(M)EAT: Six Superb Steak Spots in Cairo
Gaser El Safty
Finding a good steak dinner around Cairo can be a bit daunting. To many, it’s just a grilled piece of meat, but to others, including yours truly, it’s so much more. And for some, the idea of seeing red and not brown on the inside is somehow repulsive, so it’s safe to say that, as a population, we don't really ‘get’ steak.
Expensive doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality, unfortunately, as we’ve seen time and time again around Cairo. What matters more is scrutinising attention to detail, something we seem to distinctly lack here.
You see, when you do ‘get’ it, you come to realise that the perfect streak dinner is a matter of science when it comes to finding the balance between cooking the steak to your liking, executing the sauce of choice correctly and then bringing it home with impeccable sides. We can’t control how well restaurants execute all this, but we can point you in the right direction – because life is hard enough without the crushing disappointed of an overcooked steak.
Easily one of the best purveyors of steak in Cairo, there’s a reason that there are JW Steakhouse branches across the world. But being born of the JW Marriott brand, prices are extremely steep and will burn a hole the size of a beef medallion – that’s an approximate guess – in your pocket. But if you’re pockets are made of sturdier materials – we might have we gone too far with this pocket analogy, but it’s too late to turn back – then the food is most definitely worth it and is held to the highest standards. It’s not often that sides will impress as much as the steak, but JW Steakhouse’s asparagus and spinach gratin are also quite exceptional, and the desserts are quite delicious too.
One of the less known restaurants in this marvellous collection, Sheikh Zayed’s One Oak is worth the trek out to the middle of the desert – it might as well be a different country altogether. Boasting probably the biggest selection of cuts, both local and imported, One Oak has an immensely large menu that focuses on meats – and sushi, too, but that’s a topic for another day. What’s great here is that you can customise every aspect of your steak and the steaks arrive labelled with a mini flag stating how well its cooked and what sauce is with it – it’s the little things in life, you know? PS, their 600g fillet is a must try.
Relatively less expensive than others counterparts on this list, but still able to deliver a mean steak, Blackstone Bistro is a casual classic whose menu always seems like an ongoing project. Though items disappear at a whim off of the menu, what this has resulted in is a constant tweaking that ensures the restaurant knows how to treat a piece of meat to your liking. It also offers a cosy atmosphere and we can’t talk about Blackstone without mentioning its fantastic bread basket and tasty, crunchy wedges – all apt precursors for the main event: steak.
Recently joining the ranks of nightlife venues is almost kind-of, is-but-doesn’t-want-to-admit-it gastro pub, the Tap. Many have lauded its arrival, including us, for putting some zest back into Maadi’s one-note nightlife scene, but it deserves as much praise for its carnivorous approach to food. While on most nights it’s insufferably crowded, when you can get a seat and a chance to try the food, you will not be disappointed and will feel something akin to gluttonous medieval king. Serving both tenderloin and rib eye steaks, both can and will win you over. Keep in mind that the earlier you go to The Tap, the better.
No round-up of steak-hunting in Cairo would be complete without Charwood’s. Having become a point of pilgrimage for the city’s steak lovers in Mohandiseen, the chain now exists only in Sheikh Zayed – though popular concensus suggests that it doesn't quite hit the mark like the original branch. Regardless, Charwood’s takes an unpretentious approach to dining, offering a hearty selection at prices that would be considered reasonable in comparison to its peers, all in an intangibly warm and cosy atmosphere.
Conrad Cairo’s phenomenal award-winning restaurant is quite something and, as part of a new push to bring the hotel back to the forefront, has hosted guest culinary masterminds in the last few months, including Michelin Star chef, Julien Verrat. As one would expect with a hotel restaurant, prices are pretty steep, but this is the kind of place where dining is more than just eating – dining is living. Dramatic words, yes, but we’d challenge you not to giggle with glee as one of the incredibly attentive staff members opens a case revealing custom-made, one-of-a-kind steak knives for you to choose from. We get goosebumps every time.
Happy eating, fellow steak lovers – the struggle for us is real, but not impossible.