Boeuf sur le toit

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Late Night, Reservations


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    5.0 rating based on 1 rating
    Jan 2014 · Kate Thomas

    Le Boeuf sur le Toit might just be one of our favorite bars in all of Africa, not only Tunisia....

    Le Boeuf sur le Toit might just be one of our favorite bars in all of Africa, not only Tunisia. Named for a surrealist ballet, its name translates as ‘the bull on the roof’, giving an idea of the kind of the energetic, feverish vibe you’ll find inside. If you want to eat, drink and dance with a liberal Tunisian crowd, don’t miss Le Boeuf.

    Groups of friends and couples get here early (from 7pm or 8pm) on Friday and Saturday nights to bag dinner tables, and the doors don’t close until dawn. Take your pick from the three themed rooms; there’s the Arab music hall – where later on you can grind your hips and twirl to new tunes from Dubai – then the live music hall – housed in the courtyard around goldfish ponds and pagodas, with a stage for slow acoustics and jazz sets – and the main room, with its famous long and high communal wooden tables.

    When we first visited in 2011, the Arab Spring was in full swing and we credited it with inciting the wild dancing and singing that we saw at Le Boeuf that night. But when we returned in 2013, the vibe was the same: red-lipsticked waitresses slipped between couples dancing tango, women tucked jasmine flowers behind their ears and the band belted out throaty rock ballads to a crowd that gave applause by banging their dinner forks against the low lampshades.

    Tunisia’s revolution might be over, but at Le Boeuf there’s still a sense that the hundreds of people who step through its doors every weekend want to shake off their headscarves and break free from the confines of what is still a somewhat conservative society. This isn’t just a club, it’s a dinner bar with teeth: you’ll hear loud snippets of conversation about everything from politics to gay rights to poetry.

    We recommend arriving early for dinner and then staying around for drinks and dancing later. Drinks in the main room are limited to beer and whisky after midnight, but you can buy wine and spirits at the other bars. The food, by the way, is pretty good: there’s a range of Tunisian tajines, meat entrees and salads, plus international fare like pastas, gourmet burgers and French cuisine. But nobody really comes to Le Boeuf for the food: they come for the energy, the music, and whatever jasmine-infused magic they’ll find in the air.

    You’ll need to travel here by cab from central Tunis or Sidi Bou Said; it’s about a 15-minute drive outside the city, and cabs are easy to find when bedtime rolls around. Unless there’s a special act on, entry is usually free. Dinner reservations recommended.

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