Like a pair of slightly faded gray sweatpants, the Moroccan food at Mourad is perfectly nice, and will always get the job done. While the fancy SoMa restaurant from the Aziza team is a great option for when you want to eat like someone who has their own security detail, the food is just missing a bit of personality.
The menu is split into shareable small starters and entrées, plus a few proteins, like branzino that’s rolled up and seared until crispy, or a $165 slow-cooked short rib (which is supposed to feed two to five people). Most dishes, like the flaky basteeya filled with slightly sweet duck or milk bread with three types of butter, are well-prepared and taste good, but they’re not outright memorable—and lack the wow factor we look for in a high-end dinner. And the tables in the slightly-too-bright dining room that reminds us of a Las Vegas lobby are usually filled with corporate teams gathering for dinner or folks who just spent a day networking with backpack-wearing bros at Moscone Center.
Mourad isn’t necessarily a bad option for power dinners with important clients, and, really, any time someone else is paying. When we’re in the mood for really great Moroccan food, we’d rather go to Aziza in the Richmond.
The six pieces of warm, golden-brown milk bread come with three different butters: lemon, honey, and banana. This starter is a great way to kick the meal off, if you don’t mind shelling out $16 for relatively small portions of bread.
One of the most iconic dishes on both Mourad and Aziza’s menus. This version is sweeter overall, both in the duck filling and thanks to the apricots on top. The flaky dish should definitely be shared with the table—a couple of bites is plenty.
The branzino is rolled and then seared until a super crispy outer layer of skin forms. Is it good? Yes. Is it the best fish we’ve ever had? Probably not.