Cairo Restaurants

Cairo's restaurant scene has really developed over the last decade, breaking out of the five-star hotels and onto the streets. Eating out is now a regular form of entertainment, affordable to the growing upper and middle classes in Egypt. Naturally, Egyptian food remains the local favorite, and Cairo is the place to find the best of the country's specialties. Restaurants compete mainly on quality of ingredients rather than refinement of preparations. However, the range of cuisine options has expanded dramatically to include Indian, Thai, French, Italian, and even Japanese.

Local beers (including Stella Premium, Luxor, and Sakara) are common, and you can usually find a range of drinkable, if unremarkable, local wines (the top-rate Grand Marquis label, then the passable Omar Khayyam, Sheherazade, and Obelisque, and a much less wonderful Rubis).

Egyptians eat late: lunch from 1 to 3 and dinner often starting at 9 or 10. Most restaurants are open daily for both lunch and dinner. Dress is generally smart casual. Local beers and wines are served in many restaurants, but expensive imported alcohol is limited to top-end establishments. Although fancier places levy a 12% service charge, it is customary to leave a tip in inverse relation to the size of the bill, ranging from, say, 8% at expensive places to 12% to 14% at cheaper places.

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  • 1. Abou El Sid

    $$ | Zamalek | Middle Eastern

    You'll feel as though you're walking into an Arabian palace when you pass through the portal of this restaurant—the interior might be a touch...Read More

  • 2. Alfi Bey Restaurant & Grill

    $$ | Downtown | Middle Eastern

    A mainstay of the old theater district since 1938, this restaurant, with its wood-paneled dining room, white tablecloths, and marble floors...Read More

  • 3. Andrea

    $$ | Giza | Middle Eastern

    Out by the Pyramids and down an unmarked canal off Shar'a King Faisal, Andrea is hard to find—your taxi driver might know it, or ask pedestrians...Read More

  • 4. Bua Khao

    $$ | Ma'adi | Thai

    Run by a Thai woman who uses ingredients flown in from Bangkok, this restaurant manages mouthwateringly authentic food that has saved many an...Read More

  • 5. Casper & Gambini's

    $$ | Downtown | International

    This popular casual coffee bar and eatery is one of a chain around the Middle East. The Corniche branch opens out onto the mezzanine of the...Read More

  • 6. Kandahar

    $$ | Mohandiseen | Indian

    Overlooking Maydan Sphinx (Sphinx Square), Kandahar serves North Indian food. Consider ordering one of the set menus that include the highly...Read More

  • 7. L'Aubergine

    $$ | Zamalek | European

    This casual, vegetarian-friendly restaurant is a rare find, with an airy Mediterranean-style ground floor and a darker, candlelit upstairs....Read More

  • 8. La Bodega

    $$ | Zamalek | Eclectic

    The dining area is a series of elegant high-ceilinged rooms, which, with their dark wood and seductive lighting, evoke Casablanca as much as...Read More

  • 9. Lucille's

    $$ | Ma'adi | American

    Despite the arrival in Cairo of internationally recognized American fast-food chains, expats still flock to Lucille's for burgers and Tex-Mex...Read More

  • 10. Maison Thomas

    $$ | Zamalek | Italian

    Cairenes give Maison Thomas mixed reviews for its pizza, but the restaurant also sells smaller dishes to eat in or take out, including various...Read More

  • 11. Naguib Mahfouz Café

    $$ | Islamic Cairo North | Middle Eastern

    This air-conditioned, upscale coffee shop is the perfect refuge from the clamor of the Khan. Have a drink, a light lunch, or—at the adjoining...Read More

  • 12. Naguib Mahfouz Café

    $$ | Islamic Cairo North | Middle Eastern

    Named after Egypt's most famous novelist and run by the Oberoi Hotel Group, this is a haven of air-conditioned tranquillity in the midst of...Read More

  • 13. Taboula

    $$ | Garden City | Lebanese

    This cozy Lebanese restaurant, with pale stucco walls decorated with Lebanese crafts and a highly patterned tiled floor, comes alive in the...Read More

  • 14. Windsor Hotel

    $$ | Downtown | Middle Eastern

    This historic hotel has an atmospheric bar tucked away on its second floor that's a great place to take a break. The Windsor opened in 1901...Read More

  • 15. Papillon

    $$ | Mohandiseen | Middle Eastern

    Beautifully remodeled to resemble a stone mansion, complete with a grand staircase at the entrance and a dining area that feels like a drawing...Read More

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