Kif pleases palates with a selection of tasty tapas and traditional homemade Moroccan entrees. Enliven a night out with friends or accentuate a surprise party for your pet tongue with a small plate such as falafel on Dekalb, a charming conglomeration of crushed chickpeas and Moroccan spices with harissa aioli ($6), or merguez, a savory selection of spicy lamb sausage lounging on a bed of marinated tomatoes ($6). For entrees, quell carnivorous cravings with steak frites, a prime skirt-steak plate paired with french fries on a bed of avocado sprinkled in red onion vinaigrette ($18), or relish the lamb shank tagine, an organic meatsperience confettied in tagine spices and green peas with a side of couscous ($23).
Meats are typically fired on a grill in customary Moroccan cuisine. But, despite an otherwise steadfast commitment to authentic, Moroccan food, Zerza owner Radouane ElJaouhari knows that, sometimes, a restaurant benefits from a little unconventional thinking. So when Zerza moved to a new location, ElJaouhari told his contractors to leave the existing clay oven in the kitchen. As a result, the distinctively Moroccan meats—ginger-marinated chicken-breast kebabs, spiced ground beef, lamb and chicken tagines—emerge juicier and with a more full-bodied flavor than their more “authentic” counterparts.
Though the cooking style may cross cultural boundaries, the ambiance at Zerza’s is positively Moroccan. Punctured-brass lanterns spray the walls with golden rays, casting gentle light on clay pots and guests nestled in chairs adorned with burgundy upholstery. On Saturday nights, belly dancers sashay to North African pop tunes or the rhythmic clatter of pots and pans.
Aromas of roasted lamb, spicy merguez, and subtly sweet shisha waft across Le Souk's three stories of space, surrounding patrons with the scents of Moroccan cuisine. In the kitchen, the chefs stuff housemade lamb sausage and sprinkle strands of saffron into their fragrant sauces. Platters of couscous and tagines with duck confit, red snapper, or lobster help to lend distinctly North African flavors to the menu.
Moorish archways link the restaurant's orange-walled rooms, which are lit by dangling lanterns and smoldering coals atop hookahs filled with fruit-flavored shisha. Guests can practice their smoke rings or smoke dodecahedrons while live dancers and occasional DJ performances entertain them throughout the night.
At Casaville Restaurant, the chefs draw culinary inspiration from kitchens across the western Mediterranean and add hints of traditional Spanish and French cuisine to Moroccan staples. Time Out New York praised the dishes for their authenticity, noting that “to find better homespun North African cooking, you’d have to travel to Paris or Casablanca—or at least the far reaches of Brooklyn or Queens." Spiced merguez and pillowy couscous help to build upon that reputation, and trays of tapas drift around murmuring groups.
The dining room's yellow stucco walls brim with a number of Moorish-inspired accents, including tiled recesses. Navigating between the tables inside or on the outdoor patio, belly dancers occasionally swirl their hips, jingling pendant-laden belts. Servers dodge past to fill glasses with wine, selected from the restaurant's extensive list to pair with meals or work with the rhyme scheme of an extremely detailed autobiography.
For chef and owner Philipos Mengistu, cooking is a family business. He spent much of his childhood in the kitchen of his parents’ restaurant in Addis Ababa, learning recipes that had been passed down for generations. Today, Mengistu pays tribute to that tradition with a menu that includes authentic Ethiopian honey wine, coffee from the plant’s country of origin, and his mother’s own fiery berbere sauce. Plenty of tongue-toasting options abound, from the stewed lamb of the yebeg wot to the zilzil tibs—beef marinated in awaze and red wine. Whether guests prefer their dishes spicy or subtle, they can scoop, share, or not share with savory injera, a sourdough flatbread used as a utensil.