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Oct 30, 2005 04:46 PM

Los Angeles Hounds in Chicago look for Morrocan

  • s

OK, here's the deal. Chow-spouse and I need to be in Chicago Weds-Sat this week. Chow-spouse just had a birthday, thinks she REALLY wants Morrocan food. There's about four-five places in Los Angeles, and we've eaten in most of them, and they're getting BORING. We need an out-of-town take on this food, like we got from DC Ethiopian....

My quick look at the Chicago board shows me a lack of consensus, to put it politely, regarding good places. (The tagine at one place touted by one poster as the best this side of France is denounced as tasting like it's made from canned mushroom soup by another poster!)

So, If I'm staying by the Loop (Renaisence Hotel, I think) what's good accessible Morrocan/Tunisian?

T.I.A., hounds and houndettes.


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  1. d

    How about Tizi Melloul.

    I've always had a good time there. Anytime I can send Terry Alexander some business is good with me, since he also owns my favorite bar in the city.

    1 Reply
    1. re: devotiondoubt

      Tizi Melloul would get my vote for best food and ambience - despite the fact that it lost its chef a while ago, and after that there was a slight but noticable slip in the food. We loved their mussel appetizer - mussels smeared with a fiery, spicy paste and cooked over charcoal, which imparts a delicious, smokey taste to the mussels. But Tizi bills itself as "Mediterranean," and I saw only a few Morroccan dishes on the menu (bastilla was one), and no couscous.

    2. s
      Silverlake Bodhisattva

      Of course, I now realize it would help if I tried spelling "Moroccan" right....


      1. Moroccan is not one of our strengths, particularly if you're looking for something competitive with what seems to be your fairly wide experience. Thai, Mexican, Italian, Greek, French bistro, high-end American all are worth exploring and you're far more likely to enjoy a memorable meal.

        8 Replies
        1. re: jbw

          I agree with jbw that you should consider checking out some of the other cuisines that Chicago does well during your visit. I'd add further that if you only go to restaurants near the hotel zone you'll be missing out on a lot of the best eating in Chicago. It's definitely worth venturing out into the neighborhoods.

          Regarding Moroccan food, I've heard good things about Marrakech Cuisine at 1413 N. Ashland Ave. Here's a link to the Metromix write up, which includes info on public transportation and a link to mapquest.


          1. re: Amata

            I was not impressed with Marrakech Cuisine. I went this summer and we were the only table occupied, the service was poor, the food and atmosphere so-so, and they were out of many of the items on the menu. I'd look elsewhere.

            1. re: hungry
              Daniel Rogers

              Don't go to Marrakech Cuisine. The couscous was revoltingly buttery, the rice had to have been Uncle Ben's, the merguez was ok but the lamb was flavorless. What's more, they misread my $4.40 credit card tip as $40.40! I almost felt sorry enough for them to let them keep it, but they need to find a new line of work.

              1. re: Daniel Rogers

                I wandered into this miserable dungeon of a place called Marrakech Cuisine after my favorite taco place across the street (in the Carniceria on Ashland) was closed. The taco place closes at 7 pm but Marrakesh should just close period, or at least hire a chef. I ordered the lamb tagine and my girlfriend had the atlas chicken tagine. Both dishes were obviously prepared the day before and were sitting in the fridge. After getting microwaved by the "chef" who was also the waiter, the cashier, and probably the owner, he brought them to us. Both the chicken and the lamb shank were ice cold. We both took one bite, and after remarking how bland and tastless it was, we wondered what to do. Feeling sheepish and wanting the place to be good, I told the guy to heat it up again. But after thinking about how I would actually have to eat it (and hearing the beeping and hum of the microwave), I paid him 10 bucks to let us leave. The one other customer in the joint was complaining about the fish. It was amazing really, as it was a Thursday night and they didn't even have a proper chef.

                On a lighter note, the long wooden, ladle-like, spoon for the bland minestrone like soup was delightful fun to eat with.

          2. re: jbw
            Silverlake Bodhisattva

            OK, so there's disagreement about Moroccan places, and whether it's the town's strong suit. I've got to wrestle with the following issues:

            1. Spouse doesn't eat mammals. Period. Scratch out Italian Beef, Chicago style 'dogs, much BBQ, and much else in "the Hog Butcher to the World";

            2. We're walking distance to what I believe is the biggest concentration of Thai population outside of Asia; there's things we can get in Thai restaurants here that may never have gotten to Ill. yet.

            3. We do Mexican pretty good, too, here...


            what's unusual, or unusually wonderful, for us to eat, if we're not getting a car? We've done deep pizza to death. We've eaten at Trotters' and at Frontera/Topolabampa. We have no interest in the place with the "butterscotch flavored bacon on the tiny silver clothesline", or other any place requiring that we eat foam; we prefer "tasty" food to "witty" food, and have even less use for "ironic" or 'deconstructed" food.

            Thanks again.

            1. re: Silverlake Bodhisattva

              If you want to explore high-end Italian, try Spiaggia, one of the best Italian restaurants in the Midwest, and see how it compares with the tops in LA.

              There's also a huge amount of interesting Indian restaurants along the Devon Avenue corridor (about 2300 West), easily reachable by public transportation.

              A good many French bistros are nearby: Brasserie Jo, Kiki's Bistro, La Sardine, and a few interesting, but hardly cutting edge restaurants in the Randolph Street corridor such as mk and blackbird, and it sounds as if your SO would like Green Zebra, a vegetarian themed restaurant.

              1. re: Silverlake Bodhisattva

                Green Zebra is our upscale vegetarian place, but if you're willing to drop big bucks, I'd recommend Avenues, in the Peninsula Hotel. They have an all-vegetable degustation menu (don't know if it's strictly vegetarian, but it certainly doesn't include any dead sentient beings). They are one of the top three places in the city - a meal you won't forget for a long, long time.

                1. re: Silverlake Bodhisattva

                  Hi, my in-laws are on the corner of Santa Monica and Normandy, basically, so I know the neighborhood. We do have gerat Thai here (and a pretty good Thai importer). But it's not worth using on one of your limited number of meals here. Interestingly enough, many of LA's ethnic strenghths are also Chicago's, including Thai and Mexican (we have the second largest Mexican population after LA and more regionally diverse AFAIK), so those are two go-to cuisines that I might not sugest for you. Polish might be a nice choice, since it barely exists in most of the US but is all over Chicago (2d largest Polish population in the World, after Warsaw). Old-fashioned Italian places in out of the way neighborhoods can be a nice change of place for Angelenos, IME. Possibly the best choice would be Indian and Pakistani on Devone Avenue. I realize that LA has plenty of South Asian, but Devon is unique in the US, with a fair number of Indian businesses that have branches only in London and Chicago. You sort of have to see it. Devon goes from Indian/Pakistani to Orhtodox Jewish/recently-arrived former USSR (Georgian, Russian, etc.)to old-fashioned Jewish as you go east to west.

                  Check out and look for posts by Zim, Vital Information, and c8w for lots on Devon.

                  We also have a growing number of Colombian, Argentine, Ecuadorian etc. places that are good and interesting, but very beef oriented, so probably not a good fit.

              2. s
                Sredni Vashtar

                There's Couscous (1445 W. Taylor St. 312-226-2408) a sort of hole-in-the-wall place in Little Italy that seems to get a lot of Middle Eastern/North Africans from the nearby university and hospitals. They do, as far as I know, not being an expert on this cuisine, it seems closer to home-style cooking.

                1. I have always been pleased with Andalous in the Wrigleyville/Lakeview neighborhood. The big added bonus is that they are also BYOB. If you were staying in the Loop, you could take the Red Line to the Belmont stop. It is only a five minute walk from there.

                  Here's the info:

                  Andalous Moroccan Restaurant
                  3307 N. Clark St.