Paul Franson, Taste of the Valley: Moroccan food coming to Oxbow Public Market | Food Columnists

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While we wait for two popular San Francisco ethnic restaurants (Osha Thai food and Slanted Door) to open their planned branches in Napa, chef Mourad Lahlou has announced he plans to open Moro Napa, serving food from Morocco in the Oxbow Public Market, this summer.

His eatery will be in the booth that now holds C Casa Taqueria. C Casa is moving to the larger space that once held Kitchen Door, itself relocating to First Street Napa.

Lahlou, founder and proprietor of Aziza and the Michelin-star Mourad in San Francisco, said in a press release that Moro Napa “will be a gathering place where guests will enjoy Moroccan street food reminiscent of the Medina in Marrakesh. Live fire, spices, and fresh local ingredients will be the main focus of the menu.”

“Moro Napa will transport our guests to a food stall in the middle of Jemaa el-Fnaa where guests grab a stool and delve into authentic Moroccan grub and vibe,” said Lahlou.

The Oxbow Public Market seems the perfect space for this concept, which is what I envisioned when it was first announced. Most Moroccan restaurants in the U.S. seem to specialize in the atmosphere (sitting in a pit) and belly dancers, not the food.

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Considered by many as the pioneer of modern Moroccan cuisine, Lahlou immigrated to the United States when he was 17 years old. Missing his country’s cuisine, he taught himself how to recreate versions of his favorite Moroccan dishes with local ingredients using his own inventive techniques. Most of the lessons he learned about food came from his mother, who cooked traditional Moroccan recipes, and grandfather, who took him to the markets.

Lahlou has been recognized as one of the most dynamic and creative chefs in the country. Shortly after winning the Food Network’s Iron Chef America in 2009, he released his debut cookbook Mourad: New Moroccan, which Bon Appétit deemed one the best cookbooks of the year.

Napa Valley native Jorge Velazquez will be leading the kitchen.

Los Agaves is open

Though Moro is a future promise, Los Agaves is open now. The restaurant, from a very popular food truck that hangs out at the Napa Premium Outlets, occupies the space in the Riverfront that briefly housed The Corner, a restaurant and wine store that opened at the wrong time just before COVID-19 hit.

The address is 660 Main St., Napa, and the phone is 707-266-1267. The website doesn’t have a real menu yet, but it likely will soon have one at losagavesnapa.com.

So is Napa Lounge

It’s not strictly about the food, but Napa Lounge is open next to the Subway in south Napa. It is a new sports bar featuring a golf simulator near the turn-off to the DMV office. It supplants Tasting Room24.

They have a full bar courtesy of the house-brewed beer license and serve bar bites.

El Titi Carnitas and BBQ food truck often hang out there, including at lunchtime. Check its Facebook page to make certain. They feature churros, brisket and BBQ chicken sliders and tacos, Caesar salads, mac & cheese and potato salad.

The lounge is open from 3 to 9 p.m. except for Tuesday and opens at noon on Sunday for the sports, of course.

Napa Lounge, 902 D Enterprise Way, www.facebook.com/thenapalounge, 707-637-4258

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