November 08, 2010

Marrakesh in Jacksonville, NC

T and I were doing errands in Jacksonville (the North Carolina one, not the Florida one) yesterday afternoon, and found ourselves caught in the same dilemma we've stumbled into a few times before. We woke up late and ate a big breakfast yesterday morning, and then found ourselves starving at about 3:00 p.m.

Jacksonville is kind of a black pit of despair when it comes to quality food. There's a branch of pretty much every fast food restaurant you could ever imagine, but it's not a great place to feel hunger pangs unless you want to end up taking a bag of greasy food to the face.

AND THEN, we happened to drive by Marrakesh, a new Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern restaurant right by the Target in Jacksonville. It sits alone in a strip mall that hasn't managed to attract any tenants yet, so it's pretty easy to pass by unless you happen to be starving and searching desperately for something that won't give you a heart attack.

T and I are both obsessed with Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern food, so finding Marrakesh in the sea of burger joints (and pawn shops and barbershops and sex shops and military supply stores) in Jacksonville was like a gift from heaven. We ordered baba ganoush and falafel to start, and then chicken taouk (for me) and a shwarma platter (for T).

The baba ganoush was fine, if a little heavy on the cumin, but the falafel was the best either of us had ever tasted. Instead of being dry inside, it was moist and almost creamy. The flavors were fantastic, and it was hard not to order another plate. My chicken taouk was wonderfully tender and spicy, and I'm pretty sure T loved his shwarma, because he didn't really talk until it was finished.

The other wonderful part about eating at Marrakesh was the service. Our drinks were never empty, we had new napkins dropped off at the table before we even noticed we had dropped ours, and I'm pretty sure that everyone who works there came out to say goodbye when we left.

I'm glad to read that Marrakesh is doing well in Jacksonville, because it's a welcome break from the adult onset diabetes-inducing food the town seems to prefer. Their food is fresh and delicious, their service is fantastic, and their ambiguously Middle-Eastern decor is charming.

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