So you’re in Cairo and you really want to discover what local Egyptian street food is all about. We don’t blame you, there are few better ways of getting a real taste (pun unintended) of a new city or country than partaking in what the locals eat daily.
Egyptian street food can be found on literally almost every corner of our sprawling capital, but to ensure that you try the best (and least questionable!) of what Cairo has to offer, we put together a list of the best places to get our Egyptian street food favorites.
Note for the newbies: now keep in mind that most of the food we’ll be listing is local fare, so if you’re not familiar at all with some of the food names (eg. fuul or koshary), we suggest you read 12 Local Egyptian Foods You Need To Try, where we break it all down and explain what everything is.
1. Bashandy (aka ‘Am Bashandy)
If you’re on the east side of Cairo (Nasr City, Heliopolis, New Cairo) then Bashandy is a must-go for classic Egyptian street food. It’s open 24 hours and offers food to-go, curbside pick-up or delivery.
Their menu is a wide selection of fuul, taameya and french fry sandwiches, as well as other Egyptian favorites like fried eggplant and baba ghanoug.
Also just a friendly reminder that Egyptian falafel (taameya) differs from non-Egyptian falafel, so be sure to check our local food article to know the difference. We Egyptians obviously swear by ours, but hey a little bias never hurt anyone.
2. Ezz el Menoufy
What started as a street cart in Dokki in 1976 for liver sandwiches has grown steadily in popularity to the extent that over a dozen other Ezz el Menoufy ‘branches’ (street stalls) have opened across Cairo!
Their menu sticks to tradition - liver sandwiches, different kinds of sausage/’sogouk’ sandwiches (oriental sausage, smoked sausage, minced sausage) and a few dessert sandwiches like clotted cream and honey.
They’re open from 9:30 am til late - 3:30 am. You can pop in ‘Ezz el Menoufy’ into your Google Maps and see which branch is the closest to you.
3. Abou Haidar
Established in 1968 by a Syrian man in the eastern neighborhood of Heliopolis, Abou Haidar is one of the most famous shawerma spots in all of Cairo. It’s one of the very few popular ‘restaurants’ in Egypt to refuse to offer home delivery - the only way to get a hold of Abou Haidar’s shawerma sandwiches is to go order and pick them up yourself.
They’re open from early in the morning (8:30 am shawerma, anyone?) to 1:30 am on most nights.
4. Koshary Abou Tarek
Every Egyptian local has their favorite local koshary joint, but Abou Tarek is widely agreed on being one of the best - if not THE best. Watching the lightning-fast assembly line of layering your plastic carton with koshary is an experience in and of itself!
If you don’t have a Koshary Abou Tarek in your area (their branches are currently Downtown which is the original and most famous, Sheikh Zayed, New Cairo and El Rehab City), then keep your eyes peeled for other good koshary spots like Koshary Tahrir, Sayed Hanafy or Tom and Basal.
5. Kebdet El Prince
Kebdet el Prince (which translates to 'the prince of liver') is the darling of both regular Egyptian locals and Egyptian celebrities alike, because of their homestyle Egyptian menu, full of traditional favorites that you'd have a hard time finding anywhere else but an Egyptian grandma's kitchen.
This restaurant in Imbaba is open until the early hours of the morning, and their street seating is first come, first serve (the restaurant is basically rows and rows of sidewalk tables). You get there, place your order, eat until you're blue in the face, and then make room for the next hungry customer.
This is another street shawerma classic that’s been going strong since it first opened back in 1981. You can order your chicken or meat shawerma in either a ‘kaiser roll’ (similar to a burger bun), in a baguette, or wrapped in Syrian bread. They also have a bunch of other items on their menu like burgers and ‘meals’, but we recommend sticking to what Semsema is famous for - the shawerma.
Most locals park their cars in front of Semsema and indulge in one kaiser shawerma after another until 2 am.
7. El Malky
So you’ve had your shawerma, your liver sandwiches, your fuul, taameya and koshary - what’s next? Uh, dessert of course. We round out this list of the best street food spots with where to get your local sugar fix.
El Malky is a dairy and dessert shop that’s over 100 years old (yep, it opened in 1917 in Old Cairo), and is famous for its rice pudding, Om Ali and sweet couscous.
Local tip: if you’re adventurous and want to really kick it street food style like an Egyptian, you can try some of the foul and taameya carts you’ll find dotted around Cairo in the morning. They’re good but not advised for delicate stomachs!
Also keep an eye out for these street snacks:
Grilled corn on the cob
Roasted sweet potato (check out our list of Egyptian winter comfort foods here)
Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds ('lebb' in Arabic)
Lupin beans (‘termes’ in Arabic)
Fresh juice stalls
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