The best Egyptian restaurants offer what all great restaurants offer: an interesting atmosphere, a comfortable dining area, and, most importantly, delicious food. Our five favorites check all those boxes, and deliver a magnificent experience every time. By Jessica Allen.
Unlike the other restaurants on this list, Casa La Femme is located in Manhattan’s East Village, not Astoria’s Little Egypt. It’s also a little more romantic, maybe even a tad fancier. Every night the restaurant welcomes belly dancers onto its floor, giving you yet another thing to enjoy, besides your dining companion, if any, and food, always wonderful. House specialties include felfel mahsch (baby peppers bursting with fresh herbs, spices, and rice, and covered in tomato sauce).
Among the specialties at El Omda are stews cooked in tagines (traditional clay pots), salads, soups, and dips, such as foul (pronounced “fool”) medames (fava beans) and hummus. The seafood is top-notch too, prepared as it is whole, either deep fried or blackened and grilled. What you get depends on what’s fresh that day. Or you can try one of the “special dishes” of the house, including makhrotah (shredded pasta with butter), missah (pepper and eggplant stew), or koshary (rice, lentils, onions, and rice in tomato sauce).
Kabab Cafe changes its menu every day, but the chef almost always features offal. Order it. The food here is Alexandrian, AKA food from the Egyptian city of Alexandria, which blends Greek, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean flavors and preparations. You can watch the chef work from just about every table in the dining room (it’s that small). Fun fact: the chef/owners of Kabab Cafe and Mombar are brothers. Any sibling rivalry is definitely to the benefit of your tummy.
Mombar is a treasure trove of outsider art. From the mosaics on the exterior to the bedazzled pillows on the benches to the paintings lining the walls, the restaurant screams personality. The food is as authoritative and unique as the art. We’re big fans of the eponymous mombar, sausage made from lamb, garlic, beef, peppers, chickpeas, rice, and spices, as well as anything cooked in the traditional Egyptian clay pot, including chicken or rabbit. You might also opt for the chef’s choice prix-fixe tasting menu.
Sabry’s specializes in seafood (say that three times fast, or, better yet, head on over to Steinway Street). Bass, branzino, shrimp, mussels, calamari, shark, snapper, lobster, scallops, porgies, tilapia, salmon, sardines, octopus, crab, whiting . . . if it swims, it’s likely on the menu at Sabry’s. Most meals begin with freshly made pita bread and a side of tahini, but all the appetizers are yummy, especially the baba ganoush. Sabry’s doesn’t serve alcohol, so opt for a mango or strawberry juice instead.