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RESTAURANTS

The couscous club

September 30, 2004|Leslee Komaiko

As worldly as Angelenos are when it comes to dining out, a Moroccan restaurant still feels like a culinary adventure.

Tagine

When three young guys (among them actor Ryan Gosling) took over the Mamounia space early this summer, you could guess the hipsters would follow. But there's more reason to come than the scene: tender, not too sweet, flaky bastilla and brochettes of juicy, charred lamb for two.

* Appetizers, $4 to $12; main courses, $9 to $18; tasting menus, $27 to $45. 132 N. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 360-7535.

Casbah Cafe

Despite the name and the "produits morocains" sign in the window of this chic coffeehouse/clothing boutique, you have to look closely to find the Moroccan fare. There's couscous, served hot or cold, good oily olives, and freshly brewed mint tea. The rest of the menu leans more toward France.

* Appetizers, $1 to $7.50; plates, $7.50 to $10. 3900 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 664-7000.

Koutoubia

We love the plush interior, the gracious attention of host Michel Ohayon and, especially, his mother Gilberte's confident cooking. Don't miss the flaky goat cheese turnovers with mint and cumin. Other specialties include couscous royal and tagine d'agneau m'rouzia, chunks of tender lamb touched with honey.

* Appetizers, $4.50 to $9.50; main courses, $15.50 to $19.50. 2116 Westwood Blvd., West L.A.; (310) 475-0729.

Dar Maghreb

This atmospheric party favorite isn't cheap. But with eight courses, no one goes hungry. And the staff puts on quite a show (pouring tea from on high, a belly dancer every night, the whole bit). Choose the country room with its Berber rugs and brass tables or the city room featuring a colorful mosaic of Rabat, capital of Morocco.

* Set menus, $37 per person. 7651 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A.; (323) 876-7651.

Marrakesh Studio City

This theme restaurant (your waiter will be wearing a fez) is best for big groups, the better to distract you from the tired furnishings. Choose from one of six set menus, all of which include satisfying lentil soup, a trio of vegetable salads, bastilla and, for dessert, fresh fruit, baklava and mint tea. Also in Costa Mesa and La Jolla.

* Dinners, $24.95 to $32.95. 13003 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 788-6354.

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