Cairo Restaurants

Akl Beety: Delivery-Only Kitchen in Maadi
Published On: 27/03/2015

While fast-food certainly has a charm to it, we all have moments when we crave a nice home-cooked meal, but have nowhere to turn to. Fortunately, in recent years, the Cairo restaurant scene has featured several new eateries offering just that. With the emergence of several of these types of restaurants in Maadi, we turned to the one of the area's longest running home food delivery services, Akl Beety. The delivery-only restaurant, located in Nirco's Fifth Sector, has an enormous menu that features everything from appetisers like mombar and kobeba, to main courses and casseroles, crepes and pizzas. After scanning the menu, we opted for an order of Kobeba (10LE) and Sambsouak (10.50LE) from the appetisers, Mesa'aa (Egyptian moussaka) with Minced Meat (14LE), Rice with Vermicelli (5LE), Oriental Rice with Nuts (8LE), Meal Number 5 (36LE) and Om Ali with Nuts (13LE) for dessert. The ordering process was relatively streamlined, but the delivery took about an hour and a half when the restaurant states it should only take an hour if you're ordering from inside Maadi. This was not explained by the restaurant, and no apologies were made for the delay, even though the kitchen was located less than a five-minute drive from us. Our food arrived neatly wrapped but relatively cold. We found both the Kobeba and the Sambousak to be disappointing, the former for being under-seasoned to the point of having little flavour, and the latter for being very under-fried. Instead of being a crispy and golden in colour, the Sambousak was almost white and rather chewy. The Mesa'aa, which had good, deep flavours, but was a little short on the minced meat, worked nicely with the Rice with Vermicelli. The Oriental Rice, however, was much less pleasant, tasting stale and chewy. Meal number five, which is made up of Chicken Pane, Vine Leaves, Yoghurt Salad, French Fries and a soda, was probably our highlight of the night. Two pieces of fairly decent breaded chicken breast and a generous portion of tasty vine leaves made this meal the best at value for money. The French fries were disappointingly soggy, though, and the yoghurt salad was a little bland. The Om Ali, surprisingly the warmest dish in the entire order, while tasty, was unfortunately dry and could've used some extra milk. All in all, we found our meals to be quite decent, but it's difficult to call it anything else. On the one hand, the value for money is great, totalling at 106LE for two people and some food left over, but on the other hand, it suffers the same problem most home-food restaurants do; it still tastes better at home.

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Café Blanc: Popular Lebanese Restaurant Impresses at Cairo Festival City
Published On: 25/03/2015

After its smashing success on the North coast, Café Blanc wasted no time in opening in Cairo and, not unlike its Sahel branch, the restaurant-cafe takes up an outdoor seating area at Cairo Festival City mall that provides a pleasant an inviting dining experience. The decor of the venue uses bright vivid colours and comfy, chic seating options make it perfect for a laid back afternoon lunch. The indoor area is even louder, with it's trademark sky blue colour dominating a space that includes some attractive arched ceilings. We took some time to go through the extensive menu, which included a range of traditional Lebanese dishes with modern twists, from which we chose the Raheb Salad (20LE) and some Tabbouleh (25LE) to start. From the Hot Mezza section, we opted for the Makanek in Pomegranate Molasses Sauce (40LE), Chicken Liver (35LE), Ras Asfour (38LE) and Cheese Rolls (30LE). Since the manakeesh are made right before our eyes in a live cooking station, we had to give them a try so we ordered the Akkawi Chili Man'oushe (35LE).  For the mains we had the Kofta Platter (70LE) and Fattet Shawarma (55LE). Shortly our salad arrived accompanied by a basket of steaming warm bread. The Tabouleh was light and zesty while the Raheb Salad was even more impressive with mashed grilled eggplants, diced tomatoes, peppers and onions, marinated with lemon and olive oil. The hit appetisers quickly followed; the Makanek and Chicken Liver were both smothered in flavoursome, sweet molasses sauce that truly rang in our tastebuds. The Ras Asfour, small thin slices of beef in gravy sauce, came in a rather small portion, but was nonetheless cooked and seasoned well. However, it was the cheese rolls that stole the show, coming piping hot and filled generously.  The friendly waiter then brought in the rest of our dishes promptly. The Kofta platter featured three skewers of Lamb kofta grilled to perfection with a side of delicious wedges and tehina dip. The Man'oushe was authentically Lebanes and stuffed generously with salty Akkawi cheese; needless to say it vanished in a couple of minutes. The Fattah, unfortunately, didn't fare as well; it was lukewarm, the yoghurt seemed diluted and runny, while there was a strange lack of rice. From the diverse desserts menu, we opted for Jabal Lebnen (38LE) and the trio pudding (30LE) – the latter of which was recommended by the waiter. Jabal Lebnen is a traditional Lebanese dessert featuring a simple but vibrant combination of flavours; Halawa, pistachios and delicious Mastic Ice cream.  The trio pudding was light and sweet, consisting of three servings of rice pudding, muhallabieh and meghleh; a cinnamon and spice-infused pudding. While many restaurants in the capital claim to serve truly authentic Lebanese dishes, only few actually do and Café Blanc has proved to be among them. The service was impeccable and the friendly waiters made sure to attend to our every need. All in all, we had a rather enjoyable experience despite the fact that some dishes were considered to be over-priced compared to the portions served.

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Harah 9: Maadi Restaurant Serves Up Slice of Old Cairo
Published On: 23/03/2015

There's an intangible charm in simply walking through the roads and winding alleys of Downtown and Old Cairo that many simply become smitten with. It's a charm that is becoming rarer and rarer around Egypt's capital, but one that Cairenes have also become more appreciative of in the last few years. In Maadi, hidden restaurant, Harah 9, uses that as an inspiration and tries to recreate the feel of 1930s Cairo. As soon as you step in, you will find the decoration of boxes engraved with stones, colourful carpets and antique wooden furniture will take you back to an Egyptian cafe from the 1930's complete with a courtyard as well as two floors of indoor seating. The interior reflects this mood using colourful carpets and antique – possibly faux antique – wooden furniture. The menu is primarily built on classic Egyptian dishes and offers the likes of Kabab, Kofta, Tarb, Fattah and Molokhiya. We opted for Sambousak (25LE) from the appetisers as well as well as a Moza with Rice Casserole (85LE) and an order of Kofta and Veal Chops (100LE) for our mains. We began our culinary exploration with a couple of drinks; a classic Lemon and Mint (20LE), a basic Orange Juice (22LE) and a slightly more peculiar Lemon and Kiwi (22LE). All three were noticeably fresh, with the lemon and kiwi being a particularly tasty combination. Moving onto the food, we found the Sambousak to be fresh, hot and quite tasty, retaining just the right amount of crunch you would want it to. The Moza Casserole featured delicious seasoned rice, although you can have Fattah instead; unfortunately, the meat was cooked a little unevenly and left us in a game of Russian roulette. The Kofta and Veal Chops, meanwhile, are served with your choice of rice, fries or vegetables. The Kofta was fantastic; cooked and seasoned to perfection, there was little to complain about. However, the Veal Chops didn not fare as well; they were extremely fatty and, essentially, difficult to eat. For dessert, we wanted to try the Crème Brûlée, but we were told it was unavailable. Shelving our disappointment at testing the kitchen's mettle at what is a notoriously tricky dish to pull off, we instead opted the gluttonous-sounding Sweet Potato with Caramel Sauce (30LE). Served in a cup with whipped cream, the dessert was hot and every bit as sweet and delicious as you'd expect. In fact, it was just as good when it became cold.  Harah 9's staff were incredibly friendly – and patient to our indecisions and questions – and despite some faults with the foods, we left feeling satisfied with the dishes. As a whole, though, Harah 9's decor and ambiance lends it better to being a cafe or hang-out spot..

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Ponderosa Steakhouse: US Steakhouse Chain Making Noise at Citystars
Published On: 22/03/2015

There's nothing this reviewer likes better than a good steak; unfortunately, few Cairo restaurants deliver. Call it primal if you will, but when it comes to pure satisfaction from a dish, little can match up to a medium-rare cut. Having landed in Citystars just last year, Ponderosa Steak House is one of those restaurants that takes meat very seriously. The restaurant itself is franchised from the US; many will remember it as the steakhouse right next to Disney World in Orlando. Located on the fourth floor of phase two, the restaurant boasts a light wooden décor with bright lighting. The wooden panels cover the walls and are matched by the chairs and tables. As we stepped inside, we were greeted by a pleasant waiter who showed us to a vacant table, placed menus on it and disappeared to find a bottle of water. The menu, like many American diners in Cairo, features a wide selection of mains and appetisers, covering beef, chicken and seafood. We opted for a Fried Shrimp (45LE) appetiser alongside Chicken Wings (40LE) for our starters. For our mains, we opted for the 280g Sirloin steak (110LE) as well as the Seafood Platter (130LE). Serving time was generally decent and the ambiance of the restaurant kept the loud and crowded at bay. Our appetisers arrived with an array of sauces including tartar, marinara and ranch. Both the chicken wings and the shrimp were fried very well and drained of excess oil, retaining a very decent crunch. We favoured the chicken wings, though, as we found them to be more flavoursome. The mains arrived shortly after. Our Sirloin was ordered medium-rare alongside sides of baked potato and green beans. The steak was served it just how we ordered it, retaining a great level of juiciness and natural flavour. The baked potato, topped with butter and a little cheese, was creamy and delicious while the seasoned green beans were similarly simple but delicious. The Seafood platter, featuring salmon, fried and grilled shrimp with the same baked potato side and brown rice, will definitely get you full. The 150g salmon steak was seasoned with lemon, dill and butter and cooked to perfection. While the fried shrimp was just like the appetiser, the grilled shrimp soaked up more of the zesty flavour and was by far the superior of the two. While the prices at Ponderosa may seem relatively steep, it is certainly reflected in the quality of food. With pleasant staff and more than pleasing food, Ponderosa's only downfall may be being located inside such an insufferably busy mall.

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Baladi: Heliopolis Street-Food Favourite Expands into Maadi
Published On: 15/03/2015

There's a divide between Cairenes when it comes to eating traditional Egyptian cart/street food in more upscale restaurants. Some feel the cart food should be reserved for the cart, where it is delicious and cheap but questionable in nutrition and, well, cleanliness, while others prefer paying a little extra for a watered down, but more, let's say, hygienic, version of the same dish. The grey area in between the two is one that left many restaurants out of business. Generally because the upper scale restaurants just can't get the likes of liver and hawawshi to taste as good. Working to change this perception, however, is Baladi. Expanding from its original branch on El Marghany Street in Heliopolis, Baladi now operates in the Cilantro Garden on Road 9 in Maadi. The garden itself is a comfortable open courtyard with metal tables and chairs. As we found ourselves a vacant table, the waiter greeted us with the menu. Said menu is simple and straightforward, offering Alexandrian Liver and Grilled Liver, Sogok, Hawawshi and Herring sandwiches. The menu also functions as a checklist, which you mark and then hand it back to the waiter. We opted for Hawawshi (15LE), Alexandrian Sogok (10LE) and Alexandrian Liver (9LE). Our food was served very promptly and with the diluted versions of these dishes having disappointed us at 'balady-chic' restaurants in more upscale neighbourhoods before, we feared the worst. Luckily, and gladly, we were proven, though. The Hawawshi, a full loaf of baladi bread stuffed with spiced minced meat and bell peppers, was the biggest surprise; with a decent meat-to-bread ration, well-seasoned meat an just the right amount of moist, the loaf was generally very satisfying in both flavour and portion size. The Alexandrian Liver was also a success. Similarly decent in size and spiced and seasoned well – and complimented with chilli and pepper – the Liver passed in the flavour department as well. The disappointment was the Alexandrian Sogok, primarily because it was cut up hotdogs and not actually the sogok – or what some might call Oriental sausage. This couldn't have been a mistake, though, as none of the items on the menu feature hotdogs, and although it was once again seasoned well, it just wasn't what was advertised in the menu. Despite, this we were generally pleased with what came out of the kitchen at Baladi. The food was both tasty and clean, which seldom occurs with this kind 'cuisine.' The waiters were all-around pleasant and the prices are decent for the quality.

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Mossab: Big Portions, Low Prices, So-So Results at Maadi Restaurant
Published On: 11/03/2015

One of the most successful types of restaurants in Cairo is the one that caters to people who just want a decent, affordable meal. That may seem like a strange statement, but there comes a point when the gimmicks that the eateries across the city seem to be adopting more and more become tiresome – just give us a simple meal. Having made its way over from Nasr City and Heliopolis just a couple of years ago, Mossab has established itself on the fiercely competitive El Nasr Street in Maadi. Using the same flashy red and orange décor, the Maadi branch is relatively spacious and clean, but looks no different to any other fast food diner. The orange-wearing staff greet you at the door as you walk in and there are seating areas with red and white chairs should you like to dine in. With a menu that focuses on sandwiches and meals involving, essentially, the same meats from the sandwiches, there's little room for error when it comes to choosing.  We opted for a Steak Super Meal (37LE) with mushroom sauce and a Kofta sandwich (12LE) and an Alexandrian Liver combo (24LE). Serving time is generally swift at Mossab, but the presentation isn't the greatest – in fact there is little 'presentation' to speak of. Though its name is rather enticing, and maybe even a little exciting, the Steak Super Meal unfortunately came as pieces of overcooked fillet on a bed of yellow basmati rice topped with mushroom sauce and bell peppers, with sides of French fries, bread, coleslaw and Middle Eastern garlic-yoghurt sauce, tomeya. While the meat certainly isn't the best, and the basmati rice is a little drier than desirable, the sheer amount of food you get for 37LE is remarkable. The Alexandrian Liver fared a little better than the steak, but not by much; again, it was a little overcooked. The real disappointment, however, was the Kofta sandwich. The Kofta itself didn't taste freshly-made and its texture suggested that it was frozen, prior to cooking. In fact, that was one of the common themes running through all the meals we tried; the meats were tough – especially around the exterior. Mossab isn't the kind of restaurant to expect a quality gourmet meal from, but you can certainly expect to feel full and satisfied without breaking the bank, because as with so many similar venues across Cairo, portions and value-for-money generally trumps creativity or innovation – which isn't always a bad thing. 

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Alfi Bek: Eighty Year-Old Downtown Cairo Restaurant Still Has Some Magic
Published On: 09/03/2015

There's nothing Cairo 360 loves more than a restaurant with a history and a story. Located on El Alfi Street in Downtown Cairo, this gem dates back to 1938 and is as much a historical monument as it was a hub for writers, politicians, artists and scientists. Founded by Abdel Kawi Abd Rabbo, Alfi Bek was featured in Al Ahram newspaper's 12th December 1938 edition – Al Ahram only consisted of a single page then – and was praised for its profound ability to attract the finest of social classes within only a month of its opening, because of its delicious food, excellent service and general cleanliness. Today, the restaurant is still a family run business and is now under the watchful eye of Abdel Kawi Abd Rabo grandson. Having been passed downthrough generations, the restaurant still maintains the same charm and the staff continues to deliver this fine service. It's because of this that we couldn't help but feel a twinge of sadness at how few customers visit what was once popular and lively dining spot. Upon entering Alfi Bek, through the large glass doors, we were greeted with glittering chandeliers hovering over a grand space filled with neatly set-up tables and walls decorated with Oriental tapestries and paintings of old Egyptian scenes. At the far end of the restaurant, you can find the aforementioned framed newspaper page featuring the picture of the restaurant when it first opened. The waiters, who were dressed in old-fashioned red waistcoats over white shirts, were a delight; they recommended items from the menu and informed us of the most popular dishes and finest meats. For appetisers, we opted for one Yoghurt Salad (7LE) plus a plate of Cheese Sambousak (15LE). For our mains, we went for a portion of Rice and Meat (13LE) and a quarter kilo of Kofta (30LE). Additionally, we ordered for an order of Dolma (15LE). Served first, we found the Yoghurt Salad to be light, creamy and rather refreshing, though unfortunately, the Cheese Sambousak was actually a little on the dry side. Meanwhile, the portion of Rice and Meat was quite small; the meat mixed with red sauce was tangy and flavoursome, although heavy on the stomach.  If you are to order this dish, ordering a second dish beside it is recommended. We had no such complaints – or complaints of any sort, in fact – with the kofte. The large rolls, served on a bed of parsley, were succulent and oozed with flavour, thanks to its subtle seasoning and perfecting frilling. In addition, the slight sourness of the vine leaves mixed with the mildness of the rice mixture inside was just perfect, making the Dolma also a success. Dinner at Alfi Bek is definitely a pleasant experience when mixed with the history intertwined within it.  The portions may appear small but the heavy ingredients filled our stomach leaving little room for complaint. As a whole, the spirit of the restaurant hasn't changed all that much – and it needn't. This paricular brand of of nostalgia is quickly disappearing from Cairo.

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Shaware3na: Unexciting Delivery-Only Egyptian Street Food in Maadi
Published On: 08/03/2015

There's a reason Egyptian street food enjoys such wide popularity – even in the face for the increasing number of cuisines and/or gimmicks that continues to arrive at the doorstep of the Cairo dining scene. One of the biggest issues for many is, understandably, hygiene, which feeds into the bigger issue of quality.   There are, of course, restaurants such as Zooba that have taken street-food and neatly repackaged it into a cleaner-cut version of itself, but then many object to the prices, dismissing the whole concept as nothing but a gimmick. With several restaurants who already fall into this clean street food category, a new competitor has joined the ranks; Shaware3na. Having expanded from their original branch in Manial, Shaware3na has set up a new delivery-only kitchen inside Maadi Club. The menu features nothing new or exceptional; just the good old sandwiches you would normally find at a traditional Egyptian cart – think hawawshi, liver, and sogok alongside salads like marinated potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes, as well as sweet sandwiches like jam, honey and cream. We opted for a hawawshi (12LE) and an Alexandrian liver combo (18LE) alongside a Halawa with Cream (6LE) sandwich for dessert. Our order was at our door in unbelievable fifteen minutes after we placed the order, the sandwiches were neatly packaged into rectangular containers and, most impressively, the food was hot. Unfortunately, though, initial optimism quickly made way for dissapointment. The hawawshi – two tiny halves of one loaf of baladi bread – was meagrely stuffed and said meat stuffing had the same seasoning as that of sojok, leaving it a confusing and underwhelming dish. The Alexandrian Liver fared slightly better – but not by much. This sandwich is once again rather small – one half of a baladi bread – and, although stuffed much more generously than the hawawshi, it was uncharacteristically bland compared to the heavily seasoned versions you'd get at a cart. Meanwhile, the French fries that came as part of the combo were exasperatingly soggy. The halawa with cream sandwich proved to be quite divisive, in that it had a homemade feel to it – but to the extent where one couldn't help think that we could just have made something identical at home. There was nothing special about it – no graft or finesse. If anything, our experience only went to prove the argument that street food belongs on the street and not in neatly packaged boxes. Polishing this kind of food often takes away two of its most important factors; the flavour, and the adrenaline rush you get from an impending sense of doom. At least the delivery service was fast, though.

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Grazie: Affordable Italian Dining in Downtown Cairo
Published On: 05/03/2015

We often lament the state of Italian cuisine in Cairo restaurants. While it is of course in no short supply across both specialist Italian restaurants and other eateries that carry the maddeningly vague 'international cuisine' banner, few places in the capital deliver when it comes to authenticity.   Located in Downtown Cairo, Grazie, located on the second floor of the Hilton Ramses Annex, makes a good go of it. Despite being in the centre of Cairo, the restaurant has a rustic elegance about it; modestly chic décor; delicate displays of spaghetti alongside cooking oils and musical instruments, are as charming as the waiters who deliver excellent service. There is a menu outside the restaurant so guests can look before entering and it displays many of Italy's most iconic dishes such as Lasagne, Spaghetti Bolognaise and Penne Arrabiata. After being seated, we were given a complimentary 'shot' – a green, mint-flavoured hot beverage – then, but a few moments later, the waiter arrived with another complimentary snack; a small plate of black pepper crackers with an additional tangy, tomato sauce. For starters we ordered the Italian Salad (33.25LE), which consisted of a generous bed of fresh lettuce topped with chicken breast, tomatoes, cucumber and green peppers drizzled with an Italian dressing.  It was delightfully fresh and the dressing gave it a nice, aromatic kick. To follow we opted for Spaghetti Bolognaise (33.25LE) which was very generous in portion and very nicely presented, too.  The edge of the plate was decorated with fresh finely-chopped parsley, framing the mound of spaghetti and meat/tomato sauce, and garnished with cherry tomatoes, a cracker and asparagus.  The addition of grated-parmesan cheese topped off what was a top-notch tangy tomato sauce and basil, though the meat was meager in amount Italian tradition dictates that one finishes a meal with a coffee or espresso and Grazie have provided a large variety of coffees on their menu, though there are also a range of soft drinks, cocktails and hot chocolate.  We ordered a small espresso which was strong and robust and the perfect finish to this heavy meal. Despite advertising itself as an Italian restaurant, Grazie also serves a large variety of Middle Eastern dishes such as Shish Tawook and Kofta with Rice. But despite this, its location and its relative modesty, Grazie offers a pleasantly simple dining experience complete with good food at affordable prices.  

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Khayrat El Sham: Game Changing Syrian Cuisine in Maadi
Published On: 01/03/2015

Let's face it; there are at least three restaurants in your vicinity that can deliver you a shawerma. While we love a good shawerma, and the cuisine of the Levant in general, there are just too many subpar restaurants ruining the good name of Syrian food. It's not just about the meat or chicken; it's the little things like the tomeya, the saj bread and the marinade - the kind of things that truly elevate the experience. If you've been feeling like all the Syrian food you've been trying recently all tastes the same, rejoice because you won't believe how much better this restaurant is. Located at the very end of Road 233 in Maadi, Khayrat El Sham is a very modestly-sized restaurant that operates on takeaway and delivery. Don't be fooled by the size, or the modesty, because you're about to be blown away by flavour. The menu features shawerma sandwiches, meals and fattahs, as well as grill options that are served as meals or sandwiches including Shish Taouk, Msahab (boneless chicken), kofta and kebbeh. The appetisers include fattoush, tabouleh, kebbeh and a mean pomegranate molasses. We opted for a Shish Taouk Meal (31LE) as well as a Meat Shawerma Fattah (31LE) alongside an extra order of Yellow Basmati Rice (7LE), Coleslaw (8LE) and a Kofta Sandwich (19LE). The Shish Taouk Meal features two skewers of heavily marinated, including pomegranate molasses, chicken breast cubes, French fries, saj bread, Tomeya and coleslaw. The portion of chicken is very generous, and is hands down the most flavorsome Shish Taouk in town. While the French fries are just about average and the coleslaw decent, the Tomeya is phenomenal, and combining all together into the saj bread creates an incredible bite. The Meat Shawerma Fattah fared just as well. Again, the portion was very generous, the slices of beef shawerma just the right amount of crispy and the well cooked basmati rice combined with crunchy bread and the tomeya created another winning mix. The Kofta Sandwich, featuring parsley, tehina, onions and pickles, was also a hit, thanks to the tasty tehina and delectable and perfectly cooked kofta that fell apart before you even bit into it. The extra order of Yellow Basmati Rice and Coleslaw, which we had ordered in fear of not getting full, both surprised us in their portions in that they could feed up to three people.  While there is no option to dine in at Khayrat El Sham's Maadi branch, such good food may actually be best indulged in at home. We've tried so many Syrian and Lebanese restaurants, even those of a much higher caliber when it comes to presentation and the venue itself, but few churn out food as good as Khairat El Sham.

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Win! Group Dinner at Ayadina Lebanese Restaurant!

If you browse the Cairo 360 restaurants section for Lebanese restaurants, you'll find that most carry a very similar sentiment. You see, there are so many Lebanese eateries in Cairo these days that the scene has become somewhat saturated and there are very few restaurants that stand out – in short