Restaurants in Cairo
Diners in Cairo should take advantage of the unique, plentiful,
and very cheap restaurants serving Egyptian favourites. By sitting
down in the neighbourhood café and enjoying some light eats
and sweet drinks travellers can easily immerse themselves in the
local dining culture, and it is a great opportunity for people
watching and possibly meeting some locals.
Although Egyptian cuisine is worth investigating and has a lot to offer, some of the best restaurants in Cairo have an eclectic international focus. Previously restricted to hotel restaurants, everything from sashimi to cheeseburgers is now prepared by top chefs in trendy venues. Even local food is getting a facelift.
For your pick of the trendiest restaurants in Cairo, Zamalek is the dining hotspot. Inversely, the downtown areas near Khan al-Khalili are great for cheap and local haunts.
In Cairo it is considered unclean to eat with the left hand, and remember that alcohol is often not served unless at a hotel restaurant. It is considered good manners to leave food on your plate, as it shows that the host has been generous. It is considered impolite to stare at another person's food in a restaurant. During Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the day, many restaurants are closed and, again, travellers should head to a hotel restaurant.
This popular tourist haunt may be a bit pricey, yet the Oriental décor is stunning. A bubbling fountain, contemporary art exhibits and tapestries adorning the walls create a wonderful dining environment. The Egyptian-Middle Eastern food focuses mainly on grilled meats so stick to local dishes like bamia (stewed okra). Arabesque is popular for business lunches. Alcohol is served. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations essential.
Address: 6 Qasr el-Nil Street, Cairo
Telephone: (0)2 574 8677
This unusual restaurant is a mix of heavy ottoman ornaments in a richly decorated haunt. The food too is a mix and the more unusual sounding dishes are most likely to be the best. Traditional home cooking like molokhiyya stew are favourites although the restaurant blends dishes from several backgrounds with a Lebanese flair. Reservations are advisable.
Address: 48 Giza street.
Telephone: +20 2 749 7423
This tent restaurant has become a popular relaxation spot with trendy locals and expats and for good reason. On the high banks of the Nile the restaurant has a commanding spot atop the city. Perfect to relax with flavoured tobaccos and traditional Egyptian and Lebanese mezze food although there are other options for light western dining. More of a lounge during the day, the place becomes a club when the sun sets.
Address: 3 Abou Feda Street
Telephone: +20 2 735 0014
Delicious food and an inviting, cosy atmosphere have made this restaurant one of Cairo's favourite eateries. Soft lighting and tasteful décor create the perfect atmosphere to dine on such dishes as creamy onion soup, veal cordon bleu stuffed with mushrooms and topped with cheese and tomatoes or thick crust pizzas loaded with toppings of your choice. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations essential.
Address: 44 Michel Bakhoum Street
Telephone: (0)2 3336 0620
With authentic ingredients flown in from Bangkok and a highly skilled Thai woman at the helm, it's no wonder the food at Bua Khao keeps guests coming back for more. Renowned for serving the best Thai food in Egypt, the massaman and penang curries are to-die-for and the tom kar gai (chicken and coconut milk soup) is a great way to start things off. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations advisable.
Address: 9 Road 151, Ma'adi
Telephone: (0)2 378 3355
The Revolving Restaurant Grand Hyatt
Towering above the city 41 floors high, diners can enjoy truly panoramic views of the city below as the scenery circles by. Besides taking in the Nile, the city and the pyramids an open kitchen in the centre of the restaurant puts on a show serving up an eclectic range of multi-national menu choices. A slightly formal setting is perfect for romantic evenings and a reprieve from the congestion 41 floors below. Reservations are advised.
Address: Corniche El Nile
Telephone: +20 2 2365 1234
The Fish Market
Gone are the days of travelling to Alexandria for good fresh fish. Nowadays, those looking for decent sea fare can book a table at the Fish Market, situated on the upper deck of a boat permanently moored on the west bank of the Nile. With no menu and just a display of some of the freshest fish Cairo has to offer, diners pay by weight and choose their own fish, shrimp, calamari, crabs and shellfish which is beautifully prepared by the kitchen as you like. Couple that with a slew of Middle Eastern salads and deliciously home baked bread and you have a recipe for success! Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations advisable.
Address: 26 Shara al-Nil, Giza (on the American Boat)
Telephone: (0)2 380 4232
Overlooking Maydan Sphinx and complete with exquisite woodwork detailing, the lavish dining area in Kandahar features authentic Indian furnishings. The food tastes as good as the restaurant looks - amazing! The Baingan Bharta (creamy smoked eggplant baked in a clay oven and perfect for dipping fluffy Naan bread in) is an absolute must and Murgh Tikka (spiced chicken kebabs marinated in yoghurt) is a firm favourite. Service is excellent. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations advisable.
Address: 3 Shara Gameat al-Dowal al-Arabiya, Mohandiseen
Telephone: (0)2 303 0615
Koshary Abou Tarek
Consistently ranked as one of the most popular restaurants in Cairo, Koshary Abou Tarek serves up a uniquely Egyptian dish, koshary (sometimes spelled koshari), best described as an Egyptian-style chilli, in large portions for prices even the most budget-conscious travellers will love. As ubiquitous in Egypt as curry is in India, Koshary is available at nearly any street vendor in Cairo, but Abou Tarek's koshary is among the best in the city.
Address: 16 Maarouf, Shamplion Street
Telephone: 202 2577 5935
Become our Cairo Travel Expert
We are looking for contributors for our Cairo travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Cairo or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.