One of Cairo’s legendary restaurants, Abou al-Sid is located on Zamalek island, an upper-class enclave of embassies and mansions. There’s an Ali Baba quality to the place, which is decorated with Oriental carpets and lanterns and is always filled with a smoky haze. It’s a great place to sample Egyptian delicacies or sip a cup of coffee in the late evening, but the real reason to come is to soak up the scene and Old World atmosphere. The specialty of the house is molokhiyya, a green leafy vegetable cooked in oil with onions and chicken stock.
This famous tearoom was opened by Europeans in the 19th century who clearly longed for a slice of the Old World near the Nile. (The founder Giacomo Groppi actually came from Lugano, Switzerland.) You will be reminded of the coffee houses of Vienna or the grand cafes of Paris. During King Farouk’s glory days, he shipped chocolates from here to the princesses of England. Yes, it has faded with time and changed hands, but like an aged black and white photograph, it will transport you to an earlier time. Don’t come for the food, which is unremarkable, but to step back into Cairo’s history.
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