Information about Tunisia

Cafes and Restaurants in Tunisia

alcohole - smoking - coffee - shisha - bars - clubs

The evening and night life on the streets of Tunisia is often being reported by tourists as "lively". In fact, many people leave their houses when, after the hot day, temperatures cool down.

However, looking at it closely, one will notice that only the tunisian men roam the streets and street cafes - women and children, if they come out at all, will stay near the house entrances and talk to neighbours.

Cafes in Tunisia

Cafes are, put in short, places for men only. In by far most of the cafes in Tunisia, access for women is forbidden or at least discouraged.

The few cafes, in which women are welcome as well (mostly ocated in the tourists zones or some big cities) are called "Cafe mixte" (mixed Cafe).

In most non-tourist cafes, tourist couples will be accepted nevertheless. Women alone should, however, not enter those cafes, if they want to avoid being asked to leave or being harrassed (women who enter a cafe without the company of a man are often considered to be prostitutes looking for clients).

In almost all cafes, except for some in tourists zones, there are only non-alcoholic drinks available. The order of just one drink is sufficient to stay there for hours and talk, play cards or watch and comment on bypassers.

In all cafes, the TV is running constantly, often very loud and mostly showing music or sports channels.

Since 2010, smoking in Cafes is restricted to only certain areas - which guests may or may not obey.
Almost all cafes offer shisha (water pipe) smoking, it can simply be ordered with (and will afterwards be maintained by) the waiter.

In opposite to the name "Cafe", there are generally only 2-3 types of coffee available and, usually, none of it is remotely similar to "coffee" in Europe - rather, the coffee is called "Direct" and "Espresso" and is very strong and being served in small-sized cups.

Restaurants in Tunisia

Restaurants are quite rare in Tunisia, they can only be found in bigger cities and tourist areas, but there in large numbers.

Although women are allowed access to restaurants, they will be watched and often be harrassed. Therefore, outside of the tourist zones, women should enter a restaurant only when they are accompanied by men ... or try to find a hotel-restaurant with international clients.

The service and the selection and quality of food in restaurants in Tunisia is, generally, low-level. Long waits until being served and heart-less preparation of dishes and food is unfortunately, even in the tourist areas, quite normal.

Travelers who are looking for one of the few good or one of the extremely rare excellent restaurants, really need to investigate ahead of their trip and/or try to get recommendations from the locals or other travelers.

Apart from the restaurants, there are also places, especially in summer, where food is prepared in the public along the streets (one can even bring in own food for preparation). Such "cookshops" are not bad, but one should pick the ones that are "popular" as in many people sitting and eating there already.

In Tunisia, western "Fast Food" brands are extremely rare, but fast food itself is very popular. One can find "Chawarma" (sort of Gyros/Döner) everywhere, as well as (usually not very hot) french fries (Pommes Frites) and pizza.
In the tourist zones, the prices are elevated, yet the quality is the same as in non-tourist areas.

Smoking in restaurants is mostly, as with cafes, restricted to certain areas only. Dedicated non-smoking restaurants are quite rare. In addition, smoking restrictions may or may not be obeyed. Smoking in bars (also hotel bars) and clubs is usually not restricted.

Alcoholic beverages are, even in the tourist zones, only rarely available (always in hotel restaurants and bars, though). Beer without alcohole is widely available.
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