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“Chez Slah” joins the ranks of the best restaurants in North Africa

Food is an important part of Tunisian life; Tunisians love to eat. A catalog of restaurants in Tunisia would only fill a substantial book. I asked some of my Tunisian friends recently, and some frequent American visitors to Tunisia, if we could agree on the best restaurant in Tunisia. Of course, we couldn’t agree, but it didn’t surprise me at all how many votes (there were more than 20) chosen In Slah, a wonderful restaurant tucked away in a small side street at 14a, rue Pierre de Coubertin, close to the exact center of the city. You will probably need a good taxi driver to find it.

Like most high-end North African cuisine, the cuisine in In Slah has deep French roots and focuses primarily on seafood and simply prepared lamb and poultry dishes, but what it lays down In Slah Besides, there is the meticulous care with which the chef personally selects the fish every day in the riverside markets. This is an art, and doing it well requires experience and great skill.

Most of the inhabitants of In Slah They are permanent residents of the city, with a handful of well-informed visitors from out of town. You will not meet any of the multitude of tour boats here, or the occasional tourist. I have heard some say who feel that dining here is the equivalent of an invitation to the elegant private home of a member of the upper class of the Tunisian elite. This is the best Tunisian food that Tunisians enjoy with the best taste.

I usually start my meal here with a good Chardonnay because I know the waiter will soon bring a basket of bread and a plate of olives and tomato paste, out of this world, although you would think that anyone could pull it off. I think they should make the tomato paste themselves. It always seems to go better with a white wine. For my main course, I’ve often had a grilled shrimp appetizer and then any fresh fish the waiter especially recommends, most recently the rouget, also grilled. Came with simple French fries, cooked in French animal fat, instead of vegetable oil. I guess this is harder on the heart, but hey, you only live once, and I miss the way we used to cook. French fries in the days before everyone became so health conscious.

The fish and chips were as fresh as I’ve ever had. Very simple cuisine, but elegantly prepared with great attention to detail. The food is simple but very good. I think there is something else that I always find delicious In Slah that’s hard to pinpoint, and that’s its indefinable quality as part of Tunisia’s long historical past, perhaps reflecting the city as it could have been a century ago.

In Slah It differs from the more expensive and flashy restaurants in the better-known areas of the city, for example, those around dazzling La Marsa and the opulent new hotels (although the food there can be quite good, if more continental). I always find myself scrutinizing the other clientele in In Slah, mainly expatriates and wealthy members of Tunisian society. This is a place largely unknown to newcomers.

Make sure to make a reservation before coming to In Slahas regulars often come several times a week to patronize this unique and precious gem. I showed up once without a reservation and was only admitted due to a timely cancellation while waiting for a taxi to take me somewhere else, probably more expensive and not that great. You can reserve a table by calling: +216 71258588.

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