Located on its own tiny island, the Nubian Restaurant serves local Nubian food. The small island is just to the south of Elephantine Island and a free ferry transports guests to the island from opposite the Egypt Air office. The restaurant is a little tacky, but worth the visit for the boat ride and views.
Admittedly, on my visit to Aswan, the biggest annoyance was finding a good meal. Many of the restaurants that cater to tourists are either too touristic and not up to par, or are trying to be something they really aren't, such as the highly overpriced 1902 at the Old Cataract Hotel. In addition, due to the lack of a comprehensive restaurant guide, it was extremely difficult to know what's good and what's not. As a result, my travel companions and I decided it was best to eat with the locals. Be courageous and look for those restaurants serving locals - and there are plenty - for their food will be far better and cheaper than tourist places.
Favorite Dish: Most serve kebabs, koshari, and regular rice.
Very unpretentious and quite popular with local families, el-Masry restaurant serves solid local food. The koshari and kebabs are excellent and service is attentive. The large neon-lit restaurant is divided into two or three dining rooms and, although clean, there is nothing luxurious about it. The restaurant did make it into some of the tourist guides, such as the Lonely Planet, and therefore receives its share of tourists, but the presence of locals is a good indication of the authenticity of the food.
I am a big fan of pizza and this place serves the best local version - called fiteer - cooked the traditional way. They offer all the usual flavors (sans pork, of course), or if you can't make up your mind, try their all-topping pizza for less then USD 5. Portions are big, so their regular should be good for two.
Outside hotels, there aren't that many good options if you're planning a gastronomic adventure in Aswan. It is no wonder then that I nearly had all of my meals at Aswan Moon restaurant, which was conveniently located across my hotel. Aswan Moon is the best among the three restaurants on the Corniche - two being Emy and Saladin. They serve basic Egyptian food and some standard international fare. Aswan Moon's most coveted assets are its riverside location and its friendly staff.
Unfortunately, they don't serve alcohol (this is a Muslim country after all), so thoughts of having a cold Stella after a hard day of sightseeing were dashed. Oh well, one large Coke, please. With lots of ice.
Favorite Dish: Try the fish dishes here. Love the grilled fish with zaatar (local herb).
When we arranged our boat tour to the Nile, as our driver said it included lunch. We bought all the necessary ingredients at the local market and he arranged the cooking. We were astonished to see that the cook was using water directly from Nile river!!!
Despite the initial shock we enjoyed our simple lunch (thank god we were students by then and less cautious) and luckily up to now years after nothing happened to us (I think this is due to the fact that the water was boiled)
What makes this restaurant special is that it offers Nubian cuisine.
But to tell you the truth I did not anything offered there with one exception: the bread.
Which reminds me of the story a fried told me. When they were on a vacation in Egypt they went on an organized tour, so called jeep safari, to a Nubian village. There they watched how the locals make the bread before to offer it to the tourists: the local lady used camel poop (sorry, what is the polite word) to fire the oven and then without washing her hands baked the bread. Maybe this makes the bread so delicious.
Everything served in the cruise boat's restaurant was realy good.Reliable food is not easy to recognise in African countries! So I had all my meals on board and, while making trips, enjoyed the lunchboxes they made for me.
I enjoyed another local dessert Um Ali in the New Cataract Hotel coffee shop. Once in a while we should pamper ourselves. Coffee 11 EGP and Um Ali 22 EGP (May 2006). Good dessert and I like very much. Expensive afternoon tea for me, but the experience is worth.
See pics for the coffee shop ambience and a short tour of the old Cataract Hotel as well.
I always look for cakes to accompany my afternoon tea. I found it is not so easy in Egypt, in comparsion to Morocco which I visited in March 2006. In Morocco, I was so used to have cafe au-lait with pastry.
I finally found one local bakery in Aswan, but I dont recall the name of this bakery, which is located abtral at-Tahnr at the corner near the train station. It sells different types of cakes. The staff was friendly and when I demand to sit in to have the cake and tea, she ordered someone from the store to go next door to get me a cup of tea. Cakes = 3 EGP and tea 1 EGP.
The prices for food and beverages are average in comparsion with other restaurant along the Corniche. You need to take note that some restaurant by the NIle may be blocked by those 5 star cruises which dock along there. So you should look for restaurant with open view.
I visited this restaurant because it was recommended in Lonely Planet. I had hot tea for 2.5 EGP + services and taxes, which added up to be 3 EGP (May 2006). It has a great view of river nile as showed in the pic. Also see pic of the memu.
I felt this restaurant is not honest. I purchased 3 drinks with 3 EGP each (inclusive of all services and taxes), but the staff keep saying that 3 drinks 10 EGP because of the services and taxes. I asked her to calculate one by one and do the addition. She said 3 EGP each and 3 drinks = 10 EGP. Ha ha. She was testing my basic mathematics! Guess who's right?
Located on a hill overlooking Aswan and the Old Nile is the Nubian Museum and next to it the Cafe.
There is a terrace where you can sit ... and, if you time it right, watch the sun set over the Nile and the desert.
I don't know how the Museum is, because we were too late for that, but the view is definitely worth a visit!
Favorite Dish: You can eat here, we only had tea and sweets.
The Egyptian tea (hot, sweet and minty) is good, even on a hot day.
We spent only one night in Aswan, and for dinner went to sample some traditional Nubian cuisine.
We had to take a small boat to an island in the middle of the river where there was a traditional restaurant that also offered Nubian "cultural" performances. This photo is of the sign that tells you where you need to go to catch the boat - it is across the road from the EgyptAir office.
On arrival at the restaurant, our group was seated right by the stage, and not long after our dinner arrived - a choice of a chicken or fish kind of curry like dish served with rice and flat bread.
But the best was yet to come - the show commenced with 3 musicians with different types of drums, and several different dancers. The music was VERY loud, but excellent. The highlight was the Whirling Dervish - more details under "Must See Activities"
Favorite Dish: To be honest, I didn't really enjoy the food, but then I am quite a fussy eater.....but it was an enjoyable experience!
Reputedly where Agatha Christie wrote Death On the Nile.
I went along for high tea with the words ringing in my ears "You must dress up for the occasion". Unfortunately the timing was against me. The previous night I had been at a Nubian village feast and then spent the night on the felucca. Up at three to join the convoy to Abu Simbel. Back to Aswan in time for a quick bite and straight on to the camel for a two hour ride to a monastery. With no time to change let alone shower I turned up for high tea, smelling none too fragrant, dirty and dusty, but nevertheless hungry. The tea was served on the lawn and the sandwiches and pastries were as tasty as they were small, English tea almost compulsory!! The whole thing was quite surreal but the wonderful sunset over the Nile was so very memorable.