RESTAURANT REVIEW – FAYRUZ (Lebanese)

Levantine Mediterranean cuisine, specifically of the Lebanese variety, is quite popular on Cairo’s upscale food scene despite its similarity in many ways – and incorporation into – local Egyptian cuisine. Nevertheless, many of Egypt’s top hotels host fine dining Lebanese restaurants, and the InterContinental Citystars is no exception. However, what is truly exceptional about Fayruz in the InterContinental Citystars is the unmatched entertainment it offers its guests while they dine – the best belly dancing show in all of Egypt.

Lebanese food is quite healthy and delicious, and the recipes used at Fayruz to create these traditional dishes are especially so. Tables of four or more can opt for a set menu then sit back and let the plates of typical fare fill the table. For those who prefer a la carte options, the menu includes dozens of cold and hot mezzes, many traditional soups, various grilled meats for main courses, and a surprising number of unique deserts.

The menu at Fayruz is quite extensive and the plates are ideal for sharing, so make sure you order a decent amount here so that it lasts for a while. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty left to nibble on throughout the upcoming show, which will be one of the highlights of your trip to Egypt.

Many belly dancing shows in Egypt are very touristy and I not only don’t recommend them, but I actually discourage visitors from going to the places where they are usually held, such as on disgusting Nile dinner cruise boats or in seedy establishments that just see you as a human ATM while they have you captive for the bare-minimum, low-quality show they put on.

It can be hard to find good, authentic belly dancing performances in Cairo in a nice and clean environment. There are one or two other decent shows that I often recommend, although they can begin as late as 2am or even later sometimes. Not only does the show at Fayruz in the InterContinental Citystars start at a much more reasonable hour – usually about 11pm – and take place in an establishment with superb food and a great atmosphere, but the performance itself is truly the best traditional show in Egypt.

I had heard of how amazing the show is at Fayruz from friends and colleagues in the tourism industry in Egypt long before I made it there to see for myself, and when I finally got the chance to attend a performance, I was blown away and truly enjoyed the experience. While most shows of this nature feature a sole belly dancer performing as music is played over a sound system, the show at Fayruz includes quite a sizeable orchestra of musicians playing traditional Arab instruments to whose live music the performer is dancing.

There are also several live singers accompanying the band, and all of the performers are interacting with and playing off on one another to create a unique and one-of-a-kind show each time. In all of the shows I’ve seen in Egypt and even the wider Middle East, I’ve never seen a show quite as spectacular as this one.

On an interesting side note, the first time I was at Fayruz for dinner and a show, I noticed that many of people in the restaurant were paying extra attention to and looking over at one of the guests sitting right beside me at the next table. Her back was to me and my colleague who came with me that time, so neither of us could see who she was. When she later turned to the side and my Egyptian colleague caught a glimpse of her profile, he exclaimed, “Oh my God! Do you know who that is?”

I didn’t, of course, so he excitedly followed up and told me, “That’s one of the most famous dancers and performers in Egypt right now. She’s a huge social media star in Egypt.” Later when the show started, I also noticed when each of the performers on stage would see her in the audience and recognize her because their faces would light up with surprise and a huge smile, and afterwards they would come over to greet her and chat.

At first, we thought that she was there to give a special guest performance during the show, but it later became apparent that she was only there as a guest and fan of the show herself and had brought some of her friends with her to see it. So to me, that validated the spectacular quality of the show at Fayruz even more, given that it’s obviously the belly dancing show of choice for one – and surely more on other nights – of Egypt’s most famous and beloved dancers and performers.

Also of note was the fact that, unlike the cheesy and low-quality shows on the disgusting Nile dinner cruises, the vast majority of the attendees at the Fayruz belly dancing show were middle- and upper-class locals. I was one of the few foreigners in the audience, which served as another sign that this is a venue that even Egyptians consider to be the go-to place when they want quality traditional entertainment.

Whether you are interested in local celebrity sightings or not, I now highly recommend that visitors to Egypt, even those staying in other parts of the city, carve out the time in their itineraries to include a dinner and night out at Fayruz to enjoy its delicious food and see it’s amazing belly dancing show. I’ll surely be back, so you may even see me there again soon too.

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