Hip dinner venues of the North Coast

Bringing successful Cairene restaurants to the North Coast has proven to be a lucrative business. This is perhaps why, year after year, more and more restaurants in Cairo pack up their staff and equipment and set up somewhere along the coast.

Environment-wise, Makani, located in Marina 5 next to the Venicia Hotel, is one of the most beautiful places to eat on the North Coast. With the reds and browns of the furniture set against the striking blue lake next to which it stands, Makani is incredibly picturesque–so bring your camera for classic summer shots. Another perk: you get to pick from four different restaurants, including Makani, El Sit Hosneya, Zoe (which they pronounce “zoo”) and Burger Joint.

Makani Del Mar, as the branch has been branded, has boasted summer after summer of success until now. This year, though, it appears–sadly–to have slacked off in quality. But if you’re still set on going, be ready to keep them on their toes. At least they haven’t lost their sense of service etiquette–they’re still willing to take back less-than-satisfying dishes.

Something to keep in mind, though: getting to this branch of Makani requires that you either be a member at Marina (which usually means you own a home there) or that you stay with someone whose name you can give at the gate of the compound. If you know someone with a home in the upscale beach residence, ask them for their house number and use their name at the door. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay the hefty Marina entrance fee.

Another fabulous North Coast restaurant is Andrea. While Andrea has grilled-chicken branches all over Egypt, only Andrea Hacienda has a night-life aspect to it as well. This eatery used to be located in Agami, but moved to Hacienda a few years ago, transforming the new venue into a popular post-beach lunch/dinner spot.

The restaurant-by-day/super-cool-bar-by-night has a pretty limited menu, which you can find at any other branch, but has a sea breeze that can only be found on the North Coast. The super-strict door policy, meanwhile, doesn’t apply to the loungy lunch crowd–so when it comes to getting in, don’t sweat it. The entrance is outside the gates of Hacienda, so being a Hacienda home owner isn’t a prerequisite. The service is standard, but beware: when it’s crowded, management orders the staff not to serve tea!

A number of other restaurants have set up shop in the Alamein area–Porto Marina has the Amer Group set: Alain le Notre, Chili’s, Johnny Carino’s, Halaket el-Samak and Studio Misr–but the area becomes atypically crowded on weekend nights. Mori Sushi opened up at the entrance of the Diplomat’s Compound 3, west of Alamein, and is accompagnied by a number of new venues, including the Bakery Shop, Costa and Tortina. “The Platform,” accross from Gate 5 of the Marina compound, also has a few popular spots, including Abu Sid, La Pietra and the Coffee Bean.

Keep in mind that, for most of these venues, Cairo prices do not apply–so expect at least a 30 percent markup.

For a more off-the-beaten-track choice–and for those closer to the Agami side of the coast–Sidi Kreir has a fabulous breakfast eatery called The Desert Rose. Getting in to Sidi Kreir has its own set of challenges, however–the compound is run by the army and has no kind of day-use fee, but if you manage to get past the gates, head to the beach for a breakfast feast guaranteed not to cost more than LE50. The Desert Rose has a few tables on what could only be described as a random turret overlooking the sea. It serves foule, eggs (any style), falafel and freshly baked bread.

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