Eating like a local in Luxor

Saga Holidays.

With its remarkable temples and ancient tombs, Luxor is one of the most popular travel destinations in Upper Egypt’s Nile Valley. In addition to its historic and cultural highlights, the former political capital of Ancient Egypt boasts some fantastic cuisine.

Karnak at Luxor Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Entrance to Temple of Karnak, said to be the world’s largest ancient religious site photo/Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Because of its tourist appeal, there’s an abundance of cafes and restaurants in Luxor. Touring with a local guide can offer insights into the area’s rich cultural heritage as well as its present-day customs. Saga Holidays specializes in authentic experiences for travelers.

Want to dine like a local in Luxor? Be sure to try some of these local dishes while you’re there.

Popular foods in Luxor

Bread baking in Luxor, photo Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Bread baking in Luxor, photo Carole Terwilliger Meyers

The most popular meats In Luxor, as well as the rest of Egypt, are lamb, beef and chicken. While you can find pork (especially bacon), because of Islamic practices, many local people don’t eat it. Rabbit and pigeon are also popular. Pigeon stuffed with rice is a local delicacy.

Vegetables, bread and beans accompany most dishes. Vegetables typically include potatoes, carrots, onions and tomatoes as well as molokhia, (a leafy green similar to spinach). Restaurants serve a wide variety of breads most meals. Don’t miss aysh shams, a popular local favorite. It’s made from leavened dough that is left to rise in the sun.

Local specialties

Not-to-be-missed local specialties include:

Medammes: boiled fava beans mashed with spices, onions, tomatoes and sometimes other vegetables.

Om Ali (Umm Ali): a tasty raisin cake soaked in milk and served hot.

Mahalabia: an Egyptian version of rice pudding served topped with pistachio nuts.

Shawarma: shredded beef, lamb or chicken rolled in pita bread and served with tahini sauce or hummus.

Tagine: a North African staple, this stew featuring meat or fish, vegetables, spices and sometimes, nuts or raisins, is cooked in a special clay pot (the tagine).

A few handy tips

Eating out can be expensive. Here are a few tips for successful Luxor dining on a budget:

Eat at one of the street vendors
Eating at street vendors
is one of the best and cheapest ways to eat like a local. Fruit is usually fresh and delicious; deep fried medammes patties are a great snack.

Remember to tip
While 10 to 12 per cent is typically added to hotel and restaurant bills, there is no way to know if the server actually gets that. An additional 5 to 10% is appreciated.

Don’t forget to drink
You’re in a dry climate and it’s important to keep hydrated.. While water is the most efficient thirst quencher, tea, often flavored with mint and herbs, is a popular beverage in this hot country. Don’t miss the local karkaday (hibiscus tea).

While touring Luxor, enjoy the superb cuisine. You’ll always remember eating like a local in Luxor.

Photo credits:
Bread baking in Luxor and Karnak by Carole Twilliger Meyers

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