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Mar 8, 2006 05:24 PM

Merguez Sausages

  • b

Anyone know where to buy, Oakland/Berkeley, authentic Moroccan merguez sausages? Cafe Rouge much too expensive.

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  1. r
    Robert Lauriston

    Fatted Calf's are my favorite but I'm not sure they're any cheaper than Cafe Rouge's.

    Have you tried Trader Joe's?

    8 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I know it's not Berkeley/Oakland, but Yum Yum Fish, at 23rd and Irving in the Sunset, sometimes has them. I believe they're about $6/lb.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Also not in Berkeley/Oakland, but at least in the East Bay, Baron's Meats in Alameda has housemade lamb merguez sausages. Good quality, although I can't swear by their authenticity. About $6 a pound.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Sounds interesting. If I ever make the trek out there, any other recommendations either at Baron's Meats itself or at any of the other shops in the Alameda Marketplace?

          1. re: Malik

            Baron's makes several different sausages in house, and they're all worth trying. All of their meats are "natural" and good quality -- they dry age some cuts inhouse.

            Although I've had mixed experiences with their sweet offerings, the breads at Feed Good bakery are outstanding. One "secret" is that they often will sell a half loaf, so you can try more than one bread without ending up with too much.

            The cheese shop (Farmstead Cheeses and Wines) is excellent and has a small but well-edited wine selection.

            The grocery carries mostly organic and "healthy" products (including raw milk and goat milk butter).


            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I just wanted to follow up -- I asked the butcher at Baron's, and he confirmed their Merguez is all lamb, including the casings. I grilled them on a couple of occasions recently and they're delicious (even when overcooked, as a couple were the first time). I believe they're $5.99/lb.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                I've had those merguez hot off Ruth's grill and they are wonderful.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            The Fatted Calf's Marguez is certainly good stuff. But if the search is for 'authentic' Marguez theirs wouldn't fit the bill. The Fatted Calf uses pork fat in their Marguez, that makes it not exactly 'authentic'.

            1. re: Pim
              Robert Lauriston

              No wonder it's so good!

          3. First a quick correction, Merguez are actually of Tunisian origin, as is Harissa, the hot sauce that's often served with them. Moroccan do not eat spicy generally. If you go to Tanjia, the Moroccan restaurant in Oakland, they get offended if you ask for Merguez and politely reply that their restaurant is Moroccan, not Tunisian.

            The only truly authentic Merguez that I know of in the Bay Area are the ones you can buy at the Halal butcher on Geary near Leavenworth, as they're the only Halal Merguez available. Halal for Muslims is sort of equivalent to Kosher for Jews, and authentic Merguez should technically be Halal.

            The next most authentic Merguez around (and which also taste really good) are the ones from Marcel et Henri in South San Francisco, as they are made with 100% lamb. They come frozen only, and are available at various outlets such as Yum Yum Fish mentioned by a poster below, or Samiraimi's in the Mission. I'm sure there must be some outlets in the East Bay, but I don't know of any, just give them a call to find out (see link below).

            Fabriques Delices in Hayward also makes frozen Merguez, but theirs are a mix of beef and lamb, so they're not quite authentic, and I find that they don't taste as good as the previous two sources. They seem to be more widely distributed, including at some high end grocery stores (such as Draeger's in the Peninsula).

            Finally, there's the Fatted Calf ones that I haven't tried, but as Pim mentions below, they contain pork fat, so they would be considered the least authentic of the bunch. Whole Foods also used to make a Merguez with pork in it, though now they no longer seem to attach that name to them and just call them spicy lamb sausages (which is a more accurate description).

            Does Cafe Rouge make their own Merguez, or do they source them from somewhere? What ingredients do they use, and are they sold fresh or frozen?


            11 Replies
            1. re: Malik
              Robert Lauriston

              Cafe Rouge makes its own merguez. Fresh when they have them, when they run out that's it. Similar to Fatted Calf's (not surprising since Taylor worked there for several years). I always assumed it was 100% lamb but never asked, good lamb flavor anyway.

              1. re: Malik

                Does anyone know correct spelling for Samiraimi's in the Mission? And/or an address?

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  Here you go

                  Samirami’s Market, 2990 Mission St. San Francisco, CA, 94110, (415) 824-6555.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Don't know if it made Chow News before, but here's another Chowhound mention.


                    1. re: rworange

                      It was in ChowNews issue #51/52.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Ah, before my time. I start at #83. I looked like it was a chownews deadline inquiry (it was). Just wanted to note it might have been mentioned before. Will have to check it out though. Glad to see you back or, at least, on a querty keyboard.

                    2. re: rworange
                      Robert Lauriston

                      It's Samiramis Imports. No apostrophe.

                      1. re: rworange

                        Much appreciated! We very rarely come up empty hunting down address/phone #'s for tips recounted in ChowNews, and I'm glad this one's no exception....


                    3. re: Malik

                      they use the Merguez from the Halal butcher on Geary in nearby Saha restaurant, I have had them there and they are really good. I love the FC merguez too, but as mentioned they are not so authentic. Still that's not a problem for me since they taste delicious.

                      1. re: Malik

                        Merguez may well have originated in Tunisia, but is quite common throughout Morocco as is Harissa. Whoever told you Moroccans don't like spicy? Usually couscous is served with either grilled hot peppers or harissa thinned with stock.

                        1. re: Malik

                          Sorry Malik, but that's silly. Moroccans love Merguez. Grill stands selling merguez, quite spicy merguez, I'll add, are common in large Moroccan markets. And I really don't think it's Tunisians eating them.

                          Cafe Rouge makes an excellen Merquez, all lamb. It's my favorite. It doesn't seem pricey to me ($10/lb) but even if it's a buck or two more than the trash you get elsewhere, it's worth every penny.

                        2. A bit farther afield, Dittmer's in Mountain View claims that their spicy lamb merguez is "award winning". They're good, although I haven't had the real Tunisian product, so I can't compare.

                          Sounds like you have quite a few options closer to Oakland/Berkeley.

                          1. Since this has been bumped, Central Grocery is now carrying packaged merguez in El Sobrante.

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: Scrapironchef

                                I bought a packege of Merguez from BiRite grocery about a month ago, just to have on hand.
                                They are housemade and cost $5.88 for a little over a half-pound.
                                They are in my freezer ready to be turned into an easy dinner one night soon. With these grey skies forming this afternoon, they may well be dinner tonight.

                              2. Since I moved to the bay a few years ago, I've been on a mission to find good merguez fissabilillah, lol. I first used to get some at a halal market in Berkeley on San Pablo and University (not indus food the other one), but they were irregular in quality, and never that good, then the merguez machine broke there, and store got a new owner.

                                I have had the Marcel & Henri one regularly cause they carry it at Berkeley Bowl, and I shop there a lot, but honestly, they are not that good. I mean, they're ok, but they are still pretty far from being really good merguez...

                                The best Merguez I ate so far are the one from Baron Meat, in Alameda, on Park St... now they are really good, and taste like it should. Plus there is a very good bakery next to it in the market place, so you can get a good baguette along with you merguez, and I feel like I'm back home in France : )

                                I'm yet to try the ones of the Halal market on Geary, in SF, I'm a east bay person, but I guess I'll have to go try them, I heard all good things about that place.

                                Regarding the discussion in this thread about Merguez authenticity... though of course most of the time, you think Merguez, you think Lamb... but a beef Merguez does not make it non-authentic in my opinion, I have had excellent beef Merguez from my neighborhood Hallal butcher when I used to live in Paris, they sit right next to the lamb one at the butcher, not a problem... BUT what's gonna make a merguez authentic, is the type of fat you put in (too much of it will make your merguez shrink down when you cook it)... AND what you use to make the sausage... a good merguez should use Lamb guts, and not artificial synthetic guts.

                                Berkeley Bowl
                                2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: ben2

                                  Last year I got some excellent merguez made by the halal butcher, Besan's in San Bruno. The scent hot off the grill made a vegetarian swoon!
                                  Next time you're in the vicinity of SFO airport, head across the freeway and try them. I'm very interested in what your opinion will be.

                                  Besan's International Market
                                  480 San Mateo Ave, San Bruno, CA