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Downtown, Cairo, Egypt.
Felfela: Traditional and Tasty Egyptian
If you’re looking for a flavourful, traditional several-course Egyptian meal that won’t cost you an arm and a leg but is nonetheless a step above most hole-in-the-wall eateries in the area, Felfela’s sit-down restaurant is the place to go. The perfect spot for those that appreciate a diverse menu in a casual atmosphere, Felfela is often dismissed as a tourist haunt by many but nothing beats its quality food and very reasonable prices.
Step inside away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Cairo and you’re bound to start chanting ‘Serenity Now’ like it’s your mantra. The interior has bubbling fish tanks on one side of the entrance, and a comfortable dining area made of dark wood and an ornately carved wooden ceiling. Large, potted hanging plants are arranged throughout the venue, and for some odd reason a life-size wooden statue greets visitors at the door; it seems a bit silly but still makes for a charming atmosphere.
It’s best to stick to the basics at Felfela. Ordering any combination of oriental salads is a great way to whet your appetite; and the baba ghanoug and tehina dishes are especially delicious. Different kinds of bread tend to be served on each visit; so it’s recommended that you request your preferred kind, whether it’s soft pita, baladi or toast. The waiters are happy to warm the dipping bread for you if you ask.
In general, the service is good; though it slows to a near halt whenever the restaurant traffic gets heavy.
If you want to play it safe, hamburgers and some pasta dishes are available but undoubtedly the best dishes are the foul Eskanderani (Alexandria-style fava beans), kebda Eskanderani (Alexandria-style liver) and last, but certainly not least, the molokheya or ‘green mallow stew’, as the menu reads. The latter is thick, slightly sticky and compliments a simple plate of rice, French fries or chicken. The tagine dishes are also worth trying; they’re more Egyptian than Moroccan cuisine but nonetheless tasty. Beware of the foul with tehina, though; previous diners have found that the tehina drowns the foul’s flavour. A small selection of beer and wine is also available with your meal.
It may be known as a tourist attraction, but Felfela does offer a solid meal and a nice option for some sit-down foul and taameya.
Whilst most of the newer restaurants in Cairo claim to serve up authentic Egyptian meals, nothing quite compares to the delights of longstanding, local koshary establishments. Downtown Cairo is packed with cheap and delicious koshary restaurants with fast, friendly service where you can opt to dine in or take away.
Building up an almost unrivalled reputation, just two blocks from Tahrir Square, Abou Tarek’s restaurant is spread over two floors; a necessity due to its popularity and bustle.
However, the décor is a little more flamboyant than most koshary outlets, with artificial greenery and several large, tropical fish tanks, tempting customers to sit and eat. Downstairs, there’s also a television if you like a little entertainment while you dine.
The generous bowls of koshary start from as little as 3LE, though it is possible to purchase a range of sizes for just a few pounds more. For 10LE, big eaters will be afforded a humungous portion. Of course, no koshary meal would be complete without the essential garlic dressing, da'a, and chilli sauce, both of which Abou Tarek do fantastically.
There is also a small range of canned drinks (4LE) and mineral water (2LE) to wash down that delightful meal.
We waited less than five minutes for two bowls of delicious koshary which werw not only served quickly, but also with a smile from the locals who run the establishment – just another one of the special, very vital ingredients that really do make a difference.
Though koshary is the main focus, should you have room for dessert, sweet, creamy rice pudding is amongst the options, and cost a mere 3LE per serving.
Serving some of the best-tasting koshary in the heart of Downtown Cairo, Abou Tarek has once again proved to be a must-go for all koshary fans.