7 “Old is Gold” Restaurants in Zamalek
5 months ago
Zamalek is known for its plethora of restaurants, cafes and bars, but very few are actually consistently good — and even fewer have stood the test of time. All of the restaurants/bars below have been around for more than 10 years (and some of them for decades), and while they might not be the trendiest or the shiniest, they’re all staunchly classic Zamalek favorites.
1. Five Bells
Five Bells has been a Zamalek staple for decades now, due to its private, enclosed garden, tented shade, live pianist, and “old Zamalek” charm. They serve oriental food and the usual culinary classics, and serve alcohol. A great time to visit Five Bells is during the Christmas season because they deck the place out — their decorating is not subtle nor elegant, but will definitely get you in a festive mood.
2. Don Quichotte
Hidden on a side street in Zamalek, Don Quichotte first opened its doors in 1978. The restaurant/bar has continued steadily on for almost 40 years now, due to its consistently good food and total lack of interest in being “trendy”. Inside the restaurant is small and cozy and almost totally wooden, and at night the place comes alive with music and dancing. And don’t expect to find the usual under 21s there — Don Quichotte’s regular patrons are the ones who probably first started going 40 years ago, up until today.
3. Pub 28
Another place that’s been around for decades. While Pub 28 is small and smoky and always crowded, that’s part of its inherent charm, because that’s probably the exact way it was over 20 years ago. People complain that the service isn’t always the best if you’re not a “regular”, so it definitely has the feel of being almost a private club rather than just a gastro-pub. They do however have the best sangria in town, and are equally celebrated for their mezze. Go on weekend afternoons for a less crowded scene, and they occasionally even have an accordion player.
4. The Cairo Cellar
Nestled under the President Hotel (or technically, “New President Hotel”), is The Cairo Cellar. We’re not quite sure how long it’s been around but our guess would be 30+ years. Another smoky bar that favors a wooden aesthetic, Cairo Cellar is a place to go when you don’t want to deal with the “in crowd”.
That “in crowd” we mentioned above? You’ll probably find them here. But don’t let that be a deterrent for you — L’Aubergine is one of those places that has something for everyone: good food, a quieter downstairs area where you can actually hear the other person, and a louder upstairs bar for those times you don’t really want to listen to anybody. L’aubergine has been open since the 90s and shows no sign of slowing down.
The only Asian restaurant on the list, this Korean barbecue lived for years on Mohamed Mazhar street before it reopened 6 years ago in its new home off of Taha Hussein street. Zero fanciness here, just consistently good Korean food that you can grill yourselves. You can also order it for delivery.
7. Piccolo Mondo & Le Steak
We grouped Piccolo Mondo and Le Steak together because they’re both sister restaurants in Le Pacha; both opened their doors for the first time 25 years ago. Piccolo Mondo serves up fresh Italian food and beautiful Nile views, and Le Steak offers French gastronomy and an extensive wine list. Both restaurants (alongside the original Johnny’s Pub) formed the base of the current award-winning Le Pacha 1901 we know today.