An Insider’s Guide to Maadi, Cairo
Maadi is a favourite Cairo neighbourhood among locals, expats and tourists alike | © B. O'Kane / Alamy Stock Photo
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.
Restaurant, Chinese, $$$
A Maadi staple, this Chinese restaurant is famed for its generous portions and great prices. Must-trys include the steamed dumplings, sweet-and-sour chicken and crispy duck. Make sure to wash it all down with a local Egyptian beer.
Restaurant, Fast Food, $$$
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.
Siyuan Dumpling Restaurant
Restaurant, Chinese, $$$
Known simply as ‘the dumpling restaurant’, this inconspicuous hole-in-the-wall serves up massive portions of perfectly steamed dumplings. With about 40 fillings to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed here; try the fennel with beef, egg and chive, and shrimp and vegetable dumplings for a full spectrum.
Restaurant, Korean, $$$
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, $$$
The original of what would later become a unique chain of bars in Cairo, The Tap Maadi has a college-bar feel: arcade games, beer pong nights and decadent bar food. Most nights, you’ll find DJs playing everything from techno to hip-hop, and there’s even the odd live music performance. Be sure to check out the photos that line the brick walls: iconic portraits of music stars taken by British photographer, and longtime Cairo resident, Steve Double.
Frank & Co
Bar, Tapas, $$$
For a more low-key night, or perhaps a date, Frank & Co has a chill yet upscale atmosphere. Serving beer, wine, cocktails and fruity sangrias, their food menu is designed for drinking: small, tapas-style plates, made to share.
Bar, North African, $$$
Another expat favourite, Villa 55 is a cosy, friendly establishment spread out on two floors. The ground floor feels like your typical British pub, while upstairs you can have your tipple under the stars thanks to their large terrace. Order their pitchers if you’re going with a group for better value for money.
Bar, North African, $$$
Now, hear us out: this somewhat dated watering hole gives dive-bar vibes as soon as you walk in. But that’s exactly what makes it so fun. Order yourself a pint and people-watch: locals and expats alike mingle in this dim wood-and-metal relic that looks like it hasn’t changed since the ’80s.
These recommendations were updated on March 16, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.