Tourist Trap Restaurants: The Pyramids of Giza
Having lived close to the theme park attractions in Orlando, FL, and now living within eye’s view of the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, I’ve learned how to avoid tourist traps. If I indulge in them I do so in a way that costs me little and prevents me from getting scammed. I’m happy to share my experiences with the rest of you travelers to help you plan your itinerary should you visit Egypt. Hopefully, it’ll save you some aggravation.
The best parts about living next to the pyramids are the scenery and the excitement that’s always abuzz around them, but the dubious part is getting good value for your money. From my experiences in Florida I’ve learned avoid dining near tourist traps because the food is usually expensive and tastes awful. When my husband I ventured out for dinner some weeks ago I learned that that restaurants near the pyramids are no exception. Confined to our neighborhood by a traffic jam that had us travelling one block per half hour, we dared to test the the area’s restaurants. We passed through 4 places before we actually ate. Here’s a my report; bon appetit!
Christo Seafood – 2 Pyramids Rd
I never wanted to dine here in the first place. The place looks neglected from the outside, 1st bad sign. We accidentally entered the restaurant from the back, and had I been alone I would have walked out immediately. The hygiene level of the entire place from floor to ceiling was purely horrific, but I didn’t want to cause a scene so I just kept quiet as my husband ordered our food. When were alone I told him, “This place is disgusting.” He told me, “I know.” And I wondered to myself Then why are we eating here? I went with the flow and curiosity kicked in, keeping me calm enough to see what would happen next. We sat upstairs where we enjoyed a night view of the traffic, pyramids, and city lights. The view from this place is awesome.
A man that looked like he came straight out of an old Arabian tale served us a boiled tea that I’d never seen before. There was music, and lots of shisha pipes.
When the food arrived, it came on dirty plates and and was cooked horribly. I ordered penne which overcooked and mushy. My husband ordered soup and he said it tasted bad. After staring at the food for a minute my husband told me not to eat anymore. He called the waiter and told him that we would not be eating the food, and he pointed to the plates and how gross they were. On our way out he talked to the manager and told him of our complaints, but offered to pay the bill anyway. The manager seemed really embarrassed and told us that people usually did not go there to eat meals, and refused our money. It was a very awkward situation. As we walked out and up the street to find another restaurant, we found a busload of tourists on their way in. My husband stopped one of the guys and asked him if they’d been there before. The guy told my husband that they visit it frequently. My husband and I mused to ourselves Poor, misguided tourists. They must not know any better. And we kept going.
Caviar – 13 Cairo Alex Road
We’d never tried eating here before because we assumed they must serve alcohol but it turns out they don’t. There were lots of people inside, and tour buses were parked right at the entrance. At these restaurants there are people whose job is to post up at the entrance and lure tourists in. They started on my husband and he told them about our previous experience, and that we’re locals, and picky. They tried to accommodate us in every way. They let us go in and walk around just to see, and even set up a table for us, despite our irritating indecisiveness about where we should sit.
This restaurant is not ugly at all. It looks awesome from the outside with wall-to-ceiling windows and ambient lighting. The staff is nice, and it’s mostly clean, but it’s still a tourist trap. There are pictures of pyramids and pharoanic decorations on the wallpaper and incorporated into other elements of the decor. But, when you get the menu it makes no sense, although you may have to spend a lot of time in Egypt to realize this. The prices are way out of line with prices at other restaurants around town. They seemed….too cheap. I’ll explain why. If you eat at most seafood restaurants in Cairo they don’t have a real menu. You have to order your food by the pound at market price. This restaurant had a shrimp dinner on the menu for 130 LE ($7) or so. Everywhere else, a kilo of shrimp runs around 400 LE ($22). The serve a variety of tiny shrimp in Egypt which aren’t my preference, and that’s all they had here. When we asked how the food comes we were told to order however we’d like. Understanding what they actually had, could and couldn’t make was taking too much effort. We were too tired to go through all of the pricing and ask what parts of the menu were and were not available. So we didn’t eat here. If we hadn’t gone through the ordeal with the first restaurant, we might have stayed. But there were some stains on the tablecloth from the people that sat at the table before us (they didn’t have time to bus it properly since we were just supposed to go in to “see”) and with our confusion about the menu, we got frustrated and left. Maybe on another day in the future, we’ll give this place a try.
Felfela – Alexandra Giza Desert Road
You may have noticed that so far, these restaurants have a different street address. They’re all on the same street in a 3 block radius, I promise. I can’t explain the differences in the address because I don’t fully understand the map system here, but in general this street/area can be called “Haram” (Pyramid).
We only walked by this restaurant this night on the way to our final stop, but have eaten here before. Felfela is the kind of restaurant you can only eat at once if you’re picky. It’s Egyptian street-style food, like Ful and Tameya with Egyptian Bread. They service other sandwiches and simple dishes here, but I’d only eat Ful and Tameya here if I was really hungry. This is mostly because when I came to Egypt I was addicted to Ful and Tameya for a month or two until, I had more than my fill. Now, I’d rather eat this type of food at home. This particular restaurant is not my favorite place, but some tourists and locals love it. There are branches all over Cairo and this location has a cool garden and indoor section to eat in, or you can eat on the street right where you’ve ordered. That’s not my favorite thing to do, as you may have noticed from some previous comments I’m a little neurotic about the cleanliness of where I eat.
Felfela is ridiculously cheap. Their common items cost less than $1 and you will not be able to spend more than $5 here on one person. Unless, of course, you have a really huge appetite.
Le Meridien Hotel -El Remaya Square
This is a hotel with restaurants inside, and the last place to grab a bite before you leave the street.
Meridien is an international hotel in a great location that looks rather blase from outside, but inside, it’s beautiful. It’s shiny, clean, and well decorated. There’s a buffet area that’s clean and inviting. The food is reasonably priced – we ate a seafood platter that was served on a mini grill for $13.00. It included a salmon fillet, a whitefish filet, 2 grilled shrimp, and grilled calamari. It also came with rice and salad, and very nice bread. Overall, the best thing about this meal was the bread and the salad and the rest wasn’t bad at all.
Compared to the other places we’d gone that night, this place was number one. The wait staff is very professional, and you can visit the gift shops for fun as well while you’re there.
So there you have some food for thought about planning your meal during your pyramid expedition. Hope you’ve enjoyed, and see you next time!