There is an alluring mystique behind Egypt’s city of Dahab (Gold), making it a beloved destination for most visitors, local and foreign. Initially a fishermen’s town based in the Sinai Peninsula, Dahab is now a paradisiacal tourism spot famed for its wonderful waters, beloved Bedouins, and, perhaps most surprisingly, a delectable variety of unique restaurants.
Tourists often find themselves enchanted by Dahab, to the point that some of them choose to ditch the city life in favor of the simple coastal town – a few go as far as leaving their previous occupation in favor of opening a restaurant, much to the benefit of visitors.
Around Dahab’s Lighthouse area, Red Cat is at first ironic; first, for the fact that its interior design is entirely green and white – even the cat artworks on the restaurant’s walls are green. The irony is forgotten, however, when the food is served. A mix of Russian – the owner’s nationality – and Italian, Red Cat serves some of Dahab’s finest foods. The dish’s ingredients are freshly prepared and take little time to serve. Red Cat’s pizzas are by far the most popular part of its menu, often a highlight of visitors’ eating experience.
For breakfast and brunch, look no further than Tim’s Munch. Located on the roof of a diving center, Tim’s Munch offers a wide variety of meals that would satiate anyone. From a traditional American platter to a traditional Egyptian breakfast, everyone’s preference is possible. Concerned vegans will be happy to find there are oat pancakes and plant-based yogurt breakfasts to fill their appetite as well.
RAMEZ & PAOLA
A restaurant that fuses Dahab’s homely aura with authentic Italian food, Ramez & Paola is one of Dahab’s longest-standing restaurants, run by a married couple from Egypt and Italy respectively. Far from the hustle and bustle of Dahab’s other restaurants, Ramez & Paola sits at a quiet spot closer to Laguna, known as the Mashraba area, with indoor and outdoor seating available as classic Italian songs play all around you.
In terms of service and efficiency, Ramez & Paola hold a controversial reputation, with certain customers enjoying the experience and others lamenting the way staff had treated them. A quick skim into Google Reviews or Trip Advisor confirms that. Nevertheless, the portions are known to be generous, while the food is scrumptious, be it pasta or pizza.
SABAH W MASA
Lebanese cuisine has long been admired in Egypt, with restaurants like Tamara and Enab Beirut scattered across Cairo. Located on the patio of the Sea Soul Hotel, Sabah w Masa (Morning & Afternoon) is Lebanese through-and-through – made more evident through the restaurant’s name, based on the song by Lebanese singer, Fairuz.
Sabah w Masa is the brainchild of Ashraf and Joslin, a Lebanese couple who moved to Dahab and opened the restaurant shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic. Joslin is the head chef herself, ensuring authenticity and quality are always present in her dishes.
Customer favorites are tabouleh (oriental salad), hummus (chickpeas with tahini), batata harra (spicy potatoes), sujok (Lebanese sausages), and waraq ‘einab (vine leaves).
THE VEGAN LAB
Dahab’s vegan visitors will be happy to hear that most restaurants offer vegan meals. However, for a full-fledged vegan dining experience, The Vegan Lab offers meals found nowhere else in Dahab. Located in Dahab’s quiet and subtle Fanar Street, the Vegan Lab’s welcoming, soft yellow lights, and friendly staff ensure comfort and convenience prior to checking their menu.
The Vegan Lab offers a wide variety of vegan meals, like poke bowls, beyond burgers, and fresh smoothies, albeit at a heftier cost than usual Dahab prices.
At the far edge of Dahab’s mamsha (walkway), Dai Pescatori (By Fishermen) is a quaint and quiet restaurant perfect for a romantic date or a cozy get-together with friends. True to its name, the restaurant offers premium Italian seafood dishes. The restaurant’s simple furnishing may fool passersbys, but the food, however, is where the luxury and culinary art exist, made evident by their freshly made pasta and seafood.
A flavorful Mexican restaurant that teaches customers how to salsa, Jackie’s has long been a staple of Dahab’s food culture, with its large-portioned enchiladas, fajitas, and tacos, boosted by boisterous Latin American music. For the livelier customers, Jackie’s hosts salsa classes every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, requiring no previous experience or skills in any form of dancing. For daytime goers, the restaurant looks directly over Dahab’s coastline, with a descending stairway installed near the water for anyone looking to take a dip.
Coated in eye-catching yellow and sky blue, Namaste is Dahab’s answer to Indian cuisine. The restaurant, located on Al-Fanar Street, offers visitors a high-quality Indian dining experience, made better with a friendly set of staff and large portions. Frequent visitors often order biryani rice, chicken tikka masala, butter chicken, naan bread, and samosas.
Arguably the most Egyptian restaurant on the list, King Chicken reminds hungry travelers that Egyptian cuisine can hold its own ground in Dahab’s list of sumptuous restaurants. There is nothing remarkable about the way the restaurant is designed. In fact, it is quite remarkable how an unremarkable and frugal interior and exterior design has on long waiting lists – a testament to the quality of its cooking.
SPECIAL SHOUT: RICE PUDDING IN LAGUNA
Far from the kitchens and tabletops of Dahab’s restaurants, far into Dahab’s beautiful Laguna Beach, there is a man on a bike that sells rice puddings. Youssef, an American Muslim-convert, ditched his life as a chemist in the Netherlands to spend the remainder of his time enjoying Dahab – all while selling his signature rice pudding. Youssef’s ice-cold rice pudding, offered plain, in blueberry sauce, caramel sauce, or cinnamon, is a Laguna staple for those looking to refresh themselves under the summer sun.
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