Apr 28th, 2022, 12:00 PM

Your Guide to North African Cuisine in Paris

By Lauren Viggiani
Image Credit: Lauren Viggiani
Where to find the best of Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian cuisine in the French capital

When living in Paris one aspect that becomes very prevalent is the amount of North African food the city has to offer. Whether it be Moroccan, Algerian or Tunisian food, Paris has great restaurants and bakeries where one can find North African cuisine that has an undeniably authentic taste.

The origin of this cultural exchange between France and the Maghreb can be traced back to French colonialism in North Africa which began in 1830 and continued into the 1960s. However, the immigration of North Africans to France began during World War I, when Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan troops were sent to support France, either as soldiers or as a replacement for French workers who had been drafted to fight. As a result of this, many North Africans remained in the country after the war ended, settling mostly in and around the capital and beginning the cultural interaction between Maghrebi communities and French citizens.

Despite the effort of North Africans to aid France during the war and their significant contributions to the growth of the country, they were and are often faced with severe racism and islamophobia due to their Muslim faith. However, ever since the immigration of Maghrebi communities to Paris, there has been a significant cultural exchange between North Africans and French people, resulting perhaps most notably in the establishment of a large number of North African restaurants. The following article will introduce you to some great places to revel in the delicacies of North African cuisine in the city of Paris.

Image Credit: Lauren Viggiani

The first place is a small Moroccan restaurant called Cantine Yemma. It is located at 119 Rue du Chemin Vert in the 11th arrondissement. They have amazing couscous and their Moroccan sandwich is definitely worth trying. They also stay open late and are reasonably priced. 

Another great restaurant for a very authentic North African dining experience is Le Café de l'ici on 19 Rue Léon in Montmartre. It is accessible by metro line 4 at the Château Rouge stop. This place is not only a restaurant that has amazing food but it is also attached to an Islamic center. As such, it is great for those interested in the Islamic culture of North Africa. Their lamb sausages are incredibly flavorful and the Tajine Agneau is a must-try. They also have vegetarian options like eggplant salad which is very popular at this restaurant.

North African food is overall somewhat similar but, due to the different spices, the flavors of the dishes are actually quite different. Therefore, even though the dishes are similar, it depends on each person to determine whether they prefer Moroccan or Algerian food better. The flavor of Tunisian food seems to be most different, being spicier than Moroccan or Algerian food.

Image Credit: Lauren Viggiani

For those in search of a fancy North African dining experience, Icosium, located on Av. du Maine in the 14th arrondissement, is perfect. This restaurant serves flavorful Algerian food, and also has amazing dessert options. The prices are a little higher than the last two restaurants mentioned but for a special occasion, Icosium is definitely worth a try.

For those who are more into spicy food, La Boule Rouge offers an authentic Tunisian experience with great food. The eggplant caviar and Potato salad harissa are a must for this restaurant. From this list, La Boule Rouge is the best option for vegetarians, considering they have many dishes containing no meat at all. Located on 1 Rue de la Boule Rouge, between Montmartre and the Lourve, the restaurant is in a very accessible area.

Image Credit: Lauren Viggiani

One aspect of Paris that seems to come to mind when one thinks of the city is its expertise in pastries. Croissants are great, but the Moroccan bakeries are all over Paris and definitely are worth visiting. There are many different North African bakeries located all over the city, but there is one, in particular, that seems to be better than most.

La Bague de Kenza has three locations throughout Paris. The store on 106 Rue Saint-Maur in the 11th arrondissement has staff that is incredibly friendly and welcoming. They are also very willing to provide information on the pastries since it can be confusing for foreigners to read the flavors. They offer such a wide variety that there is definitely something for everyone. The prices are low and the quality of the food is amazing. La Bague de Kenza is a great place to visit for those looking for sweet North African treats.

Yes, French food is amazing, however, it is so important to explore the other cuisines Paris has to offer. Besides the handful of restaurants mentioned, the city is filled with African and Islamic culture which is definitely something to take advantage of when in Paris. Besides the food tasting so good, the experience is very different and more authentic than the North African restaurants in the United States. The Morrocan, Algerian, and Tunisian food is definitely very well done and individuals should most definitely try at least one restaurant or pastry shop while in Paris.