Tunisia Restaurants and Dining

(Tunisia, TN, North Africa)

With a plethora of all-inclusive deals available on many Tunisian resort holidays, it may not seem worth venturing further than the hotel restaurant. However, dining out in Tunisia can be an interesting experience. What is more, it needn't be expensive.

Venturing off-the-beaten track can reveal some delightful local dining establishments. These eateries tend to offer more in the way of traditional cuisine than the usual international-style dishes found in larger hotel restaurants.

Tunisian cuisine is a medley of different culinary traditions. When eating out locally, expect menus to show some favourite Tunisian dishes - usually cooked with a regional twist.

When to Eat / Opening Hours

It is worth remembering that in Tunis, in particular, many restaurants and cafes are closed on Sunday, and so choice of dining establishment may be more limited than usual. However, international hotel chains tend to open all day long, usually providing buffet-style fare. During the summer months, most restaurants offer diners the opportunity to eat outdoors.

What to Eat

Tunisian cuisine offers a taste of the Mediterranean, as well as the Middle East. Dishes generally include meat and fish, served with lots of vegetables. 'Harissa', a spicy chilli-based sauce, is often added to dishes, as is olive oil and garlic. There are very few dining tables in Tunisia that don't feature a mountain of couscous at mealtimes, and bread is generally offered on the side.

Particular specialties of Tunisia include 'coucha', lamb cooked with spicy turmeric and cayenne pepper, along with 'tajines' (a North African stew) and 'kaftaji'. Kaftaji is a mix of peppers, tomatoes, squash, courgettes and eggs. A popular snack is 'brik', consisting of an egg that is wrapped in pastry and then fried. As in most countries, Tunisian food has its regional differences. For example, fish or rice may be served in a particular way, depending on its origins.

The French and Turkish influences on Tunisian desserts are still obvious. Chocolate cakes and pastries are everywhere. So too are 'baklava', which consist of dates stuffed with marzipan, along with traditional Turkish delight.

Where to Eat

Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, is understandably home to a vast array of restaurants and cafes. The most upmarket restaurant in the city is the Dar El Jeld. Diners can enjoy the sumptuous surroundings of this former 18th-century palace situated in the city's kasbah.

In addition, all the main hotels, such as the Sheraton Tunis Hotel, have restaurants that serve local and international cuisine. Tunis also has plenty of French bistro-style restaurants and cafes that cater for leaner wallets. These offer local cooking, as well as French or Ottoman-style dining menus. For really authentic cuisine, it is worth hunting out small establishments in the Tunis medina. Several fish restaurants can also be found in the nearby port of La Goulette.

Likewise, outside of Tunis, particularly in popular tourist destinations such as Sousse and Hammamet, there are plenty of restaurants and eateries to choose from. Even outside of the main cities, there are generally lots of dining opportunities.

Afternoon tea in Tunisia is a great opportunity to chill out after a spot of sightseeing. Hot mint tea is a speciality, and cakes and pastries are usually available. In coastal towns and cities, beachfront cafes offer all the usual light snacks and drinks during the daytime. Roadside snacks are also often available on busy routes, such as barbecued meat dishes and fast-food fare, including bread and chips.