• Local's Guide To Egypt

7 Nile-Side Restaurants To Take Foreign Friends To Now That Sequoia’s Closed

Updated: Aug 31, 2019


Sequoia, Cairo’s hands-down favorite Nile-side restaurant for over a decade shut down in late 2018 (alongside neighboring Left Bank and Mirai) to cries of dismay from local Cairenes.


RIP Sequoia

Open in its place is Biota, which is... not Sequoia. They don't serve alcohol and the vibe is, uh, different. The view is obviously still the same, but Sequoia it is not.


So where should you take your foreign friends if you want that elusive mix of Nile view, drinks, good food and shisha?


Obviously no place will tick off all the boxes like Sequoia, but one must make do with what one has, so try out these venues next time you need to wine and dine your foreign friends:



1. La Palmeraie



Location: Sofitel Gezirah, Zamalek

Cuisine: Moroccan

Serves alcohol: yes

Serves shisha: yes


While Sequoia was on the northernmost tip of Zamalek, the Sofitel Gezirah is on the southernmost tip -- which guarantees even better views, if you can believe it.



Sofitel has several restaurants lining the Nile on its outdoor terrace -- Kebabgy (see below), Le Deck, Casa Mia and La Palmeraie.


La Palmeraie crosses off all the boxes that Sequoia did -- fantastic view, alcohol, shisha and food. The cuisine is Moroccan as opposed to Egyptian or more generic Middle Eastern, but hey, we have to take what we can get.


Pros: on weekend nights they actually have a belly dancer and an Arabic singer, so that’s a huge added plus with the foreign crowd (gets loud though).


Cons: it’s in the Sofitel, so it’s expensive. And make sure you take a cab or an Uber to get there, unless you want to pay 200 EGP for parking in the hotel parking lot.



2. Carlo’s



Location: Le Pacha 1901 Boat, Zamalek

Cuisine: International (Egyptian, Lebanese, Italian, Indian, Japanese)

Serves alcohol: yes

Serves shisha: yes


Food-wise, this place is an excellent choice. Carlo’s has some of the consistently best food in Cairo, which is why it’s one of our forerunners in our 10 Best Restaurants in Cairo list.


They have a really good assortment of trademark Egyptian dishes (their roz meammar bel hamam -- a creamy baked rice dish with either pigeon or chicken is a crowd favorite), so your foreign friends will be able to try different kinds of Egyptian dishes and you can rest assured that no one will be suffering from possible food poisoning later.



It’s on the outdoor terrace of the Le Pacha 1901 boat, so you get a nice breeze during warm months and it’s covered for the colder ones.


Pros: excellent food (better than Sequoia’s) and you can bring your own alcohol bottles for a corkage fee if you don’t want to drink wine or beer. Good quality shisha too.


Cons: there’s sadly not much of a Nile view except for very specific tables, even though the boat itself is on the Nile. Also the huge TV screen and other small screens dotting the vicinity takes away a little from the ambience.



3. Pane Vino



Location: Semiramis Intercontinental, Garden City

Cuisine: Italian

Serves alcohol: yes

Serves shisha: yes


This Italian restaurant in the Semiramis actually has a little-known outdoor terrace that overlooks the Nile, complete with shisha, on the 2nd floor of the hotel so you’re above the cacophony of the Corniche but still close to the water.



The menu is full of Italian classics by their resident Italian chef, and they have an extensive wine list from all over the world. They also have TV screens for matches and offer shisha.


The indoor section of the restaurant is a bit more upscale-looking, but without shisha.


Pros: good food and view.


Cons: the crowd there can sometimes be... a tad sketchy. Along the lines of 'lonely' hotel guests looking for a companion for the night. But honestly it's fine, and not even all the time. Also, other possible cons: there are no Egyptian options on the menu if that's what your foreign friends are looking for, and hotel prices (and that includes parking!).



4. Rooftop Zamalek


Photo credit: Leila Tapozada

Location: Nile Zamalek Hotel, Zamalek

Cuisine: we don’t recommend it

Serves alcohol: yes

Serves shisha: yes


This entry is pretty different from the rest of the list, mainly because it’s a solely a shisha-drinks-and-view destination, NOT a place you’d go for dinner. Like, ever.


Rooftop Zamalek has literally *the* best Nile view on the island, although the hotel it’s built on is… well… not the best of anything, and that’s us being kind. It's one of our favorite nightlife spots in Cairo though.


If you overlook the shoddy, vaguely creepy hotel, we promise you that your foreign friends will freak out (in a good way) when they see the view on the top, whether during the day or at night (both are equally impressive).


Photo credit: Leila Tapozada

Rooftop as a whole is a casual, kick-back-with-a-beer place, and tourists usually love it.


Pros: affordable prices and awesome sweeping views of the Nile.


Cons: the hotel itself (including the bathrooms) and lack of decent food.


Head here for more of the best rooftop bars in Cairo.



5. Crimson



Location: Zamalek

Cuisine: International

Serves alcohol: yes

Serves shisha: no


Crimson is actually Sequoia’s neighbor, so if you miss Sequoia’s specific view, then head a few buildings down on Abu Feda to Crimson.


Crimson is a rooftop restaurant with an open terrace overlooking the Nile, with an impressive bar and beautiful interior design.



While it sadly doesn’t have shisha, it does have decent food and great-tasting cocktails (warning though: they are NOT cheap!).


If you want to bring your foreign friends to a Nile-side place for breakfast/lunch/dinner and cocktails, and they don’t care too much about shisha, then this is the place for you.


Pros: they're open early (8 am) for those who want a daytime destination.


Cons: prices!



6. The Roof Kempinski



Location: Nile Kempinski, Garden City

Cuisine: International (tapas, sushi & sandwiches)

Serves alcohol: yes

Serves shisha: yes


If you and your foreign friends want a more upscale (way more upscale) version of Rooftop Zamalek, then head over to The Roof, on the 11th floor of the Kempinski.


Seated next to the hotel’s small pool, you get a bird’s eye view of the Nile while having a shisha and a drink.



They also serve food, but it’s more of the light-bite, poolside variety of food -- tapas, sushi, sandwiches and other small plates.


Pros: as you can see in the picture, it’s really beautiful.


Cons: once again, same issue as the other hotel venues -- prices prices prices.



7. Kebabgy Oriental Grill



Location: Sofitel Gezirah, Zamalek

Cuisine: Middle Eastern grill

Serves alcohol: yes

Serves shisha: yes


Situated in Sofitel Gezirah’s outdoor terrace (opposite site of La Palmeraie), is Kebabgy, home of lots and lots of meat.


This Nile-side restaurant serves up all different kinds of Egyptian and Middle Eastern grilled dishes -- kebab and kofta, grilled lamb, grilled chicken, shish tawouk, shish kebab, grilled pigeon, you name it. They also have a variety of hot and cold mezze.



This is definitely more of a eat-til-you-drop destination than Sequoia, but Kebabgy does also serve drinks to chase the grilled meat down with.


Pros: it’s a hearty, dig-in kind of restaurant for your carnivorous foreign friends.


Cons: you’ll spend the rest of the day smelling like something grilled (the smoke there is pretty potent), and there aren’t many menu options for non-meat lovers. Plus, as usual, it’s expensive.


So to wrap this up; although we are still mourning Sequoia (RIP), Cairo still has a few tricks up its sleeve when it comes to wining and dining your foreign friends.



You might also like: 12 Local Egyptian Foods You Need To Try

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