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After the fast comes the feast
Published in Daily News Egypt on 05 - 09 - 2008

Family gatherings and outings with friends have come to characterize the holy month of Ramadan as much as fawanees, the mesaharaty and madfa' el-iftar. Daily News Egypt came up with a list of some of the best places in Cairo to go for iftar (the fast-breaking meal) or sohour (the meal before dawn).
After a long day of fasting, most Egyptians crave traditional oriental food to satisfy their big appetites. Restaurants like Bent El-Sultan in Mohandiseen are always in high demand during the season, with a menu featuring grilled items, fatta and a variety of vegetable tagens. The restaurant also offers a typical sohour menu.
With an outdoor setting overlooking the Citadel and surrounded by the greenery found only in Azhar Park, Studio Misr prepares an open buffet of delicious traditional Egyptian food for both iftar and sohour.
For younger crowds, Sequoia in Zamalek is a great place to break your fast, lounge with tea and shisha after, or enjoy an appetizing sohour. With its modern décor, Nile-side location and varied menu of oriental, Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisines, this popular hangout is always bustling so you'd better reserve in advance. Sequoia offers an open buffet for iftar and a special menu for sohour.
Turkish cuisine is a good choice if you want to try something new without compromising the satisfying and rich quality of Egyptian food. During Ramadan, Ataturk in Mohandiseen offers a menu of Turkish and Egyptian items for a hearty iftar.
For a classy iftar, Le Passage hotel in Heliopolis hosts a Ramadan tent in the hotel's garden where customers can help themselves to the open buffet while enjoying the tunes of an oriental takht.
The InterContinental CityStars has three different iftar outlets. Esplanade, an indoor restaurant which offers oriental food in an open buffet and has a television set so you don't miss your favorite Ramadan serial. Lebanese restaurant Al Fayrouz offers a different menu every day during Ramadan while Al Bustan, an outdoor restaurant overlooking the pool, serves international cuisine in an open buffet. The atmosphere at Al Bustan is always festive with an oriental takht playing during weekdays and bands like Resala, Sahara and Flamenco featuring on weekends.
By mid-month, the frequent outings take their toll on one's wallet, and that is when you head to restaurants like El-Tekkia, which has branches in Heliopolis and Mohandiseen. During Ramadan, El-Tekkia's keeps its regular menu, which features oriental dishes at reasonable prices.
When you get tired of the daily dose of oriental food and start craving some good-old American cuisine, head to Chili's where the open buffet iftar boasts oriental food as well as Mexican-American specialties.
The Imperial boat in Zamalek kicks off every Ramadan with a tent on its upper deck, offering guests iftar and sohour in a serene ambiance overlooking the Nile. The classic setting makes it suitable for company iftars or sohours.
Sidi Mansour in Mohandiseen is a vibrant venue for sohour, with a young crowd, a DJ and a television set.
If you happen to be celebrating a pay raise or are trying to impress your in-laws, Nile Maxim in Zamalek is the place to go. The iftar cruise sails for two and a half hours starting 5 pm and is accompanied by oriental takht. Nile Maxim also offers an entertaining sohour that starts at 8:30 pm. The cruise lasts for two hours accompanied by a band, a belly dancer and a tanoura show.
While tent-hopping, do not miss Grand Hyatt's classy open-air sohour by the pool at its outdoor Si Omar Café, where guests can enjoy a view of the pool and the Nile.
For more romantic meals, couples can go to Grand Hyatt's Marquise boat, which cruises the Nile from 6 pm to 8 pm while passengers indulge in an international buffet.
Girls, leave the men behind and go out for a night on the town with your friends at Spangles café in Nasr City, which has a women's-only tent during Ramadan. Enjoy sohour to the tune of oriental music and then do some light shopping at the booths around the tent. You can even sell your own creations at the café simply by arranging it with the organizers.


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