Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Where to Take Guests to Eat in Cairo

It is the greatest joy to have people visit you when you live abroad. Of course, it can also be stressful and exhausting as well if you don't plan at least a little.

And let's face it - food requires planning.

There are many places that we like to take our guests when they come to visit. We usually don't have a lot of time so I try to be smart about where we go to eat.

I usually decide where to take our guests to eat based on the following 3 issues:

Atmosphere. Is it a warm and inviting place? Is it dim and crowded? Is it family friendly? Is it large and spacious? It depends on your group where you'd like to go. If you have young kids, you want the family friendly place. For large groups, you want the large and spacious place. For those wanting a more *authentic* dining experience in Cairo, they might want the dim and crowded place.

Location. A schedule will always revolve somehow around food. There are lots of great places to eat in Cairo, but not all of them are the best choice when you're all the way across town. Other things to consider are that you might want to give your guests a varied experience. For example, you might take them to Al-Azhar Park to dine at the Citadel View Restaurant on a Friday or Saturday just before sunset where they can overlook Islamic Cairo and enjoy the view while eating their fill at the oriental buffet.

Or you might take them to City Stars to eat at Abou El Sid restaurant to experience another side of Cairo while also having the opportunity to taste some authentic oriental food. I love to sit at the circular tables and to order a selection of dishes and just to whirl the middle around to share.

Or still another experience with eating at Andrea (I recommend either the Mokkatam or Mattareya locations) where you're out in the open air and you can smell the chicken roasting. The lady is usually sitting there baking fresh bread. You can feast on dips (salads) and starters to your little heart's content (and really should because it takes 30 minutes to get that chicken freshly roasted).

Quality of food. There is nothing more embarrassing than to take a guest to a place that doesn't have good food. I always feel like I have wasted my time and energy to come to a place where I don't get food that tastes good.

My advice is never to take your guests to a place that you have never tried before. No matter how high of a recommendation a place gets from someone you know, you'll feel more comfortable with your guests if you've been there before. That way you can recommend certain dishes to your guests and in general get a feel for the place. Plus if you tip well, they might remember you the next time you come and you may even get better service than you did the last time.

All-in-all eating in Cairo can (and should) be a delightful experience for your guests. They may never be able to experience the best Egyptian food which is, of course, homemade Egyptian food. However, they may be able to get a feel for the traditional culture and food here by tasting it in some of the fabulous restaurants available in Cairo.

I would recommend the following places to take guests in Cairo:
*Citadel View Restaurant (Studio Misr), Al-Azhar Park
*Andrea, Mokkatam or Marioteyya locations
*Felfela, Downtown
*Abou El Sid, Zamalek or City Stars locations (the only ones I can vouch for)

What about you? What is your favorite place to take guests to eat in Cairo?


  1. Speaking of visitors, how about some visitors in August? Jen Breen

  2. I like: all of the above. :)

  3. Jen- now you know I've been trying to get you here for years now... =)

    Chels- you were our guinea pig... thanks for giving your stamp of approval. =)

  4. Always a pleasure to read your posts Erin. Could even smell Egyptian food and spices from here.
    Great! Now I know where to go when my chance comes to visit Cairo.......very soon I hope.
    All the best.


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