Where to dine in and around Port el Kantaoui
Trip Start Jun 28, 2009
4Trip End Jul 13, 2009
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Now first of I would like to say I’m no food expert… Quite far from actually, and the experiences are very subjective, so others might have totally different views on the matter. So keep in mind this is just my thoughts about the matter. Most of the restaurants are located in Port el Kantoui, a suburb to Sousse.
Le Méditerannée was the only restaurant I had heard about before going to Tunisia, and this charming restaurant quickly became our favorite during our stay
Restaurant L’escale is located in a "side street" by the harbor, we actually came across the restaurant by accident on our way to Le Méditerannée, but we decided to try this new place instead. This was also located in a quiet part of the harbor, and I found the restaurant to be classy and elegant, the staff was nice and forthcoming, in other words it had a good atmosphere. The food on the other hand wasn’t top notch, I had ordered a pepper steak, but found it dry and stringy, but my mother who had ordered turkey was satisfied with her meal, so perhaps I was just unlucky with my meal! I liked the restaurant, even though the meat wasn’t great.
The Pizzeria was one of our hotel restaurants. It was OK, I’m not terrible excited about it, but there wasn’t anything wrong with it either. We sat outside, so the passing traffic was a bit noisy, but it didn’t bother me much.
L’Olivé is another restaurant in the harbor, we went here both for lunch and dinner several times, the food was good and the staff nice, though it isn’t one of my favorites, I liked it, and we returned several times.
The Maisons des jardins square offers a wide range of restaurants located around the fountain, the squares main attraction. We ate at two of these restaurants, but I can’t remember the names, so you will have to do with my location descriptions
Square Restaurant 1: Coming from the marina (the entry vis-à-vis the arch leading to the harbor) this will be your first restaurant on your left. This was actually the only restaurant we went to that didn’t serve anything stronger than beer! The food was as far good, but the thing I remember the most, and what lead us to not returning to the restaurant was the feeling of being completely exposed, there were no form of fence that separated our table from the street and the shop behind us, I was sitting 1-2 meter from the products of the next door shop! Ah it felt like I was sitting in the middle of the street, I found it very stressing and the feeling drowned out every other impression of the restaurant. It would probably be better if we had a table further inn though!
Square Restaurant 2: This restaurant was located on the far side of the square (see map). The location was great, here we also sat closest to the streets, but a bush had been placed around the restaurant, shielding it somewhat from the streets. I felt much more comfortable here, and we had a view of the daily water show in the fountain! They served wine, something we found out many of the restaurants around didn’t! The food was good and the price about the same as the rest of the area. Definitely worth a visit.
Restaurant Cristal was the only restaurant we tried in Sousse, I was actually surprised by the lack of restaurants, we barely saw any! Perhaps we were looking in the wrong places, but close to the medina, we found few. We visited this restaurant several times, one reason being the lack of options, but we also liked the restaurant, so we would have returned even if there were plenty others to chose from. Even with the busy medina and traffic few yards away the restaurant had a tranquil air, here you can retire from the high pace shopping and enjoy a good meal while watching the people bustling about outside the restaurant. The food is also enjoyable, and even cheaper than in Port el Kantoui, we got a tasty pepper steak for 12,500 Dinar!
Bar el Quai is the only place I would discourage people from going. This is not a restaurant, but a bar, and we stopped here for a drink one night. The bar is situated quite close to the entry to the marina, with a poster announcing they are the only place that serves alcohol (read the fine print though; except the restaurants). We ordered San Fransisco and Tom Collins, but that was not what we got! Both drinks were a shade of pale yellow, and they both tasted off watered out lemon juice. We went back to the bar to explain this was not what we ordered, the waiter came and said sorry, then put more alcohol in the drinks and walked away again! And the drinks were expensive too, 11dinars each! Certainly not worth it!
Keep In mind: I discussed this in the “Tips and Thoughts” blog as well, but I would like to remind that Tunisia is a Muslim country, a religion that dissuades alcohol consumption; therefore you might encounter restaurants that don’t offer alcohol. We never experienced a total alcohol-free place, but several restaurants we came across only offered beer, nothing stronger! So if you would like a nice glass of wine with your food you might want to check if they serve it before you enter the restaurant, or you might get an unpleasant surprise when you’re about to order! But if you want wine I would like to recommend Magon, this is a local wine, and quite good, it seems it’s popular around there, as we were served it several times! It is also cheaper than imported wines!
Another consequence of the states religion is that you won’t find any pork in the menus or in the supermarkets. Islam considers pig to be an unclean animal, so Muslims don’t eat it, and won’t sell/serve it to foreigners either, there simply isn’t any! So are you addicted to morning bacon you should pack it in your suitcase before you go, for you won’t find any once you arrive in Tunisia!
The prices, as I mentioned earlier, are quite low, Port el Kantaoui is more expensive than Sousse from my experiences (Pepper Steak: about 19dinar I Port el Kantaoui, 12,50 in Sousse). This is a natural as Kantaoui attracts a richer clientele, so the restaurants can be a bit pricier, but no worries, you won’t have to blow your budget to afford a meal, this is still way cheaper than in the west!
I’m quite pleased with the restaurants in Tunisia, most offer a varied menu, with both international and local food, Local food often consists of couscous and meat (often chicken or lamb), brik is another course consisting of thin pastry around a filling. Most restaurants give you free appetizers before the meal , they often consist of bread and small dishes such as harissa (a red hot sauce, making you feel like your mouth burning), Tunisian salad, butter and more.
The Restaurants in Port el Kantaoui are marked on the map.