Nestled in what was once the famous turn-of-the-20th-century gentlemen’s club known as Hiawatha Gardens, Tajine Alami has replaced the fancy footwork of silver-screen legends such as Rudolph Valentino with the fluid undulations of belly dancers. Scarlet tapestries and golden curtains have transformed the historic space into a Moroccan haven where chefs and hosts Mohammed and Laila Alami welcome diners to slip off their shoes and sink their feet into thickly woven carpets.
As guests lounge on cushions, they savor the medleys of saffron, cumin, coriander, and ginger that season chicken and lamb, both slow-cooked in clay pots. The tender meats join couscous, the national dish of Morocco, during six-course feasts, which patrons are encouraged to eat with their hands instead of with a pitchfork and shovel. Servers arrive with basins of warm water to wash fingers before and after the meal, as well as orange- and rose-blossom water just before guests sip steaming cups of mint tea and munch the honeyed layers of baklava. On weekend nights, the restaurant’s belly dancers not only shimmy but also cup flames in their hands and balance curved sabers on their heads.