If you’re headed off to Egypt to explore delicious, authentic Egyptian food, this is the article for you.
Maybe you’re looking to find traditional Egyptian dishes or learn more about the history and influences that have made Egyptian food what it is today.
In any case, I’ve got the run-down on all foods tasty and delicious in Egypt, and most importantly, the best restaurants where you can find them!
What to Know Before Arriving In Egypt
Before loading up your plate, you’ll want to have a few things in order upon your arrival in Egypt.
Be sure to have a copy of your travel insurance policy that you can give to the airport authorities, your Egypt eVisa, and your passport, which must be valid for at the very minimum, six months prior to the date that you arrive in Egypt.
Best Traditional Egyptian Food
African and Asian influences have inspired the food in Egypt, reflective of Egypt’s position as a transcontinental nation. Food influences also span to Rome.
Collectively, these attributes have created a cuisine that consists of spiced flavors and food combinations. Some traditional dishes to try include flat Baladi bread, molokhia, and Egyptian cheeses.
Depending on where you eat, you might see variations of the same food. A traditional Egyptian breakfast, lunch, and dinner can look similar if you are being served your meals from someone’s home or by casual dining establishments.
These meals typically consist of a spread of items that, together, make an Egyptian meze. With a meze, you will typically be served falafel, tahini, soft cheeses, meats, rice dishes, olives, and hummus.
Check out Naguib Mahfouz, a restaurant where the meze is adored by Egyptians and tourists alike. This restaurant is in Cairo in the center of Seket El Badistan in the Khalili area.
Molokhia: A Traditional Stew
Molokhia, nicknamed “green slime soup,” is an Egyptian staple stew or soup made from greens cooked in beef, seafood, or chicken stock. It is a traditional Egyptian soup.
The dish is traditionally served with bread, rice, and your choice of meat or seafood, based on regional availability.
The name, ‘Molokhia” comes from the greens in the soup.
Many travelers have posted positive reviews about the Molokhia at Abou el-Sid, located in the July Corridor in Cairo. The restaurant is filled with round, family-style tables intended for sharing dishes.
Koshari: Egypt’s National Dish
The national dish of Egypt is known as, Koshari. Koshari consists of rice, macaroni, lentils, chickpeas, spices, tomato sauce, and fried onion.
Positive reviews for the Koshari and service are frequently voiced about El Zaeem Restaurant in Luxor. This restaurant is known for its fast service as well as for its close proximity to the Mummification Museum.
Egyptian Flatbreads: Ballade Bread
Egyptian flatbreads are some of the most popular foods to try while visiting Egypt. One particular bread to consider trying is the Baladi Bread. This Egyptian bread is served with each meal as a side dish or as something to dip into soup, stew, or dishes like baba ghanoush.
Head out to Zooba, a restaurant in Cairo, where Baladi bread is baked fresh, daily.
Street Food: A Classic Egyptian Dish
You can find many delicious protein-packed goods at street vendor stalls for casual eats.
Chicken and beef are spiced and cooked on a spit. These meats are served with garlic or tahini-based sauces.
You might know of Shawarma, one of the popular meat dishes offered in Egypt and other parts of the world.
Order Shawarma at Shawarma Street in Second New Cairo for a blended experience of street-food and table dining.
There are many traditional cheeses of Egyptian cuisine, including mish, which is fermented. Dominate is another cheese, like Rumi, which has a similar texture to pecorino. Many cheeses are still made on family farms today.
Most cheeses served in Egyptian restaurants are soft white cheese, like soft feta or cream cheese.
For a wide selection of different cheeses, visit La Chesa in Cairo for a downtown dining experience. La Chesa offers a flexible adult and kids’ menu with different favorites to choose from.
Mahshi Stuffed Dishes
The word ‘mahshi’ means ‘stuffed,’ and likewise, this dish is stuffed with rices, spices, and minced meat. There are many different versions of Mahshi, and some are also vegan.
Like Mahshi, stuffed grape leaves are also a stuffed vegetable combination of rice and meat. These combinations are typically reserved for special occasions. You may have tried dolmades or sarmale, both of which are similar to Egyptian stuffed grape leaves.
Al A’hd al Gadeed Restaurant in Cairo offers well-loved mahshi. The atmosphere is reminiscent of old Fatimid Cairo and includes many Islamic decorations.
Pigeon is a delicacy in Egypt and is eaten with flavorful marinades and ingredients, including rice, cinnamon, nuts, and freekeh.
Traditionally, Pigeon is a celebration meal as Hamam Mahshi. Older pigeons are used for Hamam Mahshi as they are tougher with a final texture like veal.
Pigeons are cooked by roasting or grilling them after stuffing them with rice, spices, and the leftover bird meat.
Enjoy stuffed pigeon and Hamam Mahsi at Sofra Restaurant & Café in Al Manshiya, Luxor. The restaurant celebrates Arabian culture and is infused with oriental design.
Falafel at Every Meal
Served with breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Egyptian falafel is a popular addition to most Egyptian meals. Falafels are also eaten as a popular street food snack.
Fava beans are coated with various herbs and spiced and are then rolled into falafel balls for frying. It is said that falafels originated in Egypt or India.
The falafel is praised at Eish Baladi, an Egyptian restaurant in El Gouna. If you don’t want to try falafel on its own, know that his restaurant offers a falafel sandwich as well.
Try as many traditional dishes as you can to get a true taste of an authentic, mixed-cultural cuisine! Although there are certainly similarities to some of the foods you had at home, you will discover new flavors and food combinations to adore in Egypt.