The Tunisian cuisine is combination of Mediterranean and North African cuisine, based on fresh products, olive oil and spices. As everywhere in Maghreb, couscous is one of the most common dishes served in restaurants. It varies according to different recipes, featuring most commonly chicken or lamb. In coastal cities, including Tunis, the fish couscous is a speciality and a true delight. It can be found in most of the local-food restaurants of the capital city. Among the other classics of the Tunisian cuisine that can be found in Tunis are some starters such as the Tunisian salad, briks, Fatma's Fingers, Mechouia salad and tajines.
A few great eateries are nestled in the medina. Those restaurants have made the judicious choice of enlightening Tunis' heritage, both through culinary and architectural efforts. There is of course the Dar El Jeld which is the most famous, but also its neighbor the Dar Hamouda Pacha (Restaurant & Salon de Thé), along with the Dar Bel Hadj and the Restaurant Essaraya. These restaurants offer great Tunisian cuisine cooked with great care by women (this is the rule at the Dar El Jeld and at the Essaraya) and served in restored former palaces and mansions dating from the Ottoman times. There are also a few quaint restaurants spread among the souks of the medina. They are open only at lunchtime and enable people to eat simply and cheaply, such as the Mahdaoui.
Restaurants in New Town (downtown) are notably worth the price for the special atmosphere that characterises the capital city of Tunisia, namely a mixing of Mediterranean taste and flavours with a quaint European charm which is engraved in the service as well as in the building façades dating from the colonisation times. Most of the menus offer a choice of Tunisian classics as well as French-inspired dishes. One of the benefits of the smaller restaurants is that they serve cheap and fair cuisine just like the following places: Abid, Carcassonne, Capitole, and Le Malouf. In any case, each suburb in the downtown area features its own little restaurants open at lunchtime and selling fricassés (you can also find those sandwiches in certain bakeries). Tunisian and European flavours also meet in the menus of the good restaurants in downtown, such as Le Carthage, the Le Bolero, L'Orient, Andalous, Chez Nous, or the Le Malouf. The specialised restaurants are finally the exception more than the rule in the downtown, such as La Mamma which serves excellent Italian food, or Chez Slah which is famous for its fish and seafood.
The most popular fish restaurants are in La Goulette, even though their prices have risen in the last few years. Tunis' city-dwellers enjoy gathering in one of the many fish restaurants on the main avenue of La Goulettte, Franklin Roosevelt Avenue, to enjoy a Complet Poisson, a portion of grilled fish covered with various toppings such as French fries, eggs or grilled peppers and baked-with-garlic tomatoes. It is a common practice to choose the fish before it's cooked, which can be useful considering the fact that the price of the fish depends on its weight. A very famous restaurant in La Goulette is Café Vert. Jewish-Tunisian cuisine can also to be found in La Goulette restaurants such as Mamie Lily or the Club Les Jasmins.
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