28 May 2010

Hard Rock Cafe

It's with a little bit of shame I write this next piece.  Yes, yes, I will admit that I went to Hard Rock Cafe (HRC) in Cairo.  I will own up to my embarrassing collection of Hard Rock paraphernalia and the fact that I seek out HRCs in every country I travel.  My name is Captain Awesome and I am a Hard Rockaholic.  I get excited when I visit a city and discover a cafe with a Rock Shop unbeknownst to me. 

27 May 2010

Takiebah: Townhouse

Townhouse is a local hang out off a side street in downtown Cairo.  Shisha is cheap and it's fun place to people watch, personally one of my favorite past-times.  Entertainment is also provided by performers looking to earn some change.  During our visit a teen flame twirler showed off his skills while bystanders looked on.

Location: Downtown- El Nabarwy Street.  If you're traveling through on a budget this is an inexpensive and easily accessible place to get a taste of where the locals hang.  Hotel Vienna, a backpacker point, is located just around the corner. 
Price: 2.50 LE for shisha
Atmosphere: Set up like a sidewalk cafe but with the majority of the chairs and tables actually in the street, be ready to jump up and move your chair back if an irate motorist doesn't like waiting his turn to pass.  Fortunately there's not a lot of traffic on this street.

Otlob: McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, and more

McDonalds, McDonalds
Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut 
You like it you love it
You know you really want it
(Lyrics: The Fast Food Song, Fast Food Rockers, 2003)

(Photo credit: http://otlob.com/)
Be still my beating heart for I have been introduced to the greatness that is Otlob.  Otlob is an online food ordering service similar to Dining in in the States.  It delivers 24 hours a day all over Cairo.  I was first introduced to the fantasticness the evening of my arrival.  After a night of shisha and Horreya coupled with American food deprivation we decided a late night order of McDonalds would hit the spot.  I don't eat McDonalds when stateside but I have found it tastes shockingly better in other countries.  A cheeseburger, fries, and a Kit Kat McFlurry later and I was ready to crash a happy camper.


Foreign types with the hookah pipes say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian
(Lyrics: Walk Like an Egyptian, The Bangles, 1986)

Shisha is a way of life in Cairo.  Just walking down Quasr el Eini Street one will see men sitting outside their shops at the end of a long day smoking from a hookah.  It is seen as less harmful than traditional cigarettes and cigars by the west and smoking a variety of fruity flavor tobaccos from a hookah pipe make shisha more of a social experience rather than an addiction.

26 May 2010


Horreya (freedom in Arabic), a traditional cafe that serves beer in downtown Cairo, is back.  After being closed for over two months the expat community turned out in force the day of its reopening which just so happened to correspond with my first night in town.  On one side of the cafe locals gather to drink coffee and play chess, the other end is loud and smoky packed full of people drinking Stella, the only beer served in this establishment. 

Location: Downtown- Midan el-Falaki
Price: 9 LE per beer
Atmosphere: Brightly lit for a quasi-bar but definitely the place to be and be seen.  I was told there are other bars to patronize but if you want to be guaranteed to run into friends without having to set up something formal this is where you should show up.  It is also a bit of a peep show for the locals.  While the windows are covered to a point, we could still see an occasional face peering in to check out the scene.  Known for its 1930s feel, dingy mirrors, and dirty floors some of the dive charm has been cleaned up but regardless a fun time is guaranteed to all.

Café Riche

I started my culinary adventure in Egypt at Café Riche, a restaurant ripe with history and full of expats in downtown Cairo.  Founded in 1908, Café Riche was the social hot spot for Cairo's theater and literary community as well as a failed assassination attempt on the passing motorcade of Prime Minister Pasha in 1919.  Apparently anyone who was anybody in the Arabic world visited here before the restaurant's decade long hiatus in the 1990s due to earthquake damage.  Now the feel is distinctly touristy with a noticeable lack of local presence, particularly in the seating area off the entrance.  There was a second narrow room behind the first which looked more Arabic than sidewalk cafe but it was empty at the time of our visit. 

20 May 2010


(Photo credit: http://www.expedition360.com/journal/church_lalibela3.jpg)

Lalibela, named for the holy city located in northern Ethiopia, is my weekly/bi-weekly/multi-weekly go-to place when I'm not sure what I want to eat.  It is family-owned and operated and the best Ethiopian food I've had in Nairobi (and yes, I have been to Habesha).  It is a hole in the wall, but the food is good, inexpensive, and you get personalized service.  I showed up at 8pm one Sunday night after they had already shut down for the evening and were on their way out, but they insisted on reopening the restaurant to serve my friend and me.

Debonairs Pizza

Photo credit: http://www.debonairs.co.ke/

Locations: City Center- Muindi Mbingu, Village Market- Limuru Road, Ngong Road- Uchumi Hyper
Price: Two large pizzas and two drinks- 1680 KSH
Free Delivery: Free delivery available within a 5 km radius from the restaurant. A minimum order of 400 KSH is required to qualify for free delivery. 

19 May 2010

Brew Bistro & Lounge

Brew Bistro has been open just five months but already has quite a following.  This was my fourth visit but the first time we classed it up and made reservations for the restaurant behind the bar.  We booked online at Eat Out so we could receive a complimentary beer sampler tray, a must for any first-timer and a treat for those returning.

Double beer sampler