Casablanca Moroccan Restaurant may appear to be a small and quaint place based on its exterior, but inside, the decor, atmosphere and friendliness of the staff transports customers to the country and its unique culture.
Located at 3516 Fair Oaks Blvd., Casablanca Moroccan Restaurant serves authentic Moroccan food with a dining experience distinct from any other Middle Eastern restaurant in the area.
This June will mark 21 years the family owned and operated restaurant has been serving Sacramento.
Owner Mourhit Drissi was born in Rabat, Morocco and has brought the culture and decor of his country to the restaurant.
“The decor is sometimes called Moorish style because we don’t believe in idols or statues and (it’s) for the respect of our women,” Drissi said. “So you will often find houses like this, maybe [with] small windows as a protection for Moroccan ladies.”
Professor of Sociology Ayad Al-Qazzaz said having no idols or statues in the Islamic faith is meant to protect not just women, but also men’s privacy.
“When you enter [Casablanca,] you don’t feel like you’re in the middle of the city,” Al-Qazzaz said. “There is an intimate atmosphere.”
Every semester Al-Qazzaz requires his students to choose from a list of restaurants to experience Middle Eastern culture. Casablanca is one of the options on the list and Al-Qazzaz said about five to seven students end up choosing it.
Vibrant red and gold colors are the intimate restaurant’s main color theme. Instead of the typical dining table, benches are found along the walls with decorative pillows as well as hassocks and low-brass tables to give customers the experience of real Moroccan culture.
Drissi said the weekends are the busiest days for the restaurant. On Friday and Saturday nights, bellydancers perform to entertain guests.
Customer Debbie Tyler said she has been dining at the restaurant for almost nine years.
“Casablanca is like going to Morocco. You feel like they invite you into their home and you are a very special guest,” Tyler said.
The recipes at Casablanca are 100 percent authentic Moroccan dishes. They have been passed down from earlier generations, but Drissi added his own touch to them.
He said the most popular dish is the “Chicken Kabob” with honey sauce, sour cream and almonds. This dish is not found on the menu, but is always offered as a special.
Other entrees include “Couscous,” Morocco’s national dish. Drissi said it is made from durum wheat and is served with vegetables.
Casablanca offer “Tajines,” which are old fashioned Moroccan stews that include a choice of vegetables and a meat such as lamb, chicken or beef.
For customers willing to spend a little more to taste a bit of everything Casablanca has to offer, “The Sultan’s Feast” is the recommended choice. The feast starts with three appetizers, which include the “Harira Classique Lentil Soup,” “Salad Taht El Hammam” and “B’stella Royal,” a fillo dough with eggs and almonds.
The guest then choose an entree and the dinner concludes with Moroccan pastries and its “Fresh Mint Tea.”
According to Drissi, eating pork goes against the beliefs of the Islamic faith, therefore he does not have any pork food items on the menu.
Casablanca has “Fresh Mint Tea” and “Orange Blossom Water,” which are popular in Morocco. The tea is usually ordered as a hot beverage, but also comes iced.
Drissi said he does not serve alcohol at his restaurant because the non-consumption of alcohol is another belief in the Islam religion.
The restaurant is open for lunch for special parties and opens at 5:30 p.m. for dinner. Because of the small space and busy night, reservations are highly recommended.