Ann Arbor has never had a Tunisian restaurant, and soon there will be two. In Maple Miller Plaza, Susan Thomas and Khaled Houamed plan to open El Harissa Market Café, a Tunisian café, deli, and market, in the former Mercado Sabor Latino (see Foods, Fiats, and Minis).
Sihem Naghmouchi Benaich has already opened Sihem’s Tunisian Deli. It was easy–she and her husband, Saber Naghmouchi, are the owners of Tienda la Libertad, which already has a restaurant inside it called Taco King. And it was too tempting. There she was, a good Tunisian cook with a commercial kitchen at hand.
Taco King and Sihem’s Tunisian Deli are, in fact, the same restaurant, though they plan to keep both names. The menu boards are displayed side by side, and Mexican breads and cakes are stacked on top of the deli case of tagine and tabbouleh.
Sihem has a master’s degree in biomedicine from Tunisia. She says as soon as she has the deli squared away and gets used to being the mother of two (three-month-old Yusef and two-year-old Myraim), she wants to start in a PhD program at U-M. For her master’s thesis she studied the medicinal properties of marjoram and oregano and uses them liberally in her cooking.
In addition to more recognizable Mediterranean fare like lentil soup and hummus, her menu includes merguez (lamb sausage), Tunisian tagine (unlike the Moroccan stew of the same name, this tagine is more like a frittata), a grilled salad called meshweeah, and harissa, a hot chili paste. Sihem also caters and delivers.
Sihem’s Tunisian Deli, 2231 W. Liberty, 585-5796. Daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m.