A taste of Egypt... And we promise it's the clean kind.
Let's picture Egyptian dishes as meal; we would have molokheya as our soup, then we'd have fool and falafel as our appetizers, our main meal – deep breath – would be macarona bel bashamel upon fatta upon ma7shi upon tawagen of everything under the sun. Then, dessert would be sweet feteer or sakalans sandwiches. And no, we won't exercise after, because we wholeheartedly believe our food is so delicious that it's impossible for anything this good to harm anyone's body. And, we love sharing it with anyone who asks – yes, we appreciate international cuisine, but we still hit up these places when we get a little craving for Egyptian food and when your foreign friends beg you to try it... All while your mom's on a 'mesh tabkha elnahrda' strike:
We're not trying to upset anyone by saying this place has the best molokheya in town, but it does. And, what people tend to love about Aboul Sid is not only the explosion of flavours with every bite of their food (in its plentiful portions), but it's the beautiful Arabesque-style ambiance with lanterns and paintings and tiny little whirling dervish statues. We have contemplated moving in there.
Location(s): Dokki | Dandy Mall | Maadi | City Stars | Zamalek | Heliopolis | New Cairo | Alexandria | Sharm El Sheikh
Contact: 0233002660 | 0224802231
Look, we're not even messing with you when we're saying this place should officially be the headquarters of anything koshary-related; the zesty tomato sauce, the perfectly cooked lentils and chickpeas, the tasty fried onions, the flavourful garlic, all on top of fresh pasta and rice – it basically serves you a plate of all that's good in the world.
Location(s): Downtown | Smart Village
If you're not embarrassed of devouring food in front of your significant other, and they're carnivorous monsters like you, then a plate of meaty goodness embraced in an Egyptian combination of spices at Al Dahhan would make for a good date. So much meat. So much goodness.
Location(s): Heliopolis | Rehab | Al Hussain | Fifth Settlement | Al Mohandiseen
The name itself is just about enough to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. You know any Egyptian with a son named Hassan – and who doesn't use her government name – would probably be a master chef; it's just a fact of life. And what defines an Egyptian mom other than how good her ma7shi is? Nothing.
Location(s): Nasr City | Mohandiseen | Maadi | Fifth Settlement
Every time you're not sure where you want to eat, and at the same time you feel like eating so many things at once, don't overthink it and just walk into Zooba. They have jars of pickled veggies, 2asab juice, and every possible Egyptian plate – eggs with pastrami, fool eskandrani, sogo2, etc. We'd suggest ordering a combination of dishes and just picking at all of them at once. You can thank us for that later.
Location(s): Zamalek | Nasr City | Heliopolis | Maadi | Rehab City | Fifth Settlement
We are not going to deny it – this place is for those who are Egyptian but don't really like getting too deep into food carts and local restaurants. Cairo Kitchen is exactly what it sounds like. It's classy, clean, and they serve their food in the best metal plates! And their servings are gigantic. You'll probably carry home some leftovers to munch on as you binge watch your mosalsalaat at night.
Location(s): Zamalek | Maadi
Contact: 0227354000 | 0227359000
Al Khal (InterContinental Cairo Citystars)
The thing about Al Khal is that they've got the best of the best. They pick the best dishes from across Egypt's governorates to showcase on their menu, so this is THE place to get the best variety and selection of Egyptian food that isn't just limited to koshary and fool w ta3meya. We also suggest that you try their desserts. So many nuts. So much cream. No innuendo intended. But those who have a sweet tooth, we're telling you this is wildly and insanely more than satisfying.
Contact: 0224800100 | 0224800009
So this place is always a good choice if you're looking to impress your foreign friends with how good Egyptian food is. It's this strange but wonderful mix of the gourmet and the baladi, if such a thing exists. Plus, word on the street is their kebda is divine.
Contact: 01093366664 | 01093366667 | 01025891112
Good old Shabrawy is still the go-to breakfast food place it's always been, even after they changed their name to Arabiata. You can't go wrong with their countless variations of fool w ta3meya, and even though there's an Arabiata on almost every corner, you'll somehow always have to wait a little to be seated because it's always packed. Yup, that good.
Location(s): Rehab City | Nasr City | Heliopolis | Obour | Shorouk City | Shoubra | Fifth Settlement | Mohandiseen | Dokki
There's a Fool Tank delivery man in the CairoScene office at some point during the day every day we're at the office. We can't help it. We have a few favourites: ta3meya with eggs, stuffed ta3meya, spanish omelette, tamatem bel gebna sandwiches, *starts to take down the orders for lunch right now* fool with garlic and tomatoes... And, it comes down to like 40 EGP to feed about five hungry hardworking writers who sometimes (read: always) have munchies.
Location(s): Agouza | Sheikh Zayed
Contact: 0233455222 | 01221711211
One word: Fatta. We'll be waiting for a thank you note.
JACKPOT! We've discovered cheese-lovers heaven, and it's exactly like what we've always imagined. They have traditional dishes like good ol' sogo2, luncheon meats, pastas, batates m7ammara – but the twist is, everything has cheese in it. Everything. We think this place maaaay possibly satisfy your cheese obsession, as absurd and unattainable as that may sound. There's no way out of El Dokkan.
Location(s): Shoubra | Heliopolis | Nasr City
Felfela has always been there. Always will be. One of the oldest places around to get Egyptian food, and old is gold. Plus, last time we checked, they serve alcohol – it's all about brunching and day-drinking at this point.
Location(s): Downtown | Haram
Contact: 0227957476 | 0227944948
We were told this little downtown joint was started by a working mom who comes in, makes you food that makes you feel good, and all is well. We're thinking of going there next time we're yelled at by our boss – Somaya probably loves us more.
Main image belongs to Cairo Kitchen.