Yes, it’s true! Las Vegas has its very own Egyptian food hub.
POTs, Las Vegas’ very first Egyptian restaurant, according to Egyptian Streets, serves “Authentic Egyptian Street Food” right in the heart of Vegas. Founded in 2016 by sisters Iman Haggag and Ayat Khalil, POTs aims to introduce Egypt and its culture to the world. Its staff cooks authentic Egyptian dishes the traditional way, sometimes getting their recipes from the founders’ own mother.
Born and raised in Egypt, Iman and Ayat started their business as a way to connect to their roots and take them into the United States. Iman’s love for food started after she graduated from Cairo and left for the U.S. in 2006 to pursue her newfound passion. Over the years, she took the chance to travel and discover more about food and cooking, tasting all the different flavours of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
It wasn’t until 2016 that Ayat, Iman’s sister, suggested that they turn their little infatuation with food into something more. The sisters decided to bring the food of their homeland into the world. Using pots as a symbol to represent Egyptian street food (since they are often seen being used by Egyptian street vendors), they founded Las Vegas’s first Egyptian restaurant, POTs.
Today, POTs has seen such success that it ranked #5 on Yelp’s Top 50 places to eat in Las Vegas in 2020. Not only is POTs a women-run business that serves distinct Egyptian cuisine, but it also only serves vegetarian meals, with a multitude of vegan options available as well, in Westside Las Vegas. Since most Egyptian food is already vegan or vegetarian, the sisters saw the opportunity to capitalise on that with their business.
Of course, opening a restaurant that serves no meat and is run by minorities came with its own set of challenges, with neither being very popular. Nonetheless, the founders understood that real success would come if they focused on directing the right message to the right community. They made sure to provide their visitors with as much information and guidance about their cuisine as possible, understanding that not everyone is familiar with their dishes.
Becoming somewhat of a representative of Egypt, POTs has proved itself to be more than just a restaurant. It is now an arena through which minorities can speak and present their culture to the majorities, all while taking a stand against the appropriation of Egypt and straying away from stereotypical understandings. Moreover, it has become a place where Egyptians living abroad can reconnect with their roots and experience the nostalgia of Egyptian food.
Symbolic of Egypt and its people, POTs is not just a place to experience great food, but it’s also a way to experience the Egyptian identity away from Egypt.