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Aug 4, 2009 01:55 PM

Kairo Kafé - New Brunswick, NJ

Kairo Kafé was recently mentioned on this board and I realized that there has been no other discussion about this little restaurant in New Brunswick.

The restaurant is on Bayard Street, just south of George. There is a big sign outside which says that Kairo Kafé serves Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. A glance at the menu, however, reveals a certain schizophrenia, probably because the two brothers who own the place were born in the US but spent much of their childhood in Egypt. Thus, along with the expected falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush, feta cheese, etc., you will also find a shrimp cocktail, Buffalo wings (!), a bacon cheeseburger and Caesar salad.

I have never had dinner there, only lunch, and I have to say the lunch prices are truly amazing. For $7.95, you can have soup, salad, sandwich (falafel, hummus and a couple of others), Belgian fries AND dessert. How do these guys make money? Iirc, the last time I was there I had a hummus wrap (excellent), which cost $4.99, along with Belgian fries and a soda, which together cost $1.50. I really felt I was cheating them!

Another peculiarity (in my opinion) is that they serve wine from a NJ winery. So far, I have not sampled the local juice. I also understand they have entertainment, in the form of a belly dancer, on Friday and Saturday nights. Haven’t sampled that either. :-))

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  1. I went to this place a few times when it first opened, it's a hookah bar as well.

    I think they make money off the hmmm how do I say "upscale college crowd" on the weekends. Similar to how Vedigre stays in business, only at least these guys have some decent eats!

    Decent place to to pick up a plate or something late night or just something casual hanging out. And if you dig hookah.

    p.s. I'm all for local produce.........except when it comes to wine! hehe.

    3 Replies
    1. re: RPMcMurphy

      >>it's a hookah bar as well<<

      Haven't sampled that either!

      I seem to recall that there's a small, hole-in-the-wall Lebanese place nearby. Might be just takeout. Do you know its name?

      1. re: ambrose

        I don't, but will drive by today and see.

        I know there is a bail bonds next door! haha.

        1. re: ambrose

          its g and p lebanese fast food... good spot with cheap food that tastes goodd

      2. I went for lunch once while serving jury duty (the courthouse is right around the corner). Ambrose hit it perfectly on the head! Very affordable, especially considering how much they give you, and quite delicious. I had the Lamb Sandwich (basically, a gyro) and loved it.

        If you're ever lucky enough to serve jury duty in New Brunswick, this is the place to go while everyone else goes to Subway.

        1. The food is very good, especially the lentil soup and falafel. The hookah is enjoyable, especially when they open the upstairs room. However, their espresso machine has been broken for over a year yet the menu still offers lattes and cappucinos!

          3 Replies
          1. re: scarletfan

            Seriously, did I eat at the same place as you guys?
            The $7.95 lunch special certainly SEEMS like a good deal. You can choose between several middle eastern sandwiches (falaffel, hummus, ful, 'feta melt') and the meal includes soup, salad, "hand cut belgian fries," and dessert. It would be a fantastic deal if the food were edible: it is not.

            The soup and salad were decent, not great but not bad. Then the main part of the meal arrived, the sandwich and "belgian fries." At first appearance, the hummus wrap sandwich I ordered looked ok. Then I tried it: no seasoning, bland, dry, stale bread also without flavor. It was like eating a long tan tube of nothing. I immediately thought that the gods were punishing me for betraying the other middle eastern place that I have been going to in New Brunswick, right around the corner, the infinitely superior G&P Lebanese restaurant. Seriously, the sandwich was disgusting. Now let's talk about the "hand-cut belgian fries." If you're going to tell your customers that your fries are "belgian," this should mean that they are pillowy on the inside and crisp on the outside: a true belgian fry is double fried which ensures this remarkable texture. The grease pillows on my plate, while obviously hand-cut, were flacid and tasteless. They didn't even bother to salt them. I barely ate any of my food and it was taken away from the table without comment from the waiter.

            Next came dessert. One would think that at a middle eastern place this could mean baklava. But no. The waiter came out and announced "here's a little dessert." He threw down a tiny, microscopic piece of something that resembled cheesecake with an oreo crust but after one bite, it was impossible to tell. The bite was quite the taste experience, but in a bad way. It felt and tasted like a shockingly sweet hydrogenated-oil medley. I had to ask what it was that we were eating: "oreo cookie mousse cake." It tasted like a cheap-ass cake from the 99 cent store.

            Seriously, if you want good middle eastern food in New Brunswick the only place you should look is G & P. They really care much more about quality and flavor. You could not pay me to go eat at Kairo Kafe again. It was a total waste of money.

            Kairo Kafe
            49 Bayard St, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

            1. re: khornstein

              Geez, this review was a little rough. I've eaten at both places and don't see much that distinguishes them except that Kairo makes an attempt at creating a pleasant space to eat your food. I've often had lunch there and do take-out for dinner. I don't think the food is as good as Sahara on Easton but it isn't as expensive either and is more convienient for downtowners. Gentle readers, don't pass Kairo Kafe by - it is cute, has decent, filling food,and will safisfy your Middle Eastern food craving.

              1. re: Linean

                i'm serious, this place was really disgusting. i don't think my review was harsh...i guess i have pretty high expectations....i've eaten at some of the best middle eastern places in dearborn, michigan so i was kind of insulted by the lack of quality and FLAVOR at kairo. i totally stand by my review.

          2. Thanks to all the New Brunswick area denizens for weighing in on Kairo Kafe. Sounds like it's not worth the short trip from Princeton area to check it out. We continue to hunt for a great Middle Eastern restaurant between New Brunswick and Bordentown. Any input?

            Kairo Kafe
            49 Bayard St, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

            1 Reply
            1. re: smartquark

              Well, you could always check out Sahara or Evelyn's, also in New Brunswick. BTW, I assume you meant to post your response here: