Restaurant Of The Week: Djellabar, Marrakech

Photo courtesy of Djellabar

Photo courtesy of Djellabar

Have you ever wondered what some of your favorite icons would look like wearing a fez? Wonder no more: at the sexy restaurant/lounge Djellabar, paintings and pillows feature the likes of Elvis Presley, Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Elizabeth Taylor, and Mahatma Gandhi donning perky red tarbouches. The name, derived from the traditional Moroccan attire djellaba, gives a sense of the playful atmosphere you can expect to find within.

Enter this colorful onetime wedding hall — complete with an intricately engraved ceiling, zellij-tiled walls, and faux-snakeskin pillows — and you’re instantly hit with old-world Morocco meets pop-art modernism. Let’s call it Maroc n’Roll, after one of the signature drinks on offer. Both the menu and the music continue the East-West fusion vibe: order the pasta served with chunks of spicy merguez sausage and the rosewater syrup-infused cheesecake, all the while grooving to mixes of “Billie Jean” and “It’s Raining Men” recast on ouds, flutes, and drums.

Post-dinner, the scene heats up well after midnight, with the DJ spinning everything from Latin to hip-hop to Bollywood and a chic crowd throwing back cocktails with names like the Serial Killer. The laid-back staff is a hoot, so don’t be surprised if the manager pulls up a chair and engages in a conversation about the meaning of love — in a hodgepodge of French, Arabic, and broken English. Parisian nightlife doyen Claude Challe of Buddha Bar fame is one of the forces behind this quirky spot, so a sultry, bumping party scene with an eclectic sound track is a requisite. The excellent food and imaginative décor are just bonuses.

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