The “Don” of Egyptian Restaurants: Abou El Sid
Abou El Sid is an institution in Cairo. If you’re into traditional Egyptian food then this is one restaurant to put on your list when in Egypt, if only to say that you’ve been there.
Owned by the Deyafa franchise, there are branches of Abou El Sid in Zamalek, Maadi, Dokki and Heliopolis, as well as other cities around the country (e.g. Gouna, Sharm el Sheikh). All locations have a similar feel to them, though the one in Zamalek is my favourite. Located on a small side street off of the 26th of July corridor, it’s a bit tricky to find at first. You have to look around to locate the inconspicuous heavy metal door, with a small blue sign next to it; assurance that you’ve hit your mark.
Pushing past the door you find yourself in a crowded space that harks back to Egypt’s golden era. The deep maroon, green and brown hues make Abou El Sid feel like your great-grandmother’s parlour with intricate Oriental carpets, dangling chandeliers and antique furniture and art at every turn.
The design may be a tad kitschy, but the food certainly isn’t. Serving up generous portions of Egyptian cuisine, there’s something for everyone. The food is quite rich however, so it’s best not to get ahead of yourself and order a table full of appetizers as you’ll have no room for anything else. The best point of entry would be 2-3 mezzes, making a choice from the usual tasty suspects: vine leaves, lentil soup, kebab, falafel, tahina, yogurt sauce, fried aubergine with garlic, lamb kofta, Oriental salad, baladi bread for dipping…the list goes on and on.
If you find you’re still gagging for a main following your appetizer then it’s worth giving Sharif’s molokhiya with chicken a go, or perhaps the spinach and veal tagine (I didn’t try it, but was told it was quite good). There’s also dessert if you’d rather skip over the entrée and round out your meal with a sugary concoction that will have you buzzing out the door.
Admittedly, it’s not the easiest place for an Intolerant to dine, but given the varied menu – along with the ambiance and charm – Abou El Sid is a nice place to meet up with friends/family and experience a bit of “Old Egypt.” It’s also the closest you’ll probably get to experiencing great-grandma’s kitchen.
Egyptian style of course.
Abou El Sid
157, 26th Of July St.
Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt