F&W's roundup of the best restaurants in Cairo, from one modeled after a 1940s supper club to another with excellent mezes and a prime view of the Nile. For more great restaurants, check out our guide to the world's best places to eat.
At this restaurant modeled after a 1940s supper club on Zamalek, one of two river islands in theNile, locals and expats sip sugarcane juice and smoke shishas (water pipes) while loungingon couches. The specialty of the dining room is molokhia, a homey stew prepared withchicken, rice and the spinachlike mallow plant.
We loved: Molokhia; skarasseya (chicken breast and rice with walnutsauce).
Koshari–a flavorful mix of rice and lentils topped with fried onions and tomatosauce–was once a fast food beloved by Egyptian workers. Now it has become a Cairene foodiefavorite, and the three-story Abou Tarek in the heart of downtown has been serving the best fordecades.
We loved: Koshari.
The Sofitel El Gezirah Cairo helped the island of Zamalek reclaim its status as Cairo'schicest quarter when it opened in 2007. The hotel has a standout restaurant: the traditional ElKebabgy, which serves Middle Eastern classics like an exceptional mixed grill of lamb andchicken.
We loved: Kebabs; lamb kofta; slow-cooked tagine.
Nobody goes to Fishawi's for the food–it doesn't serve any. They go to checkout the crowd and–as generations of Cairene have done–to smoke water pipes and sipcopious amounts of mint tea while watching the city go by. This 200 year-old institution in theheart of the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar also serves a range of exotic juices, from carob tolicorice.
We loved: Sahlab, a warm, thick, milky drink with rose water andpistachio.
Reservations here are some of Cairo's toughest to score, thanks to its prime location onZamalek island, its glamorous Euro-Arabian vibe and its expansive menu. Euro-Asian-Mediterraneandishes range from tuna carpaccio to herb-marinated chicken brochettes.
We loved: Sweet-and-sour honey-glazed duck.
The beautiful Al Azhar Park in the city center, set on what once was a garbage dump, openedunder the auspices of the Aga Khan Trust in 2005. It now offers pristine views of the SaladinCitadel and a great restaurant, Misr. The simple salads and grilled meats are among the best bets,but traditional dishes like pigeon soup are also stellar.
We loved: Fattah, layers of meat, rice and bread in a yogurt sauce.
Cairo's restaurants facing the Nile are usually disappointing, but this spot set on thenorthern tip of Zamalek is one of the few exceptions. Customers cluster on sofas under billowytents to eat mostly Lebanese- and Egyptian-styled mezes like hummus, falafel, stuffed grape leavesand tabbouleh.
We loved: Couscous with stewed lamb.