Looking for North African Food (Maroccan, Algerian,...)
I've had a craving for a good couscous and for tagine (tajin? I have no idea how to spell it) for a while now. Are there any good places anyone can recommend? As a grad student, I can't afford the $40 places I've found on citysearch.
Thanks for any help you can give me.
"I can't afford the $40 places I've found on citysearch."
And you're not missing anything. The pricy Manhattan Moroccan places are generally fairly lame and inauthentic. Though in the dim recesses of my memory, I remember hearing talk of one semi-shmancy joint opening in past couple of years that's not so bad. Obviously, I've not tried it.
There is a small and widespread morcoccan community in the boroughs. And at any time there is exactly one great authentic place they eat at. The location keeps switching, like a shell game. The last was Casablanca in Brooklyn, which was utterly fantastic. They went out of biz, breaking my heart.
Where's the good place now? I honestly don't know. I've lost my contacts in that community. There are a bunch of places on Steinway Street in Astoria, and while you'll hear hesitant praise for one or two of them from time to time, none are honestly very good (though, of course, standard chowhound caveat applies: chefs change, things change, and something great might be cooking right this sec...who knows?).
But if someone really wanted to hunker down and do the necessary diligent research and shmmoozing, there is exactly one real good Moroccan place out there. There always is. And it can be found
re: Jim Leff
I wish. The best-ever chef, who cooked stuff exactly like I'd eaten it in Morocco, passed away a few weeks after she opened her place. And the wonderful Brooklyn Casablanca guys are missing in action.
No, there's one because the local moroccan population (to be more precise, the local moroccan chowhound population interested in traipsing all over for the good stuff) is so small that it can only support one.
I'm not sure how the mediocre Moroccan places on Steinway Street in Astoria have affected all this. They certainly do a brisk business with Moroccan ex-pats (they're not all marketed at tourists). This may have limited the pool of available customers for the really good place, wherever it is. In fact, maybe it was a factor in Casablanca's closing.
One out of ten people are chowhounds. We need to talk to ten Moroccan immigrants, and we'll, for sure, learn where the current place is at.
Let's ask around, everybody! that's what this site is for, to combine effort and compare notes!