The Best International Restaurants in Cairo, Egypt

Cairo is quickly becoming renowned for its innovative restaurant scene
Cairo is quickly becoming renowned for its innovative restaurant scene | © Cuyahoga / Pixabay
Photo of Daisy Dobson
15 June 2020

Tourists typically flock to Cairo for the Pyramids, the boat trips along the Nile and the classic dip in the Red Sea. But now, there’s a new reason to visit the Egyptian capital. Cairo is fast becoming renowned for its restaurant and bar scene with innovative spots popping up on an increasingly regular basis. International and inspiring cuisines now sit pretty amongst the traditional restaurants, and they look mighty fine. Here’s our local insiders’ selection of Cairo’s best international restaurants.

Esca

Restaurant, Contemporary, Mediterranean, $$$
Map View

Esca lies in the heart of Heliopolis, offering diners an escape from the everyday with their upmarket, contemporary dining experience. Beautiful interiors romance you, and that’s before you’ve opened a bottle from their thoughtful wine list. Kick things off with the goats cheese bonbon and delight in the lobster spaghetti. They’re dedicated to sushi and sashimi here, and each piece tastes as good as it looks. Come for the hype, and stay for the delicious dishes. Recommended by local insider Yasmin Dowedar

Rossini

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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Rossini has long been on the agenda of locals and is a firm favourite for Heliopolis residents. A recent refurbishment has created interiors that match the top-notch Italian seafood on offer. Jumbo shrimp in garlic and lemon, white grouper in pesto and fresh calamari are just some of the menu highlights, and the soundtrack is pleasing to boot. End the evening with tiramisu and homemade limoncello. Recommended by local insider Yasmin Dowedar

Sachi

Bar, European, $$$
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Tucked away on a quiet street in Korba, Sachi should be on your to-do list. The sharing dishes elevate date night – think a whole butterflied chicken served with garlic and soy dressing and roasted broccoli. Ask the bar for a wine recommendation; they won’t disappoint. Slate grey wooden floors and marble tabletops mean the decor is as modern as the menu. The sushi and sashimi delight along with the salmon tataki and shrimp quinoa. From a Vodka Julep to a Salty Smith, the cocktails are crafted with a nod to the seasons and darn tasty, too. Recommended by local insiders Yasmin Dowedar and Monia Hamdy

La Trattoria

Restaurant, European, $$$
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La Trattoria has brought delicious Italian dishes to the good people of Zamalek since 2006. Hidden behind a discreet door, you’ll find cosy yet stylish interiors and a welcoming team of passionate foodies. Warm lighting and portraits of iconic Italian artists make this a romantic spot, so bring your lover. Pasta dishes are standout, as you’d expect, and the pièce de résistance is the tremendous cassata alla siciliana: a Sicilian ricotta and chocolate cake. Come hungry. Recommended by local insider Engy Haggag Mohamed

Lexie's

Restaurant, Italian
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With its white marble, velvet furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows, this place is fancy, dahhling. Ingredients are imported from Italy, and the pasta is freshly made in-house, so you know you’re getting an authentic dish just like mamma used to make (if your mamma was a highly qualified, dynamic professional chef with a penchant for dressing raw fish with eight-year, barrel-aged Venturini Baldini Balsamico and extra virgin olive oil). This place is perfect for a big treat date night or special occasion. Recommended by local insider Monia Hamdy

Kazoku

Restaurant, Egyptian, $$$
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Journey to Japan from Cairo with signature dishes, such as black cod with miso and soy-seared beef tenderloin. Kazoku has long been frequented by the great and good of Cairo’s trendsetters, hungry for sushi, grilled dishes and sharing plates. The outdoor pool and palm trees surrounding the windows mean you can pretend you’re on holiday, even if you’re not. Lunches are laid-back, while the evening heralds a party atmosphere with upbeat music and drinks available at the bar. Recommended by local insider Monia Hamdy

Pier 88

Bar, Italian, Mediterranean, $$$
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It’s the setting that makes this spot memorable. Set on the top deck of a boat with panoramic views of the Nile, you’re the captain tonight. Modern interiors with tall glass windows make Pier 88 a luxe experience. It gets pretty lively at the weekends, so put your gladrags on, although weekday lunches tend to be more relaxed. Headed by a Michelin-star chef, you know you’re in safe hands here with this sophisticated take on Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. Drinks are poured with the utmost precision, and you can expect Cairo’s best behind the bar. Recommended by local insider Monia Hamdy

Meal service:

Lunch, Dinner

Atmosphere:

Modern, Nightlife, Open Kitchen, Stylish

El Barrio

Bar, Cuban, Caribbean
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Inside a 100-year-old villa in the heart of Heliopolis, you’ll find El Barrio: a quirky yet high-end bar. An eclectic collection of colourful chandeliers dangle from the ceiling, and a patchwork of artefacts decorate the walls – you almost need more than one visit to notice everything. El Barrio (Spanish for neighbourhood) has its roots in Cuban and Latin culture, and the menu reflects this. Feast on beef chimichurri and tequeños, and the creamy guacamole comes with a dreamy heap of tortillas to dunk straight in – perfect for nibbling with your chilled drinks. Recommended by local insider Yasmin Dowedar

Meal service:

Dinner, Late Night

Atmosphere:

Nightlife, Stylish, Modern, Outdoors

Pinchos Tapas Bar and Restaurant

Bar, Restaurant, Spanish
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You’ll forgive yourself for forgetting exactly where you are when dining at Pinchos. The tapas, cooked up by a Spanish chef, take you straight to Seville or Bilbao – exceptional. The signature dessert of churros con chocolate won’t last long on your plate, so it’s best to order two. The cocktails are creative and a great way to kick off your evening, while the wine list is extensive and thoughtful. Striking wall art and mood lighting create a romantic ambience that makes an evening at Pinchos oh so memorable. Recommended by local insider Yasmin Dowedar

Carlo's Restaurant Heliopolis

Restaurant, Egyptian, $$$
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Located in the garden of a beautiful old villa, Carlo’s has been at the helm of Egyptian fine dining for decades. Relax on the terrace with shisha and a fresh juice, or dig into the standout dish of baked rice with slow-roasted pigeon. The menu features all your Egyptian favourites with a refined twist. Bring your date, a friend or your family – they’ll all be happy here. Recommended by local insider Monia Hamdy

These recommendations were updated on June 15, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.