Oran Cafe - East Boston...a Moroccan Angela's?
I went into Oran Cafe because I have been hoping that the sizable Moroccan community in Eastie would open a restaurant soon. Some locals might remember Beni's on Meridian St that was only open for about a year but would serve off the menu Moroccan food. Unfortunately, Beni's closed but it seems that Oran Cafe could be the authentic Moroccan restaurant that some have been waiting for here.
Right now it seems that they only have a daily specials off-menu where they make about 3 - 4 family recipes for lunch and dinner on any given day. Today it was couscous with bone-in beef or lamb, fish soup, or one other item that I don't want to try and spell here. I had the couscous and it was really quite fantastic. It was enough food for two people, with a large piece of beef as well as seasonal vegetables (zucchini, sweet squash, and a potato type thing that seemed a bit like a yucca). The sauce had some unique flavors that might have included saffron. The entire plate was $12.
The owners said they only use organic halal meat which they get from a local farm in Tewkesbury. They don't use any frozen or canned products - everything is as fresh as it can be. They also have Moroccan mint tea and arabic coffee, along with some excellent espresso/cappuccinos.
I got the same feeling there as I got when Angela's first opened their doors: family-run restaurant with multiple generations working; only the freshest ingredients; unique and personal recipes; as well as the authenticity of people merely operating a restaurant because they like to cook food and feed people.
Another interesting thing is they seem to cater to more than one group (just like Angela's). They have the American breakfast crowd of old-time residents, a lunch and coffee crowd of Moroccans and Algerian workers;, and a small but hopefully growing nighttime crowd of curious new yuppie residents.
I am looking forward to trying more of their dishes and am glad to see that there is another unique ethnic restaurant in East Boston. I would be interested to know if other people have tried Oran yet and what they thought about some of the other dishes they have.
By the way, the location is at the corner of Bennington & Marion St which is probably closest to the Airport T station.
Excellent find! Thanks for the info. I could spend weeks in Eastie checking out all the hidden gems around there...
I am very happy that I read this post this morning. We go to Kelley's Square Pub quite regularly, and have watched the building across the street undergo various renovations for some time. Based on jbowen1519’s description of Oran Café we sought it out for lunch today, and were shocked that it is actually located in that building, so it must be quite new.
This is a quintessential ‘hound spot. I can’t describe it any better than jbowen1519 did. We were greeted at our table by Hannah (sp?), who asked us – quite surprisingly – “what would you like?” She apologized for not having a menu, and described the couscous, fish soup, and a ground beef/tomato-pepper sauce dish, and also offered to cook whatever we might like to have. We went for the fish soup and couscous, both of which were outstanding, and she brought us a small plate of the beef dish to try, which was also outstanding. We had the mint tea as well, which added to the feeling of authenticity that permeated the entire meal. The total bill was $20 (?!?! – we felt like we were robbing them).
The space is nothing remarkable, which Hannah also apologized for, but we assured her that food was our interest. She asked us how we found out about them, and we told her about Chowhound, which she was not familiar with but was quite happy to hear that kind words were written about them. The whole time we felt like we were in somebody’s home, with a host sharing dishes that she took pride in. Despite being fans of Kelley’s for what it is and the local flavor that always occupies the bar, the addition of Oran Café to the landscape now changes things. “A Moroccan Angela’s” is an excellent description, and I predict that there will be many CH posts in the future.