First and foremost thanks to my dear friend Omar, who gracefully decided that my knowledge of the Cairo food scene was obscenely lacking and consequently took it upon himself to educate me. The result was a food mission through Cairo! Thanks also to Grace and Jade who made up the other half of our foodie group! I had a fantastic time eating, testing and discovering! So, here we go…delicious Cairo!
Andrea is a Cairo institution, almost impossible to find and simply awesome! In a city where sitting outside really isn’t a thing, Andrea is a perfect island of greenery and tranquillity. Sit outside in the gardens and enjoy Cairo’s best roasted chicken! The chicken is roasted on what looks like an old kicker, the chicken racing down the field. Once it has made it onto your plate it really is a treat! It’s juicy, crispy, and simply delicious! They also make their own bread at Andrea, served hot and fresh. Otherwise, French fries, salad and tehina perfect the experience!
Another favourite of mine is cute and tiny restaurant Somaya. Tucked away in a side street in downtown Cairo and down a set of stairs, it serves delicious homemade food. One or two dishes are served every evening – and once they are gone, they are gone. So don’t come here late, because in all likelihood the deliciousness will have been devoured. The food served is traditional Egyptian and at times not for the faint hearted…we had veal neck meat…which was divine. They also have the best pickles ever! We ordered second and third helpings!!
GAD is a more local establishment. It is the Egyptian version of McDonalds! Well kind of… This place is far from corporate and probably does not meet McDonald’s stringent hygiene requirements! However, do not be put off by what seems chaotic and potentially unappealing because these guys serve some damn good food. I’ve had a delicious Egyptian version of a Pizza here, with so much cheese to satisfy my cravings all week, Egyptian classics, yummy Shawarma and some great feteer – an Egyptian puff pastry dish that can be both sweet or savoury. Do make sure you go to a nice GAD though! I recommend the one near Al-Azhar mosque for a bite before/after walking through the Khan el Khalili market.
Making a Feteer at GAD
The utter contrast to GAD is Sequoia and its neighbour Left Bank, both of which are frequented by Cairo’s upper class and expat community. Everything about these places screams sophistication – the location by the Nile is perfect, the décor is tasteful, and the staff wear a shirt and tie!
Sequoia is best for evenings. The restaurant is located at the tip of the Zamalek island and the view is simply spectacular! Sit and relax with a glass of lemonade or wine, smoke some shisha and enjoy the breeze and view.
For breakfast, I recommend going to Left Bank. When the temperature is still mild, you can sit outside and enjoy either a traditional Arabic breakfast or croissant and toast. Otherwise, you can come by for some tea, coffee or fresh lemonade and indulge in some French pastries! Also perfect for people watching!
Breakfast at Left Bank
Lebanese + more
For some really really good Lebanese food there is only one place to go – Taboula! They have two branches in Cairo, I prefer the one in Garden City. (They also serve alcohol here!) The food really is fantastic and is some of the best Lebanese food I’ve had – try the Chicken Feetah here. The décor is lovely with a touch of old glamour and the likes of Fairouz adorning the walls.
Tamara is an unlikely choice for me. I usually don’t like restaurants in malls and was more than weary when we went and tried out Tamara, which is located in one of Cairo’s big malls, City Stars. However, the food was divine and I take back all the prejudices I may have had! We ordered sausages cooked in Pomegranate syrup, which I could have died for! We had some great muhammara and really really good humus!
Sabai Sabai is a Thai place that I fell in love with while in Cairo. Whenever I had the desire for something warm, comforting and satisfying, I ended up here. On the first floor of a building that doesn’t necessarily look too inviting and with décor that tends toward the cheesy, the cuisine surprises you. I fell in love with their thai currys and visited frequently!
Lido is a great place to enjoy an Egyptian burger. It’s been around for decades and is not partial to the burger craze that has swept the globe. Consequently its burgers are a little different…the meat is served only well done and on a plain bun with ketchup, mustard or tehina as your choice of topping. The (A-mazing) fries are simply sliced potatoes. You sit on a bar stool and everything is served on red plastic cafeteria trays! Unique and tasty! Just the way I like it…
Burger Factory is the krass opposite. They serve the best burgers in town, if you’re looking for a greasy, indulgent experience. The meat is juicy, the sauce is delicious, the buns are soft – what’s not to like. Perfect for when you’re really hungry and looking to satisfy those burger cravings!
Khoueider has been around for decades and is famous for its traditional Egyptian sweets and ice cream. And while I’m usually more enticed by savoury treats and not a particular fan of Arab sweets, Khoueider has me converted. Their pastries are truly deserving of their reputation.
Gelato Mio is the an Italian gelateria in the middle of Cairo. A small treasure that severs notoriously good (and expensive for Egyptian standards) gelato. A perfect treat when the summer is hot and you’re looking for a sweet treat.
Enjoy Cairo and let me know what you think!