Excelsior: 1950s Diner Turned Bar in Downtown Cairo
Downtown Cairo never surprises
us with its random selection of baladi bars. From one end of the neighbourhood
to the other, you can always stumble upon hidden watering holes and hotel night spots where
you can have a quiet evening and knock back a few.
On the ground floor
of the rustic Excelsior Hotel on Talaat Harb Street is Excelsior Bar, a small, dim-lit bar laden
with a cursive glowing sign and big windows looking out onto the street. The
bar covers an entire corner of Talaat Harb Street and Adly Street, making it
difficult to miss.
Taken over what this reviewer
can only assume was a 1950s diner, Excelsior contains dozens of small tables
and replicated street lamps for lighting. The old Polaroids
lining the entrance left this reviewer wondering about the bar in its heyday and the patrons that once
By the looks of
things, a few patrons seemed to be everyday regulars, just there for their beer
or cup of coffee. A few couples were scattered around as well, so Excelsior is
Waiters are dressed
in traditional black-and-white uniforms and are quick to serve you without any
hassle. Setting the title of ‘bar’ aside, Excelsior’s still got that
diner-esque atmosphere, where the menu primarily consists of food and
caffeinated options, including sandwiches (12LE to 15LE), salads (7LE to 12LE)
and coffees (7LE to 12LE). If you’re just looking for a snack, bowls of complimentary
peanuts and seeds are available on the tabletops.
The drinks menu lists juice and alcoholic beverages including Stella (12LE), Heineken (15LE),
Meister Max, ID Edge and Omar Khayyam wine (18LE per glass). Beers come served with the appreciated
addition of a nicely chilled glass on the side, while our glass of wine was
just cold enough.
For 12LE, we had to
help ourselves to a banana split; served in a quintessential dessert bowl and
filled with strawberry, mango and vanilla ice cream. A little iced over, the
ice cream didn’t do much for us but the baby puffs of cream for decor and
banana slices were more satisfying to devour. Other ice cream options
included milkshakes and sundaes.
After all is said
and done, Excelsior reminded us more of a lunch spot than a watering hole. If a
late lunch and beer is your thing, you might really like this venue; just don’t
judge a book by its cover.