- Middle East/North Africa
“Fuul (Fava beans) is the meat of Egyptian people,” a taxi driver told me when I asked to stop at a cafe to pick up a cold cut sandwich, “How do you think our grandfathers managed to build the pyramids? They ate lots of fuul.”
I wanted to correct some of his historical information, but he did not give me the chance. “We can stop somewhere downtown and get a great deal of sandwiches from one of the fuul places and eat that instead,” he continued, but I insisted on my cold cuts, “You are Syrian,” he pointed out, “you’ll never understand the relationship between an Egyptian and his fuul sandwich.”.
Despite being Syrian, the writer of this article has many unforgettable experiences that are related to fuul, most of them, however, are not for the public to know. Meanwhile, stories about fuul experiences around Cairo flew over the Al-Masry Al-Youm Life & Style table when this article was suggested. While our Life & Style editor claims her fuul recipe is the best in town, unless she is planning on starting a business, the journey for the best fuul is still a dark quest. Here is a map of the best places around Cairo that offer fuul for the hungry and the curious.
Kazaz - Downtown:
Kazaz is one of the few restaurants around town that keeps the quality of their food at the same high level regardless of working hours or days of the week. Whenever you are heading to Kazaz for either a fast sandwich on the go or a small feast in the upstairs section, you will always find good, tasty fuul waiting for you.
While Kazaz has a huge variety of great fuul dishes to pick from, including the Alexandrian recipe and the Shami one (with olive oil and tomatoes), they are famous for another item as well: the lentil soup. The soup is hot, thick and yummy and comes with freshly cut onion, half a lemon and a great deal of crunchy fried bread.
Kazaz is conveniently located on the outskirts of Talaat Harb Square and is open most of the night, making it a great spot for a quick pick-up after a long night or a short visit before heading out and about. The prices are cheap and the service tends to be good. If you live in Garden City or Downtown, you can call Kazaz and order some items for delivery.
Address: 38 Sabry Abu al-alam St.
Phone number: 23960034
Mahroos - Garden City:
What stands out about Mahroos fuul is the weird opening hours of the small kiosk. Opening only between 4PM and 4AM, the place managed to change the fuul status from a breakfast item into an actual meal.
Mahroos, located minutes away from the big embassies in Garden City, has become a legend as the best fuul experience around town. For merely LE6, you can get a decent dish of Mahroos fuul that is both filling and delicious. The place usually gives you some extra side dishes for an extra LE7, which includes some salads and freshly fried french fries.
Don’t let the small kiosk surrounded by plastic tables and chairs fool you. Mahroos may not have the looks of a great restaurant, but it manages to deliver the taste of great fuul every time you visit.
To reach Mahroos, you have to go through the maze of Garden City, but the place is surely worth it--especially after a long night of studying, working, or partying, when you need a lovely pick-me-up.
Address: Haras Street, Garden City
Phone number: 0193081079
Al-Gahsh fuul - Sayida Zeinab:
While it might not be the best fuul in town, al-Gahsh is a fuul experience in its own right. The place, located in the backstreets of Sayida Zeinab district in old Cairo, is one of the oldest, still-standing restaurants in Cairo with a set menu that hasn't changed in...forever.
After you manage to squeeze yourself through the many people trafficking the area and you avoid the cars almost sending you to heaven, you’ll need to follow the smell of oil and fuul until you see the famous Donkey drawing on the walls of the restaurant. The seating area is either on the roof of the restaurant or in a small square filled with wooden tables and chairs.
No menu is provided, you just have to order the usual bunch of fuul, tammiya, french fries and fried eggs, which usually comes with tons of salads and offers, from a nearby cafe, shisha to go with your food.
The experience in al-Gahsh is definitely overwhelming and--at times--scary, but it’s something that you won’t forget easily. The fuul is good, but not remarkable, but sometimes it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.
Address: Nameless street close to Sayida Zeinab mosque, ask anyone in the street and they’ll help you get there.
Phone number: seriously, now?
Franchises around Cairo:
Finally, when you want something quick with good taste and easily delivered, you just have to turn to the Egyptian cuisine restaurants and franchises around Cairo. Famous for fuul mass-production are Gad, Felfela, al-Tabeei al-Demyati, Akher Saa’a and others all across town. Their fuul is nothing special, but the sandwiches are usually filling and cheaply priced, so, it’s an extra option for your breakfast or brunch.