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Oct 8, 2009 10:46 PM

Moroccan San Francisco

There used to be a fine place way out in the avenues. Any hits? Any other well liked places closer in?

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  1. You are thinking of Aziza, and yes it is still there. I went back in April and it was phenomenal start to finish.

    Some reports indicate a slight drop-off since hiring a new chef de cuisine.

    Regardless, there's still really nothing like it in SF

    1. Cafe Zitouna is Tunian in the Polk Gulch area. Pretty good and inexpensive. If you're as ancient as I am, perhaps you were thinking of the long-gone Mamounia.

      Cafe Zitouna
      1201 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ericruo

        It was Mamounia, sadly gone I see. It sounds like Aziza for me.

      2. Depending on how long ago you mean by "used to," you could be thinking of El Mansour.

        5800 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121

        El Mansour
        3119 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121

        1303 Polk St, San Francisco, CA

        7 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Tajine closed a month ago. The place record should be updated to reflect that.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            How is El Mansour these days? This was our first experience with the cuisine at home after returning from travels through Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier, Marrakesh, and Essaouira some three plus decades ago. We were a group of young naive couples entering into the restaurant business at the time and really enjoyed the experience (i.e. belly dancer, hot water poured onto mint tea leaves from @ six feet above the table into tiny cups flawlessly, the aroma permeating the surrounding area) sitting cross-legged on the floor (wouldn't dare attempt that now).

            1. re: PolarBear

              I ate at El Mansour in May and thought it was pretty good but not as wonderful as it used to be (hadn't tried it in over 10 years, maybe 20). It has a new location and I imagine new ownership. My friend thought the service was weak but loved the decorations and liked the food.

              The bastilla wasn't bad but was not as good as I remember it being on my visits many years ago. Since I haven't had a bastilla that really excited me in the past decade (Aziza is no exception) maybe my tastes have just changed.

              I was in Morocco for a few days last month and had bastilla twice-- neither one pleased me as much as the one at El Mansour. One of them was at a highly regarded restaurant in Fez and presumably was authentic, but for my taste it was too oily and cloyingly sweet, plus the chicken was a bit dry.

              My very first visit to the old El Mansour was in the early stages of a relationship. We sat very close to each other on cushions and had to turn our heads to the side to look at each other. The closeness of her eyes when we talked, the traditional touches (scented hand washing water poured from over your table into a silver bowl, mint tea dramatically poured from high above into your glass), and the excitement of discovering a new cuisine helped make it one of the most romantic dinners I have ever had. Maybe El Mansour hasn't changed so much. They still have cushions for seating and do the hand washing and the tea pouring, and if it didn't seem quite as elegant and gracious as I recall from the past that may just reflect my changed circumstances. It's still a good place for a romantic dinner.

              1. re: charliemyboy

                Thanks for a really beautiful post, charlie :-).

                1. re: charliemyboy

                  Where did you eat in Fez that was highly regarded that you did not like the b'stilla?
                  I ate at La Maison Bleu the spring before last. Oh my, what a delightful dinner.

                  As for El Mansour, I believe that they did *not* change ownership when they ernovated.

                  I always regard El Mansour as solid but not stellar. It is certainly my favorite in SF right now for traditional moroccan (and Aziza for a more modern take). I feel they've been very consistent over the years. Predictably and reliably, always a good delicious time.

                  1. re: charliemyboy

                    Great reflections, cmb, you also described my take on bastilla perfectly, LadyPB has always been a fan, but I've found it too much on the sweet side and heavy on the nutmeg (? cinnamon, both?) the few times I've tried it.

              2. Okay, who remembers Dar Tunis in North Beach?
                That place was fantastic, but sadly it closed in the mid 90s.

                Also mourning Des Alpes (basque) for that matter.