Places to Eat in Cairo
As all the tourists know, the best places to eat are the places where locals go. On the other hand during a short say in Cairo it's not very clever to digest too much local bacteria. There are a great places listed in many tourist guides. Particulary Lonely Planet: Cairo is very good guide book. During my time in Cairo I have found some restaurants not included in the book or worth while of extra gredit. I have eaten and taken my guests in all of these places several times with a great success. I can recommend them for both their food and level of hygiene. If some of the information changes, I would be happy to hear about it.
There are a couple of things to remember when you go to restaurant or order food in Egypt. Most of the menus don't include Sale Tax 10% or Service Charge 12% in their prices. Those will be added to final amount. Service Charge is not a tip. You are still expected to tip the staff as it's very important part of their salary. There isn't any fixed prosentage as it varies in different places. You should aim somewhere between 5-10%. The better the restaurant is the more you are expected to give. Most of the places £E 3-6 is ok rounding up the sum to even five or ten. In local take away places giving extra £E 0,5-1 is a nice gesture. You should also pay extra pounds for a delivery man, when you order food home.
If you are in need of a map, I can recommend a map from Cairo Guide, printed by AUC. You can get it from AUC book store beside Tahrir and itís only about £E 35. There is a lot of more information than any other tourist map.
If you like to order and are using mobile in Cairo insert '02í in the beginning of the telephone number.
Om Kalssom Restaurant
Khan El Khalili
One of the best places to eat Egyptian food. Forget Felfela and taste the real stuff. Also it's the only place worth of mentioning in Khan El Khalil. Great place to rest your feet and sit a while during your shopping spree. It's located in one of the small alleys, just opposite to Yassrer's shop, near Fishawi Cafe. There isn't any menus, so here is some help for ordering. I have tested many times meat cooked with onion "lahma bil basal". Sometimes you get okra "bamia" cooked in tomato sauce sometimes cooked with meat "bamia bil lahma". Potatos and molokheya-soup are good as well. Potatos "potaattis" are sliced and cooked in Egytian style in tomato sauce and are meant to eat with rice. All of the food is eaten with a bread straight from the serving bowl, even molokheya. You brake a small peace of bread and dip it to the sauces. Four different sauces are enough for two. You can always ask more, if needed. Sauces and soups between £E 4-25.
2 Iran Streer
One of the best khosery in the city. The sauce makes all the differnce. The place is located just under the Dokki bridge very near Al Tahrir street. If you are in the crossroad of Al Tahrir and Al Dokki streets continue to north on the left side of Al Dokki street for a few meters. The entrance is in a street level, but for the dining area you have to go down stairs. Most of the time there is saw dust on the floor. Like in any place in Cairo ask for a small as the service sizes are really big. For dessert order "ross bil laban" - rice with milk. it's very sweat, cold rice pudding/porridge. It might take a couple of times but in the end you will really like this stuff. One khosery plate costs £E 2-5 depending of the size.
This is place to eat fish and it's located just a few steps away from "Midan El Messaha" - El Messaha Square. First you choose the fish and the way they cook it, later you can get table and order the rest. Bolti and dennis are good ones. The cost depends of the weight of the fish. £E 50-60 is usually enough for one person for everything.
Al Nil Street
Common Egyptian fast food restaurant. It's located a little bit south from The Balloon Theater and National Circus. On the other hand it's close enough to Dokki to take taxi - £E 3-5 for a drive. There is a little room to eat on the spot, but you can also take away or have your order delivered. Menu includes ordinary shawerma, fuul and tameya, but they make the best macarone caserole "makarona" or "makarona furn". The macarone is served with spicy tomato sauce and have a lot of grind meat in it. It's really good and only place in town, which does "makarona" with this recepy. Hamburger with a egg is also good "hamburger bil bed". One "makarona" costs £E 5,50.
Shabrawi - Haram
All the taxi drivers know this place. It's a little bit before Al Arish Street, just after Al Andalous night club. There are several Shabrawis in the city, but this one is the biggest and most famous. They serve common Egyptian food and their grilled chicken is very tasty. Their English menu is so confusing, that I couldn't understand any of it. Better just to tell them what you want.
26 Bahgat Ali Street
Small pasta place in Zamalek. It's next to Chinese Embasy. They aclame to be very Italian with only some success. They do achieve to serve a much better pasta dishes than most of the Egyptians can even imagine. They have many good sauces to choose from with different types of pasta. Very good place with very good prices. Main courses between £E 15-35.
33366734 (Mohadessin, Dokki & Haram)
If you get tired of Egyptian quisine, the Peking restaurant offers a quite good Chinese option. They have several restaurants in different parts of the city. This is one of the rare places which serves tofu. There is no delivery charge. Main courses between £E 15-40.
A Small Arabic Food Dictionary:
Most of the take away places don't have menus in English. You need to know the basics if you want to explore.
aish - bread, typically small, flat, pita bread.
fuul - porridge made from beans
tameya - falafel
lahma - meat
firagh - chicken
makarona - pasta, macarone
makarona / makarona furn - macarone caserole baked in oven
shawerma lahma/firagh - bread filled either with grilled meat or chicken, some tomato and onion and herbs
kosheri - mix of pasta, rice and lentils served with tomato sauce
maya - water
shay - tea
bil laban - with milk
ahwa - coffee
asiir - juice
karkadee - hibiskus tea, can be served hot or cold