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.
Cafe Zitouna: A User’s Guide
Heavenly B’Stilla Pie | Housemade Merguez | Tunisian Breakfast | Post-Mosque Crowd |
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
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.
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).
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.
Five Things to Know About Marrakech Moroccan Restaurant
Marrakech Moroccan Restaurant opened its doors more than 30 years ago, and there’s hardly been a dull moment since, thanks to its combination of savory Middle Eastern cuisine and lively entertainment. Here are a few things to know about this Bay-area favorite.
It’s one of the first Moroccan restaurants in California.
The cuisine is traditional. Spices such as saffron, cinnamon, and paprika accent dishes like braised chicken tagine and lamb with roasted eggplant.
Meals are all-inclusive. Diners enjoy five-course spreads that include salads, soup, a choice of entree, dessert, and mint tea, all served with home-baked bread that doubles as a tasty utensil. (Items are also available à la carte.)
It’s a feast for the eyes, too. The dining room is draped with colorful tapestries, and guests recline on plush pillows and low couches.
Expect tableside entertainment. Belly dancers perform nightly, and comedian and magician Peter Morrison headlines evenings in the adjoining Marrakech Magic Theater.
Take a trip to El Mansour in San Francisco and make your next meal a good one.
Don't go thirsty during dinner! This restaurant also offers a splendid drink list featuring wine, beer, and more.
Whether you have a group of five or a group of 20, El Mansour can seat both large and small groups.
Reservations are available for those who prefer to skip the waiting game.
Dress is typically casual at El Mansour, so leave the fancy duds behind for the evening.
Catering is also available if you'd like to serve El Mansour's tasty dishes at your next party.
Convenient street parking is easy to find outside El Mansour.
Travel by bike to El Mansour and store your bike at a nearby rack.
An average meal at El Mansour will set you back about $30.
From tasty main entrees to delicate desserts, Tajine Restaurant serves up many Moroccan classics.
Tajine Restaurant is serving up healthy meals packed with flavor.
Perfect for an after-work outing, Tajine Restaurant won't require you to change outfits before dining as the dress here is super casual.
At Tajine Restaurant, diners can score a guaranteed parking spot close to the restaurant.
Meals at Tajine Restaurant usually set you back about $30 per diner.
When the check comes, be prepared to pay in cash because that is what Tajine Restaurant accepts.
Bring a friend and have a real Moroccan experience at Tajine Restaurant.