Cairo Restaurants

Al Karmeh: Light Lebanese Food in Maadi
Published On: 11/12/2014

When in the mood for a light, easy-on-stomach late-night snack, there isn't much outside of fast-food across the Cairo dining scene. – well, that's what we thought. We stumbled on Al Karmeh in Maadi on Road 231. The lights were bright around the modestly-sized venues and the restaurant uses the same red and white colours as in its logo. With an elevated-from-street-level wooden patio outside, the venue is perfect for a quick and quick snack. As we walked in, the waiter behind the cashier greeted us and offered us menus. The restaurant offers light Lebanese cuisine - think manakeesh, alongside most of the traditional Lebanese salads including fattoush, tabouleh, humus, and spiced potatoes. We opted for a Kofta Karmeh (44LE) alongside a Zaatar with Cheese (14LE), Labneh (19LE) and Homemade Fries (10LE). Service time was relatively short, but we realised shortly afterwards why that was. Offering the options of Saj or Oven Baked for all the manakeesh, we asked for ours toasted but received them cold. The Kofta Karmeh, meanwhile, was served face up in a pizza box; the dough had no discernible crunch to it, and the meat didn't really stand out in flavour, due mostly to a lack of seasoning. It was simply meat, cheese and dough with none of the subtle Levantine flair one expects of Lebanese cuisine. The Labneh, served in wrapped saj bread that, again, wasn't toasted, also contained diced cucumbers and tomatoes, which was a nice touch, but was sorely lacking thyme and olive oil. With the Zaatar and Cheese, the ratio was off, so unless you really like the tangy flavour of zaatar, you may find this mankousha a little much. Again, had it beentoasted , it would've made a world of a difference. The homemade Fries were the surprising highlight of the whole meal. Retaining some crunch but still very fleshy, they made for a good side. The problem with this type of cuisine now is that it's no longer a novelty. Not only is Shami food now available in any and every part of Cairo, you also have choices and price ranges. With all around average food, it's hard to see how a restaurant like Al Karmeh will compete, especially when there are three other Lebanese restaurants within walking distance of it.


Steak Out: Carnivorous Cave of Meat Now in Maadi
Published On: 09/12/2014

While neighbourhoods like Maadi and Zamalek are where restaurants with quirky and unusual ideas go to flourish, when we found out good old carnivore-friendly restaurant, Steak Out, had made its way to Maadi, we were very excited. Known for offering reasonably priced meals, Steak Out has opened up a new branch just off El Laselky St. in Maadi. The décor of the venue is consistent throughout the branches, with the same shade of dark brown wood throughout and the red upholstery of the couches, in addition to the colourful paintings and rectangular dim-light fixtures on the walls. The venue definitely sets a nice tone for a wholesome meal. With an international menu featuring everything from Tex-Mex appetisers to sandwiches, steaks, seafood platters and smoothies, it's diverse enough to find something for everyone. We were greeted at the door by a pleasant waiter who showed us to our tables, placed our menus in front of us, and asked if we needed anything besides water before retreating to let us browse. We opted for a Mini Seafood Combo (47LE) from the appetisers, a medium cooked Steak Out Fillet with Fresh Mushrooms (98LE) as well as a Salmon Steak (92LE). Along with our food, we also had a Strawberry & Raspberry Milkshake (19LE). Serving time took a little longer than average, but still within reason. The Seafood Combo platter arrived first, featuring two pieces of fried shrimp, some fried calamari and two shrimp rolls. The frying process was executed extremely well, retaining all the crunch and leaving no extra grease. Both the fried shrimp and fried calamari were excellent but the rolls were a little bland in seasoning. The main courses came soon after. We ordered sides of white basmati rice and potato wedges with the Salmon Steak, and mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables with the Steak Out Fillet. The Salmon, topped with buttered lemon sauce, was quite flavourful and slightly charred – in the best way possible – from the bottom, giving it an extra bit of texture and aroma. The sauce, while complementing the salmon nicely, was far too sour when combined rice, which left the rice as an afterthought in the dish. The potato wedges, combined with a ridiculous amount of butter and pesto, were a little undercooked and the raw potato centre was unpleasant. The Steak Out Fillet was surprisingly delicious. Cooked exactly to medium, retaining a beautiful colour and the perfect amount of juice, it had similarly disappointing sides. Though it may seem strange to say, but the mashed potatoes were a little to creamy – almost squelchy, and were also bland with next to no seasoning. The sautéed vegetables were probably the best side of all, but still not particularly special – once again, the lack of seasoning brought the it down. Similarly, the milkshake was average at best, with the raspberry flavour not really coming through. Any true steak aficionado will tell you that although the meat is the star of the show, the sides and sauces can turn a great piece of meat into an average meal. While the steak and salmon were excellent at the time of our visit, the sides were not. Despite this, Steak Out's reputation alone will keep it busy in an area that is slowly taking over as the dining district of Cairo ahead of Zamalek.


Beef Fi Re3'eef: Traditional Egyptian Street-Food in Mohandisseen
Published On: 08/12/2014

It's seems almost commonplace now, but when the Cairo dining scene was introduced to the likes of Zooba and Cairo Kitchen, there was mixed reactions to this new take on traditional Egyptian street food. Many bemoaned the prices of the kind of food you can get for a couple of LE, although the aforementioned restaurants found a market; the kind of diner that wouldn't eat from a cart. The trend went on to give birth to many other similar concept, one of which is the amusingly named Beef Fi Re3'eef. Taking this new approach to liver and sogok (Oriental sausages) and liver sandwiches and the like, the Mohandiseen eatery has quickly come to be popular – some even claiming that it offers the best hawawshi in Cairo. At the time of our visit, however, all the praise flattered to decieve. The venue's decor is quite simple. Three or four steps above sidewalk level, the first thing that grabbed our attention was the rustic blue floor tiling, which matched the brown and turquoise colour scheme. On your left and right are small foldable wooden tables decorated with a cactus plant pot. The back wall behind the counter is decorated with wooden shelves and more plant pots. The menu is quite limited and all the sandwiches are the same size. We opted for Alexandrian Liver (7.50LE) and Turkish Sogok (7.50LE). We also opted for a Sogok Hawawshi (18.5LE) and fries (6LE). From the desserts, we landed on the Sakalans (9.50LE). Straight off the bat, if your beef costs less than your chocolate and honey, there's something very wrong. All the sandwiches, minus the Hawawshi, are served in fino bread – the same basic fino bread you can buy at any supermarket. The Turkish Sogok was our favourite, but that's not a testament to how good it is. With hardly any Sogok to be found in the sandwich, most of what we could taste was just bread, seasoning and onions. The Alexandrian Liver was slightly more generous portion-wise, but in the flavour department, it was less than average, suffering the same faults as the sogok. As for the Sogok Hawawshi – the supposed highlight of the night – was gravely disappointing. The bread was burnt and the sogok stuffing was, somehow, lacking in flavour. Maybe the Sakalans could salvage the situation. Nope. Differing only from the traditional cream, honey and halawa combination with the addition of Nutella, all you can taste is the bread – which is quite a feat considering the overload of sweetness in the filling. That leaves only the fries, which, in fairness, were cooked to a pretty nice outer crisp and soft centre. While the overall aesthetic quality of Beef Fi Re3'eef ticks all the boxes of the balady-modern trend, there's very little here to keep someone coming back. Beef Fi Re3'eef is stuck floating in no man's land between the cheap cart food and the restaurants that have made a success of the concept.


Pizzinia: Delivery-Only Pizzas & Pasta in Maadi
Published On: 06/12/2014

Despite Egypt's maniacal love for pizza, it's still – along with many other Italian specialities – one of the most consistently mistreated dishes amongst Cairo restaurants. In fairness, though, the last few years has seen a rise in pizza specialists – Pizza Mia, Vinny's Pizzeria, et al – that have tried valiantly, with wavering success, to bring authenticity to it. The latest to try its hand at the pizza game is delivery-only Pizzinia. After stumbling across its modest, and slightly crude, Facebook page, perusing the menus revealed that the Maadi-based kitchen also churns out traditional pastas as well as some unusual and acutely non-Italian items like Chicken-Shrimp Cajun and Mexican Chicken pastas. The pizzas come in three sizes; we opted for a Large BBQ Chicken Pizza (40LE), as well as a Chicken Alfredo Pasta (27LE). We were told the food would arrive in twenty minutes – a rather ambitious promise by any standard. As expected, it didn't arrive in twenty minutes, but thirty – which in fairness is still pretty fast. The food arrived very neatly wrapped and in practical packaging. The pasta was served in a compartmented box that has separate areas for the pasta, extra sauce and pieces of garlic bread, which comes as standard with all pasta orders. The Chicken Alfredo Pasta, topped with slices of chicken breast, parmesan cheese, mushrooms and cream sauce, was quite delicious. The portion of chicken was generous, seasoned perfectly and cooked well, while the amount of cheese was proportionate to the rest of the food. Our only problem was the sauce was a bit scarce, as well as being thin and watery. The BBQ Chicken Pizza, topped with chicken, bell peppers, olives, mozzarella cheese, BBQ sauce and a special Pizzinia marinara sauce, tasted every bit as good as it looked. With an authentic, thin crust and a consistent layer of delicious, molten cheese, the combination of flavours was a simple one, but a satisfying one nonetheless. While the very notion of BBQ Chicken leans more towards American-style rather than authentic Italian, Pizzinia can still lay claim to making the misleadingly simple dough-sauce-cheese combo that is pizza. The prices are pretty reasonable, the delivery time is fast and the staff are pleasant and efficient over the phone – they even called after the food was delivered to make sure was ok, welcoming our comment about the pasta sauce.


Maharani Indian Restaurant: Top-Notch Indian Food in Maadi
Published On: 04/12/2014

Indian restaurants in Cairo are among the most haphazard and inconsistent on an already unpredictable scene. While the cuisine is a popular one in the capital, the execution of the dishes here varies from spot-on to way-off. When we heard about a new Indian restaurant in Maadi, needless to say, we dropped by as soon as we could. Another feature of Indian restaurants in Egypt is that they all look exactly the same; dark wooden chairs and tables, dim lighting, Indian murals and paintings on the walls, and Maharani is no exception. Located on the currently booming with good food Road 6, Maharani takes up a modest space that was mostly empty upon our arrival. We were greeted at the door, shown to our seats and menus were laid out before us in not time. The loud Indian pop music coming from the TV was a bit of a distraction, but then loud pop music coming from any TV in any language is a bit of a distraction at a restaurant. We dove into the menu looking to test how Maharani does with the classics; Butter Chicken (40LE) and Vegetable Biryani (30LE). We also opted for Saag Gosht (45LE) and Kashmiri Pullao (40LE), as well as Karak Rolls (15LE) from the appetisers, Butter Naan (10LE), Cheese Naan (15LE) and a Mango Lassi (15LE) to wash it all down. Our food was served in about twenty minutes and boy, were we surprised. One of the amusing features of the restaurant is that they serve water in glazed clay cups and the Biryani is served in what looks like a glazed clay vase. Little gimmicky features aside, the food was astounding. The Karak Rolls were served first along with the Mango Lassi. The rolls are basically breaded chicken rolls stuffed with cheese. On their own they were a little dry and uninteresting, but took on a different flavour altogether when dipped in the sauces that were to come. The Lassi is a traditional yogurt based drink, mostly served savoury, but in this case, it was mixed with mangos and actually tasted very refreshing. The Butter Chicken was some of the best we've tried; The chicken tasted fresh, clean and tender, while the sauce was phenomenal, finding a perfect balance between the exotic spice flavours and creaminess. The Vegetable Biryani was a perfect combination, as was the Naan bread, which was served hot and delicious. The Sagg Gosht – a slow-cooked spinach-based curry with lamb cubes – had us confused on what our favourite dish was. The lamb was cooked to a beautifully tender state, while the spinach curry was just as creamy and flavourful as the butter chicken. The Kashmiri Pullao – basmati rice with dried fruit and cashews – was, again, a perfect complement to the main course. The main's portion weren't as big as we expected, but the quality of the food was through the roof and we were indeed full by the time we were done. Our only problem with the restaurant is the restaurant itself – it verges on parody.


Mazmaza: Traditional Oriental Food at Raucous Dokki Restaurant
Published On: 02/12/2014

With the increasing surplus of dining options in Cairo, many of the newer places have become rather samey. Dining as an experience is slightly skewed in the capital; why a restaurant would play loud, glaring music or have TV screens is beyond us. Granted, it creates a steady stream of regular visitors, but it cheapens the very notion of a restaurant. Mazmaza, in Dokki, is one such restaurant. Occupying a large space on El Thawra Street near the Shooting Club, it's easy to spot the flashy venue with its flamboyant, traditional decor. Vibrant blue doors contrast against wooden furniture with upholstery in any and all colours. Depending on your level of sensory tolerance, this is either a fun and quirky restaurant or a gaudy cave of tackiness. Without any sort of greeting, we made our way to our seats. Only after we scanned the menu for a few minutes did a waiter show up. The menu features traditional Egyptian dishes like Shin Soup, Molokhia with Rabbits and Liver. We opted for Waraket Lahma (57LE) and a Feteera with Sogok (43LE) as our mains, and a side of Chicken Liver with Pomegranate Molasses (35LE). The food was served surprisingly fast. The Chicken Liver itself was well cooked and, contrary to most restaurants, was served warm. The vinegar to molasses ratio was, however, quite off, making the dish a little to sweet. The Waraket Lahma - oven roasted veal with vegetables – was seasoned perfectly and cooked well, although said vegetables were potatoes and onions and nothing else. The Feteera with Sogok was not up to par. Despite being generous with toppings, the olives overpowered pretty much everything and left the dish far too salty. From the dessert menu, we opted for Sweet Potato with Ice Cream (20LE) which, on paper, sounded great. Unfortunately the ice cream was, peculiarly, yoghurt flavoured, and didn't work with the sweet potato at all. It needed something extra, like caramel or nuts to tie the flavours together. Along with the dessert we also ordered a Cappuccino (19LE) and a Lemon and Mint Smoothie (22LE). The coffee was served in a clay mug, which you could taste, and it wasn't pleasant. The smoothie, while delicious, had far too thin a consistency to be called a smoothie. The biggest problem with Mazmaza was the extremely loud music. You can't hear the person next to you speak, and it became a little nerve-racking. While the food is decent, the actual dining experience falls well short as essentially, it straddles that difficult line between being a restaurant and being a cafe.


Fuddruckers: Classic American Diner Chain in 6th of October City's Mall of Arabia
Published On: 01/12/2014

The lengths that one is prepared to go to for good burgers in Cairo are pretty much infinite. Despite a whole host of gourmet burger restaurants opening around Cairo in recent times, there's one place that has been around well before them: Fuddruckers. Located near the small fountain in the outdoor restaurant area, the Mall of Arabia branch of Fuddruckers offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The waiter by the entrance welcomed us and led us to our requested outdoor table, which was notably immaculate. The venue itself was rather crowded during the time of our visit. Menus were laid before us in no time and we began to scan them with rumbling stomachs.  Fuddruckers offers perhaps some of the most appetising starters around; from Mozzarella Sticks (42LE) to Buffalo Chicken Wings (39LE) – some of the items can make for a full meal themselves. For main courses, Fuddruckers offers its infamous burgers, alongside steaks, chicken sandwiches, wraps, protein-topped salads and chicken and seafood platters. Looking for something a little more exotic, we went for Caribbean Chicken Salad (44LE), alongside the sinful-sounding The Works Burger (47LE/ 1/3 lb.). Fuddruckers offers burger patties in 3 sizes; 1/3 lb, ½ lb and 2/3 lb; knowing, however, how generous their servings usually are, we decided to go with the smallest patty to save us the trouble of eating long after we were full. One of the many available waiters came by and swiftly took our order and within twenty minutes, our glorious dishes were garnishing our table. The Caribbean Chicken Salad, which consisted of chopped lettuce, pineapple pieces and tomatoes topped with grilled chicken chunks and tortilla crisps, all drenched in honey mustard dressing was quite the tangy surprise; it tasted distinctly fresh with the sweetness of the dressing and pineapple pieces balanced by the savoury grilled chicken. The Works burger, which comes with a side of French Fries, and consisted of a beef patty topped with sautéed mushrooms, cheese, lettuce, tomato slices, beef bacon and mayonnaise, was quite the hefty delight. Needless to say, we contemplated unbuttoning our jeans to leave some breathing room for our newly stretched stomachs. We would've, however, preferred a little extra mayo on the burger. All in all, Fuddruckers, as usual, did not disappoint, with its efficient service and scrumptious dishes. Our food tasted fresh and was presented quite well, while the waiters were always around in case we needed something. 


Butcher's Burger: Award-Winning Gourmet Burger Chain Arrives in Sheikh Zayed
Published On: 30/11/2014

There are only a handful of restaurants in Cairo that offer the authentic diner burger. Among those, and one of our favourites, is Butcher's Burger; one of the recipients of the Cairo360 Editor's Choice Awards 2014 for American Dining. With branches already in Agouza and Zamalek, Butcher's Nurger has opened its third branch in Sheikh Zayed's Karma Mall 1. They're also expecting two more branches at SODIC West and Citystars. Our visits to the first two branches cemented the restaurant's claim to being a true American diner kitchen, serving all sorts of patties and American appetisers like chilli cheese fries and crunchy cheese balls. Overlooking a small garden, the modestly-sized restaurants only has two tables in the indoor area and a couple more outside. The decor is unified across the branches, with red brick walls decorated with plaques holding random quotes about meat, as well as a diagram of the different meat cuts, and table covers designed to look like wooden cutting boards. The staff  were very pleasant and tried to answer all our questions. The menu contained everything from burgers and chicken sandwiches, to sides and salads, steaks, hotdogs, sauces, drinks and even a specialised kid's menu. The patties come in two sizes; 170g or 300g and we opted for the 300g Mighty Butcher (77LE) as well as a Go Mighty Southern BBQ Burger (74LE). We also tried the Onion Rings (19LE) and fresh Lemon Juice (14LE) and a soda (10LE). Served first were the Onion Rings, which were nice and crunchy, if pretty standard, with a side of BBQ sauce. Next came the sandwiches. The Mighty Butcher featured lettuce, cheese, caramelized onions, pickled cucumbers, jalapenos, beef bacon and garlic mayo, while the the Southern BBQ Burger featured BBQ sauce, onion rings and a mixture of cheese. We ordered both burgers cooked Medium-well based on their advice, and they were, indeed, juicy and delicious. The jalapenos added a special twist to the flavour, but the bacon was unfortunately hard and dry, making the already messy job of eating such a large burger even messier. The burgers are served with crunchy French fries and a decent coleslaw salad. We took a breather after our food, but then noticed they had Deep Fried Ice Cream (34LE) in their desserts menu. Taking no time to serve, a ball of ice cream is coated in a layer of cheese and then deep fried and topped with caramel or chocolate sauce. To our surprise, the ice cream was still cold on the inside with a hot and crunchy layer on the outside - a great way to end the meal. We left Butcher's Burger completely full and satisfied, and while their prices may seem a little steep, their portions are generous and the quality and freshness of their food is unmatched.


Country Burger: Cheap Fast-Food Option in Maadi
Published On: 26/11/2014

Living in Egypt is becoming more and more expensive and Cairo's restaurants are not immune from that. There comes a very specific time of the month when, seemingly out of nowhere, your wallet and bank account betray you in the cruellest of ways, suddenly and shockingly revealing themselves to be worn-out, abused and, ultimately, empty. But as you wait patiently for payday to come around, dining becomes more of a pursuit to quiet down your increasingly grumpy tummy than one of pleasing your demanding taste-buds. Fast-food is usually the go-to in such situation, but even McDonalds and the like can't be considered particularly cheap or affordable, let alone filling. Our latest expedition took us to the crowded intersection of El Nasr St. and El Laselky St. in Maadi, where we spotted Country Burger. The restaurant itself is not particularly welcoming; it's very loud and, frankly, not very clean. Laid out in the traditional fast food order-over-the-counter setup, we stepped in through the glass doors with a degree of trepidation. Upon inspecting the menu, we were surprised by how cheap everything really was. A single-patty burger combo goes for 19.99LE, while a triple-patty costs 36.99LE. We opted for Country Beef Cheese Lovers (30LE) and a Country Beef Mushroom (28LE). As with most of these kinds of take-away restaurants, serving time was very short. The Cheese Lovers features emmental, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese, as well as diced bell peppers and the traditional lettuce, tomatoes and onions. The Mushroom burger uses the same ingredients, minus the emmental and mozzarella, in addition to a brown mushroom sauce that was clearly made with canned mushrooms. In the flavour department, you get what you pay for. The patties themselves are far from impressive, while small things like stale bread and the use of canned mushrooms really detract from what looks like a good burger on paper. Don't expect too much from the French fries that come with the combos; they're soggy beyond belief. This is not the kind of restaurant to entice your taste buds, but rather one of your last resorts when you simply need a food fix For what it is, it actually executes it quite well, but compared to any other burger vendors, it comes up well short.


Skinny Pizza: Delivery-Only Healthy & Gluten-Free Pizza in Dokki
Published On: 25/11/2014

There are a number of words that are rarely conjured up when you think of pizza in Egypt; 'healthy' and 'authentic' are just two. Sure, there are a few novelty pizzerias that manage to keep away from the localised grease-fest we call pizza, but for the most part we, as Egyptians, don't quite get pizza. We recently heard about a new delivery-only pizzeria in Dokki called Skinny Pizza; just the name alone was intriguing - does skinny mean we didn't know healthy pizza or thin pizza? After finding the menu online, we found out it was actually both. They serve both low fat pizzas, gluten free pizzas and regular thin crust pizzas. We only know of one other venue that serves gluten-free pizza, so we had to get ourselves some to see how they compare. The low fat and thin crust pizzas come in two sizes, but the gluten free option is only available in the large size. We opted for a Gluten Free Bolognese (55LE) and a Mushroom and Olive (52LE) from the skinny pizzas. Our food arrived roughly thirty minutes later, which is pretty decent for a takeout pizzeria. We decided to dig into the Bolognese first which featured tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, minced beef and onions. The dough really surprised us, being both decently-cooked and extremely filling. The large pizzas aren't the biggest you've ever seen, but they can feed two if you're not ravenously hungry. The tomato sauce was delicious, as was the melted cheese with the minced beef. The Mushroom and Olive pizza, which features tomato sauce, low fat cheese, fresh mushrooms, olives and oregano, was particularly tasty. They also mention the nutritional value per slice, in this case 96 Cal, which is impressively low for such a full-flavoured pizza. The crust was thin enough to be authentic, but still thick enough to not flap. The taste of mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese, olives, and oregano is one of the simplest amalgamations of flavours, yet when executed well, yields glorious results. Overall, though it won't necessarily blow your socks off, there's little to complain about with Skinny Pizza; the delivery was swift, the food was much healthier than a standard pizza, yet still as satisfying - if not more so.


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