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Jun 1, 2009 09:16 PM

Chowfind: Marrakech (Moroccan) 1326 Danforth

The place looks like a working man's cafe. It may be a bit off-putting but don't be. Wonderful meals can come out of places like this and the owner is friendly.

No catering to tourists here - as far as I know authentic Moroccan. The chef-owner- bottlewasher has a nice touch. And incredibly cheap.
I had a harira soup, small chopped tomato salad, and chicken couscous, all for $14 total including taxes, and everything was very good.

I want to mention the chicken couscous in particular. An enormous mound of couscous, a generous topping of chick peas, raisins and cooked onion (beautiful, a bit sweet, chicken leg with back.
Nicely but gently spiced. I searched out every morsel on the plate. Share it the first time; if you want to move on to another dish.

A short menu, and not everything on the menu is available. That's good- Moroccan cooking doesn't do well a s left overs.

The chef-owner-bottlewasher tells me that he cooks in the style of Fez.

Try beating this meal in interest, quality and price!

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  1. we drove by it this week. wasn't sure if people already talked about it a while back.
    sounds like its worth a try

    1. A friend and I ate there last night. Harira (a comforting soup of chickpeas and noodles) was good, albeit a bit heavy on the black pepper. Chicken couscous was lovely, and pretty much as Vinnie describes above. Very generous portion.

      They didn't have any bastilla last night, so ordered beef tagine instead. Dark and very sweet sauce, and topped with two hard-boiled eggs. The beef itself was dry and stringy, which ruined what could've been a delectable dish.

      Finished off with sweet mint tea.

      Two harira soups, one chicken couscous and one beef tagine (both of which were accompanied by a chopped tomato salad that resembled pico de gallo) and two mint teas came out to $28. Maybe the teas were complimentary, because we didn't ask for it. The owner/server is a really, really nice man.

      Marrakech is a good Mom & Pop antidote to the appalling Sultan's Tent/Cafe Maroc.

      8 Replies
      1. re: TheGloaming

        Any chance this place is licensed? We recently had dinner at Walima Cafe, also Moroccan and just down the street from this place (1450 Danforth). The food was amazing, and the only thing that would have made it better was a glass of red wine.

        Either way, I'll have to check this place out since it's in my neighbourhood.

        1. re: TOFoodFan

          We had dinner at Walima a few weeks ago and were very disappointed.
          dh had the lamb shanks which he said were delicious. It was all downhill from there though. My son had the chicken kebabs, they would have been tasty but they were over-cooked and very dry. My daughter had chicken bisteeya. It was full of flavour but again, really, really dry. I almost wanted some yogurt or something to pour over it just to give it some moisture. I had the veg couscous. It was... ok. that's all. just meh. and ok.
          For dessert we ordered an almond cookie - again with the dry, only this time dry and crumbly. And a piece of baklava. meh.
          Overall it was just such a let down that we won't be returning. There are so many better places to go.

          1. re: summ3r

            I just had dinner at Walima (1450 Danforth). It was so disappointing. Slow service, and 3 of the 6 mains ordered at our table were pretty much inedible. I had the bastilla, which I actually liked, but no one else of the party of 6 were happy. The beef tagine was tasteless and basically a hunk of gristle in a bowl of watery, tasteless broth. There was no way to eat the meat. My husband sent his back after attempting to get a piece of meat off the bone to no avail (other beef tagine eater was too polite/shy! and nibbled a bit of hers and left the rest untouched) and then was charged for it when we got the bill. Lamb tagine also tough and tasteless. The chicken tagine was ok and another lamb dish was rated as 'ok'. But the ensuing disagreement over my husband's beef still being on the bill was appalling. The waiter (only one working/visible) was rude, mean and vile. It was embarrassing and we will NEVER go back there. He threw my mother's debit card in anger and then was rude to us. If anyone can recommend a good Moroccan restaurant, please post.

            1. re: Shoops

              Wow, that does sound appalling!

              1. re: Shoops

                That sounds terrible! Perhaps service has improved since then? I went there tonight, with the intention of going to Marrakech but my friend said she's been eyeing Walima for awhile so we went there instead (birthday girl :)). It was my first time trying Moroccan food so I don't have anything to compare it to but the lamb shank tangine was very tender, meaty and sweet with figs and apricots, the seafood couscous had a nice texture with flavourful whitefish (although very skimpy on the calamari, I think there were only a few pieces), and we had the chicken bastilla which was a little too sweet for my taste, but as it was my first time trying bastilla I can't give a comparative opinion. The appetizer (a trio of dips with toasted pita) was okay - nothing to get excited about but a nice start to the meal. It was an okay meal, not amazing but not as terrible as some have experienced.
                Anyways, the waiter and waitress were both very nice and attentive, the waiter was cheerful with customers as he served mint tea. The service was quite good, it's been a whole year so maybe the mean waiter has since left.

                Anyways, when I get a chance I'd like to try Marrakech to compare!

                Walima Cafe
                1450 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J, CA

            2. re: TOFoodFan

              Please describe your dinners. I have had mixed experiences there.

              1. re: TOFoodFan

                I doubt you will find alcoholic drinks in most Morrocan restaurants. That's like expecting to order bacon or shellfish in a Jewish restaurant.

                1. re: foodyDudey

                  Depends on the background of the owners. At one time, most of the few Moroccan restaurants in Toronto were owned by Jews and a couple were even kosher.

                  The Sultan's Tent serves alcohol, though I'm not inclined to eat there.

            3. This week I had the ground beef kebob at Marrakech. Very good , lots to eat, came with a not bad resurrected baguette and a chopped tomato side salad. $6 including tax. Marrakech express food. Hide in embarrassment, Mc.D!
              With a bowl of , its a very good and interesting lunch for $10 .

              I was told by teh owner that he is a graduate in English Literature from a Moroccan university.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                Oh, too bad he didn't minor in geography...why did he name the place 'Marrakech', if it's Fez style cooking? Just kidding...I think that regional food differences aren't too dramatic in Morocco, since it's a fairly small country. I can't wait to try Marrakech.

                1. re: Yongeman

                  Marrakesh used to be the name of Morocco back in the day.

                  It's a bit more complicated than that - but that's good enough for here.

                  1. re: radiopolitic

                    good point, radiopolitic. Thanks for the clarification. Your meal sounded fantastic.

                2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                  I asked for a "Moroccan burger" I liked even better than the ground beef kebob. The flavours were brighter. On a baguette with sliced tomato and onion which I used as toppings. $5 all in. Makes the gourmet burger places seem silly.
                  But ask Abdul not to flatten teh patty when he cooks it.

                3. Did you happen to notice if it's a veg-friendly place in terms of dishes? (I'm also curious about whether it's liquor licensed..)

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Ediblethoughts

                    There is a vegetarian couscous, $10 including tax. Islam prohibits alcohol, so no.

                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                      Thanks for the info. Will add to the list of To Do in the East.

                  2. I ate here last night and loved it. It was without a doubt the most authentic Moroccan food I've had outside of Morroco. I agree, the owner Abdul is a friendly, humble guy who is proud of his food.
                    I recommend the Moroccan coffee. Try the 'kahwa mehersa,' or 'nes nes,' where the espresso, milk and foam is seperated into distinct layers. Sadly, we were the only ones in the restaurant during the dinner hour last night. Let's keep this place in business!