Duck out of the sun and into a wonderful world of North African cuisine

By Hannah Howard

As you duck out of the blazing heat of this bustling block on Second Avenue, your first steps into the oasis of Nomad bring you to another world altogether. A cozy and romantic space welcomes you with murals on the stucco walls, North African antiques and crafts, and pretty copper lamps, while a hot-coal oven blazes in the corner, ready to deliver what the rich aromas wafting through the air have already promised.

Hailing from Algeria, owners Salima and Mehenni Zebentout embrace the diverse culinary influences of North Africa in all they do here. Moroccan, Berber, and French ingredients and techniques blend, meld, and intermingle throughout the well-rounded menu, delivering a selection of delicious dishes full of both familiar and innovative flavors.
Start with the labne, thick strained yogurt sprinkled with fragrant za’atar and drizzled with a generous amount of peppery olive oil. Alongside it comes plenty of warm, toasty pita for dipping. There’s something about that oven—anything that comes out of it is just exceptional, from crispy calamari to flatbread pizzas like the Nomad, topped with portobello and melty sharp Cheddar.

Soul satisfying and expertly executed, Nomad’s entrees run the gamut. A merguez sandwich in crusty, warm house-made bread is stuffed with savory lamb sausages and chakchouka—eggs cooked in tomato sauce—and served with French fries, while the lamb tajine comes in the gorgeous earthenware pot in which it was cooked. When the waiter opens the top, take in the fragrant goodness of fall-off-the-bone lamb, sweet braised prunes and apricots, and caramelized onions. Then spoon every last bit of it over fluffy couscous.

For dessert, honey-soaked baklava is perfectly flaky, and walnut cake with spiced cherries is made even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. To make the entire meal go down that much better from start to finish, sip your choice of coffee or traditional mint tea.


Mon–Thu 3 PM–11 PM; Fri 3 PM–midnight; Sat 11 AM–midnight; Sun 11AM–11 PM

price range

$12 (goat cheese and raisins pizza) to $27 (couscous vegetables)