Any person who has lived in Egypt knows how defensive some Egyptians can get about their neighborhoods – Maadi versus Zamalek, Sheikh Zayed versus New Cairo, and the list goes on and on.
This feeling of protectiveness often stems from nostalgia or because of the many hidden gems in these neighborhoods. Egyptian Streets asked readers about their favorite neighborhood gems, be it a person, place, or even a type of food.
Many are attached to places for sentimental reasons…
“Windsor Hotel in Alexandria. Not as a hotel, but the building, its elevator and everything about it is historic. It might not be as aesthetically pleasing as it is in my head, but the vivid memory I have with it is when I was traveling with my family a while ago because we don’t travel together much.” – Hadeer AlMallah, 26
“Omaya in Nasr City. I was introduced to it by a friend who lives in the area. It’s run by Syrians and they have really good ice cream and it’s pretty cheap. They’ve got a ton of ice cream flavors, even spicy ice cream with chili! It’s the first place my friend and I went to after his dad got COVID in an attempt to cheer him up.” – Ghada Sharief, 30
And some just enjoy great food!
“Semsema in Dokki. It’s a great place to buy shawarma sandwiches in round kaiser bread and they make epic shish tawouq sandwiches too! The fact that they serve you in the car so you don’t get your car towed by the winch [tow truck] is a plus! It’s special to me because it reminds me of good company when in Egypt!” – Sarah Sayed, 37
“I’ve been going to Tabarak’s shrimp place in Korba, Heliopolis for 15 years. It’s special as it was the first place I had fried shrimp in balady bread topped with tahina. It sounds simple in principle, however, most restaurants in Egypt don’t get it right. Tabarak has been consistent. The bread is toasted enough without being too crispy, the shrimp is just the right size and not too oily, the tahina is enough so that the sandwich is not too dry or too soggy.” – Karim Mekki, 31
And others relish the feeling of nostalgia that comes with the smallest of traditions…
“As an Egyptian living out of Egypt for most of my life, in my eyes one of the best ways to connect to home is through food. When visiting Egypt as a young girl, I would always get excited to see the man selling teen [figs] in the street luring us to buy some with his calls, which I never understood but knew what it meant. Till this day, I can remember the first time I tried ’aseer qasab [sugar cane juice]. My uncle came back from the store with drinks in hand, I took the first sip and my mind was blown. Coming from a village, memories of having to drive out just to get ’aseer qasab and teen will always mean the world to me because it reminds me of time spent with family. Getting ’aseer qasab and teen has become a ritual I have to fulfill every time I visit Egypt. and I love it.” – Lena Elghamry, 18
The palpable passion in the hearts of Egyptians when discussing their neighborhoods shows that a gem, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It differs from person to person depending on how they’ve experienced the neighborhood. Putting that in perspective can help show that there is beauty in every corner of Egypt.
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