Known for its iconic historical sites and vibrant atmosphere, Cairo has become a renowned foodie destination in its own right in recent years. It’s home to a huge variety of restaurants serving up cuisine from all over the world, but for a real taste of this exciting city, you need to try authentic Egyptian food.
Travel to: Egypt
Think you’re new to Egyptian cuisine? It may be more familiar than you think. Many Egyptian dishes (or their close cousins) are found elsewhere in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Think tasty falafel, kebab, kofta, stuffed vine leaves and plenty of garlic – plus a few unique dishes that are all Egypt’s own!
This is your guide to the best places to eat in Cairo during your tour through Egypt.
Should you eat street food?
You’ll find street food carts on every corner in Cairo, but should you sample their wares? While many street vendors serve up safe, tasty dishes, there’s always the risk that you’ll encounter food that hasn’t been prepared in accordance with the hygiene practices you may be used to.
A stomach bug contracted in an unfamiliar city can knock you around more than its equivalent at home – so we suggest trying popular local restaurants instead. You’ll get all the authenticity and taste while being much less likely to suffer any unpleasant consequences!
To sample street-style classics in a fun, modern atmosphere, visit Zööba, the Instagram-worthy restaurant that burst onto the local scene in 2011 and proved so popular it now boasts six locations around Cairo. Try hawawshi (mince-stuffed pita), ful (fava beans) and freshly-baked baladi bread as well as shawarma and falafel.
Where to sample the best Koshary in Cairo
Koshary, koshari or kushari – however you spell it, it’s a winner! This carb-centric vegetarian delight consists of rice, lentils and macaroni with spiced tomato sauce and garlic vinegar. It’s topped off with fried onions and chickpeas, with garlic juice and hot sauce added to taste. Koshary originated as a quick, inexpensive meal for workers, and soon became a beloved national dish.
It’s available almost everywhere, with roadside stalls, dedicated restaurants and even fine dining institutions offering their take on the hearty meal.
Where can you find the best koshary in town? That’s up for debate, but you certainly can’t go wrong with the hugely popular Koshary Abou Tarek. This local institution boasts four floors dedicated to serving up massive portions of the iconic dish. Located just a few blocks from the Egyptian Museum, it’s a great place to enjoy a meal after taking in some history – but be prepared for a crowd at busy times.
Where to find the best family-style eatery in Cairo
There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal made with love by a family member. If you aren’t lucky enough to have family in Cairo, one tiny eatery near Tahir Square offers the next best thing. Fasahet Somaya has just three tables and opens for only two hours a day.
There are no menus, with owner Somaya cooking her own selection of traditional dishes daily. When she’s out of food for the day, that’s it, so she’ll make sure you finish your meal! More than exceptional homemade food, Fasahet Somaya is an experience you won’t find anywhere else.
Where to find the best sweet treats in Cairo
Looking for a sugar rush – Egyptian style? Don’t go past El Abd Patisserie. With two branches in Cairo’s downtown area, it’s the city’s most famous bakery. El Abd is extremely popular, so you’ll have to jostle through the crowd (no queues here!), but when you taste their sweets, including basbousa, a syrupy sweet semolina cake, it’ll all be worth it.
Locals also rave about their fresh ice cream, with the mango flavour proving particularly popular on hot summer days.
See Also: Is it Safe to Travel Solo in Egypt?
Where to find the best food with a view in Cairo
Egyptian and Mediterranean cuisine combine at Sequoia, an upmarket fusion restaurant on the banks of the Nile. The food is good, but the real drawcard is the spectacular view –book ahead to secure a prime open-air table and enjoy a breathtaking sunset over the Nile.
Lounge on the low sofas, soak up the relaxed, elegant ambience, have a cocktail or two (or a flavoured shisha pipe if you’re so inclined) and rub shoulders with Cairo’s movers and shakers.
Food tours in Cairo
Discover Cairo’s food, culture and history on foot! There are plenty of locally owned and operated companies in Cairo that offers food tours of downtown Cairo that won’t leave you hungry. Join like-minded travellers from around the world, get off the tourist track and try some authentic food and drink with the help of a friendly bilingual guide.
Vegetarian options are available, and any leftovers are distributed to the needy. They’ll even email you a list of all the foods you tried so you can track down your new favourite elsewhere.
From fine dining to hearty home-style cooking, Cairo’s food scene has so much to offer. Don’t miss your chance to take a bite out of this unique city!
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