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Bite Me Cairo: The Best of the Best - Part 1 - Daily News Egypt

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Bite Me Cairo: The Best of the Best – Part 1

The best in town!

Foodist at work by Nada Badawi
Foodist at work
by Nada Badawi

And the best restaurant in Cairo is . . . ? Yep, you guessed it, Don Quichotte. Wait, what? Yes it is. You know it is because it says so on the website 10 Best: Trusted Advice for Travellers. It is, according to the reviewer, “the perfect place for a romantic dinner.” Even more impressive—and this is my favorite part—“the menu of French classics might be on the small side, but the execution of dishes such as lamb stewed in eggplant is brilliantly judged.”

If an execution is pending, then undoubtedly you want the best judge available, especially when it comes to French classics like lamb and eggplant stew. I wonder if they are using the Escoffier recipe? Or if it’s more of a Parisian-style lamb and eggplant stew like you find at bistros on the Champs-Élysées?

And if our hapless traveler is not into French food that’s okay, because the second best restaurant in Cairo is Lai Thai at the Four Seasons First Residence, followed by the Revolving Restaurant at the Grand Hyatt, Cedars, Kandahar, Spectra, Maison Thomas, La Bodega, Abou El Sid, and Mojo’s Lounge and Grill. So there you have it. If you have friends travelling to Cairo in the near future, send them the link. I’m just glad to see that Mojo’s made it on there this year: no newcomer to the city should be denied the pleasure of a visit to Road 90 in New Cairo.

Do not fear that all tourists will be led astray; the savvy ones will know to look at the local listings, Cairodining.com sets the record straight. Their top five restaurants in Cairo are Cucina (JW Marriot), Lan Tania (Fairmont Heliopolis), Oak Grill (Conrad), Richoux (City Stars) and Kamala (Conrad). They must not have visited Don Quichotte. Still, it’s an impressive list. I need to look into getting a job over there: the reviewer’s expense account is phenomenal.

If you don’t trust the websites, ask the people. One of my go-to travel sites is TripAdvisor, where travelers rate and comment upon their favorite hotels, restaurants, sightseeing excursions, et cetera. According to these folks, Kebabgi (next to the Sofitel Gezira) is the best in town.

Followed by Shogun Japanese Restaurant (Intercontinental City Stars), Maestro Italian Restaurant (Intercontinental City Stars), Indira Indian Restaurant (Intercontinental City Stars), the Little Swiss Restaurant—an anomaly: they must have had relatives in Maadi—; then Birdcage (Semiramis Intercontinental), Masala (The Karvin Hotel), Four Seasons Hotel Garden City, and Osmanly Restaurant (Kempinsky Hotel). Are we starting to see a pattern here? It seems tourists these days are too nervous to venture outside their hotels.

Remarkably, at #10 on the TripAdvisor list, we finally get some genuine Egyptian food; ranked immediately after these nine five-star restaurants is our very own Koshary al-Tahrir, followed closely at #11 by Koshary Abou Tarek. Well, at least that gives us Cairenes something we can argue about.

The New York Times Cairo Travel Guide likewise lets travelers speak for themselves, so that might be useful, except that in the past five years there have been a grand total of only fourteen readers’ comments/recommendations. Less than three per year. The one I like best is the following:

“I went to the recently opened Aperitivo Bar. A stunning interior by Hedayat Islam, mosaics
by Martin Brown and lighting by Nadim Spiridon, it captures the spirit of fin de siecle Cairo. Chef Giorgio Bottazzi, creates a stunning Italian menu contains antipasti, pasta, risottos; fish and meat dishes with flavors typical of regional Italian cooking. And to top things off, pastas, breads and even ice creams are all hand made by Bottazzi himself.”

Signed: Martin Brown. Nice review Martin. We’ll definitely give it a try.

Oh, and the editors of this page have made their own list where they denote their “New York Times Picks.” There is only one. There should of course be a clear favourite by now given the exhaustive research you’ve done. But no; of the twenty-two establishments they name, the only one they deem worthy of a Times pick is Sequoia. They must not have gone to Don Quichotte either.

So you see we have a problem. After studying four different Best Restaurant in Cairo rankings, not a single restaurant appears on any list twice. Next week I’ll see if the local websites can do any better.

Just as a preview, only two of the above-named restaurants show up on Cairo 360’s Top Ten list. Don Quichotte wasn’t one of them.

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