We often mean to take a quick stroll through Khan El Khalili just for some window-shopping, only to emerge hours later with loads of heavy bags and barely enough cash for a taxi back home.
There is no better way to recharge after such a spree than a sit-down meal of Egyptian comfort food at Gad, a bustling fast-food chain with a location in Old Cairo.
Gad in Khan El Khalili serves up hearty Eskandarany liver sandwiches (6LE-8LE) made at a grilling station downstairs that make for a quick and satisfying meal. Other options for a meal-on-the go include the standard taameya sandwiches (1.50LE), juicy chicken shawerma (8LE-15LE) and lentil soup (7LE), the latter of which is served on the spicy side.
The place is often packed with a mix of Egyptians, tourists and students of nearby Al Azhar University. It can take a bit of manoeuvring to make the cooks at the take-away counter notice you, or to find a clean table. But the staff are friendly, even during a rush.
The dining room upstairs is perfect for savouring longer meals with friends. It is unpretentious and homey with its dark-wood panelling, potted ivy plants and a TV that often plays a random mix of local programming.
Aside from the taameya and foul dishes, you can choose from a full grill menu that includes chicken (22LE-37LE), shish kabab (37LE+) and grilled pigeon (55LE), as well as rice (6LE-18LE), pasta (9LE) and fish dishes (25LE-33LE).
But it is easy for non-Arabic speakers to overlook what we think is the tastiest offering at Gad.
The delicious dish that is called feteer in Arabic is listed as “pancakes” on the English side of the menu. But this dish has nothing in common with the North American pancakes made from batter and topped with maple syrup, or with the European crepes. The ‘pancakes’ at Gad are made from what more closely resembles pizza dough, but they are softer and chewier than pizza, with a stuffed centre and crispy edges.
The dish’s name might get lost in translation, but good food is a universal value and Gad’s pancakes can quickly become addictive. Our favourite from the wide array on the menu were pancakes with sausages (22LE). This dish features juicy sausage slices, cheese and green peppers between two layers of salty dough. Other fillings include minced meat (26LE), mushrooms (23LE) and beef or chicken shawerma (26LE).
The dessert pancakes with sugar (9LE) are made with multiple layers of sugary dough that’s soft and mouth-watering. The sweet pancakes can also be topped with whipped cream, or filled with nuts, fruits, raising and coconut.
The simple menu and friendly, if at times slow, service, make Gad a choice spot to unwind from the bustle of Khan El Khalili and explore lesser-known Egyptian dishes.