Alexandria : Lyon’s very first Egyptian restaurant.

Published on 21/02/2024

Perched on Les Pentes (the slopes of Croix-Rousse hill), on the corner of Rue Burdeau and Montée de la Grande-Côte, Alexandria is Lyon’s very first Egyptian restaurant.

“Shehab always dreamed of having a family-run restaurant”

Settled in Lyon for ten years now, the Elmallah family is originally from Alexandria. Named after their home city, their restaurant is the city’s first Egyptian restaurant. “My brother, Shehab, always dreamed of having a family-run restaurant,” told us Cherine. Shehab is the eldest sibling. A qualified engineer, he shares his mother’s passion for cooking. Her name is Ragia. Together, they arrived in Lyon in 2013. A lawyer by training, Ragia is a highly skilled pastry cook. Every day, she prepares grape leaves, traditional specialities and desserts, all home-made. Cherine works in the dining room. As for Samy, the father, “he tastes,” joked Ragia. He also travels between Alexandria and Lyon to bring back “all the ingredients we can’t find over here”: hibiscus, to make the perfect karkadé, an Egyptian infusion drunk hot or cold; dill and parsley to add flavour to certain dishes; and dukkah, an Egyptian blend of nuts, seeds, and spices.

What is the key ingredient in the cuisine served at Alexandria? Butter, “but we’re talking about Egyptian butter, which is saltier and fattier than the French kind,” add the mother and daughter.

Family recipes handed down through the generations

Reworked with each change of season, the menu includes molokhia soup made with the leaves of jute mallow, a plant with a strong taste somewhere between sorrel and spinach, a tomato salad, baba ghanoush, broad beans, chickpeas and Egyptian cheese. You will also find ‘koshary’, a vegetarian national dish, made with rice, vermicelli and black lentils in a tomato, fried onion and chickpea sauce. On the dessert side, you will find a creamy Egyptian rice pudding topped with hazelnuts, raisins and ice cream.

“They are family recipes handed down through the generations and adjusted over the years,” emphasises Ragia. The dishes are adapted to local tastes, which means less salty, less spicy and less oily than in Egypt, with a single exception: the ‘bamya’, named after a curious vegetable in the hibiscus family with a gelatinous centre, cooked in a tomato sauce with rice and meat.

New in 2024? A selection of Egyptian wines has now joined the date beer ‘L’Égyptienne HKT’ on the drinks menu.

3 rue Burdeau, Lyon 1er

Bio express

  • 2013: Shebab, along with his mother, Ragia, move to Lyon for his engineering studies
  • 2014: Cherine joins them in Lyon and begins her studies in languages and translation
  • 2022: The Elmallah family opens Alexandria