A Guide on Where to Eat in Cairo by ABADIR
A Guide on Where to Eat in Cairo by ABADIR
The Cairo-born producer, sound designer and SVBKVLT signee highlights his favourite eateries in the capital of Egypt.
Rami Abadir – who produces music under his surname – is at the forefront of a wave of creativity coming out from Egypt's diasporic underground scene. Born in Cairo and currently based in Berlin, Abadir is not only one of the most vital producers from the Egyptian scene that you should be paying attention to (if you're not already), but he also works as a music editor for the Arabic magazine Ma3azef and hosts writing workshops for aspiring critics.
With releases on imprints such as Genot Centre, Hush Hush and Yerevan Tapes, it's his latest LP – 2022's Mutate – that's garnered the most attention from critics so far.
As someone who's become somewhat of a flagbearer for the Egyptian electronic scene, we asked him to share his knowledge on Cairo. Where does one go to enjoy the best of the city's gastronomy? Abadir divulges 10 spots you've got to try.
In this Guide
“The best restaurant at the moment for local dishes with craftsmanship. In less than a year, it has taken the lead from Kebdet El Prince with its big variety and rich, heavy flavour. Their high quality food is meant to make you cry. For the best strategy to try everything, you have to starve yourself in advance, but it's worth it! Go with a friend, start with molokhia, then jump to the nifa (softest sheep meat) or moza (lamb shank). Then you can share stuffed vine leaves with trotters, mombar (fried intestines stuffed with rice), some tarb and a dish of rice me’ammar (baked with heavy cream in the oven). To finish off, maybe add in a small stuffed pigeon, because why not!”More Info
“I’ve tried so many Korean restaurants in different countries, but so far Cairo’s Gaya is the winner. Big portions and nice service, big up to Shenouda! I always have kimbap and tteokbokki (rice cake) as an appetiser before jumping to the jeyuk bokkeum (Korean spicy pork) or beef bulgogi with fried rice with pork. It’s one of the few places in Egypt that serve pork. You can also try the pork belly or the ribs, they’re great. Don’t fall for any offer to try another Korean restaurant in Cairo, it’s a waste of time and money.”More Info
“For years, El Sharkawy – with its millions of branches – have dominated the brain and liver market in Cairo. But then came Awlad Ta2ta2 to up the game. The freshest fried brain and liver, a perfect mix of crunchiness and softness. Don’t forget to squeeze heaps of lemon on it. You can order by kilo or simply go for sandwiches – they bake their own baladi bread. Order it with tehina (or ’tahini’ in hipster jargon), pickled tomatoes and eggplants. They also have fish, but if you want great fish, Cairo isn’t the right city. But you can try their herring salad if you like smokey, salted fish.”More Info
“Back to starvation mode, you need to be prepared. El Gomhoureya is best known for its stuffed pigeons; they’re soft so you can even eat the bones, and the rice is well spiced. Next, try their giant moza or 1 ⁄ 4 kilo (a bit more I guess) of nifa. Don’t finish all of the pigeon soup. Save half of it to dip the nifa or moza in it, to make it extra soft, greasy. I’m not a fan of kabab and kofta, but they have good sogu’ (sujuk). El Gomhoureya never fails to make me feel high on good food, I always leave with a smile on my face.”More Info
“This is hardcore! The best fasakhani in Cairo; the place selling fesikh. Fesikh is one of the oldest food traditions in Egypt, it’s basically aged marinated mullet fish. If you like a strong funky smell and taste, Shaheen will be your heaven. Don’t let the innocent pink colour or the soft meat of the fish fool you, it’s overpowering but delicious. Buy the fish and cut the head and tail with a sharp knife. Then cut it from the bottom so you can split it in two parts and squeeze lots of lemon – and good luck! The high amount of salt will dry you out, so it’s recommended to drink lots of water and cola, of course, and take a day off because it will make you sleepy. Disclaimer: make sure the fesikh is fresh, otherwise it will have serious implications.”More Info
“There’s a koshary place in every corner in downtown, but Abou Tarek stands out. Koshary is a bomb traditional dish made by a mix of three types of pasta, rice, lentil and fried onions. It’s always fresh, and what makes it unique is the tomato sauce, garlic sauce and other mix of spices. It’s relatively expensive compared to many koshary places. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan and visiting Cairo, Abou Tarek is your spot, next to tonnes of foul (fava beans) and ta’meyya (falafel) places you can find around every corner in Cairo.”More Info
“They lied when they said pizza is Italian. With all respect to Italian pizza, especially the Neapolitan, every country in the Mediterranean has got its own version of pizza. Egypt is known for its fetir, a pie that’s similar to burek. Next to Dina Farms’ wide range of savoury fetir, the meshaltet pie is outstanding. The flakey layers loaded with butter go best with side dips of mesh (aged cheese), honey, cream, feta cheese and black honey (molasses). Don’t miss their milk with dates and milk with chocolate, they’re the richest.”More Info
“Despite the abundance of shawerma spots in Cairo, it’s hard to find a good one, so you just go with the flow and settle for average places. EL Hamra Street is one of the few good ones, it’s prepared the Syrian/Lebanese way. Unfortunately, most of the places serving Egyptian shawerma are below average because they add too much tehina, parsley and mint and less meat. They’re also overpriced. So EL Hamra Street is the right choice. Don’t forget to try the sujuk shawerma, it’s really special.”More Info
“I’ve been a big fan of Kahlawy for 20 years. Kahlawy is a small food cart located downtown, known for its delicious liver, sujuk and corned beef sandwiches. It’s always crowded so be patient. It’s also a good indicator of the rise in prices and the economic crisis in Egypt, as the price of their sandwiches has jumped from one EGP to 10 EGP over the years. However, this never stops me from grabbing a bunch of sandwiches every now and then.”More Info
“Best known for their rice milk (top it with cream, honey and a scoop of ice cream), mahallabeya, ashoura and sweet koskosi (kouskous). It’s one of the oldest places selling nice desserts with high standards. They come up with new inventions every couple of months, so you must try their new mesakhsakha, which is a heavy version of tres leches. Try also their cheese and dairy products, especially their mesh.”More Info