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Apr 11, 2010 12:51 PM

True Moroccan restaurant.

Does anyone know of a truly Moroccan restaurant in the Bay Area with killer taste as it is usually found in Moroccan homes? Do you think there is a need of an authentic Moroccan restaurant in Berkeley/East Bay in particular and the Bay Area in general?

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  1. There used to be a wonderful resto called "Maimounia" in SF many years back. As someone who has spent a lot of time in Morocco, I considered it as good as it gets when a resto is working without the amazing raw materials available in Morocco itself.

    IMHO, nothing exists in the Bay Area at this time. Nor in NYC.

    I'd be curious to hear from others how you speculate on the need for another resto in the Bay Area.

    13 Replies
    1. re: escargot3

      I agree with you Escargot, Mamounia used to be the best Moroccan restaurant in the Bay Area. I had great experiences there. Nothing has ever taken its place but I heard that Kasbah in San Rafael was doing well. The owner Mamounia reopened an American restaurant in Casablanca, Morocco and called it San Francisco.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I forgot to add a comment:
          wow! a fab reason to head to Atlanta. Thanks for doing the research, Robert.

        2. re: Alexeio

          I believe that Kasbah is now Aziza in SF, which I consider to be one of the top restaurants in the city, but definitely not traditional Moroccan.

          1. re: vulber

            I would perhaps describe Aziza as "Moroccan inspired" cuisine.

            I think it's safe to say that you will not encounter anything even resembling "chicken liver, green strawberry, tokyo turnips, balsamic, rye" in either a Moroccan home or resto (unless it's also an equally internationally inflected cuisine).

            1. re: escargot3

              yes, but you'll still find things like bastillas, lamb shanks, etc.

              1. re: vulber

                I've never been to Morocco to compare, but I think Aziza's bastilla was the best I've had.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I agree -- or at least the best restaurant version, as I've had some homemade as good or better.

        3. re: escargot3

          Do you remember Dar Tunis in North Beach?
          That was my favorite SF Moroccan.

          And in NYC, there was Lotfi's Couscous in the West Village.

          I love Aziza, but it does not fit the request, too non-traditional.

          These days, to fulfill the craving it's El Mansour, which is okay not great, but the best game in town. Plus it's a fun place.

          As an aside, I've learned to cook my own b'stilla.
          (go to epicurious and search "individual b'stilla or follow this link)
          The ras el-hanout in that recipe is particularly good, and the dish overall feels genuine.
          I know the individual bit is odd, but it makes them great for freezing.

          El Mansour
          3119 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121

          1. re: pauliface

            Thanks for the recipe. I made my first b'stilla probably 30 years ago. The recipe was less spicy than the one you posted, but delicious anyway, better than most of the ones I've had in Moroccan restaurants since then (I'd never had b'stilla before I made it, but I was into playing with filo at the time). I've made it a few more times over the years, including doing a vegetarian version with tofu, which worked surprisingly well.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              It's a long recipe but it's the star of the meal, and because they are individually portions, and it freezes well, you get to have it again later!
              And, if you make a batch of the ras el hannout it will last a long time.
              I would definitely use theirs as opposed to any pre-made one you'll find. I like this one better than ras el-hannout I've bought in fez or marrakesh.

              It's also a fun recipe. Cooking the chicken in the saffron is a beautiful thing.

            2. re: pauliface

              Sadly I had to move away from the Bay Area some time ago. I was just looking Dar Tunis up, I LOVED THAT PLACE! What happened to Tony the owner? I ate there every week!

            3. re: escargot3

              Also, are you hinting that you might want to open a good traditional moroccan restaurant in the Bay Area?

              YES PLEASE!!!
              I promise I will go often. It's one of my top 4 favorite cuisines (with japanese, italian, and french) and notoriously hard to find.

            4. Many years ago I really liked both Mamounia and El Mansour and thought they were about equally good. El Mansour went away and later re-opened in a new location. I wasn't as impressed on my one visit to the new El Mansour but I'm not sure the food is all that different.


              El Mansour
              3119 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121

              1. Aicha's another option. The kefta tagine was memorably good.

                1303 Polk St, San Francisco, CA

                1. any update on authentic Moroccan cuisine, particularly within San Francisco proper? craving some stuff i had in Paris...need some bastilla, poulet au citron tagine, and mint tea to cap it off - and of course loads of harissa!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: kyee87

                    My go-to place for home-style Moroccan is Cafe Zitouna. Not pretentious and very comforting in both the food and quality.

                    Cafe Zitouna
                    1201 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                    1. re: CarrieWas218

                      I try always to check hygiene reports before eating out; when I couldn't find one for Zitouna, I emailed asking why and was told it had recently changed hands.

                      I absolutely love briq a l'oeuf and loved the fact that this place made its own dough rather than using filo-phyllo, which is slightly different. Has anyone been there recently and tried this dish? The disappointment I experienced was that my request for authentic fell on deaf ears and the filling was way blander than it should have been.

                      I'm certainly not a big drinker, but the (understandable, if disconcerting) no-alcohol policy makes it a less-than-festive spot to dine, so, despite my enthusiasm I haven't gotten back to it and now I'm wondering if the lady who made the briq is still there or has been replaced by another expert dough-maker..

                      1. re: Fine

                        I had an order of breek (the spelling on their menu) last week, and it was exceptional. I thought it was phyllo, but not sure. I've never had it before. I also didn't notice any significant changes.

                  2. I have heard good reports about Morocco's in downtown San Jose:

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: emi50

                      I like Morocco's in San Jose - but my only relative comparison would be Menara Moroccan in San Jose as well. Morocco's is tons of times better!

                      Lentil Salad was yummy and beef tagine was so tender.

                      They have live music and their version of Sangria is delicious. I think our party drank 1 pitcher per person...there were 8 of us.

                      Menara Moroccan Restaurant
                      41 East Gish Rd., San Jose, CA 95112