Stretched amidst pillows, berber rugs, and the glow of brass lamps, diners at Little Marakesh must balance their attention between feeding their own stomachs and watching those of the performers. Belly dancers twirl past tabletops on Friday and Saturday night, feeding the warm, ethereal ambiance of the Moroccan hideaway. Surrounded by red and gold decor, the diners dig into house specialties such as the Atlas Bastille—shredded chicken with herbs, spiced eggs, and almonds stuffed in a sugar-speckled filo-dough pastry. They can order dishes à la carte or as part of a prix fixe feast, which includes salad, chicken tagine, and couscous.
According to Philadelphia magazine, native Moroccan Terry Manfa founded the restaurant out of nostalgia for his country. Commissioning a team of chefs to craft authentic shish kebabs, grape leaves, and hummus was only one part of relieving his homesickness—he eventually added a hookah menu and a bazaar, where patrons can browse handmade pottery, bags, and other goods from Moroccan artisans. The captivating belly-dance shows and communal atmosphere lend themselves to dinner gatherings, whether groups are celebrating a birthday or showing coworkers how to dress on casual-midriff Fridays.