The Best Street Food Spots in Cairo, Egypt

You'll see flatbread everywhere in Cairo's street-food scene
You'll see flatbread everywhere in Cairo's street-food scene | © RH Kamen / Getty Images
Photo of Daisy Dobson
15 June 2020

Egypt: home of the Giza pyramids, the Great Sphinx and enough history to keep the most jaded traveller enthralled. The food is worth shouting about, too, and our local insiders have done the hard work for you by eating their way around the best street food spots in Cairo. Here is the definitive list of the best shawarma, koshari and ful that will tantalise your tastebuds and keep you fuelled.

Abou Haidar

Food Kiosk, Egyptian, Halal, Middle Eastern, $$$
Map View

If you want to eat shawarma in Egypt, do it in Cairo and do it at Abou Haidar. For Heliopolis residents, it’s the jewel in their neighbourhood’s crown. For those who don’t live close by, you can be darn sure they’re willing to travel to join the queue. Choose pitta or soft, buttery kaiser buns filled with well-spiced, juicy meat, or switch it up with sujuk sausage or Egyptian roumy cheese. Do yourself a favour and order more than one, and make sure to grab a mango juice, too. Recommended by local insider Monia Hamdy

Meal service:

Takeaway, Late Night

Atmosphere:

Traditional, Relaxed

Tabali Bistro

Cafe, Food Kiosk, Egyptian
Map View

If you fancy your Egyptian street food with a side of chic, head to Tabali. It’s the ideal spot to grab a bite before or after boutique shopping in Zamalek. For breakfast, try the ta’amiya (Egyptian falafel) stuffed with saffron and lemons or local basturma (cured beef). The choice of authentic dishes grows at lunchtime; flatbread sandwiches, koftah and kebda (a traditional liver sandwich) are all on the recommended list. You’ll pay more than the usual street food prices here, but the trendy setting and relaxed vibe make it worth it. Recommended by local insider Virginia Ambrosio

Abdullah Bashandy

Food Kiosk, Egyptian
Map View

In downtown Munira, you’ll find a host of fast food joints. Abdullah Bashandy is popular with the area’s residents and local students alike – famed for its classic Egyptian street food fare, delicious traditional breads and all the fillings. Choose your weapon from deep-fried ta’amiya, kebda, vegetable moussaka, ful… the list goes on. Place your sandwich order (make it two), and watch the chefs make it fresh in the open-plan kitchen. Eat pavement-side with a smile on your face. Recommended by local insider Virginia Ambrosio

Meal service:

All Day, Late Night, Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Atmosphere:

Casual, Open Kitchen, Traditional, Outdoors

Sayed Hanafy

Food Kiosk, Egyptian, $$$
Map View

It all started in 1952 as a tiny food cart rolling through the streets of Cairo. Fast forward several years, and Sayed Hanafy stands proud as the place to eat Egypt’s national dish: koshari. Rice, pasta and chickpeas lathered in a zingy tomato sauce – what’s not to love? It’s noted cleanliness and air conditioning make it a draw for tourists. Dining entertainment comes in the form of the chefs, as you can watch them prep through the glass screen while you munch. Recommended by local insider Yasmin Dowedar

Meal service:

Lunch, Late Night, Brunch

Atmosphere:

Family Friendly, Casual, Traditional, Open Kitchen

Hawawshi Al-Refaie / El Refaey Butchery

Food Stall, Egyptian
Map View

The team here started out as a butcher shop in 1969, before discovering they were rather good at making incredibly delicious hawawshi. Cairo has been grateful ever since. Spiced minced meat, onions, pepper, parsley and chilli beautifully tucked into a toasted pitta – if this is your jam, make a beeline for Old Cairo’s El Refaey, the spot to eat the Egyptian speciality. A paradise for meat-lovers, this butchery also serves up a mouthwatering sausage and cheese or a chicken version. Dips like the tahini sauce are a prerequisite. Recommended by local insider Engy Haggag Mohamed

Meal service:

Lunch, Dinner, Takeaway

Atmosphere:

Casual, Family Friendly, Traditional, Loud

Kebdt El Prince

Restaurant, Egyptian
Map View

Home-cooked fare is the order of the day here, and Kebdt El Prince offers up food just like your Egyptian granny used to make. Locals gather at lunch and dinner for plates of fresh, hot meats served with hummus, babaganoush and warm from the oven Egyptian breads. The area of Imbaba is pretty chaotic, but this just adds to the authentic experience. Don’t leave without sampling the molokhia – a soup made from jute leaves seasoned with garlic, tomato, coriander and chicken broth. Come with an appetite! Recommended by local insiders Monia Hamdy and Yasmin Dowedar

Meal service:

Late Night, Lunch

Atmosphere:

Casual, Family Friendly

Felfela (Express)

Food Kiosk, Egyptian
Map View

Just down the road from a busier flagship store, Felfela Express is a low-key, modern offering specialising in takeaway service. Grab and go or pull up a chair and watch the cooks rustle up meals in the open-plan kitchen. Flatbread sandwiches stuffed with ta’amiya, ful and moussaka – all the Egyptian greats – are on the menu, along with koftah, shawarma and mahshi, stuffed cabbage leaves. Recommended by local insider Virginia Ambrosio

Meal service:

All Day, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Takeaway

Atmosphere:

Casual, Traditional, Open Kitchen

Yokal

Food Stall, Egyptian, $$$
Map View

The world has many problems, and while not all of them can be solved with a sandwich, the fare on offer at Yokal is guaranteed to soothe the soul and the belly. The menu is small and perfectly formed – just like the restaurant – with four or five fillings to choose from. Spiced fries are served on the side of the soft, fresh fino buns, and the liver and sujuk sandwiches are worth telling your friends about. Pick up yours then eat it while you wander around Zamelek and Heliopolis. Recommended by local insider Monia Hamdy

This is an update of the article by Megan O’Hara.

These recommendations were updated on June 15, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.