With a population of over 17 million Egyptians, Cairo has a vast number of supermarkets spread out through the city. From neighbourhood grocery shops and vegetable stands to supermarket chains and hypermarkets, it can be difficult to determine where best to buy your food stuffs. While Cairo also has its share of budget supermarkets offering local products at almost wholesale prices, if you’re looking for imported produce, head to these high-end supermarket chains: Metro, Alfa and Seoudi. Here’s what you need to know:
With over twenty branches throughout Cairo, Metro Market is Egypt’s largest supermarket chain. Aside from causing a good deal of confusion when asking for directions– ‘station or shop?’– Metro Market offers local and imported groceries that are difficult to find at smaller markets. Larger branches, such as the Misr-Helwan Agricultural Road branch in Maadi, have great deli counters for sliced meat, fresh chicken, fish and cheese. You will find a good variety of locally produced and imported sandwich makings in a wide range of prices. Those working behind the counter often offer you a taste of your order to ensure satisfaction with your selection.
Metro’s baking section is well-stocked with essential dessert ingredients that are sometimes difficult to find, such as flavour syrups and imported bake mixes. Their frozen food selection is also more comprehensive than that of their competition and if you’ve spent all your energy shopping and have lost the will to cook, Metro Market’s prepared food department serves up hot items like brown rice with almonds, roast chicken and macaroni for a quick and easy meal. Dips such as hummus, tehina and baba ghanough are available next to a selection of pickled vegetables, perfect for party food.
However, Metro's produce tends to be overpriced when compared to local vegetable shops and often overripe or poorly handled. If you’re looking for a specific shape of imported pasta, cereals or ground coffee beans; Metro has you covered.
Shopping at Seoudi Market is a much more intimate deli experience. It doesn’t have the atmosphere of a large chain the way Metro Market does. Seoudi has fewer branches that are generally smaller than those of their competitors. This inevitably means that Seoudi’s stock is more limited and they are prone to running out of certain items occasionally, but you will also find it comparatively cheaper than Metro and Alfa.
Seoudi Market normally has a great selection of fresh herbs, organic milk such as Dina Farms, Ocean Spray Juice, and fresh cherries and strawberries. The shop also has a winning bakery, where fresh bread is baked twice daily and far better than the bread and savoury pastry of Metro and Alpha. Seoudi is definitely the best spot for value amongst Cairo’s major supermarkets, unless you’re in search of a rare food item, in which case; head to Alfa Market.
Alfa Market is so more of a hypermarket than a grocery store, where you’ll find everything from food to stationary items, kitchen supplies and even sporting goods. You can pretty much furnish your whole kitchen with one shopping trip to Alfa.
The supermarket has a wide selection of imported food items and cleaning supplies that can get pretty pricey. You’ll find the local brands too, but should you order delivery; be sure to specify your preference or you’re likely to be paying a hefty price difference. Still, Alfa’s selection of specialty items such as dried seaweed, Hoisin sauce and other ingredients for Asian cuisine make it a good place for more exotic finds. Their butcher counter is equally impressive: an order of minced meat is usually ground to order from a thick fillet of beef.
Nearly any household or kitchen appliance is available at Alpha Market, but not in the greatest selection. Your choice is often limited to either a lower quality or a really expensive brand, with no mid-range appliances available. The supermarket also has a wide range of flatware, glasses, and food storage containers at moderate prices. TVs, computer screens and sound systems are available in the Zamalek branch, while the Maadi Corniche branch has a good collection of sports goods, equipment and beach toys.
Alfa also has a selection of midrange sheets, towels, clothes, and some sporting goods. Although they won’t have the best bargains in town, the convenience of having everything available under one roof can save you a lot of hassle.
If you’re more interested in price than imported luxury items, stay tuned to our upcoming guide to the Best in Budget Supermarkets in Cairo.