23 Comment

  • You get mounds of middle-of-the-road middle eastern food. That being said, it is a fun place for a large group because it is family-style with a show (belly dancing). Beware of the drinks though – they can really rack up your bill.

  • Special occasions b/c the schtick gets old in a hurry. The food isn’t very good. I don’t think I’ve ever been the one to pick up a bill here (that I can remember; I haven’t been there in years) but I recall it definitely being overpriced for kitsch and mediocre (at best) food.

  • Best collection of drunk-celebrity-with-owners photos in town. Stick with carafes of the rotgut house red and your drink tab won’t get *too* out of control. Food is, as dc mom said, merely middle-of-the-road.

  • and they only take cash which always seemed shady to me. Great for a fun girls night out though or other large group.

  • I, too, thought the food was ok. And, yes, they only take cash, but there is actually an ATM in the back of the restaurant by the restrooms. If I recall correctly, it was a kind of pricey.

  • I’m going with special occasion. The multi-course meal for 2 w/ 2 bottles of wine (boy we partied) came to ~ $150 – can’t remember if that was before or after tip. The food was interesting and plentiful, and the setting surely made you feel as if you were transported to Morocco.
    Oh – they didn’t accept credit cards, but they had a conveniently placed ATM towards the back. This was about 3 years ago, mind you.

  • My old boss said they used to have rockin’ New Year’s Eve pajama parties. Ah the 70s. The interior is pretty different from any other restaurant you’d go to. Many many courses of food, excellent waitstaff garb, belly dancing. They used to give one free entree if you brought back their special card with 25 matchbooks from other restaurants. Definitely worth going to once or twice for a special fun night out.

  • judging from the comments on yelp this place should be avoided at all costs…

  • You know those Japanese steakhouses, where they cook the food in front of you and the menu is exactly the same in every one, all across the country? This is like that, but Moroccan. You can get the exact same food in every other sit-on-pillows-watch-bellydancers Moroccan restaurant. Only this place is a little sub-par.

    AND, the bellydancing thing is AWFUL. When we went, the dancer was some scrawny chick who had apparently taken three classes at the Y. They didn’t dim the lights, they turned them OFF. And they didn’t turn up the music, they cranked it so high that conversation was literally impossible. So you’re sitting in a pitch-black space with ear-splitting music and a spotlight on an untalented dancer. It was pretty much torture. And it didn’t last one song, like I’m used to. No, it went on for a solid 20-30 minutes. I will never return to that place.

  • Personally, I really REALLY have enjoyed the times I’ve gone here. Go with a big group and stick to the house red wine and relax.

    Some of the food was better than other parts, but all in all – I thought most of it was amazing and huge portions to share.

    The bellydancing can greatly vary – but I’ve seen some really amazing dancing when it is good.

    The back area is much nicer ambiance and decor, but I think they only open it up for later crowds.

    The owner and one of the waiters have been so awesome to me over my multiple trips – it amazes me that the owner always remembers me and gives me a hug.

    I think people just want to hate — esp on yelp — but I would highly recommend this for a big group. The routine can get old after multiple trips, but great for every once in a while.

  • It’s expensive and noisy. I hate reclining on low cushions and trying to eat out of a communal pot. Some of the courses are good, some are middling. Service is forgettable. I get there about once a year. I love it.

    Seriously, this is a District institution. I’ve never seen a bad belly dancer there, and I’ve seen what were, to my untrained eye, some really good ones. Probably if you don’t like belly dancing then you shouldn’t go. Did I mention there’s live belly dancing? It’s like that Star Trek episode with the green lady.

  • I’ve been going to Marrakesh for nearly 20 years. It’s definitely a “once in a while” place, though not necessarily only special occasions. But, it’s a lot of food and always the same thing. I also think the food quality is as good as it was.

    Marrakesh is great for a group, especially out-of-towners. PJ’s old boss is right about the pajama parties, but they were a lot more recent than the 70s. Without naming names, I can say that I was once selected as a judge for the pajama contest along with a former director of the FBI.

    I don’t think there is anything shady about the restaurant, though Bashir is a unique individual.

  • I went in 2005. $60 per person, cash only. Definitely not worth it.

  • I would kill for a good Moroccan restaurant without the schtick. Moroccan food–tagines, couscous, pigeon pastilla, snails, sheep’s head…is awesome.

  • Vonstallin

    I love this place…been 3 times thus far. I need to get a group together for this again.

  • GroovyRooster, why do you term criticism “hate”? Several people have offered well-stated reasons why they don’t like the place, and detailed bad experiences. This doesn’t make them knee-jerk haters.

  • I’m a professional event planner. We were married there in the back party room, had an ass-kicking reception that lasted until 3am, and people are still talking about how amazing our wedding was 5 years later.

    Jacky is a friendly, accommodating and idiosyncratic owner who we enjoyed working with.

    Always a fabulous, unique experience for large groups, or friends from out of town.

    While the belly dancing can be touch-and-go, the food is always great, albeit static. The lemon and olive chicken melts in your mouth, and they’re always gracious about providing vegetarian.

    Obviously I’m biased, but with Marrakesh “you go for what you go for.” The history and atmosphere have always been enjoyable, in my experience. Drink some red wine and check it out every year or so. 😉

  • isn’t there another one in Dupont on P street?

  • saf

    Kalia – not owned by the same people. That one’s called Marrakesh Palace, and has a regular menu, rather than a fixed price menu.

  • I will never, ever go back to this place. I went first with a large group, then on a special occasion birthday a year or two later. While it’s certainly interesting (food is notable for quantity and variety, though middle of the road for quality – the belly dancer was neat and the 70s era star photos were funny), we were ripped off so obviously both times that it still makes my blood boil. On the first trip, they tried to charge us full price for a dozen people who came only for drinks but didn’t stay for dinner (we’d explained in advance and specifically held the food until a certain hour). During the second trip, the price was supposed to be $40/person, but the bill (a line of Arabic on a piece of paper) came to $120 – even though there were two of us and we had one drink each. When I tried to discreetly ask about it, the waiters I could find claimed to not speak English. Friends have all had similar experiences, and the rip off leaves such a bad taste that it ruins the experience.

  • I went about 3 months ago – ambiance was great, food was very very dry and mediocre. I went with out of town guests, and they were very disappointed.

    @Jim – A Taste of Casablanca in Clarendon has always been my favorite spot for celebrations, as it has had consistently very good Moroccan food – through maybe 20(?) different celebrations. (My guests and I went there the next night).

  • Pretty touristy. Special occasions maybe. Food nothing special, but lots of it. They gouge you on the wine. And the Wall of Washed Up Celebs is worth it just to see the pic of Warren Beatty with his shirt open to his navel. You can practically see the VD crawling out of his hiphuggers.

    The belly dancing place in Old Town has marginally better food, definitely better dancers, but looks more like a 1970s European discoteque. The kind the Red Army Faction and the PLO were always blowing up.

  • To be avoided… food mediocre to poor, very pricey, looongggggg dinner… copious amounts of booze are needed to get through the belly dancing “performance”

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