Everyone needs to stop and eat once in a while and Algerians are no exception. Traditional Algerian food shows the historic influences of Berber, Arab, Turkish and French tastes. It can be mild or very spicy and many flavourings are used. Algiers and popular coastal towns have a fair selection of good restaurants, serving mainly French and Italian-style food, though even classic dishes will have an unmistakable Algerian quality. Fish dishes are exceptionally good.
There are a number of roadside coffee shops or diners, restaurants and cafes. Tour buses travelling in the Sahara will often make use of whatever roadside diners are available. This gives visitors an opportunity to stop and dine while looking out at the dusty dunes of this great desert. The majority of other restaurants or cafes are located in the midst of busy city centres. Some offer excellent views and all restaurants are usually a great way to mix with the locals and get a feel for this country.
Algeria's restaurants may not be as big or modern as restaurants in other parts of the world and if you feel uneasy about eating at some of the roadside cafes or restaurants, you might prefer to eat at hotel restaurants where the standards are usually higher. It is also good to note that such a cautious attitude with regards to eating at the local dining spots is usually unwarranted as the food is usually prepared with the utmost care and hygiene. You will also find that there is a variety of food types on offer in the country.
As in much of North Africa and the Middle East, refreshing, golden-coloured mint tea and strong, sweet coffee (sometimes called Turkish coffee) are drunk wherever people gather to talk and relax, a legacy of French rule.
The sale of alcohol is not encouraged. Alcohol is only available in more expensive restaurants and hotels. There are no licensing hours and hotel bars tend to stay open for as long as there is custom. Algeria produces some good wines but very few of them seem to be served in the country itself. The major hotels may have a reasonable cellar of European wines. If available, do try Medea, Mansourah and Mascara red wines and Medea, Mascara and Lismara rosés.