Alright, so Egypt has been on my mind a lot lately. I went to the King Tut exhibition in Los Angeles last weekend and then had a lovely dinner at a Middle Eastern restaurant. It reminded me of the four months that I spent in Cairo last year and I thought I’d give ya’ll a list of my favorite foods in Cairo, Egypt. I know it’s a little iffy right now, but if you ever get the chance to go, these are the Cairo must-eats.
I feel like I’ve made it clear how much I love Zamalek (and how much I prefer it over other districts in Cairo) so, honestly, all these restaurants are from that perfect little island in the middle of the Nile.
So here we go!
Best Restaurants In Cairo
Oh boy. I spent so much money here. And that’s saying a lot, considering I never spent more than a few dollars there at one time (the U.S. Dollar is very strong in Egypt.) My absolute favorite meal was Koshari, which is mixed grains (short grain rice + spaghetti + tubetti) simmered brown lentils, stewed chickpeas, slow cooked tomato sauce, fried onions, Aswani chili sauce, and duqqa. Of all the amazing foods I had in Egypt, this is the one I missed the most.
My other favorite from Zooba was the Ful. Essentially the refried beans of Egypt, Ful is just slow-cooked fava beans with oils and spices. It’s delicious but very heavy. It will fill you up very quickly.
If you’re in the mood for it, Zooba also has amazing mint lemonade!
Address: 114 26 July St, Zamalek
This was one of my absolute favorite restaurants in Cairo by far. Sequoia is an incredibly elegant restaurant situated right along the Nile. My friends and I would go on the weekends and order plates and plates of appetizers, mint Shisha, Turkish coffee, and our regular main courses.
If you do get the chance to go to Sequoia Cairo, there are a few things you’ll have to order. The baladi and roasted pepper hummus, fried halloumi, tomeya, and the Moussaka with Bechamel. They are heavenly.
Address: 53 Abou El Feda St., Zamalek
I ate a ton of Indian food in Cairo. One of my best friends there, Tanvir, was Punjabi and he introduced me to many new Indian dishes. He was also the one who found all the Indian restaurants we went to. We went to a lot, but I can safely say that Maharaja was my favorite.
I’m a sucker for cheese, so I always started my meal off with a small side of cheese Naan. Then, I either ate Chicken Tikka Masala, Paneer Kofta (which is cottage cheese dumplings cooked in a cream sauce with nuts and spices) or Yellow Dal Maharani. This is one of those restaurants that leaves you so full that you have to unbutton your pants but you really don’t care. You would eat it all again if you could.
To drink, the chai tea is a must. For dessert, the mango sorbet is delicious AND it comes in a cute little coconut!
Address: 3 Hassan Assem, Zamalek
Technically, Gourmet isn’t a restaurant. It’s a high-end grocery store that was right by my house. It’s pretty much just the Whole Foods of Egypt. It was pretty expensive, but it was worth every penny. I did all my shopping here and I ate like a king. They even had chefs who would pre-cook a lot of the meats, desserts, and small meals too.
This is what I commonly bought:
- Roasted bell pepper labneh, hummus, and baba ghanoush
- Seasoned chickpeas and lupini beans
- Fresh squeezed orange juice
- French, Dutch, and Italian cheeses
- Mushroom or tomato soup
- Vegan coconut rice pudding
- Ricotta and spinach or mushroom ravioli
- Seasoned salmon or chicken
Not only did the Gourmet food make every meal at my house exciting, but I also crushed the appetizers when I had friends over.
Address: 3 Brazil St, Zamalek
This bakery was literally right next to my house and that was dangerous for my waistline. I was surprised to find that this was seriously the only place outside of French that really nailed French pastries. They also had their own twist on croissants and, every day, while I was waiting for my Uber to take me to school, I would order either camembert, blue cheese, or brie croissant. Every so often I would buy a baguette as early in the morning as I could and munch on it with hummus throughout the day.
Address: 6 Brazil St, Zamalek
Okay, technically it’s sweet potato, and it’s not even an actual restaurant. It’s sold on the street and I saw the opportunity for a pun so I took it. Sue me.
All over Cairo, you can find random dudes pushing around what looks like something out of a Studio Ghibli film. It’s basically an oven on wheels and they are non-stop cooking sweet potatoes. They’ll throw them in the burner, slice them in half, and then serve them to you on a flimsy plate with a small plastic fork. The best part? It only costs about 50 cents.
There are other traditional Egyptian foods that I recommend that everyone tries when they go to Egypt. You can easily find them wherever you’re staying in Egypt and most of them are pretty good, so I don’t need to list any specific places to get them.
Shwarma is just a Middle-Eastern burrito and it’s pretty amazing. Molokhia is a dish with chicken, rice, and a leafy-green soupy sauce, but honestly, although it does grow on you, the consistency does throw you off a bit. It’s slimy.
Konafa is my favorite Egyptian desert. I honestly think all Egyptian desserts are just a variety of treats made from rosewater, honey, and cream, but this one is damn good.
So there ya have it, my list of where to eat in Cairo. I genuinely hope you get to experience these foods in your lifetime. If you do, be sure to tag me in any photos on Instagram!
Couldn’t get enough of Zamalek? Me neither. Click here to read about the best things to do Zamalek!