El Horeya Café: Practical, Old-School Café in Haram
4 Abd El Haadi Street, off Tarek Bin Ziad Street
Egypt’s glorious affair with cafés is one
that is as deep-rooted in its history as Tutankhamun is. Forget tourism; it’s
getting young Egyptians back into old-school cafés that will pull the country
out of this economic snag. So whether you’re on the way to see the Great
Pyramids of Giza, or on your way home after a night out at one of
Haram’s many classy nightclubs; dropping by El Horeya behind the Horizon Pyramids
Hotel is the most passively patriotic thing that you can do right now.
The café is like a small, dark cave, and there
are more wooden seats and tables crammed into the space than should be
physically possible. There are also two tables across the tiny dead-end road, so
there is very little foot traffic.
The menu is your standard list of soft
drinks, tea, Turkish coffee and sahlab available to enjoy with your shisha. In
fact, that’s the whole menu. And just to clarify, there is no actual menu. This
isn’t a place where you can mull over your order while the waiter stands
patiently with his pen and mini-pad. Don’t expect him to casually pop up to
your table to ask if everything meets your satisfaction, or even to look you in
the eye. He has a Cleopatra cigarette behind his ear, he wears a t-shirt with
the brand ‘Adidos’ on it, and his jeans are rolled up just above his ankles;
presumably so he can show off his flip-flops.
Soft drinks come in cans from a
neighbouring supermarket and served with a glass for 2.50LE, and
disappointingly not in a glass bottle as is Egyptian tradition. A standard meassel
shisha costs a paltry 2LE, while an apple one will cost you 5LE. A cup of tea
costs 1.50LE, and a Turkish coffee costs 2LE.
You may have to fight for the attention of
the waiter on a busy day, but he will invariably come to your table when you
need him; he seems to have a telepathic sense when it comes to knowing that a
glass is empty, or a shisha needs re-coaling.
The problem with places like El Horeya is
that you are a sitting duck (literally) for travelling purveyors of knock-off
sunglasses, watches and rickety looking picture frames, which can be a
nuisance, especially in the evenings. It’s very uncomfortable when they’re so
insistent, but you have to man up and give them the coldest shoulder you have
in you. Having trouble manning up? Just look around you. You aren’t sitting in
Cilantro sipping on an extra frothy cappuccino; you’re playing with the big
If this café had to be equated to just three
words, they would be rusty, dusty and of course, musty. El Horeya Café is
no-nonsense in the realest sense. You can take its grubby charm either with disgust,
or with complete nonchalance. Either way, it makes an impression, and is nice
for escaping modern Cairo.