Cairo Dining Naguib Mahfouz Café

Local Food. Feted by George Fawzi and Amani Fouad, the owners of Cairo based Excel Travel who hosted our Egyptian excursion, our small group of agency owners assumed we were having a quick cocktail, a hello and good bye with the gracious couple and their management team. Egyptian hospitality is legendary, and we were very surprised by the sumptuous catered dinner in their gorgeous garden. Plus, they included the GM’s and their spouses of the local five-star hotels and Amit Lakhanpal, the GM of the Oberoi Beach Resort, Sahl Hasheesh Red Sea, Egypt, truly a five-star evening. The perfect send off after a glorious Egyptian Journey.

Naguib Mahfouz Cafe in the bazaar, Old Cairo

On my list of dining spots was the historic café Naguib Mahfouz Café operated by Oberoi Resorts. This amazing historic cafe is a welcome respite from the masses in the busy bazaar. Without my guide, I would have never discovered the location, Amit had offered to make me a lunch and dinner reservation, insisting I must not miss this celebrated gem.This restaurant and café was originally called Khan El Khalili, but Naguib Mahfouz’s continuous visits, and his winning of the Nobel Prize inspired the name change, it’s tucked away in the mysterious labyrinth of Khan el Khalili Bazaar.

The cafe opened in 1989 and is a tribute to the famous Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz who won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988. Today, it’s run by the lavish Oberoi Hotels, but the elegant arabesque ambiance transports you back to the days of Old Cairo. It was established in 1989, the same year Naguib Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. It became a favorite spot in Cairo for Mahfouz himself, and is very close to Al-Gamaleya area, the area where he was born. He even had a favorite table where he used to sit whenever he visited. After he passed away, the café owner put Naguib Mahfouz’s pictures on the table and decorated it with many of his books.

The beautiful entrance to Naguib Mahfouz Café, descend into another world.

Cross the threshold from the ancient bazaar into another time zone. From the stunning decorative door to the classic staff uniforms, the brilliant lighting fixtures and the colorful carpets, there’s even a shoe cleaner sitting in one of the corners of the café. The café is an embodiment of the Fatimid era. The waiters are adorned with Tarboosh hats and outfitted in full regalia, the sweet smell of Hookah pipes permeate the air. Old Arabic music plays in the background and guests quietly chatter while enjoying hibiscus tea or indulging in Egyptian Chicken Shawerma. A juice bar offers frothy chilled drinks, essential in the Cairo heat!

Located in the heart of Khan el Kahlili, the Naguib Mahfouz Café is an oasis from the lively chaos of the bazaar. Naguib Mahfouz’s pictures line the walls, the titles of his books engraved in wood, complimented by exotic arabesque décor.

Who was Naguib Mahfouz? Naguib Mahfouz was a celebrated Egyptian writer considered to be one of the first contemporary writers of Arabic Literature. Born in Old Cairo in 1911, most of his early works were focused on short stories in his beloved city. Mahfouz published 34 novels, 350 short stories, many movie scripts, newspaper articles and theatrical plays. Most of his tales, including plays for the stage, explore the themes of existentialism.

Writing for well over 70 years, he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988, the first Arabic writer ever to be honored by a Nobel! He died in 2006 at the age of 94. Leaving a lasting legacy with his published body of work that is still very popular in Egyptian and foreign films today.

Visit the café if you are touring the bazaar for a pause and a petite repast and return in the evening to the elegant restaurant. In the evening, arrive late as the city truly wakes up for dinner late in the evening. Once the clock ticks 9 or 10 pm, sit back and enjoy charming local oriental music with singers performing classic songs. An extensive menu offers delectable bites and full dinners. Linger and soak in the atmosphere! A broad menu of local dishes is offered: Lamb Kofta, Hawawshi, Baladi Oriental Sojouk, Meat Shawerma, Chicken Shawerma, Alexandrian Liver.

5 El Badestan Lane, Khan El Khalili, Down Town, Cairo, Egypt.

Four Seasons Embarcadero San Francisco – Staycation

Is it my gypsy soul or an over active exploring gene implanted in my disposition? After a long Journey, I adore landing home to my garden cottage to perfectly plump pillows, down feather bed, dinner plate dahlias and the picture-perfect summer garden…but after a few weeks at home, Nomad Fever infects! The pandemic has kept me from flying, so I am currently escaping to drive to locations.

Four Seasons Embarcadero San Francisco

Counting the days until I can board a plane and get away on an inspiring Journey, until then, I have been moseying around the bay area and farther afield with a few Staycation experiences, these petite escapes slightly satisfy my yearnings.

The Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero quietly opened a month ago. Formerly the Loews Regency which was once the Mandarin Oriental, the completely refurbished edition is in the midst of the quiet financial district. 

The property occupies the top 11 floors of a 48-floor high-rise, Bridge to Bridge sweeping views, the 40th floor has an outdoor platform if you dare lean over the railing, I’m content with bed views! Spectacular panoramic skyline vistas, a 24-hour fitness center with floor to ceiling windows, (closed during Covid), and a superbly hushed setting for a city hotel, the quiet is exquisite!

Many S.F. neighborhoods have succumbed to a blight of litter, you won’t find that here on Sansome Street. It’s safe, unsoiled and an utterly cozy sky nest! I highly recommend a corner suite; the views are swoon worthy, particularly from the 48th Floor! Comfy beds, spacious living room, a desk for working, and for me, the ubiquitous soaking tub! The fresh furnishings with wood floors feel like a smart studio apartment, the subtle hues emulate the Golden Gate Bridge, the soft grey SF fog, the carpet design suggests the framework of nearby city skyscrapers…the décor is emblematic of the beautiful city. Enjoy stunning views of all the most famous landmarks, including Coit Tower, the Transamerica Pyramid, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, it is breathtaking!

My most recent suite, room 4814, may have to have my name embedded on the door, the corner setting includes up close and personal views of the new Salesforce Tower with its animated tower capsule truly intriguing images: hovering clouds and foamy ocean surf, ballet figures pirouette and float across the upper six floors of the illuminated crown. At night, daily footage culled from video cameras placed throughout the city (at Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park, Market Street, Embarcadero, maybe even the dump,) encircle the tower and project softly into the night. From my cozy bed, it was like my own private movie projection or drive in theatre!

Mosey safely to prime epicurean palaces, hidden stairways and the scenic Embarcadero promenade is blocks away. Discover San Francisco without crowds and embrace the city; there are many hidden stairway walks to explore. Have you seen the city from the dazzling Sky Star Ferris Wheel? 2020 marks the 150th birthday of Golden Gate Park, and America’s largest traveling observation wheel is in the park to celebrate! Standing 150 feet in Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse, the SkyStar Observation Wheel features 36 fully-enclosed, temperature-controlled gondolas, boasting unparalleled views from downtown San Francisco to the Pacific Ocean.

My stay a few weeks ago was so inspiring, I plan to return soon. Sadly, the city streets are deserted, but some may look at this as having the city to themselves! Imagine walking down the Embarcadero without dodging scooters, runners and bikes, it’s quite pleasant. Many nearby restaurants have outdoor parklets, some quite expansive with heaters and blankets for warmth. Walk to iconic Zuni Café for a sidewalk lunch or supper, sip bubbly and nosh on the famed wood fired brick oven roasted chicken for two and frites, certainly worth the walk from the financial district! My recent lunch was serenaded by the swoon-able Zuni accordionist, I felt I was in Paris! Take charge of the city and call it your own until we return to the other side.

From our client requests, it feels like some domestic travel will be the mainstay for many, until we have a broader and more accurate sense of clarity or, better still, a vaccine.

Four Seasons San Francisco at Embarcadero, highly recommend for birds eye views, a good nights sleep and a stylish chic environment. Take advantage of perching in a safe environment. We can satisfy your Wanderlust with secure properties. Let me know when you are ready to tuck in for a delightful Staycation! Our Preferred Partner relationship guarantees you will be extra spoiled and cared for by our inside teams!

Imagine waking up to this view from your corner suite!