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Old Cairo Grill, Egyptian-Owned in Burke Centre - Closed


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Last week's date night took my wife and me out of the rut we'd gotten ourselves into for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason was that I was tired of the same five or six restaurants that we seemed to rotate between. So when I noticed the sign for the Old Cairo Grill in the Wal-Mart shopping center in Burke, we drove over, lucked into a parking space, and checked out the menu. As you'd probably expect, this is Middle Eastern fare with hummus, pita, falafel and kababs. But this isn't a generic kabob house. The food here has a slightly different flavor profile that reminds me of food I've had elsewhere in North Africa. The proprietor, who is a very pleasant and extremely cheerful gentleman, assures me that the food is exactly like what you'd get in Cairo. I can't say from personal experience, but having traveled in the Middle East and North Africa, I can say that there are a couple of things missing. There aren't groups of men huddled around tables smoking. There isn't a fog of exhaust fumes floating in the open door from insane traffic outside, and there are no street merchants gathered around the door.

While this does take away from the atmosphere (meaning you can't actually see the atmosphere floating around you), it does mean that you can actually taste the food. And being able to taste the food is a good thing. I had the Kofta Kabab plate, and while it's the skewered ground beef that you'd expect, the spices are different, and it's served on a rice-noodle mixture that soaks up the soaks up the juices from the meat. You're also served a tahini sauce, a hot freshly grilled pita and a simple salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and a little lettuce, dressed with a lemon juice vinaigrette. My wife had a gyro, but it's not the same as the similar Greek version of the sandwich. It's simpler, with different spices. We also had a hummus appetizer that comes with two grilled pitas.

One interesting part of the flavors at the Old Cairo Grill is the use of cumin as a dominant spice. It's in the hummus and the tahini, and it's obviously part of the spice selection on the meats we tried. It's a nice change from the standard Greek flavors.

The Old Cairo Grill is a simple space with wood tables and chairs, a white tile floor and some very nice art. One painting covers nearly an entire wall. You order at a counter and the proprietor delivers your food.

This is a nice place. It's not fancy, but the food is good, and the prices are low. I'm planning to go back. You can find out more at the website: http://www.oldcairogrill.com/

Wayne Rash

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Stopped by Old Cairo today for lunch, and had the koshari. It was really very good. Hard to imagine a dish with rice and macaroni, lentils and chick peas, spicy tomato sauce and nicely caramelized onions being so good. It was hearty, satisfying comfort food, and for $5.50 it's a pretty good deal.

The pleasant proprietor was telling me that his filafel is a specialty, so I'll have to give it a try soon. The menu has a decided Egyptian "street food" theme to it, and that's a wonderful thing.

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Stopped by Old Cairo today for lunch, and had the koshari. It was really very good. Hard to imagine a dish with rice and macaroni, lentils and chick peas, spicy tomato sauce and nicely caramelized onions being so good. It was hearty, satisfying comfort food, and for $5.50 it's a pretty good deal.

The pleasant proprietor was telling me that his filafel is a specialty, so I'll have to give it a try soon. The menu has a decided Egyptian "street food" theme to it, and that's a wonderful thing.

I agree, the koshari is good (and not just vegetarian, but vegan) - but it was the only Egyptian dish I found on the entire menu when I went there last December.

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I agree, the koshari is good (and not just vegetarian, but vegan) - but it was the only Egyptian dish I found on the entire menu when I went there last December.

OK, that's fair, but the filafel (فلافل) is generally regarded by food historians to have originated in Egypt too. Can't disagree with you about the gyro, however....I'm also surprised they don't have a ful, or fava beans, on the menu.

And that koshari was a righteous rendition.

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Great....! Now when I go to Old Cairo for my koshary fix, I'll be forced to get a pizza at Villa Bella too....my New Year's resolution thanks you a lot!

KN speaks the truth. Old Cairo (in the same shopping center) is the only place I know of in the area that does koshary. And they do it well.

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