañas has a light, airy atmosphere that is made spectacular by its stunning view. Eish & Malh Every list-article has to have an unlikely underdog and this one comes in the form of Downtown's Eish & Malh. There are only a handful of places in Wust El Balad that one could realistically consider to be date-appropriate, but this Italian bistro is a reminder that quality often comes from simplicity. There's an easy, casual sophistication about Eish & Malh that's hard to find in Cairo and the restaurant's specials are phenomenal – there's live jazz on weekends, too. La Trattoria A classic in Zamalek, not much has changed over the years at La Trattoria – but then that's part of its charm. It's an almost no-frills kind-of restaurant that seems to have organically developed its own unique atmosphere – it feels like a restaurant with character, with history, all the while churning out some magnificent, often simple, dishes. Loft21 If your idea of a perfect date is lifted out of something from an episode of Sex & the City – sorry this writer is in his early thirties and doesn't have a more modern reference of a picture-perfect version of high-end New York nightlife – then Loft21 is as close as it gets. Sharing the same view as its Cairo Capital Club neighbor, Dos Canas, but with the added benefit of all-glass walls and a much bigger space, Loft21 is sleek, chic and the food will make you shriek – with joy, that is. In fact, it's vague allusions to a Manhattan bar make it an ideal date restaurant. Saigon Restaurant & Lounge As possibly Fairmont Nile City's best restaurant, Saigon Restaurant & Lounge is often bundled in with other hotel lounges. While the regular live entertainment is what brings the crowds in, what keeps them coming back is the Saigon's kitchen. Taking on the usually vague concept of Asian fusion with creativity and pizzazz, this is as good a choice as anywhere for the full date-package – dinner, music, drinks. The Smokery When it first arrived on Cairo's dining scene, the Smokery in Katameya Heights was banded around a 'seafood specialist'. For a country that loves seafood, that's certainly not a bad thing, but the restaurant has come to be much more – specifically one of the best dining experiences in the capital. With Chef Vincent Guillou pulling strings as the restaurant's 'Consultant of Gastronomy', the Smokery offers great food, a great view of the endlessly green New 9 Clubhouse grounds and a perfect choice for a summer date. U Bistro & Bar It was going to take something special to replace the widely-loved La Bodega, but U Bistro might just have done it. As an institution of dining and nightlife on the island the late, great La Bodega held a nostalgic sophistication that harked back to an old-Egypt. U Bistro has gone its own route, of course, but the space – which is fantastic – hasn't lost any of that sophistication. Creative, high-end, gourmet – call it what you will, U Bistro's quality has been among the best for the last six months or so and is ideal for a quiet, chic date. Check out more restaurant features and review on the Cairo 360 restaurant section.

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Willy’s Kitchen: New 'Nacho' Sandwiches & Burgers at New Mohandiseen Branch
Published On: 17/04/2016

It's not often that we get to say that a new restaurant has opened in Mohandiseen - restaurateurs these days prefer to open in the likes of New Cairo and 6th of October City. But with a new branch of Willy's Kitchen bringing comfort food and hefty burgers to the area, Mohandiseen has a new, welcome addition. Located in El Narges Street, off El-Tharwa Street, Willy's Kitchen has taken the space where Marley's Kitchen once stood. Though the venue is mainly designed for takeouts, Willy's Kitchen has a simple wood and brick interior with a few tables, as well as several retro touches that charm you into wanting to eat in. Boasting some delicious burgers – which we tried during our visit to the Nasr City branch - this time, we were keen to check out Willy's Nachos section – a new addition to the menu that sees sandwiches enveloped in crispy deep-fried tortilla bread. We kicked things off with the new Nacho Hickory BBQ (39.5LE) with a side of skin-on fries and a soft drink (14LE). Wrapped in crispy tortilla bread, infused with cheddar cheese and a great mixture of Louisiana sauce and Hickory BBQ, the burger patty was very thin and slightly overcooked which made it slightly dry, though the Louisiana sauce did add a pleasant spicy kick and the BBQ sauce complimented the flavour of the smoky beef bacon. The sandwich was overall pretty average, though; it needed some juiciness and another ingredient like onion rings, maybe, to cut through the other flavours. The skin-on fries were well-cooked, meanwhile, and were seasoned perfectly. The Crispy Fried Chicken (39.5LE), on the other hand was a pleasant surprise. The tender chicken breast was coated in a scrumptious, golden crust and topped with lettuce, turkey, tomato and cheddar cheese, all served in a freshly baked burger bun. The flavours were remarkably delicious together, even though the use of garlic sauce was heavy-handed, making the bun slightly soggy. Served with Waffle Potato Fries and soft drink (18LE), the fries had a great crunch and dipping it in cheese made it all the more heavenly. Our last stop was the Double Chili Hotdog (37.5LE) served with Chilli Cheese Fries and a soft drink (22LE). While the sandwich had the potential to be our favourite, with its delicious mixture of chilli beef, the spicy kick of jalapenos and melted cheddar cheese, the main problem was the hot dog itself being too grainy - usually an effect of poor storage or poor quality. As for the chilli cheese fries, the fries were crunchy enough to handle the melted cheddar cheese and the well-seasoned chilli without getting soggy. Although we're happy to have a Willy's Kitchen closer to the centre of town, our dip into the Nacho wrap items at the new branch wasn't without fault. With any independent restaurant trying out new items, there's usually a bedding-in period as the kitchen perfects them. If they can, it'll build on the restaurant's already established reputation as one of the best choices when it comes to comfort food.

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Ta7abish: Quick, Cheap Eats at Modest Agouza Eatery
Published On: 13/04/2016

If you work in an office environment, you'll understand when we say that one of the most important decisions of any working day is what to eat for lunch. It's made all the more important towards the end of the month, as we desperately await pay-day – but we've found a little gem in Agouza that satisfies when all you find in your wallet is tumbleweed. Although it enjoys a largely unassuming presence – we first heard of it when we found the menu in the entryway to our offices – Tahabeesh ticks three boxes: it's cheap, it delivers quickly and it's filling. As a takeaway/delivery only eatery, Tahabeesh is one of those places that has something for everyone; everything from Egyptian classics like liver sandwiches and hawawshi, to pastas are available and no item is priced higher than 16LE. Keen to test out a little bit of everything, we tried an Alexandrian liver sandwich (10LE) and pasta with sausage (14LE) and the menu's only sweet item, the 'Chocolence' (7LE) – more on that later. A speedy 15 minutes later, the sandwich arrived steaming hot in simple Styrofoam packaging, while the pasta came in a typical takeaway foil plate – but let's get to the important stuff. The fino bread used for the sandwich was soft and noticeably fresh, while the liver was generous in portion and cooked perfectly, though we were surprised to find the addition of pomegranate molasses – usually used in Lebanese food. We were pleasantly surprised though, as the sour-tinted sweetness of the molasses actually worked well with the traditional Alexandrian seasoning and the slight sweetness of the bell peppers. Like the sandwich, the pasta was also generous in portion, though it was cooked a little less than al dente, meaning it had a slight stiffness to it. Giving you an option of white and tomato sauces, we went for the latter and it was fine – but just fine. Luckily, the sausage pieces added a zing to what was otherwise a pedestrian dish. Then there was the Chocolanse– what we assumed would be a chocolaty take on the Sakalans, which brings together cream, jam and halva. All it turned out to be, however, was a small fino bread with chocolate spread – and that's all. We'd be lying if we said we didn't enjoy it, but we expected something, anything else in the mix. It was a topsy-turvy meal, but for the occasional touch of brilliance – the pomegranate molasses, for example – there was just as much disappointment, verging on indifference. But then what do you expect for these kind of prices? Try Tahabeesh. It hits the spot without being spectacular.

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Cortigiano: Enduring Italian Chain isn't Quite What it Used to Be
Published On: 13/04/2016

Founded in 1993, Cortigiano could well be considered a pioneer in Italian cuisine on Cairo's restaurant scene. While there are other more, what you might consider, authentic Italian restaurants around these days, its versatile menu – anchored by several Italian classics – has cemented its position as a go-to favourite for a date night, or a friends/family outing during the weekend. Cortigiano has preserved a rustic Italian ambiance throughout the years in all of its branches; brick walls, old metallic utensils, dim lighting and cosy atmosphere – none more so than at its Heliopolis branch. Going through the menu during out last visit, we opted for Salmone Affumicato E Gamberi (83.93LE) as an appetiser – platter of smoked salmon with capers, shredded lettuce, slices of tomatoes, boiled shrimps smothered in shrimp cocktail sauce. The entire ensemble was full of bright, fresh flavours, but the amount of sauce overpowered, the shrimps and anything else you dipped into it. Shortly after, our main courses arrived; Scaloppine Cordon Bleu (89.95LE) and Casserolla Cortigiano (95.95LE). Served as two veal steaks covered in mozzarella and tomatoes, and stuffed with cheese, mushrooms, and roast beef served, the cordon bleu was well-cooked, fried evenly, with oozing cheese and mushrooms inside. Overall, it had balanced flavours, but it needed an extra seasoning kick, the roast beef was barely discernible and the sautéed vegetables were poorly cut and undercooked. Our second dish, unfortunately, fared worse. The Casseroula Cortigiano is essentially diced veal and beef, served in gravy and topped with mozazarella cheese – a fine combination on paper, but despite being generous in portion and overall being cooked well, there were no real standout flavours and it soon became very one-note. Our choice for dessert was the Apple Tart (41.95LE), essentially a slice of pie stuffed with cinnamon-soaked apple pieces and accompanied with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Though we had expectations of a warm apple tart, the tart was cold and tasted noticeably un-fresh. We've been to Cortigiano many times and, personally, will continue to do so, because we are, of course, creature of habit. You know what you're getting when you go there, but can it still be considered one of the best Italian restaurants in the city? On this visit, no.

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11 Ingenious Burgers in Cairo You Have to Try
Published On: 12/04/2016

With the amount of burger restaurants in Cairo these days, the only thing left is for that burger monster from Cloudy with the Chance of Meatballs to come to Egypt – but it'd probably get eaten too. It seems that Cairo's gourmet burger won't be fading anytime soon, but aside from the delicious, juicy, tender beef patties that the city consumes, there are restaurants that have found new spins on the bun-patty-bun equations – from chocolate burgers, to – wait for it – Mac n Cheese Burgers. There's no place left for you to hide because burgers are taking over. 1. Stuffed-Chocolate Burger @ Brew and Chew Coming all the way from Alexandria to Cairo, chocolatier and café, Brew and Chew, are known for their delicious desserts, their spin on the burger is one stuffed with savoury chocolate sauce and topped with peanut butter. 2. Nacho Burger @ Willy's Kitchen Photo courtesy of Willy's Kitchen on Facebook A tender juicy patty infused with smoky beef bacon, jalapeños, sweet caramelised onions and chilli sauce, wrapped not in just any tortilla bread – but FRIED tortilla bread. Although frying anything seems to automatically make it better. 3. The Crispy Burger @ Manhattan Burger They see me rollin, they hatin. Yeah, it's an awful song, but an apt one for the Crispy Burger at Manhattan Burger - grilled burger patty mixed with BBQ sauce, grilled mushrooms and mozzarella cheese, coated with sesame seeds then rolled in tortilla bread, deep fried and served like an eggroll. Need we say more? 4. The Caramel Burger @ Sophia's Garden Aaaaand the Oscar for the Best Visual Effects award goes to... Sophia's Garden! Starring best actor nominee, Chocolate and Nuts Ice Cream as 'Burger Patty', Butter Cookies as 'Cheese Slices' and Caramel Sponge Cake as the 'Bun', the Caramel Burger is a delicious dessert disguised as a burger. Well Played Sophia's Garden, well played. 5. The Trio SGF @ Backfire The recently assembled trio of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman was impressive, but let's face it; Backfire's Trio Burger is more of a crowd-pleaser. Grilled burger patty stuffed with cheese and jalapeños, deep fried to a perfect crust and topped with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese, whoever created this burger is the real hero. 6. Burger Tower @ 3almashy If you're a burger fanatic, chances are, you've tried a burger tower before. Served in the luscious Upper Egyptian Shami bread, 3almashy's Burger Tower is unlike any you've ever tried before. Consider adding it to your burger bucket list. 7. Salmon Burger @ Ravish A piece of salmon topped with lettuce, wasenasa sauce, sliced avocados, mangos and fried onion rings, think of Ravish's signature Salmon Burger as just a large, delicious piece of sushi – all that's missing is rice bun. 8. The Moroccan Burger @ Burger Factory Spiked with cinnamon and infused with prunes, date sauce, cream cheese and the crunch of walnut, this is one of the more out-there spins on a traditional beef patty. But if you're a fan of Moroccan cuisine, you'll know that no one quite does sweet-and-savoury like Morocco. Move aside, 'Classic Burger'. 9. The Mighty Bastard @ Butcher's Burger Photo courtesy of Butcher's Burger on Facebook If you've ever dreamed of taking on your own Man VS Food challenge and think you can handle one kilogram of beef topped with 8 slices of cheddar cheese, chilli con carne, crispy onion, caramelised onion and smoky mayo then you, should definitely give Butcher's Burger's Mighty Bastard a try and maybe even have a doctor on speed dial – that's a lot of beef. 10. Mac & Cheese Burger @ The Backyard Photo courtesy of the Backyard on Facebook Torn between a burger and a good old bowl of mac and cheese? Why not have both in one bite? A 160gm of beef patty, topped with rich and creamy mac and cheese, the Backyard's Mac & Cheese Burger was made in some kind of American diner heaven. 11. Pizza Burger @ Baltazar Here's a quick joke: what's better than pizza and burgers? A pizza burger, obviously. Not funny? No, where' not laughing either. The Pizza Burger is the best thing to happen to fast-food since some genius decided to try pepperoni and pineapple together.

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Win! Tickets to Cairokee’s Gig at the Great Cairo Kidathon!

This May, the folks at Omar Samra's Muricata are hosting a very special day that will see kids from across Cairo flood the streets of Zamalek for an event that sees fitness fun collide – such events and activities do exist, we swear! Said event is the Great Cairo Kidathon – find out more info h