Algeria — Food and Restaurants
Algerian dishes are distinctive in taste even though they are heavily influenced by Arab, Berber, French, and Turkish cuisines. The restaurants in the capital, as well as in the coastal towns lean towards Italian and French style of cooking, but you will almost always spot a distinct Algerian quality in the recipes in the level of spice. Most restaurants offer international menus to cater to all kinds of diners and sensitive Western taste-buds. Roadside restaurants don’t have the same upscale appeal as city hubs, but they are a welcome respite when wandering along the desert or traveling from city to city.
Bars and Pubbing in Algeria
Bars in Algeria are secretive and hard to find. Many traditional pubs and nightclubs have been shut down by the government so it’s a bit of a prohibition-esque society. Alcohol is only available in first-class hotels and in more expensive restaurants. Specialty shops sell no-name brands that tend to be very expensive and mediocre at best. Coastal diners sometimes sell alcohol, but you have to ask your server directly, as beverages may not be included on the menu. If you prefer to have your own stash, you will have to find a discrete shop or buy some at the airport.
Hotel bars are your best bet for a decent drink, and many do stay open late. Bar restaurants can be found in big cities and in nice parks, but they are a rarity. Jenina, a traditional restaurant in Algiers, serves alcohol and red wine with superb and authentic Algerian food.
Dining and Cuisine in Algeria
Typical Algerian cooking is a mix of Berber, French, Arab, and Turkish flavors. Meals are often based on fresh fruits and vegetables, especially olives, as well as a generous helping of spice. Couscous is a staple dish, often served with chicken, lamb or fish and garnished with cinnamon or dates. Chorba (a tomato-based stew with lentils), Berkoukes (crushed and steamed semolina pasta), and Chakchoukha (flatbread covered in diced lamb stew) are other traditional Algerian dishes to try when eating out.
There is no particular restaurant district in Algeria, not even in the capital of Algiers, but a number of excellent options are dotted throughout. Au Bon Gibier (Bois des Arcades, Algiers) is one of the fancier dining spots serving excellent contemporary recipes in a lovely setting. You need to make a reservation, especially if you prefer outdoor seating. Le Tantra (Bois des Arcades, Algiers) is good for late night dining and offers traditional Algerian dishes with a French twist, along with a decent wine selection and desserts.
You will have to go out of town to visit Auberge Du Moulin (24 Rue Abane Ramdane, Cheragua, Algiers). It offers sumptuous Algerian cuisine and is very popular with both foreigners and locals who love specialties like Mechoui, a delicious roast lamb dish. Le Normand (1 Rue Tancrede, Algiers) is the place to go for authentic French cooking with a side of Spanish and Italian wines. Those craving Indian food should not miss Le Taj Mahal (7 Rue Idir Toumi Ben Aknoun, Algiers), a vegan-friendly spot.