**This is not an ad and I paid for this tour.**
One of my greatest joys of visiting a new country is to have the opportunity to taste that country’s food. I love it. I HATE eating in the hotel, eating fast food, or eating anything familiar. To me that defeats the entire purpose of going to a country. If you don’t take advantage of eating the local cuisine when you’re there, when are you going to be able to experience it?
I decided to take a food tour in Cairo with Bellies En Route. I just looked at some of the reviews but mainly, it looked like a fun company to try so I went with it. I’m so glad I did. I had such a great time trying all the different foods and walking around to these small eateries that I would otherwise never have visited.
Payment and Meet Up
The payment is simple enough because you just choose your date and pay via PayPal. The only possible stumble you may come across is if there aren’t enough people to do the tour. That said, there were only 3 of us on this tour (2 customers and our guide) so I’m assuming it just has to be more than 1 person for the tour to work.
We met up near Tahrir Square and we were immediately off on our tour. Now I can’t begin to remember all the names of the things we ate but suffice it to say it was diverse. Of course, you may not enjoy every dish you eat, but you’ll certainly have every opportunity to stuff your face…let’s just say you won’t leave hungry.
All told, I think we went to 9 different places (I think…it may have been more) and it was a mix of food and drinks. However, don’t think for one second that you only eat 1 thing at each stop. Oftentimes, you end up trying 3, 4, 5 plus dishes so the sheer volume of food is impressive. They advise you to come hungry but you would have to be a champion eater to finish all this food.
What’s also nice about the tour is that they have a no waste policy. Whatever food we didn’t/couldn’t finish (and there was a lot of it), our guide was sure to ask for it to be packed up and it was given to needy individuals on the street. You can’t ask for a company to be more responsible than that.
On a personal note, I’d just like to add that the Egyptian falafel is THE BEST. It’s made with fava beans vs. chickpeas (which gives it the green color) and fried in these disk shapes vs. balls (even though you’ll find both shapes). I prefer the disk shapes because it really gives that crispy edge and fantastic texture. In either case, the first time I had it, I couldn’t figure out why it tasted differently from other falafel I’d had in the past. It’s the fava beans.
So yes, it is a mix of drinks and food but it’s structured in way that after a couple of food stops, you have a drink stop. What was also nice was that the tour was structured in a way that our last food stop was dessert after which we stopped for drinks.
Finally, I don’t want to embarrass my guide but Mariam was absolutely fantastic. She was so passionate and enthusiastic about the food we ate and the places we went that it was magnetic. Assuming that she probably did this tour multiple times a week and went to the same or similar places for the tour, I can only imagine how difficult it is to seem enthused. That wasn’t the case and she was genuinely excited to watch us try the food. It didn’t feel robotic or rehearsed at all and she was a true joy and a wealth of knowledge.
Everyone can use an online rating website to find the “best” restaurant. It doesn’t take much effort to Google something. But it does take effort to know where the locals go. Think about where you eat in your hometown. Oftentimes, you probably feel popular tourist spots are overrated and that your local spot is better. I know I do. Well those local spots are what you get when you go a tour like Bellies En Route.