Classic Alexandrian Breakfast at Mohamed Ahmed
Updated: Jan 6, 2022
Alexandrians and Cairenes have a serious food rivalry, and while I don't want to add to any culinary civil strife, Alexandria seems to be the king of a classic Egyptian breakfast, with the famous Mohamed Ahmed leading the way. Mohamed Ahmed has been a mainstay of Alexandria's food scene since 1932, when a local Jewish family opened up the restaurant under its original name Benjamin. The original owner, of the same name, is said to have situated the restaurant close to Alexandria's Eliahu Hanavi Synagogue so he could also better fulfil his duties as a rabbi there. However, following Benjamin and his family leaving Alexandria in 1957, the shop was sold to Mohammed Ahmed Al-Sammak and his two sons, giving it its now well-recognised name. Although relatively well-known before, under new management, Mohamed Ahmed began to be increasingly well-respected throughout Egypt as the home of fuul. It is said that Egyptian greats like Soad Hosny, Naguib Mahfouz, Demis Roussos in addition to foreign royalty, including Queen Sofia of Spian and Prince Henrich of Denmark have eaten at Mohamed Ahmed. Sadly, its owner, the Mohamed Ahmed, passed away in January 2021 and was mourned throughout the city as an important part of the city's cultural heritage and society.
Situated in an otherwise unassuming street and restaurant in downtown Alexandria , Mohamed Ahmed is always packed with locals and visitors alike. What the restaurant lacks in its drab colour scheme, it makes up for in the great array of tastes in their vast menu. As someone based in Cairo, there was plenty of unfamiliar dishes and ways of doing them, illustrative of the subtle but important differences in the food cultures of both respective cities. Most notably, Alexandrians eat falafel made from chickpeas, similar to that of Palestine and Syria, while in Cairo, falafel is replaced by tameya, essentially falafel but made with fava beans.
Mohamed Ahmed is well-known and respected throughout Egypt as one of the best, if not the best, places to get your classic Egyptian breakfast staples. While everything I've had from there has been fantastic, for those uninitiated with Egyptian breakfasts, I'd recommend getting some of the classic dishes like shakshuka, foul iskandarani, falafel/tameya, baba ghanoug, moussaka'a, shami hummus and classic Egyptian pickles, known as torshi. While this may seem like quite a lot, and it is, the joy of an Egyptian breakfast is to eat from several different small plates, mixing and matching, until you are absolutely stuffed.
Below is the location, and as always, remember to leave a tip.