Erosion has not just been eating away at East Anglia...a small part of Mahdia has also fallen into the sea, and to reach the spectacularly situated Cafe Sidi Salem by the coast road, you now have to laugh in the face of warning signs and hurdle a barrier, before skirting the edge of a half-fallen-away road. If this was England, half the roads in Tunisia would probably be sectioned off due to health and safety, but thankfully this is Tunisia, so even the most perilous path attracts the masses...and I don't just mean thrillseeking teenagers...most of the people I saw ignoring danger signs were middle aged headscarved women.
Anyway, I digress...once you've danced with death or at least mild discomfort, perhaps a small coma, you can recuperate with a glass of mint tea and watch the fishing boats. An idyllic scene? Well, yes, it used to be...but since half the cliff fell away, Mahdia's gouvernement is attempting to build some sort of sea defence, and instead of fishing boats chugging out to sea, you are entertained with JCBs dumping boulders and rubble into the shape of an ugly breakwater. Still, the tea is good, and the views of the sea are still there.
if falling off a cliff doesn't appeal, and you can't be bothered to take the detour (a five minute walk, but most Tunisians can't be bothered either), then head to one of the outdoor cafes in Place du Caire, a shady square where locals and tourists gather to sip tea, smoke nargile, gossip, and ogle at each other.
In high season, Mahdia has a lot of restaurants, mostly catering to the tourists who come here and demand pizza and steak au poivre. Around the port are a couple of upmarket-looking fish restaurants, and the corniche has quite a few pizzerias.
Out of season, most places are closed, and you'll be stuck with the roast chicken and chapati stalls along the road running parallel to the corniche. Lots of places to buy nuts though.
I have few restaurant tips in Tunisia : as we have most of the time camped, we do not go very often to restaurants but buy local food and cook it.
Favorite Dish: However, I remind one special meal in Mahdia, while we were camping on the shore, a few kilometers out of town. We had been to the fish market and found nice fresh pilchards (sardines, Sardina pilchardus). I asked for a dozen of them, which the guy weighted, I paid and ... he added several handfuls of pilchards for free. They were altogether 53!
As we (2 adults and 2 kids) were fond of fishes and of grilled pilchards, we began grilling the pilchards, ten by ten and ate them, one after the other.
We enjoyed them until the 52th. Nobody wanted to have the last one and it went back to the sea, to feed other fishes! Too bad!
Fantastic view on the sea, great atmosphere, but ask the Tunisian as it is not a touristic place.
Veeeerrrrrry cheap for European