It’s the weekend and time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Spending time in a cafe is always a good idea, especially in Egypt. Cairo boasts of many coffee shops, each one of them has its own character.
If you want to try an authentic Egyptian coffee shop, El-Fishawy cafe should be your first choice.
Built in 1771, el-Fishawy one of the oldest cafes in Egypt. The café is located in a narrow street of Khan el-Khalili market in Cairo. This is indeed aneye-catching venue by night with its mashrabiyawoodwork and ochre-coloured walls.
The place has an olde worlde feel as the waiters serve delicious drinks in dark blue mugs on large trays. Huge chandeliers from the ceiling and mirrors in the walls are photogenic for tourists and locals alike.
This cafe has a rich history and was popular among Egypt’s literary luminaries. Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz, writer Youssef Edriss and singer Abdul Halim Hafez were among its regular customers.
In the inner recesses of the café is a small room that resembles a museum with its unique decor. It was in this same room where writer Naguib Mahfouz used to sit. ‘Museum’ is most apt to describe this room with its triptych mirror, large wall clock dating back to the Ottoman era, an antique radio, and an enormous chandelier dating back to 1800. Are you well-known? Are you a celebrity? Come in and make yourself at home in this room. Otherwise, sorry, stay outside. The cafe only serves drinks but no food.
If you want a cafe that is not so antique that your mother-in-law will fade into the shadows, Riche cafe is a bit further this side of the 20th century and located in Talaat Harb Street in downtown Cairo.
Opened in 1908, the chattering classes frequented this place to put the country to rights politically, artistically and artistically.
Riche hosted seminars and salons attended by Egypt’s most famousintellectuals — Abbas el-Akkad, Taha Hussein and Naguib Mahfouz (Him again! He got around, didn’t he?) On its stage, actress Fatima Rushdi performed and legendary singer Umm Kulthum sang. Riche was not just a regular café, but a hothouse of cultural and political debate and a meeting place for revolutionaries (not called Jacques as in A Tale of Two Cities).
The cafe is also a restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages and food: meat and chicken, molokhiyyaand other dishes.
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