On the 18th floor of the El Tonsy Hotel on Tahrir Street is an unpretentious rooftop bar where you can grab an easy beer, take in fresh(er) air above the comparatively smoggier streets, and enjoy some pretty spectacular views of the city. From this rooftop bar in Dokki you can even see all the way to the pyramids, if the smog levels allow it that day.
Tonsy Rooftop Bar, also known as 'Brown Lounge', is a modest place. There’s no entry fee, and in fact there’s barely a formal entry. Once you’ve taken the dodgy lift or the shabby stairwell to the 18th floor, the entrance to your right is nondescript. The indoor “bar” is a simple arrangement of cooler boxes, rickety shelves and one or two easy-going guys behind the counter. The terrace area is relaxed with comfy, low seating and tables, and music that is not too bad but generally inaudible. As the bar tenders are fairly chilled out, it’s sometimes possible to stick your own music in and crank the volume a little.
Beers are 15 LE – a delightfully inexpensive beverage considering the views, fresh air, free entry and inner-city location that come with it. Food here is also, for all this, very cheap. However, most people go to Tonsy for a drink rather than food - definitely do not go there on an empty stomach. But the quality of the meals is at least reflected in the prices! Your lettuce might arrive soggy rather than dressed and the pasta may be rubbery rather than al dente, but the food is good value for a Dokki venue. You can get dips (6 LE each), spring rolls (11 LE), Arabiata pasta (14 LE), cheeseburgers (14 LE), shawerma (11-18 LE), taameya (7 LE), and salads (7 LE - 14 LE).
Tonsy Bar also serves mixed drinks, wine and shisha. Stick to the basics though - the vodka juice mixes aren't the tastiest concoctions, and the bar tenders have been witnessed shaking the old plastic juice containers for a while before pouring – but the soft-drink mixers and wine (Egyptian varieties only) are decent, for around 40-50 LE.
Tip: Get there early if you’re a big group as the overly large seats and tables taking up space on the terrace mean that there are limited spots available on weekends.