Moroccan Restaurants in Clayton

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Though dining inside of a tent usually means charred hot dogs and ghost stories, El Morocco replaces these traditions with spectacle: entrees of entire cornish hens, ornate floor pillows, and belly dancers. A canvas ceiling shelters these displays and captures the aromas of meat and Moroccan spices as they drift from the kitchen. These scents emanate from entrees of couscous, lamb garlanded with almonds and honey, and dishes of braised hare?all part of an authentic Moroccan menu dreamed up by owner Fadil Shahin.

Fadil's love of music drives his venue's hypnotizing performances. Belly dancers sway and shimmy on Tuesday?Sunday evenings, brandishing swords and scarves to augment their choreography. Undulating instructors can even enroll students in a belly-dance showcase on the first and second Sunday night of each month. The "dancers' nights" provide both pros and up-and-comers with valuable stage time, allowing them to practice their eclectic skills for audiences. Fadil might regale guests with tunes on the lute-like oud, or percussion rhythms on the darbuka. In addition to entrancing regular diners, the entertainment adds glamour and festivity to group events, including weddings and crying parties.

2203 Morello Ave
Pleasant Hill,
CA
US

Growing up in a small town in Ethiopia, Eskender Aseged lived in the only household in the neighborhood with a radio. The pop songs and soccer matches that fizzled through those speakers brought families together to laugh and listen. After moving to San Francisco, where every car on the road blares its radio, Aseged turned toward cooking in order to bring that sense of community and wonderment to his new neighborhood.

Radio Africa & Kitchen grew from a home-based, popup eatery into a full-blown restaurant, where Aseged is free to experiment with Ethiopian and Mediterranean flavors. He makes use of the freshest ingredients he can get his hands on, coming up with a brand-new menu and costumed mascot on a weekly basis. His bold cooking and rousing personal story have captured the attention of publications such as the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine and the New York Times.

4800 3rd Street
San Francisco,
CA
US

The flavor artisans at Aicha forge a menu of classic Moroccan fare, an eclectic cuisine that boasts the cultural and culinary influences of Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Meals begin with a pot of tea that whistles a perfectly tuned F-sharp before diners move on to such appetizers as the b'stilla—which stuffs its crispy phyllo dough with a sweet and peppery chicken filling—and bowls of fragrant harira soup. Shanks of savory braised lamb rest alongside onions and prunes to create the lamb tagine, and the vegetarian couscous eschews meats entirely in favor of a kaleidoscopic array of garbanzo beans, squash, and zucchini.

1303 Polk Street
San Francisco,
CA
US

Cafe Zitouna: A User’s Guide

Heavenly B’Stilla Pie | Housemade Merguez | Tunisian Breakfast | Post-Mosque Crowd |

Sample Menu

  • Soup: harira lentil
  • Sandwich: Super Falafel
  • For the table: chicken b’stilla pie, a melange of chicken, egg, and herbs in cinnamon-sugar-dusted dough
  • Dessert: harissa cake
  • To drink: mint tea

Trophy Case

  • Named Best Halal Restaurant in San Francisco, 2012, SF Weekly
  • Made SFoodie’s 50 Favorite Dishes in 2012 for the kufta tagine, a “meatball stew as vivid and soothing as the sunlight that floods the cafe most days”

While You’re Waiting: Play “find the French influence” on the menu, a product of France’s historical presence in the area—it pops up especially in baguette sandwiches and crepes.

Inside Tip: They may not seem particularly North African, but go ahead and order fries with your sandwich. They’re hot and crisp, and, best of all, you can splash them with hot sauce at the table.

Vocab Lesson
Harira: a traditional lentil soup of the Maghreb region of North Africa, typically served after sundown during Ramadan to break the day’s fast.
Merguez: a spicy sausage originating in North Africa. The meat—usually lamb or beef—is seasoned with chilies or harissa to impart it with a bright red hue.
Tagine: a covered clay pot that lends its name to a slow-cooked Moroccan stew, often including meat and vegetables along with dates, dried fruits, nuts, and olives.

While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Stop and be mesmerized by the exotic beta fish at Ocean Aquarium (120 Cedar Street).
After: Grab a beer from a 375-strong selection at Amsterdam Café (937 Geary Street).

1201 Sutter St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Five Things to Know About Aziza

Helmed by Moroccan-born chef Mourad Lahlou, Aziza serves up hyperlocal, innovative Moroccan fusion cuisine from its romantic dining room in Outer Richmond. Read on for more about this Michelin-starred spot.

  • The food is Moroccan-Californian fusion, with a heavy helping of originality. Aside from a few Moroccan mainstays like the duck confit basteeya—a mix of duck, almonds, and raisins in phyllo dough—you may not recognize the dishes you order by sight. Some are deconstructed into their individual parts, and some are made in nontraditional ways, but each one arrives looking like a work of art.

  • It all starts at the local farmers’ market. Chef Mourad Lahlou makes his way to the market three times a week to pick his edible muses. It’s a habit he picked up from spending time with his grandfather in Morocco as a kid.

  • Chef Lahlou has only ever cooked in his own kitchen. For an award-winning chef who is constantly innovating his menu, he’s also entirely self-taught. His mother and grandfather paved the path for him in Morocco, but California and its rich produce options have inspired the rest of the way.

  • How winning is the food? Let us count the ways. Chef Lahlou beat Iron Chef Cat Cora on the Food Network show that gave her that title. But it’s hard to mess with a Michelin star, one that diners agree the restaurant has certainly earned.

  • The cocktails are just as serious as the plates. Many of the herbs, fruits, and vegetables used in the craft cocktails also come straight from the farmers’ market. Depending on what’s in season, you might sip a sugar snap pea cocktail made with apple brandy or enjoy a bourbon- and absinthe-based concoction mixed up with fresh grapefruit juice.

5800 Geary Blvd
San Francisco,
CA
US

Four Things to Know About El Mansour Moroccan Restaurant

Flavorful cuisine and unique entertainment are the specialties at El Mansour. Its authentic Moroccan dishes and vibrant atmosphere have made the eatery a local favorite for more than three decades, and the party shows no signs of winding down. Here are a few facts about this Outer Richmond destination.

  • It doesn’t feel like California. El Mansour is known for its immersive decor, which features billowing fabric overhead, plump pillows on the floor, and rich red and green hues on the walls.
  • You’re encouraged to eat with your hands. True to tradition, diners use their hands and the occasional piece of bread as utensils. Waiters provide warm water and scented towels for washing up, and they can even bring forks upon request.
  • The chefs don’t want you to go home hungry. All entrees—such as rabbit kabobs or lamb with almonds—are served with sides of soup and salad, plus dessert and tea.
  • There are belly dancers. They might even ask you to join them on the floor.

3119 Clement St
San Francisco,
CA
US