Belly dancers wend sinuously through Imperial Fez’s dimly lit main dining room. On Wednesday, the belly dancers give over the floor to the searing showmanship of fire dancers. Diners gaze at the spectacle through burbles of sweetly scented smoke from table-top hookahs on the patio and in the lounge, which they can order in a flavor of their choice to compliment meals.
While nightly entertainment draws diners’ attentions, the main attraction at Imperial Fez is chef Rafih Benjelloun’s native Moroccan cuisine, which guests devour by the fingerful. Benjelloun seals the flavors of cumin and cilantro into baked legs of lamb and infuses mountains of couscous with the flavors of apricot, raisin, and sweet onions. Embroidered cushions for seating complete the authenticity of guests’ Moroccan dining experience, preventing them from having to build an indoor campfire to justify sitting on the floor.
When Tarik and Said moved from their native Morocco to Atlanta, homesickness was hard to cure. So to bring back a taste of home, Tarik learned how to cook the traditional recipes that best reminded him of his homeland. The recipes worked so well to curb homesickness that the duo decided to open Morocco Grill. There, the pair prepares dishes such as whole rotisserie chickens, lamb, and couscous. And Said can bring to bear his extensive experience, which has included serving feasts for the same number of people that Napoleon made bow to him at breakfast every morning: 1,200. The kitchen team spices their dishes with aromatic saffron, cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric to create flavorful dishes that best evoke a Moroccan marketplace. The scenery inside the restaurant further accentuates this aura, with mustard-colored walls surrounding colorful patterned carpets and the occasional belly dancer.