Great food may not be the main objective for a visit to Cairo, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be sought out. The good news is it's easy to do so, as Cairo has a vibrant dining scene that celebrates Egypt’s cuisine and culture. Now more than ever, restaurants across the city have blossomed in new directions, embracing everything from casual street food classics to fine dining, as well as elevated international flavors drawn from Japanese and Mediterranean cuisines (and beyond).
Here's where to dive in and dine out.
While nobody would mistake Abou Tarek for a "fancy" or formal restaurant, it's an absolute must-visit for first-timers to the city, as well as a beloved purveyor of comfort food for locals. The restaurant specializes in koshari, the modern Egyptian staple that takes rice, lentils, and chickpeas, adds in macaroni and vermicelli noodles, and douses the entire combination in piquant tomato juice seasoned with lemon, vinegar, and chili. Abou Terek has been serving up the dish since 1935, growing into a bustling, multi-story establishment with an assembly line-like crew of cooks churning out loaded bowls seemingly by the thousands.
Bab Al Qasr
Bab Al Qasr is found within the Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski hotel, a resort near Cairo International Airport. The restaurant serves a full range of Levantine dishes and the ambiance is part of the appeal here, with evocative decor in the vein of ancient Egypt or Arabia, and live musicians and performers in the evenings. Menu highlights include a line-up of different Egyptian fattah, as well as a wide selection of kebabs and grilled fare. Also recommended is the house-made grilled manakeesh (flatbread) with a choice of several different stuffings and seasonings. Large groups can order house specialties such as a whole lamb shoulder or kofta by the meter.
Andrea El Mariouteya
Andrea El Mariouteya opened in 1958 in New Giza and remains family-run several generations later. The restaurant specializes in grilled chicken in a number of formats: on the skewer; deboned; or in large, broken-down pieces, always with a flavorful, crisp skin and juicy meat. Slightly charred bread served with a full spread of traditional Egyptian mezze and dips is not to be missed, along with feteer meshaltet—a flaky, buttery, layered pastry. The restaurant is also a popular choice for breakfast and is well known for its open-air courtyard with expansive views of its sprawling surroundings.