Dinner with a view: where to dine alfresco in Tunis
Surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, the northeastern reaches of Tunis are the place to soak up reliable sunshine and the cosmopolitan culture of the capital. Make like a local and head to one of the many seafront restaurants for freshly caught fish and stunning views, sipping on a glass of locally produced wine and enjoying the people-watching as much as the sunset.
Here are our favourite spots to grab a bite to eat in the open air.
Hachi is a hideaway reserved for locals in the know, and the entrance of this tiny Japanese restaurant belies its potential. On a steep side street to Marsa Beach, pull back the cloth covering the doorway and head up to the small but perfectly formed terrace for sea views over the clear water and villa-lined beach. The terrace at Hachi has a buzzing yet relaxed atmosphere, and the Japanese owner and chef knows good food, with plenty served up for vegetarians and vegans. The tempura seaweed (salade d’algue frit) is perfectly crisp with a fresh lemon tang, whilst the crunchy crevette sushi rolls are a favourite with regulars. Hachi is one of the only restaurants in town with a ‘bring your own alcohol’ option, so it may not stay a secret for long. Book ahead to secure a spot.
Contemporarily designed Boheme offers a wide selection of culinary delights to enjoy alfresco on the covered terrace. The menu is the product of a collaboration with well-known local chef Axel D, and it’s chock full of contemporary Tunisian bistro dishes with a sophisticated twist. The daily specials board is worth a look, and there are always some mouth-watering truffle dishes on offer. Situated in La Goulette, a shabby but charming port area famous for its fishing, it is only to be expected that they have an expansive range of seafood dishes, but meat and cheese lovers are in for a treat here too with a quality charcuterie section. Wash it down with some locally produced wine but save room for dessert: the ‘fusion sphere’ is a chocolate lover’s dream. Even if you’re not hungry (yet!), Boheme is worth the venture for drinks too. The molecular cocktails are world class but without the price tag. Try a margarita with foamed salt or cloudy rum punch with burnt cinnamon for a perfect aperitif.
Sit back and relax with your feet in the sand and a beer in hand as the sun sets on the Gammarth peninsula and the sky turns a hundred shades of pink. Chez Franky is the new kid on the block on the long strip of beach that’s home to a number of other excellent bars. Chez Franky’s wood-fired pizza oven gives it the edge, and a stop here is the perfect way to unwind at the end of the day. For the more adventurous, freshly caught sea urchins can be prepared upon request. With live music and cheap food and drink, Chez Franky has already made its mark on the local beach bar scene.
Chic, classy and contemporary, the restaurant at this boutique design hotel and luxury spa is the place to see and be seen for Tunis trendsetters. Perched at the top of Byrsa Hill, next to the citadel remnants of the old Carthaginian Empire, take in views of the Bay of Tunis and ancient Punic Port as you sample the Mediterranean-Tunisian food. This restaurant is on the pricey side for Tunis (expect to pay 20-45DT for a main course), but the service is top notch. The newly added gazpacho is light and tasty whilst the demi melon dessert is huge, fresh and filled with seasonal fruits. Those who want a more chilled vibe can relax in the bar area and choose from a selection of sushi and bar snacks whilst listening to chilled house music.
The Cliff is an institution in Tunis. The restaurant and bar terraces are built into the side of a cliff and boast stunning views of the ocean and shore of Cap Bon in the distance. The large terraces are open air in summer, whilst in the few short winter months, retractable glass walls ensure diners can still enjoy the sea views without the worry of a rainshower. The Cliff has something for everyone: a relaxed bar area serving light bites, pizza and sushi along with a slightly more formal restaurant area. Whilst the service is always with a smile, it is not the most efficient, but the setting and the ambience make up for this by the bucketload. Prices are very reasonable for the quality.
The large terrace area of Le Golfe leads from the elegantly designed main restaurant and heads directly onto La Marsa beach. Watch families enjoying the last of the evening sun and swimming at dusk as you try the smoky harissa (chilli paste) drenched in locally sourced olive oil. The meat dishes are big but not overpriced; expect to pay around 70DT per person for two courses and a couple of alcoholic drinks. The service can be frustrating, and patience is needed, but the exceptional location makes it worthwhile.