Suspended in a large rectangular frame stuck on the walls of a four-storey building, is a photo of an old man smiling and resting his chin on his hand. This is a pose that has been associated with the renowned koshari star, Abou Tarek, for decades.
A classic Egyptian dish, koshari is a mix of rice, lentils, chickpeas, and pasta usually served with tomato, chili, and garlic sauces.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” is how Youssef Zaky, popularly known as Abou Tarek (Tarek’s father), describes his career journey. Today, Abou Tarek stands as one of the most popular koshari chains in Egypt, if not the most popular.
Abou Tarek started his career strolling around Downtown Cairo with a koshari cart. With passion for a job inherited from his father and grandfather, and dedication to succeeding in it, Abou Tarek strove to develop his small business and improve it by the day.
Years after he made a name for himself, Abou Tarek rented his own koshari shop, in the same location he used to sell in. This shop later became a four-storey building housing his largest branch. Abou Tarek still prides himself on his old cart and leaves it adorning Downtown Cairo’s Champollion street in front of this branch.
Fast forward 59 years from his humble start in 1963, and Abou Tarek has branched out in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia.
Whether on a weekend or a weekday, finding a place to park across the street from Abou Tarek, or a table to enjoy the tasty meal can be challenging because of the place’s popularity. Locals and foreigners alike visit the original Abou Tarek branch in Downtown Cairo to enjoy the original Abou Tarek experience where he started his career.
A koshari meal at About Tarek costs between EGP 20 (USD 1) to EGP 30 (USD 1.5), depending on the size.
For an extra delicious experience, order Abou Tarek’s fried bread crumbs (‘aish mouhammas); a flavorful mix of spices and crunch as an appetizer, along with the koshari.
Subscribe to the Egyptian Streets’ weekly newsletter! Catch up on the latest news, arts & culture headlines, exclusive features and more stories that matter, delivered straight to your inbox by clicking here.