Egyptians love to complain – yours truly included – about everything and anything; from the weather and the traffic, to the quality of the Nescafe Gold in Egypt and the continuing bastardisation of traditional Egyptian food, nothing is ever good enough. One of the most frequent complaints, however, is the state of nightlife in Egypt. Outside of the likes of Event Republic, Nacelle, et al, many bemoan the perceived lack of good bars in Egypt’s capital.
To that, I say poppycock – POPPYCOCK! Granted, not every bar has entertainment every night like Cairo Jazz Club, or excellent food like the Tap, but if you look beyond your nightlife circle of comfort, you’ll find that there’s more to the bar scene than the handful of places we’ve become accustomed to visiting
(Swiss Inn Hotel, 7 Hegaz St., Mohandiseen)
Now, I know what you’re thinking – a bar that shares premises with a venue like Almaz can’t be all that. It’s hard to argue that statement, but Deals 14 – named as such because it’s on the 14th floor of the Swiss Inn Hotel in Mohandiseen – ticks many of the boxes for a chilled night out. It’s big and spacey, the prices are very cool, the finger foods are decent and the view from the big windows is quite pretty if you squint your eyes. In addition, there’s a pool table and several dart boards. You might not have the most memorable night of your life there, but it’s a nice traditional pub setting with a touch of Egyptian flair.
The Good: Big space, decent prices, pool table.
The Bad: Parking around the Swiss Inn Hotel can be challenging.
The Ugly: You might need to bring your own darts.
(Nile Zamalek Hotel, 21 El Maahad El Swiesri St. [On the corner of Mohamed Mazhar], Zamalek)
Possibly the most divisive choice on this list, Rooftop has been slowly improving over the last few years and is probably at it’s best right now. Also known as Pour Vous, the Nile Zamalek Hotel located bar has the aesthetic of a cafe, but has come to attract a wide range of drinkers – every one from expats, to the kind of guys you see hanging outside Hardees in Zamalek and think to yourself, “you’re too old to be doing this.” The hotel isn’t the most inviting and that strange transitional area between the lift and the actual rooftop is a little dodgy, but the beer is reasonably priced and if you can nab yourself a table on the outskirts of the space, the view is pretty awesome.
The Good: Great view, good prices, shisha.
The Bad: Service is questionable at the best of times, same goes for the toilets.
The Ugly: The food.
LE BISTRO PUB
(8 Huda Sharawi St., Downtown Cairo)
A Downtown classic for many, Le Bistro is located along the generally unassuming Huda Sharawi Street, but the noisy mechanics and even noisier ahwas needn’t discourage you, because the bar pulls you out of the Downtown hustle and bustle and softly pushes you into what is a quiet, friendly, no-frills bar that also has a separate restaurant area that’s surprisingly quaint and charming. Though many consider it a ‘balady bar’, it’s a far cry from the likes Horreya, but still has a pinch of the balady spirit. Despite being quite small, nothing – other patrons and staff included – feels intrusive.
The Good: Dark, clean, good prices.
The Bad: It’s rather small.
The Ugly: Trying to keep your composure after stumbling out of there at a godless time and being smacked back to reality by the realisation that you’re in Downtown.
(Golden Tulip Flamenco, 2 El Gezira El Wosta St., Zamalek)
Oh Carmen, you temptress. Personal feelings for – and memories of – Carmen aside, the Flamenco Hotel’s bar has a charm rarely found at other venues in Zamalek. The all-wood look certainly lends the bar much of that charm and the staff are quite friendly – when they’re in the mood, that is. While most go for beer, the bar has a semi-decent collection of spirits etc, and the food – contrary to popular belief - ain’t half bad. You’ll also find an eclectic range of patrons which keeps things relatively fresh if you ever find yourself becoming a regular and, overall, it’s just a nice, simple bar.
The Good: The complementary breadsticks and cheese/cucumber/carrot sticks. Yum.
The Bad: Rushing over there on a Thursday night only to find that there’s nowhere to sit. Weekend ruined.
The Ugly: WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE DOWNSTAIRS TOILETS ARE STILL UNDER RENOVATION AND I HAVE TO GO UPSTAIRS?
(Le Pacha 1901 West, Arkan Mall, Sheikh Zayed)
The newest bar to feature on this list is located way out in the desert that has come to be known as Sheikh Zayed/6th of October City at Arkan Mall. Le Pacha have been making a good go of injecting some vigour into the largely flat nightlife in the suburban area and with Johnny’s having relaunched last month with a staunch commitment to hosting top performers every week, it could very well do so. Said performers have included the Godfather, Amr Hosny, and belly-dancing star, Amie Sultan, and with it’s sleek setting, I’ve found that it’s great place to unwind after a hard session at the neighbouring Fight & Fitness Factory.
The Good: Clean, airy, sleek, with a touch of class.
The Bad: Should I got to Carlo’s? No, I’ll go to Johnny’s. But Carlo’s looks kind-of cool…no, Johnny’s it is.
The Ugly: When it’s busy, boy is it busy.
Drink responsibly, I guess.
By Gemima Flashback