Abou El Sid
Abou el Sid in Zamalek serves up delicious Egyptian food, shisha AND alcohol (a rare combination in Egypt) in a quintessential setting that is intended to make you feel as though you've travelled back in time to the mid-1900s. Everything, from the décor, lighting and paintings to the menu and food are customised to be a westerner's fantasy-land of what Egypt should look, feel and taste like. It has a romatic feel to it and serves authentic food.
The building (hopefully heritage-listed) is tucked away on a small laneway between the busy Sayed El Bakry and 26th July Streets, and even when you’re standing right outside of it, you might not know it’s there. You’re met with impressively large Ottoman-style doors and a dim entry. The swirling shisha smoke, low round tables and dark timber walls put you in a dreamy mood and provide some respite from the traffic and blindingly-lit establishments around the corner on 26th July Street.
The restaurant is cosy and the interior functions well enough to offer you privacy even though it can be crowded. There’s also a small wooden bar with rickety stools where you can perch yourself for a casual drink and mezze.
The food isn’t presented on your plate like an upscale restaurant, but it certainly tastes that way. The restaurant’s range and quality of home-made style Egyptian dishes makes it unbeatable in Zamalek, although you’re paying more than you normally would for some of the simple dishes.
You can sample almost all the typical Egyptian mezze and main meals at Abu el Sid, and the restaurant can also serve up a big banquet for groups. Some of our favourites include the Tahini (14 LE), Taameya (15 LE), Stuffed Vine Leaves (28 LE), Fish Sayadeya (68 LE), Spinach and Veal Tagine (65 LE) and the Mixed Grill (80 LE). You can also try Egyptian specialties such as koshari and pigeon. The beers are well priced and the bar also serves a small variety of mixed drinks and cocktails such as mojitos.
It was at Abu el Sid where I was served the ugliest - and yet tasty - Egyptian dish I’ve had in this country. The famous Egyptian spinach-like broth ‘Molokheya’ (affectionately known as ‘slimy green stuff’) is not hard to come by, but I personally recommend Abu el Sid as a venue for trying it. For first-timers, keep some Bedouin Tea with plenty of sugar beside you, in case you require a chaser.
The service is also quintessentially Egyptian – inconsistent and at times frustrating. But overall, the food is served reasonably quickly and most of the waiters are friendly, they just won’t go out of their way to secure you a table promptly or add to your experience there.
Address: Muhammad Mazhar, Zamalek (2nd side road to 26th of July, comming from Down Town)
Phone: +201 0100 8500
Meal prices: Mezzas approx 20 LE/each, Mains aprox 70 Le
Drink prices: $$