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Mural at Marrakech Cafe

Mural next to the patio at Marrakech

To say that Minneapolis have been sun-starved this week, much less the entire winter would be an understatement. So after work with the weather still warm, it was the perfect evening to search for new food adventure.

Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis has really come alive with several new ethnic restaurants over the past few months. The one that caught my attention looking to bask in the rays of the setting sun was the Marrakech Moroccan Café and Grill.

It’s a little café nestled back off of Central Avenue south of 19th Avenue Northeast.  According to their owner Redouane, they have been open for seven months, and with an outdoor patio he’s hoping more people will visit. At the time of their opening, Marrakech was the only restaurant in town serving solely Moroccan food. Having spent a year in Holland and eating more than my fair share of family-prepared couscous and tagine dishes, I was really looking forward to dinner on the patio.

Looking on their menu, it took me literally two seconds to decide my dinner – harira soup, lemon chicken tagine, and of course mint tea. Redouane quickly served up the mint tea and harira soup, and with the sun setting it was perfect. Harira is a very aromatic tomato and lentil soup with a slightly building heat from pepper and many other herbs. It had a great texture from the lentils that reminded me of mulligatawny. The mint tea was the perfect contrast, and really unlike any mint tea I have ever tried.

Lemon Chicken Tagine at the Marrakech Cafe

About the time I was finishing the soup, they brought out the lemon chicken tagine. It was like a family roast with two large pieces of chicken surrounded by potatoes and topped with green olives. The smell of the dish with turmeric, cumin, and paprika really transported me back to all of the dinners I had shared with Moroccan families overseas. The chicken was extraordinarily tender as I pulled the meat from the bone with my fork. It was really a perfect meal for a cool, sunny spring evening.

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