In a surprise turnaround, Mourad Lahlou is going to reopen his beloved ~AZIZA~ in the Outer Richmond, after closing it back in 2016 for a remodel. Aziza originally opened in 2001, an homage to Lahlou’s mother, and was the first Moroccan restaurant in the U.S. to be awarded a Michelin star. He was going to reopen it as Amara with chef Louis Maldonado, but that didn’t pan out (Maldonado is now at Gibson in downtown SF).
So, the new Aziza. It’s meant to be a comfortable gathering place, and both the menu and radically redesigned space reflect this new direction. The menu will feature shareable small plates and large-format entrées. Old faves like the chicken basteeya, beef cheek tagine, and hand-rolled couscous will return, with new dishes as well (Lahlou is working with Mike Daly, director of culinary operations, and chef de cuisine Frank Hanes).
A new addition will be weekend brunch, with dishes like shakshuka with kefta meatball, fudgy yolks, sweet potato, and spicy tomato; and feather-light Moroccan pancakes with stone fruit compote and orange blossom butter, which is brushed on top of the pancake to settle into each of the bubble divots as it’s on the griddle.
Aziza was always known for its culinary cocktails, and bar director Alex Okarka will be behind the new list. Tara Patrick, wine director of both Mourad and Aziza, is building the wine list.
The space now has higher ceilings and natural light, with dark wood floors, Moroccan tile, a 12-seat, communal, live-edge wooden table, and banquettes covered in black-and-white cowhide with a plum leather base. The bar is now in its own room, with 15 seats at a curved, poured concrete bar with teal tile. The back room offers a more private (and verdant) dining experience, with plush green banquettes and palm print wallpaper.
Aziza reopens on Monday October 14th. UPDATE: THE REOPENING IS NOW MONDAY OCTOBER 21ST. Hours will be daily 5:30pm-10pm and brunch Sat-Sun 11am-2:30pm. 5800 Geary Blvd. at 22nd Ave.
The new bar at Aziza. Instagram photo via @mourad_lahlou.