14 June 2010

Java House

With ten locations throughout Nairobi you can't miss Java House.  They have a wide variety of delectable pastries and even some Mexican dishes to choose from.  Granted, Nairobi's version of Mexican food is very different than a native Texan's, but it's definitely a nice option to have.  My personal fav is their tuna melt with masala chips.  Their masala tea and coffee, of course, is excellent as well.  I always go for a double white house coffee, they know just how much milk to put in without making it all white with no coffee (you wouldn't think this would be a difficult task, but you'd be surprised).  If you want to take a little bit of Nairobi home, you can also buy Java House coffee beans at the restaurant or any grocery store.

Where to watch the World Cup

The first weekend of the World Cup proved to be an exciting one.  I watched way more soccer than I've probably seen in my entire life combined, but am now a football fanatic.  I love that the game is cut and dry and easy to follow, constantly moving with no annoying time-outs, and over and done within 90-100 minutes.  Some of the places we watched the games this weekend include:

13 June 2010

China Plate

I love Chinese food and have been trying to find a really good restaurant to frequent.  China Plate is in my neck of the woods and has a fun sign to draw attention to it so I thought I'd finally get around to checking it out. 


Second time's a charm for Onami.  I was less than impressed with my first visit and had actually heard that the sushi was not that great before I went, but I'm always willing to chalk up a less than stellar experience as a bad night for the chef/server/whomever and give the restaurant another shot if an opportunity arises.  Fortunately for Onami their second chance came less than a week after my first encounter and they managed to redeem themselves.

05 June 2010

Mataam Yemeni

I was told that during my stay in Cairo I must experience the wondrousness that is Yemeni food.  One evening we went to dinner down the street from my friend's apartment in Dokki at Mataam Yemeni, which literally means Yemeni Restaurant in Arabic.

Location: Dokki- Iran Street
Price: Very inexpensive
Atmosphere: Hole in the wall but not sketch.  Sheets of paper cover the tables but the service is quick and the restaurant was filled with locals except our group.

They bring you a salad to share that is especially good with squeezed lemon over it and individual broth soups which was equally as refreshing.  We ordered several dishes for the table to share including one egg and bean platter that was my favorite.  They plopped two large tortilla-esque flat breads on the table which we proceeded to devour and use to scoop up the various meats and food.  Overall the food was good and the experience was a definite must for anyone wanting to experience authentic middle eastern cuisine during their travels.

04 June 2010


I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I discovered Otlob, then I find out there is this magical place where you can order alcohol and it will be delivered directly to your house.  What more can you ask for in a Muslim country where any drink other than fruit juice is hard to find?  I mean fruit juice is great and all, but you can only drink so much.  And personally I prefer mine for breakfast or mixed with a little somethin' somethin'. 

Locations: Zamalek- 155 26 of July St., Mohandeseen- At the end of Game't Al Dowal St., Maadi- 9 Streets beside Cilantro Café.  Delivery- 19330 from anywhere.
Price: Ten beers is just under 60 LE including the discount for bottle return
Atmosphere: Booze without the pain of lugging home the bottles and if you drink too much, guess what?  You're already home!

When you call they register your cell phone number and address in their system for future deliveries.  Novel concept isn't it?  Nairobi, take note. They deliver a selection of beer, including Egyptian brewed Stella and Sakara, and wine, Khayyam is a popular one, also made in Egypt, in a variety of bottle sizes, or if you're throwing a par-tay you can go with cans.

28 May 2010

Hard Rock Cafe

It's with a little bit of shame I write this next piece.  Yes, yes, I will admit that I went to Hard Rock Cafe (HRC) in Cairo.  I will own up to my embarrassing collection of Hard Rock paraphernalia and the fact that I seek out HRCs in every country I travel.  My name is Captain Awesome and I am a Hard Rockaholic.  I get excited when I visit a city and discover a cafe with a Rock Shop unbeknownst to me. 

27 May 2010

Takiebah: Townhouse

Townhouse is a local hang out off a side street in downtown Cairo.  Shisha is cheap and it's fun place to people watch, personally one of my favorite past-times.  Entertainment is also provided by performers looking to earn some change.  During our visit a teen flame twirler showed off his skills while bystanders looked on.

Location: Downtown- El Nabarwy Street.  If you're traveling through on a budget this is an inexpensive and easily accessible place to get a taste of where the locals hang.  Hotel Vienna, a backpacker point, is located just around the corner. 
Price: 2.50 LE for shisha
Atmosphere: Set up like a sidewalk cafe but with the majority of the chairs and tables actually in the street, be ready to jump up and move your chair back if an irate motorist doesn't like waiting his turn to pass.  Fortunately there's not a lot of traffic on this street.

Otlob: McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, and more

McDonalds, McDonalds
Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut 
You like it you love it
You know you really want it
(Lyrics: The Fast Food Song, Fast Food Rockers, 2003)

(Photo credit: http://otlob.com/)
Be still my beating heart for I have been introduced to the greatness that is Otlob.  Otlob is an online food ordering service similar to Dining in in the States.  It delivers 24 hours a day all over Cairo.  I was first introduced to the fantasticness the evening of my arrival.  After a night of shisha and Horreya coupled with American food deprivation we decided a late night order of McDonalds would hit the spot.  I don't eat McDonalds when stateside but I have found it tastes shockingly better in other countries.  A cheeseburger, fries, and a Kit Kat McFlurry later and I was ready to crash a happy camper.


Foreign types with the hookah pipes say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian
(Lyrics: Walk Like an Egyptian, The Bangles, 1986)

Shisha is a way of life in Cairo.  Just walking down Quasr el Eini Street one will see men sitting outside their shops at the end of a long day smoking from a hookah.  It is seen as less harmful than traditional cigarettes and cigars by the west and smoking a variety of fruity flavor tobaccos from a hookah pipe make shisha more of a social experience rather than an addiction.

26 May 2010


Horreya (freedom in Arabic), a traditional cafe that serves beer in downtown Cairo, is back.  After being closed for over two months the expat community turned out in force the day of its reopening which just so happened to correspond with my first night in town.  On one side of the cafe locals gather to drink coffee and play chess, the other end is loud and smoky packed full of people drinking Stella, the only beer served in this establishment. 

Location: Downtown- Midan el-Falaki
Price: 9 LE per beer
Atmosphere: Brightly lit for a quasi-bar but definitely the place to be and be seen.  I was told there are other bars to patronize but if you want to be guaranteed to run into friends without having to set up something formal this is where you should show up.  It is also a bit of a peep show for the locals.  While the windows are covered to a point, we could still see an occasional face peering in to check out the scene.  Known for its 1930s feel, dingy mirrors, and dirty floors some of the dive charm has been cleaned up but regardless a fun time is guaranteed to all.

Café Riche

I started my culinary adventure in Egypt at Café Riche, a restaurant ripe with history and full of expats in downtown Cairo.  Founded in 1908, Café Riche was the social hot spot for Cairo's theater and literary community as well as a failed assassination attempt on the passing motorcade of Prime Minister Pasha in 1919.  Apparently anyone who was anybody in the Arabic world visited here before the restaurant's decade long hiatus in the 1990s due to earthquake damage.  Now the feel is distinctly touristy with a noticeable lack of local presence, particularly in the seating area off the entrance.  There was a second narrow room behind the first which looked more Arabic than sidewalk cafe but it was empty at the time of our visit. 

20 May 2010


(Photo credit: http://www.expedition360.com/journal/church_lalibela3.jpg)

Lalibela, named for the holy city located in northern Ethiopia, is my weekly/bi-weekly/multi-weekly go-to place when I'm not sure what I want to eat.  It is family-owned and operated and the best Ethiopian food I've had in Nairobi (and yes, I have been to Habesha).  It is a hole in the wall, but the food is good, inexpensive, and you get personalized service.  I showed up at 8pm one Sunday night after they had already shut down for the evening and were on their way out, but they insisted on reopening the restaurant to serve my friend and me.

Debonairs Pizza

Photo credit: http://www.debonairs.co.ke/

Locations: City Center- Muindi Mbingu, Village Market- Limuru Road, Ngong Road- Uchumi Hyper
Price: Two large pizzas and two drinks- 1680 KSH
Free Delivery: Free delivery available within a 5 km radius from the restaurant. A minimum order of 400 KSH is required to qualify for free delivery. 

19 May 2010

Brew Bistro & Lounge

Brew Bistro has been open just five months but already has quite a following.  This was my fourth visit but the first time we classed it up and made reservations for the restaurant behind the bar.  We booked online at Eat Out so we could receive a complimentary beer sampler tray, a must for any first-timer and a treat for those returning.

Double beer sampler