Our story

bienvenue a harissa!

Harissa, the restaurant, pays homage to Chef Alain Cohen’s Tunisian origins, his family’s Paris restaurant, and his American culinary experiences. Harissa, the name, celebrates the beloved spicy sauce that symbolizes our restaurant's vibrant cuisine.

Chef Cohen’s Harissa sauce stays true to the family recipe that dates back generations to Tunisia. In fact, harissa is so valued in Tunisia that an old wives’ tale suggests a husband can judge his wife’s affections by the number of hot peppers she uses when preparing his food.

Tunisian food is savory and sweet. Well represented on our menu is a central dish to Tunisian cuisine that is couscous. Including Chef Cohen’s signature Tunisian specialties–including house-made merguez sausage, traditional break pastry, fricassee, and pates a la but argue. Chef Cohen’s sausage making skills are also on display with our house-made charcuterie.

Chef Cohen has created a menu with something for every taste to old and young alike. Harissa, specialize in American and Tunisian cuisine with a twist to fit everyone taste. We serve lunch and dinner daily and cook a special weekly Shabbat menu to order. In our restaurant, we also serve a BBQ menu for delivery or take out daily. Additionally, we also offer a complete catering experience to serve your next event.

At Harissa, catering is providing our customers with what they need and what they want. This is essential to us and a basic statement of who we are. We have many great dishes to choose from, What do you want? What can we do for you? Our goal is to create a custom catering experience for our clients.

For our lunch & dinner menu, and our dessert menu we have several vegetarian and vegan options. In our menu, we use only 100% grass-fed beef, antibiotic- & hormone-free chicken, and non-GMO canola oil. To round out your dining experience with us our Chef personally selected a variety of curated wines & beers.

Chef Alain Cohen

Chef Alain Cohen

Born in Tunisia Chef Alain Cohen, family traces their roots back to the destruction of the first temple of Jerusalem in 586 AD. In 1961, his family was part of the exodus that moved to Paris. They brought a suitcase and a few possessions with them. That suitcase was their table the first night they arrived and moved into their apartment.

Chef Cohen’s father opened a little place that served drinks and kemia; his mom did the cooking. He kept moving into bigger and bigger places. Where his father opened the successful kosher Tunisian restaurant, Les Ailes (“the Wings”) in 1973. He started working there when he was only nine years old.

When Chef Cohen was a teen-ager, he adapted the restaurant to more contemporary French Tunisian fusion cuisine. Les Ailes remained a hub of the Tunisian Jewish community of Paris, and on the must-visit foodie list until it closed a few of years ago.

Chef Cohen crossed the Atlantic in 1991 to establish his roots in Los Angeles, bringing with him all the memories and the recipes of his family. In love with the movies he arrived in Hollywood to attend film school, but even there he began cooking for more and more new friends until he knew that he had to rejoin the culinary world full time.

After a series of learning jobs, ranging from catering at the prolific Raleigh Studios to creating progressive, artisanal sandwiches with legendary Nancy Silverton at La Brea Bakery, Chef Cohen opened Got Kosher? as the original basis of his operation today, a wholesale gourmet sandwich and salad operation.

In answer to the call for kosher catering and in-house dining, Chef Cohen, created a café and catering service that now serves hospitals, airports, hotels, institutions, schools and even the celebrity parties catered by Wolfgang Puck and Patina.

Our Chef Alain Cohen considers his treasured Tunisian recipes and the ones he created over time for Shabbat and catered parties and the restaurants as a reflection of his passion for delicious food that is kosher, and definitely kosher with no apologies.

The origins of our cuisine served today

A little-known secret is that Tunisia was home to a thriving Jewish community since the 12 century BC. Old Testament documentation reveals that the fishing tribe of Zebulon fished the coral in the area to make the blue color of their religious sacraments, and Jewish graves have been uncovered in the ruins of Carthage. The Jews brought their food with them from biblical Israel and integrated their dishes with the native Berber cuisine and all the subsequent strata that form modern Tunisian cuisine. With the departure of the French leading to Arab ruler ship in the early sixties, following the Algerian war, Tunisian Jews embarked upon yet another Odyssey. They mainly went to France as a whole community and replanted their roots in Paris, Marseille, and Nice.