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Moroccan Restaurants that are not Aziza

Looking try new Moroccan restaurants that are not Aziza, which I love and have already been to twice in the last couple of months. Here are the ones I have heard of: El Mansour, Cafe Zitouna, Cossu, and Zitune. Are any of them Chow worthy? Solid, traditional food is key (they at least need to have either couscous or tagine on the menu), and nice ambiance would be a plus, but not totally necessary.

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  1. I've read good things about Tanjia in Oakland and El Morocco in Pleasant Hill. Here are the links to their places pages -- you can do a little checking on what people have said about them in the past.

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    Cafe Zitouna
    1201 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Restaurant Zitune
    325 Main St, Los Altos, CA 94022

    Tanjia
    4905 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

    El Mansour
    3119 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121

    El Morocco
    2203 Morello Ave, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

    Cossu
    1516 Broadway Street, San Francisco, CA

    4 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      It looks like Tanjia, El Mansour, and El Morocco are all prix fixe. Does anyone have an opinion as to whether the non prix fixe places are any better to try?

      1. re: hmruthi

        According to their website, El Morocco is now offering a la carte Sunday-Thursday.

        I've heard really good things about Zitune and I've been wanting to try it, but usually when I'm down in that area I'm having dinner at my sister's (this weekend the menu at my sister's was spaghetti with spicy tomato sauce, chevre souffle, roasted asparagus with balsamic vinegar and strawberry shortcake, with an excellent Ridge zin -- yum!).

      2. re: Ruth Lafler

        El Mansour is a neat place. I went there for a birthday party last year. The interior is nicely decorated. The meal is accompanied by bellydancing. I don't remember too much about the food but I think everyone left pretty happy. The service was good as well.

        1. re: luckytomato

          A little off topic, but is El Mansour baby friendly? I've wanted to go there, but the dark interior has always suggested it might be a little more of a romantic spot.

      3. Ziryab has tagine. I didn't try it. Owner's reportedly Moroccan.

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        Ziryab
        528 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

        1. Cafe Zitouna is a simple, little cafe, a spot where you'd feel as comfortable lingering over a pastry and mint tea in the afternoon as ordering dinner. I love the natural light here on a sunny day. The proprietors are Tunisian, so the cooking is lighter. It's quite traditional but a world away from Aziza and strictly halal, so no alcohol.

          I hope we'll hear more about some of the places in the San Jose area that don't get mentioned much.

          1. "solid, traditional food"...

            Without investing much driving time or money, you could try Casablanca in Redwood City. Went there for the first time last year with a friend for lunch buffet & loved it. The food tasted sooo good & fresh that we felt like we were eating in someone's house. Sadly, I believe my friend & I were probably the only lunch customers that day. Since then, have been to dinner once. We had an eggplant app., chicken kabob, chicken tagine, and the lamb tagine. Favorites were the app. & the chicken tagine; kabob was okay & lamb tagine was a bit too sweet for our taste (Aziza's wasn't as sweet). We finished the meal with mint tea but again, was too sweet for our taste (wish they had unsweetened). The owner/chef is very sweet & appears to have replaced the lunch buffet with plates (have not been) probably due to economic difficulty.

            5 Replies
            1. re: ceekskat

              Thanks for the suggestions. Both Casablanca and Cafe Zitouna seem like reasonably-priced options with more traditional fare. My husband and I just got back from Morocco a few weeks ago and loved the food. We recently went to Aziza after our trip and I was surprised to see the lack of tagine on their menu, although I will have to say that they make a killer vegetable couscous (on par, if not better, than anything I had in Morocco). Considering that Aziza is more creative, I was hoping to find some alternative options in the bay area with the more traditional assortment of dishes. Thanks for all of the suggestions!

              And all the mint tea we had in Morocco was super sweet. It was almost like the tea was a conduit for sugar, but the cups are so small that the sweetness was manageable in small doses.

              1. re: hmruthi

                My 10 yr old appreciated the presentation of the tea from the pouring to the traditional glass, etc.; however, after one or two sips, decided it tasted like chewing gum & didn't want anymore :)

                1. re: hmruthi

                  At Zitouna, the proprietor makes the tea "half-sweet", then asks me to taste it and will add more sugar if I want it, which I never do.

                  Most of the patrons tend to be cab drivers from North Africa, and that might lend to the atmosphere for you. When I walked by last week, there were "help wanted" ads posted for line cooks.

                2. re: ceekskat

                  No more lunch buffet anymore. Can't speak to the rest of their menu since I've only gone for lunch buffet.

                  1. re: ceekskat

                    link

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                    Casablanca
                    2421 Broadway St, Redwood City, CA 94063

                  2. I have been to El Morocco in Pleasant Hill numerous times. I find the food and service excellent.

                    If you go on a night with dancing, I recommend holding out for the tables that are along the sides, particularly the one closest to the bar. It sounds like a bad seat, but its the best view.

                    1. Zitune is very chow-worthy, but it's upscale, especially with recent price increases. There are plenty of tagines and couscous dishes on the menu, and the lamb tagine is probably my favorite dish there. Ask to be seated in the main front room. In another post, somebody mentioned that the back room felt a bit like Siberia, and I concur.

                      Michael

                      1. Cafe Zitouna is quite good. Much more casual than Aziza, and less California-ized. I recently had a lovely dinner at Cafe Zitouna - the Chakchouka Bil Merguez - a Tajine with sauteed fresh tomatoes, bell pepper, onions in olive oil with home made merguez (lamb sausage), eggs and special tunisian spices. Delicious!