CousCous Cafe brings the taste of Morocco to Oklahoma City

by | December 30, 2007 | 35 Comments

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CousCous Cafe is located at 6165 North May in Oklahoma City (map). It is on the north end of a small strip mall on the west side of the street between Golden Corral and Denny’s. There is no sign yet, so you have to look close. You don’t want to miss it.

I am deeply indebted to my friends over at the OKCTalk.com Food Court forums (see the CousCous Cafe thread). That’s where I first heard about the CousCous Cafe, a new Moroccan restaurant on North May. I finally got over to try it and I have to say, I haven’t been this excited about finding a new place in a while. I highly recommend you check it out, and I’d love to hear your impressions in the comments.

CousCous Cafe in Oklahoma City

The CousCous Cafe is a pretty new place and just getting up and going. I like the fact that they are bringing a specific and unique cuisine to the Oklahoma City metro and that they exhibit an obvious passion for what they do. Owner / Manager Rachid Ayare greets you, takes care of you, serves you as your waiter, and helps with the food preparation. Rachid told us he hails from Casablanca and therefore the food served here can be described as Mediterranean, but more specifically, Moroccan. Rachid is very hospitable and very willing and able to explain the intricacies of the menu to you.

The restaurant is located in a strip mall just between Golden Corral and Denny’s on the west side of May. I’m giving you all of this detail because if you don’t know where it is, it can be pretty tough to find. They don’t have a sign up yet, just a small paper poster on the door. So, look hard on the north end of the strip mall, just to the south of Denny’s, and you’ll find it.

I think they’ve done a nice job with the interior of the restaurant. I saw this space when it was “The Pizza Box” for a very brief period, and CousCous has definitely made some improvements. There are about half a dozen tables in a dining area wrapped on two sides by curved, floor to ceiling windows. It’s pretty nice for a strip mall. Little touches like small colorful pottery pieces on each table give you the sense that they care about their environment, which I appreciate. It’s simple, but pleasant.

We started out with the authentic Moroccan tea, which is served hot in a teapot and poured into small glasses. The tea is brewed with the leaves and spices loose in the liquid. It is rich and sweet and very, very good. We moved on to an appetizer of hummus served with a crisp flat bread. The hummus was artfully presented and was delightfully creamy and flavorful.

I was fortunate to visit the restaurant with my wife, my two kids, my parents and my sister, so we had enough people to really try a variety of items from the menu. My wife selected one of the vegetarian combos ($6), which comes with a combination of three types of salads or specialties. She chose the couscous salad, zaalook (an eggplant salad), and falafel. I have to say that the couscous salad was one of the most delightful things I’ve tasted. It’s fresh, zippy, and the texture is wonderful with couscous, a mixture of vegetables and garbanzo beans in a very light olive oil dressing. That one was the winning salad in my opinion.

My parents each had one of the kabob platters ($7.50 – $11, depending on which meats, and how many), which comes with your choice of grilled meat, rice, Moroccan salad and grape leaf wraps. We got to sample the chicken and the kefta (beef) kabobs, both of which were very flavorful. My six year old son even enjoyed the meat quite a bit, and he is a very picky eater.

I branched out and tried one of the burritos ($5 – $6 depending on the meat). That’s right, a burrito. Actually, though, this was quite an interesting fusion dish with grilled chicken, a spread of hummus, Moroccan salad, brown rice and tahini sauce wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. I got it because I wanted to get something different than everyone else, and I have to say, it was really, really good and a clever take as well.

My sister found the real gem of this place. She got the special of the day, which was a lamb shank with prunes, slow cooked in a tagine with an amazing blend of spices. The whole thing was presented beautifully with a single almond placed atop each prune surrounding the centerpiece of meat. I had one of the prunes and a bite of the meat and I have to say, it was amazing. Tender, sweet, spicy, exotic and everything you would really hope for from a place like this. It is this type of cooking that is going to set the CousCous Cafe apart in Oklahoma City. Next time I go, I am getting whatever delightful recipe Rachid is cooking up in the tagine that day.

Lest I come off sounding too enthralled, I’ll admit the place has some rough edges. For example, you shouldn’t go if you’re in a hurry because patience is required as you wait for your food to be prepared. When we arrived, we were the only customers, and things were still moving in a bit of slow motion (we were there early and by the time we left, I was glad to see that several other customers had arrived). Of course, I attribute this to the newness of the place and the fact that they are having to do as much with as little as possible right now. I am very hopeful that our city will be able to support them so they can grow and mature. I believe they have a lot to offer us and I would love to see them come into their own.

Bottom line, you need to give this place a try. This is what eating local is all about and I’m thrilled that Oklahoma City is getting this type of diverse culinary exposure. CousCous Cafe delivers a unique, flavorful and exciting cuisine, simple yet artful presentations, and a very enjoyable experience all around. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Cous Cous Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cous Cous Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cous Cous Cafe Express on Urbanspoon

This article was posted by Tim Wall on Sunday, December 30th, 2007. It is filed under:

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  • JerzeeGrlinOKC says:
    February 23rd, 2008 at 9:04 pm   

    You were so right! Amazing! Have to try the Fish Tagine (sp?).

    The tea was great, the hummus was the best in town, and the shawarma was really flavorful (actually its the first time I’ve ever even tried shawarma).

    I do hope that OKC can support this place to keep it in business. I know we’ll be back.

  • Sheri says:
    February 24th, 2008 at 9:36 am   

    Sorry to say that the service hasn’t improved, but they were very nice. Just not “together” in the back end of the operation. One guy trying to do a lot with another guy kind of wandering around. There were 4 employees there last night and 6 couples dining. We had food that needed to be plated, not created, so I thought the wait was too long.

    The food…eh. I’ll probably try it again one more time and get a special.

    They did send me out a free glass of Moroccan tea to try and home with a free piece of peanut baklava. Nice people. Good atmosphere for a strip mall.

  • Tim says:
    February 24th, 2008 at 10:13 am   

    Good to hear the variety of experiences. Seems that they may be struggling a bit with consistency. Thanks for the comments and keep them coming!

  • Andy says:
    April 28th, 2008 at 10:43 am   

    Tried CousCous on Friday night. The mint tea is outstanding. Get the large pot instead of the regular.
    I had lamb and the beef dinner. Excellent. I have not had grape leaves stuffed and tried it for the first time. Tasty.
    Fresh and flavorful. Highly recommended.

  • Rachel says:
    May 28th, 2008 at 7:31 pm   

    The food was really great. The people are so nice. I would suggest getting cous cous with the meals instead of rice. The rice is good, but the cous cous is better I think. Also, like previously mentioned, the tea is amazing. I had it iced and loved it.

  • james scallopas says:
    June 4th, 2008 at 12:36 pm   

    great food and great atmosphere, the Lam was outstanding and the tea is just perfect. Highly recomended

  • katie says:
    June 18th, 2008 at 1:12 pm   

    We ate at CousCous last nite. I got the special -Lamb Tangine. I thought it was going to be the one Tim described wtih the prunes but alas, it was some yellow(turmeric?) rice with a lamb shank and some green beans…not incredible, not bad, just kinda…ordinary? My husband got the beef kabobs – pretty tasty but we probably won’t go back..it seemed to lack spice or punch of any sort? Fun to try thought…we always like to adventure dine.

  • Anne says:
    June 24th, 2008 at 12:19 pm   

    We visited CousCous on Father’s Day and had a really good experience. When we were ordering, Rashid (who I took to be the owner) came over and said that they had just finished making the special for the day, which was a chicken “pie” — shredded chicken, onions, ground almonds and delicious spices wrapped up in phyllo and baked. It was served with cinnamon on the top and was absolutely great! We also had a lamb kabob platter and a burrito, which were good as well (although not as fantastic as the “pie”). This was during the tomato scare, so I think our salads suffered for it. They brought around tea after we finished, which was very nice. We’ll go back, for sure!

  • Christine says:
    July 13th, 2008 at 11:50 am   

    My daughter and I went for lunch on a week day. We were the only one’s in place. It took us 45 minutes to get served our two sandwiches. One was a lamb sandwich wrapped in pita–not stuffed but wrapped like a burrito and not even warmed so it broke apart. My daughter who spent a year in Israel, was very excited to order their Schwarma sandwich–which is supposed to be a pita stuffed with meat, hummus and pickled vegitables. What she got was a pita with a bit of chicken iceburg lettuce and a bit of tahini drizzled on it.—Not stuffed but wrapped like a burrito. When she asked about the pickled vegitables, they brought out little plate of kosher gerkins. We were very disappointed. My suggestion is hire some help for the kitchen instead of having two lack luster young people standing around while the little cook tries to do everything. Delegate! Delegate! Delegate! What, too snarky?

  • Chelsea says:
    August 7th, 2008 at 4:48 pm   

    I absolutely love this place! My family and I have been several times, and each visit has been fantastic. The service has become more consistent and the wait for food has lessened. The tea is wonderful and I prefer it served cold rather than hot. The zaalook (I cannot seem to get enough), hummus and falafel appetizer is superb. The only thing I have tried that I was not crazy about was the kefta kabobs. However, the chicken and vegetable platter is magnificent. A friend tried the date cookies and has been craving them since.

  • TMB says:
    September 9th, 2008 at 3:10 pm   

    well the website is gone.
    but I called and they are still open!
    7 days a week 11am-11pm

    I am addicted to the Moroccan Iced Tea.
    I’ve had the hummus and the moroccan salad (simple lemon vinaigrette) and the chicken schwarma platter. The schwarma is not the same as at Magic Lamp (R.I.P.) but very flavorful and good.
    I’m going to try a lamb dish on my next visit.

    GO and keep this hard working family in business!

  • Tim says:
    September 10th, 2008 at 5:14 am   

    TMB, thanks for the update. I drove by the other day and saw they were open as well. That’s good news. I appreciate your recommendations as well. They sound great!

  • Marni says:
    October 11th, 2008 at 3:49 pm   

    We just moved to OKC from back East, and were missing the more “ethnic” food choices that big cities offer. On a recommendation, we tried the CousCous Cafe. While I don’t pretend to be a “foodie,” I did spend a semester abroad in Morocco, and the food at CousCous Cafe very pleasantly took me back to that experience. The harira soup, tagine, and salads were more authentic than anything I’ve had in an American restaurant, and perfectly spiced and tasty. But the best part was the fresh mint tea, perfectly sweet, after the meal. Let it steep, pour it into the glasses and back into the pot at least two times, then drink and enjoy. We were so excited to find this authentic gem in our new hometown smack in the middle of the country.

  • Stone says:
    November 29th, 2008 at 11:01 am   

    Saturday, November 29, 2008
    Our family had an exotic and delightful Thanksgiving at Couscous Café. It is a small, informal place that was able to accommodate a group of eight. Our gracious host seemed to enjoy answering our questions about the menu items, about which, we were totally ignorant. I won’t spoil the surprise of the dish presentation – but it was definitely, “Ahhhh!” And it was delicious. Do not miss the hot tea. I would never have expected hot tea to so quieten and bring together a group of people. We felt so welcome and that our host enjoyed our visit as much as we did. Couscous Café is one of Oklahoma City’s jewels!

  • AJ says:
    December 23rd, 2008 at 12:56 pm   

    I just ate here for the first time last week, and it was awesome. The waiter was sooo friendly and the food and tea was great. Yet another place that I would have never noticed if a friend didn’t point it out. Everyone should give it a try. I’m hooked.

  • John says:
    January 9th, 2009 at 4:37 pm   

    I went with a couple friends in December and it was excellent! The server was friendly and accommodating, the food was excellent and the tea was fantastic. However, one of my friends did not like how sweet the tea was but that was really the only negative thing between all of us. The hummus was delicious as well. I highly recommend this place to anyone- be it a family night out or just a few friends.

  • ChelC says:
    February 20th, 2009 at 4:14 pm   

    I have lived in the Mid-East and was wondering what their Shawarmas were like? Pita bread? Chicken? A pickle or french fry? Lettuce? “Sauce”? I have tried a few different places, and find Sweiss’ Gyros to be the most equivalent to the Mid-East, but not near enough. Any experienced Shawarma eaters out there tried these???

    Thanks

  • Tim says:
    February 20th, 2009 at 4:42 pm   

    @ChelC, thanks for the comment. Sorry to say I don’t know the answer about the Shawarmas. If you try it out sometime, please let us know.

  • Mikey says:
    February 23rd, 2009 at 1:15 pm   

    Lamb Tagine is incredible!

  • Bryce says:
    March 14th, 2009 at 12:24 pm   

    In the last week, I’ve been to CousCous three times (I literally live 30 seconds away). The vegetarian dishes are all amazing, particularly the hummus (blows Zorba’s away). And the tea is awesome (hot or cold).

  • Ann says:
    March 19th, 2009 at 7:53 am   

    Try the lamb cutlets or the lamb tagine with prunes it’s amazing. We go regularly (my husband is Moroccan) and true you have to wait but it’s worth it. On my daughter’s birthday I brought my entire family; mother, sisters, brother, nieces, and nephew (who are not Moroccan) and they thought the food was great and the kids loved the rice. Like many reviews before we all enjoyed the mint tea. This place gets my vote because of the end product it’s the closest thing to genuine Moroccan home cooked meal my husband has and it’s awesome.

  • Matt says:
    August 9th, 2009 at 1:08 am   

    My first visit to CousCous Cafe was barely a week ago and I’ve already been back 2 more times. I have started dragging others to CousCous and even those who aren’t very adventurous eaters love it!

    The service is great and there is a lot of attention to detail. Everyone is very friendly and all of the plates come out looking great. You can tell they care a lot about the food they serve.

    For starters, get the hummus. Hands down best hummus and pita in OKC.

    For an entree, I haven’t gone wrong with any selection thus far. My first choice would be kofta and chicken kabob combo (great spices on both). The lamb is also great if you like lamb. You can’t go wrong on the vegetarian menu, either. For vegetarian plates, you choose 3 options (out of maybe 6 or 7) and they are all great. I would recommend choosing the falafel (best I’ve had), couscous salad and zaalouk (some sort of tasty cooked salad with tomatoes).

    I am not a huge tea fan, but you must try the Moroccan tea (both hot and cold). It is a green tea with mint and it is amazing.

    For dessert, CousCous makes a pastry similar to Tiramisu with custard and coffee on top. Definitely worth a try.

    CousCous Cafe is close to my house, and I have driven by tons of times without even noticing it (there isn’t a sign on the building). Thank you Eat Around OKC for helping me find this hidden gem!

  • Sam says:
    October 25th, 2009 at 5:55 pm   

    Today was my second time visiting this place in the last year. The first time I visited I had the Chicken and Kofta Kabob Combo with tea. Chicken was good, but I could care less for the Kofta. While eating at that time, my friend and I noticed people eating from these clay dishes with massive amounts of food and we both knew we had to try that next times.

    So that next time was today and I just HAD to get the Lamb Tagine. It’s not on the menu, but it’s a daily special that needs to be on the menu. They’ve got Veggie, Chicken, Lamb, Kofta, Cous Cous and Fish Tagine varieties all ranging from $6.99 – $10.99. The lamb had a GREAT flavor, but if you’re hungry, get the chicken, it’s HUGE!

    My meal came with a complimentary tea and it matched perfectly with the food (usually he charges $1.99 for the tea but he was smart to get me to eat it with the Tagine because I don’t know how I’ll be able to eat it without it now!)

    I also wanted to add that the restaurant accept Mastercard, Visa, AMEX and Discover (I usually use my Amex and Discover so I usually like to know what places accept those cards).

    I might call this place kind of shady not for the fact that it’s a hole in the wall or anything, but I could’ve sworn there was some shady things going on when I visited the first time. A bunch of random guys would come in (this was at 9pm) and come in and leave within a minute with nothing in their hands. Hopefully it’s not a front for anything…but I think the owner also owns a taxi cab company. Hmm, I’ll leave the thought there…

    Anyway, food is great, great service, open late. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

  • Cailyn says:
    November 18th, 2009 at 5:46 pm   

    I visit CousCous at least once a week. My favorite restaurant in the United States! If you haven’t tried the lamb kabobs, you are missing out! They have the most amazing blend of spices that I can’t get enough of. And the chicken tagine is also delightful. Both are a most-try. And of course, you need Morrocan tea! Besides the food, though, I love the atmosphere, and the owners are so nice!

  • Debboe says:
    December 2nd, 2009 at 4:56 pm   

    I have tried all the vegetarian dishes at Cous Cous and none of them hold a candle to the Olive Branch at Sheridan and Hudson. Go there and try the hummus and falafel, you will slap anyone else who ever tries to make it for you after eating at Olive Branch.

  • Josh says:
    March 20th, 2010 at 12:06 pm   

    Denny’s and Golden Corral are no longer there so you can miss it if you’re not looking for it carefully. There is a sign out now for it and it’s located right across from Lakeshore Learning Store.

  • abdoul razak says:
    May 24th, 2010 at 12:51 am   

    Hi

    when i came at OKL, i came to couscous cafe with my friend from tanzania and try chiken tajine. it is very delicious. we enjoy the guns serving the morroco tea. thank you

  • Reuben says:
    June 19th, 2010 at 3:58 am   

    Is this place still in business? I recently returned from a 3 month stay in Morocco and I am absolutely dying to have a tajine. I live in Lawton and I’d like to take some family to try his place.

  • Tim says:
    June 19th, 2010 at 6:51 am   

    Reuben, yes it is still in business though difficult to spot because of its lack of a sign. From what I have heard they are still doing very well. Give them a try!

  • Pat says:
    July 2nd, 2010 at 1:41 pm   

    This place is amazing!!
    The couscous salad is really refreshing and it pairs well with a Kufta burrito.
    Do yourself a favor and try the burritos, they’re excellent and they give you 2 pretty nice sized ones for $4.95.

  • glen says:
    July 3rd, 2010 at 10:45 pm   

    if the bold headed guy is rachid he is awesome I hope he shows me how they prepare there rice omg! The bomb love love love this place. If your looking for a place outside of a buger and fries this is the spot I would eat there everyday if I didn’t have to work soooo much I’m in love and will try and sneek off to this place evey chance I get.

  • Grant says:
    September 17th, 2010 at 8:16 pm   

    Just got home from my first visit to Cous Cous Cafe. I had the Chicken Bastille. Amazing. A sweet and savory chicken pie with a flakey puff pastry top crust. It is one of the most unique and flavorful dishes I have had in a long time. Also, the hummus and yogurt dip was delicious. You all have to check this place out.

  • mark e says:
    June 24th, 2011 at 8:52 pm   

    Couscous is one of my favorite restaurants in OKC! I go there several times a week. I’m addicted to their falafel burrito! The owner is always smiling and friendly. It’s open late. The prices are great and the food is delicious. That said, I don’t go there for the service. The wait times can sometimes be long and the waitstaff don’t seem to be concerned about much at all. Or is it just that this is what “service” is like in the Middle East? Doesn’t matter. I still love it…

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