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Around Cairo in Twelve Cuisines: The Cuisines That Make Up The Capital

American cairo Culture egypt food french Indian international cuisine ITALIAN japanese korean Lebanese mexican Spanish Thai
Around Cairo in Twelve Cuisines: The Cuisines That Make Up The Capital
written by
Nada Wahba

Cairo is known for many things: its culture, history, food, and of course, its people. Throughout the years, it has also become something of a cosmopolitan city, a cultural melting pot, where citizens from around the world visit and prolong their stay. Despite Cairo’s cultural significance, part of what makes it great is how it embraces other cultures. One of the most crucial parts of any culture is its cuisine, and Cairo has been welcoming and adopting different cuisines that make non-Egyptian citizens feel right at home while also getting Cairenes to love them!

If you’re wondering what Cairo has in store, here’s the perfect list of the signature dishes from a few of the many cuisines that make Cairo what it is.


First and foremost, we have Egyptian cuisine, obviously! There are plenty of signature Egyptian meals that carry stories passed down from different generations, but since we have to pick a single dish for every cuisine, we’re going with molokhia, the star of the Egyptian show.

Molokhia is a plant native to Egypt, but it slowly spread towards the Middle East and the rest of North Africa. The dish is made of a broth base and enjoyed with rice or pita bread, or both if you’re that adventurous! You’ll probably find that the best molokhia is made at home, but if you don’t have the means or time to make it yourself, head towards 7agogah for a nostalgic, traditional Molokhia meal that will remind you of your grandma! 


The second most popular cuisine around Cairo is Italian, as pasta and pizza are extremely cherished by Cairenes. With Egyptians and Italians being shockingly alike in terms of cultural richness and love for food (and carbs), it’s no wonder that Italian cuisine is as valued as it is.

As for the dish chosen, we’ve never thought we’d have to pit pizza and pasta against each other, but we have to go with pizza. Nothing beats having an authentic, by-the-book Neapolitan pizza—thin dough with an airy crust and a light char, topped with simple ingredients. If you’re looking for a place with trusted quality Neapolitan pizza, What the Crust is the only destination you need. The pizza police can vouch for it! 


Next on our list is Chinese, a cuisine that many of us grew up eating or at least are familiar with. In general, Asian food is known for its complexity in flavour and its generous use of spices, giving its dishes a great boost. One of this cuisine’s signature dishes is dumplings, which are little explosions of flavour.

Chinese dumplings are made of crescent-shaped flour dough that’s stuffed with meat or vegetables and is infused with a bit of soup. It’s either steamed or pan-fried. If you’re wondering where to get your hands on delicious dumplings, everyone’s childhood favourite Peking will always have your back. 


What’s a hangout without a quick meal made up of burger and fries? Of course, we couldn’t not include American cuisine on the list that Cairenes enjoy—we’ve all grown up with it! You may think that there’s not much to a burger, but there are endless ways to enjoy it. One that has been recently gaining popularity among Cairenes is smash burgers, which include a very thin burger patty topped with basic ingredients like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, American cheese and mustard or ketchup.

You can find a mouthwatering smash burger meal at Maine, where a quintessential USA’s favourite can be found: The Surf and Turf burger, topped with shrimp and tartar sauce.


We can’t mention Japanese cuisine without including sushi, one of Cairo’s most enjoyed food selections! Invented around the second century, sushi came into being as a way to preserve fish through fermented rice, making it last up to a whole year. These heavenly rolls are usually made up of four main ingredients: Sushi rice, seaweed, fish, and vegetables. Located in Polaris Mall, Sushimi by K serves an authentic sushi experience, where the rolls are bite-size and as fresh as they should be. 


Did someone say butter chicken curry? Yes, please! As part of the Asian cuisine family, Indian cuisine also counts as one of the most flavourful. It incorporates a bunch of spices and vegetables in its dishes that ensure the food is anything but bland and tasteless. On the contrary, it’s quite the opposite. 

The most ordered Indian dish is butter chicken curry with biryani rice and naan bread—a killer combo for all who wish to indulge in Indian food! For a tasty curry dish, head over to Tao, where you’ll find the creamiest, most flavourful butter chicken curry. 


One of Cairo’s most iconic food experiences is the Lebanese, which is built on an abundance of grains, vegetables, poultry, and seafood. The cuisine also includes red meat, which is most often lamb and goat rather than beef. Known for its use of two main ingredients that are zaatar and olive oil, Lebanese cuisine has given us popular dishes such as man’ouche, which is incredibly similar to pizza or flatbread as it’s made of a thin fluffy dough with simple toppings.

To enjoy great quality man’ouche, The Lebanese Bakery is the place to go, as you’ll find all the Lebanese dishes you need to sample there. 


If you’re already familiar with Korean culture through its TV shows or music, you probably also share the same passion for Korean food, which is absolutely irresistible. Based on a love for spice, Korean cuisine has one simple rule: The spicier the food, the tastier it is.

One of the must-try Korean dishes is Tteokbokki, which is rice cakes mixed in a thick spicy sauce and vegetables. Tteokbokki has a distinctive chewy texture and is actually quite bland on its own, making it a great base for sauce-heavy dishes. You can try delicious Tteokbokki at Kokio, Maadi. 


Paella, anyone? It’s no secret that Spanish cuisine cherishes seafood—Spaniards have it daily and find ways to incorporate it in their meals. Quite vibrant in its flavours, Spanish cuisine uses fresh, humble ingredients and spices that complete a single dish, like paella.

A rice-based dish, paella also includes vegetables and seafood and is topped with lime juice and cilantro. One of the best restaurants that nail the Paella is Pinchos, where you’ll also find the vegetarian alternative as well! 


Unlike Spanish, Mexican cuisine uses beef as the main base for its food and integrates spice into its dishes, which is how you get the worldly-beloved kick in flavour this cuisine is known for. You might have already guessed this, but tacos count as one of Mexican cuisine’s signature dishes that Cairenes absolutely adore, whether they’re beef, chicken, seafood, or even veggie tacos.

Here’s one important taco rule: The messier it is, the better its experience will be. And if you want an experience that’s the right amount of messy, you should stop by Tabla Luna


Cairenes have a special take on France’s slogan: Bonsoir, enchantée, filet mignon all the way! Known for its steak and fries dishes, French cuisine is also among the list of popular food in Cairo, as it tends to use simple but effective ingredients in the cooking process.

One of the dishes where that’s especially clear is the filet mignon, which translates to tender filet. Made up of the end part of the tenderloin, this dish is usually dressed with mushroom or Dijon mustard sauce. One of the newly opened, but must-visit French restaurants that serve a decadent, melt in your mouth filet mignon is Le Flandrin, so make sure to order it when you visit!


While Thai cuisine was never as popular as the other Asian cuisines in Cairo, it is slowly but surely crawling up the ladder and gaining the exposure it deserves. From its colourful curries to its noodles and soups, Thai cuisine specialises in an array of dishes that are very different but equally as good. One of which is Pad Thai noodles, a flavour bomb that has a noodle base and is topped with a cocktail of stir-fried vegetables, lime, peanuts, and sauce. You can try this signature dish at Bua Khao in Maadi.