When spending some time in Egypt this summer, or even during the relatively mild winters, there are things that you have to absolutely do. As a bit of a foodie, I’m usually inclined to check out local eats when I visit a place, and if I go to a new country, I DEFINITELY try the local food.
Having lived in Egypt for a few years now, I can honestly say that I’ve got 2 real favorite meal “trips” that I like to take. The first one is having seafood soup in any one of the boardwalk restaurants/cafes in Dahab. These are incredible as all the food is freshly caught. The second is a day of feasting on various delights during a day trip to Alexandria.
If you’re spending a day or two in Alexandria, and traveling from Cairo, these are the three must eats of the trip:
- As you set off from Cairo to Alexandria, you’ll embark on a drive of about 225 km, or 140 miles. About 60 km from Alexandria, you’ll see a very interesting and odd looking sign in the shape of a lion. This is the sign for Lion’s Village, the first stop on your culinary tour for the day. It may not look like much from the outside – or the inside for that matter – but they are known for their fresh fiteer. Fiteer is often called the Egyptian version of pancakes, except that they’ve got many layers to them, kind of like a southern biscuit. They can be eaten with a variety of cheeses and cold cuts, though I think they’re best enjoyed with a combination of molasses and tahini paste (in Arabic, it’s called Asal bi tihina), for just the right level of sweetness. In either case, both salty & sweet options are offered. While you’re waiting for your fiteer to be freshly made by the women who are experts at this, you can take a walk around the mini “zoo”, complete with camels, lions, ostrich, monkeys, and some really, really cute dogs! Sit down and enjoy this authentic, if a bit heavy meal that will no doubt give you lots of energy for your day of sightseeing. Make sure not to over stuff yourself so that you’re able to eat at lunchtime!
- Next stop on your culinary tour, after some sightseeing and digesting the morning’s meal, is the Greek Club in Alexandria. Located right next to the Qait Bey Citadel on the docks, the place is incredible! It’s right on the sea, and if you’re lucky you can get a table on the balcony so you can enjoy the beautiful view of the sparkling sea as you appreciate what is arguably the best seafood on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast. Of course, everything served is caught fresh daily, and in a truly authentic atmosphere, you walk up to the display fridge and pick the fish you’d like, and choose the method for it to be cooked in. All types of fresh fish and seafood are available. My recommendation is to choose a type of fish, and ask for it to be cooked with potatoes in the oven. The potatoes are seasoned just right with herbs, and the fish is juicy, and not dry. The fun thing about it is the way it’s served. The fish is served on a mirror platter that is placed in the middle of the table, and the waiter comes and separates the bones from the meat and serves each person at the table. It’s really impressive to see how this is done! You might even be inspired to try doing this at home too, but be careful! This is for professionals only! Another recommendation is to order the fried or grilled calamari…it’s absolutely scrumptious! But definitely DON’T go for dessert! That’s #3 on the list!
- For dessert, you don’t have to look far. Pay the check, and head downstairs. Take a quick left, and walk a few feet and you’ll find the best ice cream in all of Alexandria. The famous Gelateria Azza is bound to be very busy, with lines often being out the door, is quite worth it, I assure you. The ice cream offerings are mainly fruit flavors (mango, guava, strawberry, etc.), chocolate, vanilla, and milk, though sometimes you can find different options. I can’t describe in words exactly why this is the best ice cream in town, but I can say this, you’re really missing out if you don’t try it! For the weary or stuffed, take one scoop in a small bowl. For the adventurous or those who still have room in their stomachs, take a mix and enjoy it. Especially in the summer, this is a great way to cool off and end the day of tasty treats!
This pretty much wraps up the eats I think anyone visiting Alexandria should try. Do you have any others that you love?