Charlotte, North Carolina
May 9, 2004
The namesake of the restaurant is a very famous Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian author who wrote many stories set in the neighborhoods of Cairo. The menu had a little background and many of the menu items were named after characters in the books. It was nice to learn a little bit about the author as I enjoyed a very fine Egyptian meal.
The interior of the restaurant is very nicely decorated and comfortable throughout. The initial room very informal and people were socializing, singing, smoking, and having coffee. The more formal dining room was set off to the side in a series of rooms. Many people were dressed casually, but I could tell that this was regarded as more than just a casual meal (particularly for the local patrons).
The wait staff was very friendly and dressed in a nice Arabic uniform. It was always easy to get a recommendation and every waiter was relatively attentive. No one was in a rush to push you through your meal and I took my time to enjoy sishah, large meals, dessert, and coffee. The waiter kindly warned me that I had ordered too much a couple of times and explained how strong the Turkish coffee would be (he wasn’t exaggerating).
The food was absolutely delicious. I had a few entrees including kebab and lamb in a tomato sauce. In all cases, the serving sizes were large and the food presented in a very appetizing way. Even though I was pretty full after the main course, I always had time for dessert. I highly recommend the rice pudding (the best I had in Egypt) and the Om ali for dessert. The price was a little more expensive than other places, but reasonable when you consider the overall dining experience.
All said, I can’t recommend this restaurant enough. Make this restaurant your top dining priority while staying in Cairo. I can almost guarantee you will go to the Khan el-Khalili market, so incorporate Naguib Mahfouz into your visit.
From journal A Hectic Week in Cairo