Cairo Street Food review

Pita filled with colourful pickles and falafel.
Pita filled with colourful pickles and falafel. Photo: Anna Kucera

81 Enmore Rd Newtown, NSW 2042

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Opening hours Mon-Fri noon-10pm; Sat-Sun 9am-10pm
Features BYO, Outdoor seating, Cheap and cheerful
Prices Cheap (mains under $20)
Phone 02 9517 2060

Enmore may now boast the delicious-but-contentious $4 dumpling at Justin Hemmes' brand new Queen Chow – some of the most precise, juicy and delicate dumpling work you're likely to find – but there's no getting around the fact $2 per bite is steep. Hey – don't hate on Hemmes for making the decision to buy up a failing pub in a thriving area. He's just speeding up the inevitable.

Gentrification: it's quickly coming to a once-interesting suburb near you.

Egyptian street food on Enmore Road.
Egyptian street food on Enmore Road.  Photo: Anna Kucera

Thankfully, there's still a place for street-level snacking on Enmore Road. And Hesham El Masry, the restaurateur behind Summer Hill's Plunge No. 46 is offering something rarely seen in Sydney, let alone Enmore: Egyptian food.

It's BYO only, but that's cool. Walk a little further down the street and you'll find sommelier Marco Taddeo's wine shop, Cittavino. He'll very happily furnish you with some juice.

Of course, back at the restaurant, you'll be drinking on the footpath out of bistro glasses and using a menu to balance the lot on top of the rickety cane furniture. It's all part of the experience – soak it in and strain to hear the Sunnyboys playing across the road at the Enmore Theatre.

Koshari (lentils and rice) is a carb party.
Koshari (lentils and rice) is a carb party. Photo: Anna Kucera

Snack wise, you can probably give the sweet potato crisps a miss – they're not ticking any particularly important boxes. If you're here to share, stick to the plates, such as juicy charcoal chicken thigh served with and a sort of loose eggplant escabeche garlic dip, soft fluffy flatbread and pickles. They're a little more convivial and a little less creepy than sharing a pita pocket (sharing an uncut sandwich – as pervy as cats on the beach).

Still, if you're flying solo, that falafel roll is well worth an order. Bright green, crunchy falafels are blanketed in tahini and stuffed inside pita bread and topped with those classic lurid Middle-Eastern pickles. It's basically a dinner sandwich.

Oh, and vegetarians, you'll be pleased to note there's actually more than one thing for you to eat on the menu here. The koshari sees chickpeas and lentils join rice and tiny pasta nibs, tomato and parsley in a pulse-studded carb celebration. All topped with golden fried onions. Hooray!

The charcoal chicken plate.
The charcoal chicken plate. Photo: Anna Kucera

It's a pretty little corner of the inner west, with a "for locals, by locals" sensibility. No, it's not all that refined, the flavours not necessarily perfectly finessed but, at the same time, it's honest, it's fun, it's low key. And it's definitely more than the sum of its parts.

Vibe: For locals, by locals.

Pro Tip: This is perfect pre-gig fodder, but rethink date night. Unless you're dating someone who's extremely pro-garlic.

Go-to Dish: The chicken plate if you're dining with pals; the falafel roll if you're lonesome.