Named after Hannibals hometown, Carthage Cafe is Chicagos only Tunisian restaurant. Sharing culinary traditions with Morocco and Algeria, Tunisian cuisine relegates meat to a supporting role and lets grains and veggies grab the spotlight. Flavors are fresh and simple: spinach is sauteed with olive oil and garlic; lightly cooked potatoes and carrots are redolent of mint; roasted tomatoes, peppers, and onion are blended into a savory paste. Kebabs of ground lamb are seasoned with onion and parsley; merguez sausage, traditionally sun dried to concentrate flavor, benefits from a blast of harissa, a peppery tomato-based condiment. I was fortunate to dine here with a Tunisian native who preordered some off-menu items, including extraordinarily good couscous and lamb (with advance notice the chef will make dishes like this, as well as tagines). The must-try is brika, pastry enfolding minced potato, parsley, and an egg that cooks when the whole thing is fried.
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