The Art of Eating Chapter 3: Egyptian Food (Zooba)

Somehow, even the city that never sleeps manages to feel lethargic as heat continues to roll in throughout the early weeks of August. Still, sitting across from Zooba on Kenmare street I can feel the afternoon taking on a hint of excitement looking at the brightly colored murals and illuminated interior of the restaurant. The shade of the park across the street gives me a bit of relief from the brightness of the sun, and it’s a perfect waiting spot for me while my sister comes to meet me. Once she makes it, it’s time to get back up and finally go into the actual restaurant that’s been catching my eye for the last ten minutes. Right off the bat the interior is like a breath of fresh air from the summer heat. There’s a lot of space in there and it’s definitely adequately air conditioned. But more importantly there’s an energy in the restaurant that the streets outside were lacking before. Every wall is plastered with brightly colored images and the station in the middle is lit up with LED lights that blink and flash wildly. Zooba absolutely has some of the most fun restaurant decor out of the many NYC restaurants I’ve been to since I moved here– and that’s quite a lot. I’m already feeling excited about the atmosphere, but the food is what I’m looking forward to most!

Interior of Zooba with seating and decorated wall

As a native New Yorker and an adventurous eater, my sister has also tried food from (basically) every continent before, but Egyptian food is new to both of us. As per employee recommendation, we decide to order some customer favorites to try out the cuisine. To start out both my sister and I immediately gravitate towards the same brightly colored beverage. The hibiscus limeade at Zooba is a striking fuchsia color with an equally striking taste. Still that isn’t the only thing on the menu that comes in flashy color. My sister practically lived off hummus when she was younger, so ordering the fava bean hummus is a no brainer. When it comes it’s a nice, bright green which actually goes quite well with the color of our beverages. Green and pink. Always a classic color combo. To accompany our wonderfully colored hummus they provided us with a couple pieces of round, flat bread. Honestly, I’ve put a lot of things in hummus before, but this one is one of the best. It has enough texture to get a good grip on the hummus, but it’s not totally bland like some store bought pita chips you usually get. 

After wrapping up with the hummus it’s time to unwrap our main meals. The sandwiches at Zooba come covered up by paper that is just as creatively decorated as the store itself. My main item also came recommended to us by store employees and is something I’m particularly excited about. I decided to order a hawawshi burger, which is a typical Egyptian street food dish. It usually comes with meat and an assortment of toppings inside a piece of pita bread, but mine also has a truly incredible amount of cheese on it. Likewise, my sister’s order comes stuffed into a round pita. However, instead of the thin meat that comes with the hawawshi, hers has three round pieces of Egyptian falafel inside. According to her it’s very similar to falafel she’s had before, but there are definitely different flavors in there: like roasted harissa cauliflower. The toppings are also a bit different, which gives Zooba’s falafel a unique quality over some of the other more common falafel sandwiches in the city! 

Cheese hawawshi wrapped in paper and fava bean hummus

Overall, Zooba is a great restaurant to check out if you’re looking for something you can’t get anywhere else in NYC. All the food was super great and the atmosphere was perfect too. I definitely recommend visiting and ordering something you’ve never had before!!

To those who are looking to try some new food, or just want a great deal, use this coupon and discount code when you visit the store or order online:

If you want to see more snippets of the food and interior of Zooba you can also check out my TikTok on the Campus Clipper page!

By: Peter Schoenfeld

Peter Schoenfeld is an illustrator and self proclaimed food fanatic from New York. If he’s not trying new food, he’s drawing it (and if he’s not doing either of those things, then you can probably find him curled up on the couch watching dramas). As an incoming sophomore at the School of Visual Art he focuses on creating art that connects people to his personal passions– like eating!

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC, from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services. At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


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