2080 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109
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Tajine

Neighborhoods: Pacific Heights
Cuisine: Moroccan, Lunch

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grubalicioussf

 San Francisco, CA
 

Tajine - is it a restaurant or disco?

The other night, my husband and I joined a couple of foodie friends for dinner at Tajine which reopened on Thursday on VanNess at Pacific. We were in the mood for something casual, inexpensive and relatively kid-friendly since we were bringing our three year old daughter with us. We had never eaten at Tajine’s previous locations but had heard good things about the food.

Let’s see. There’s friendly staff including chef/owner Mohammed Ghaled personally welcoming us at the door? Check. You can bring your own wine without a corkage fee? Check. They have decent, if not large, portions of affordable Moroccan food? Check. Kid-friendly? Check.

Those are the pluses. The decor and seating configuration, on the other hand, reflected more of a lounge vibe and was not very conducive to having a relaxed, liesurely dinner. Or maybe I’m just an old, forty-something fuddy-duddy. There were black and silver couches, orange ottomans, disco balls, spotlights and a glowing, neon-lit bar. My husband and I sat on the sofa and towered over a very low standing table to eat while our friends sat opposite us on round ottomans that were better suited to the height of the table, but were seemingly not very comfortable. My friend said it reminded her of the way people crouch and eat at street vendors in Asia.

Tables around us were literally folded up and rolled away just before 10:00 p.m. to make way for the nightclub that Tajine transforms into on Friday and Saturday nights. It was a little off-putting to see and hear the staff putting away furniture as we tried to finish our meal. I imagine it would have been better if we sat on the floor on pillows, because we all would have been at the same eye level with each other and it would have felt a tad more homey.

That night, it appeared that more emphasis was placed on the Heights nightclub aspect than on the restaurant itself. It’s unfortunate because most of the food was delicious. We all agreed that highlights included Merguez sausages, lamb tajine, and chicken with olives and preserved lemon. Our friends also thoroughly enjoyed the chicken bastilla which was enormous!

The two dishes that fell short were my lamb couscous which had generous portions of couscous and vegetables but no so much lamb and was pretty bland overall; and the lamb kababs which also came with couscous and veggies. The two skewers looked good but were overcooked and dry.

I might go back with a group since it’s inexpensive, you can bring your own wine and it’s kid-friendly, but not on a Friday or Saturday night.

chicken tajine with olives and preserved lemon

Really tender pieces of chicken bursting with flavor from the briney olives and tangy preserved lemon. You have to soak up the sauce with the bread they pass out, delish!

lamb tajine

Succulent pieces of lamb, so moist and tender, falling off the bone. Prunes added sweetness and brightened the dish. Another one that needs lots of bread to sop up the sauce.

Merguez sausage appetizer

This dish comes with five thin, flavorful, slightly spicy sausages atop cucumber slices. It’s the perfect size to share between two people. It whet our appetite for the entrees.

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Moroccan Good for groups Kid Friendly
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Tajine is located near the cities of Hayes Valley, Mission District, , Chinatown, and Haight Ashbury.
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