Even though the capital of Egypt may not be the most dedicated city when it comes to vegetarian restaurants, a closer look at Cairo’s culinary culture proves that vegetarian food can be found in unlikely places. From small outdoor kiosks to one-woman restaurants, these traditional Egyptian dishes will more than satisfy the needs of hungry travellers. And with Vegan Kitchen’s opening, new developments are definitely going in the right direction.
The Vegan Kitchen
The Vegan Kitchen is the first restaurant to open in the Egyptian capital, which is not only strictly animal-free but also organic and gluten-free. The restaurant is owned by a young Lebanese couple; both are vegan and dedicated to promoting environmental awareness and sustainability in Cairo. For this reason, all the furniture in the restaurant is made of recycled pallet food and living cacti tables are included to clean the air. The Vegan Kitchen brings culinary culture to a new level with its innovative menu full of homemade delights. From vegan sushi to eggplant ravioli and delicious desserts, such as the vegan version of tiramisu, the vegan bar far exceeds a simple salad bar.
Abu Tarek serves Egyptian fast food at a exceptionally high quality. It is said to serve the best authentic koshary, a traditional Egyptian vegetarian dish, in the whole of Cairo. Koshary is made out of chickpeas, lentils, tomato sauce, vinegar, fried onions, rice, and noodles and is almost always vegan. At Abu Tarek you simply have to decide between the small, medium and large size and then season it with hot chilli sauce, a lime, vinegar and garlic salt to your own liking.
Taboula Lebanese Restaurant
The Lebanese Restaurant Taboula serves high-quality Lebanese and Middle Easterncuisine. Although not completely vegetarian, the restaurant is very vegetarian-friendly and offers a wide variety of options. Humus, shanklish, a mixed salad with goat cheese, and fattehs with various toppings are served with yoghurt, bread and rice – these only make up a few of the tasty vegetarian dishes. The restaurant’s signature dish, the homemade taboula salad, comes highly recommended.
Kazaz is a small takeaway restaurant with limited seating in downtown Cairo. It is known for its excellent taameya, a Middle Eastern variety of falafel made with green beans instead of chickpeas. On top of that, it’s also known for other traditional Egyptian dishes such as foul. Amongst locals, it is customary to simply pick up the takeaway food and eat at one of the nearby bars, such as Ahwa Bustan Bar or Stella Bar. Kazaz is open until the very early hours of the morning, so it is the ideal place for a midnight craving or a quick snack after a night out.
Mahrous is a combination of traditional outdoor foul kiosk and innovative sandwich corner in Cairo’s Garden City. The menu is simple but very tasty and every dish is always freshly prepared. The fabulous foul is served Alexandrian style with chopped tomatoes, onions and green peppers as well as a side of freshly bake and chips. There is a limited amount of seating with a few plastic tables and chairs in front of the kiosk. Open until 4am, this is a great place to drop by on your way home from a night out in town.
As Cairo’s first full vegetarian restaurant, L’Aubergine definitely earned its place in this list. With a pleasant laid-back atmosphere and a varied menu, this restaurant is particularly popular with young Egyptians. Although Aubergine has done well in preserving its vegetarian history, the menu now includes various burgers and other meaty dishes. The majority of dishes does remain vegetarian though, from starters such as carrot and coriander soup to mains, like aubergine-peanut ravioli or moussaka. The restaurant also has a stylish bar upstairs that is especially busy on weekends.