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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.
The newest restaurant to open in Downtown Cairo is the surprisingly sleek Masrawy. Having timed its opening for Ramadan, the new eatery on Bustan Street offers no-frills, wholesome food for fetar and sohour.
There are eight hearty meal options to choose from for Iftar and each offer a diverse and healthy mix of foods including drinks and dessert.
The cheapest of these eight choices costs 22LE and consists of quarter of a chicken, rice, mixed vegetables, mixed salad, Egyptian bread, Oriental dessert, one bottle of water plus a special fruity Ramadan drink. You can also replace the chicken for meatballs in a tangy tomato sauce with pasta.
The most expensive meal on the fetar menu is the Mixed Grill (80LE); but don’t be put off by this significantly higher price because the portion can easily feed two people. The selection of meat is simply delicious. Included in the Mixed Grill option is: ¼ kofta, ½ chicken, ¼ kebab, 2 juicy lamb ribs, a thick soup, basmati rice, green salad, tahina salad, garlic salad, bread, a bottle of water and finally, that special fruity Ramadan drink.
The prices at this new restaurant are highly satisfactory considering the diversity that comes in just one meal choice and of course the large portion sizes that we really love and appreciate. The service is great too; staff is all dressed in bright orange to match the interior of the restaurant.
Masrawy is extremely spacious taking up two large air-conditioned floors plus outdoor seating; it’s clean, fresh and almost sparkles beneath that perfectly adequate lighting. Large tables are available for families or groups of friends plus some quieter tables for two all prepared efficiently and the food is served in stylish ceramic dishes, which really add to the atmosphere and pleasant dining experience.
Masrawy’s sohour menu consists of a lighter and significantly cheaper choice of meals than feter, but there are only four different choices. The cheapest of these costs a mere 10LE and consists of a generous serving of chunky foul, two falafel, green salad, yoghurt, bread and water. On the other hand there is the ‘Masrawy Special’ which costs 18LE and is highly recommended, consists of omelette, a cheese plate, three falafel, salad, bread, yoghurt, french fries and a bottle of water.
There is no daily menu as yet for Masrawy as the focus is purely on Ramadan but the restaurant has managed to burst into the Cairo scene immediately attracting attention and reeling in customers. The seating is comfortable; the large air-conditioned space is refreshing and they serve a top-notch fetar.