If you want a great view of Cairo at sunset, or any time of the day really, I suggest taking a trip to Mokattum, a set of hills with a cliff overlooking all of Cairo. There are several dingy-looking restaurants that put plastic tables and chairs on the cliff-side so that guests may enjoy their shisha or meal while admiring the city below.
Slightly different from the others, and my personal recommendation, is the Virginian. The building looks abandoned and decrepit and you wouldn’t expect that anybody actually patronized the joint. You walk into a dusty, graying room with dull colored carpets and streamers that look like they were put up in 1991 and became a fixed part of the decor only because nobody thought to take them down.
When you make your way outside, you are greeted with yet more decaying, dirty furniture but then you see the view overlooking Cairo which, at night, is marvelously illuminated from end to end. That is probably when you figure out you are listening to Justin Timberlake’s 2002 hit “Rock your Body” crackling over the speakers and the music only gets older and cheesier the longer you stay. There are few people eating tonight, some smoking shisha and others get beers. Like most places, they only serve the local Stella. And finally for the most charming bit -there are two chairs on a platform as if you are all waiting for the prom king and queen to be announced and take the stage.
There are several baladi (feral) cats lurking, waiting for someone to drop or offer food. Tonight we only have terms (at least this is what I have been told they are called). They are light yellow beans that you have to shell with your teeth and are frequently served with beer in bars around Cairo. Needless to say, the cats aren’t interested in our bean shells and keep their distance from our table.
I wonder what the Virginian must have been like in its heyday and why the owner hasn’t made changes to capitalize on its fantastic location and charge exorbitant rates. But I appreciate the low key, unpretentious atmosphere and actually like the Virginian more because of its failed realized potential. If you like a sort of dive bar atmosphere and don’t mind a little dust, the Virginian is a unique joint to check out when wandering around Cairo.