An Insider’s Guide to Maadi, Cairo

Maadi is a favourite Cairo neighbourhood among locals, expats and tourists alike
Maadi is a favourite Cairo neighbourhood among locals, expats and tourists alike | © B. O'Kane / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Dalia Awad
16 March 2020

Home to embassies, international schools and multinational organisations, you’ll find people of all nationalities meandering the quiet streets of Maadi. Meandering is the operative word here; many a Cairene will tell you it’s easy to get lost there, with numbered streets that are sometimes non-sequential and many of the district’s abundant roundabouts looking similar to one another. Fret not, we’ve got you covered…

A leafy quasi-suburb to the south of Downtown Cairo, Maadi is a favourite destination among locals, expats and tourists alike. With its walkable streets, multicultural residents, arts and culture venues and an innovative dining scene, it’s easy to see why millennial Cairenes tend to say: “If you live in Maadi, you never leave Maadi.”

Where to go on Maadi’s Road 9

The beating heart of Maadi, Road 9 is filled with restaurants, shops, cafés and a couple of bars, and is the meeting point for many of Cairo’s young, cool millennials who can easily spend their day bouncing from one establishment to another.

Start your day at the Cairo favourite Café Greco for your caffeine fix, and mingle with intellectual types over what’s largely considered the best coffee in Cairo.

When you start feeling peckish, Ralph’s German Bakery will definitely hit the spot. A long-standing favourite from Sinai’s Dahab, this authentic European bakery was met with a standing ovation when it finally opened a branch in Cairo.

While you’ll find more than a handful of American-style restaurants dotted along the busy street, make a beeline for Lucille’s – a Maadi lynchpin serving up real diner food. Their breakfast – from chicken and waffles to biscuits and gravy – is a must-try, and it’s served all day long. If a big, juicy burger is more your vibe, you’ll be pleased to know that theirs was once called “the best burger in the world” by none other than Time magazine.

Though shisha lounges are a dime a dozen across Cairo, there’s something special about Road 9’s Caracas – so much so that there is sometimes a waiting list for a table. Great service and fresh Lebanese food make the experience all that much better.

Now that you’ve been fed, watered and smoked – it’s time for some shopping. Road 9 is dotted with great places to pick up souvenirs: Saad of Egypt is a historic silversmith with great designs, often incorporating modern and ancient Egyptian motifs. If you’re more of a beauty buff, home-grown Egyptian skincare brand Nefertari offers all-natural scrubs, body butters, loofahs and more on the corner of Road 9 and Road 83.

Authentic Asian restaurants in Maadi

Thanks to Maadi’s cosmopolitan community, you’ll find several Asian restaurants scattered across the district, from Korean and Chinese to Japanese and Filipino. All run by expats, expect an authentic dining experience, as owners, chefs and waitstaff bring a taste of their respective hometowns to Cairo. Though these might not be the fanciest looking spots, rest assured the food is top-notch.

Kokio Chicken

Restaurant, Fast Food, $$$
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This Korean diner specialises in fried chicken, every which way. With six different seasonings and super-generous portions, choosing what to order (without over-ordering!) is going to be tough. We recommend the soy sauce chicken and the spring onion fried chicken. Pro tip: though Kokio is all about the chicken, their ramen noodles are also worth a try if you fancy something lighter.

Gaya

Restaurant, Korean, $$$
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Another Cairo staple, Gaya is a buzzing Korean restaurant serving the whole gamut of the Asian country’s cuisine. From the iconic Korean DIY tabletop barbecue to bibimbap, ramen, bulgogi and more, you’ll quickly find out why this is a foodie favourite. Pro tip: order beer, and you’ll get it served discreetly in a teapot.

The best bars in Maadi

Maadi is known for its bars, and its residents for their ability to go all night long! What’s great about a night out in Maadi is its walkability – you can easily bar-hop without the inevitably awkward, rowdy cab rides in between.

The Tap Maadi

Bar, Soul Food, $$$
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The original of what would later become a unique chain of bars in Cairo, The Tap Maadi has a college-bar feel: arcade games, beer pong nights and decadent bar food. Most nights, you’ll find DJs playing everything from techno to hip-hop, and there’s even the odd live music performance. Be sure to check out the photos that line the brick walls: iconic portraits of music stars taken by British photographer, and longtime Cairo resident, Steve Double.

These recommendations were updated on March 16, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.