Casablanca is filled with restaurants and nice places to eat but some remain secret to me even though I hear about them all the time. Restaurant Aknoul is one of my dad’s favourite restaurants in town as he has been eating there for decades. This place is famous for being a Kosher restaurant for many years and despite a shrinking Jewish community; it keeps serving all people, mostly Muslims!
Today, I went to a special place not only because of its food but also because of the history behind it. I enter the restaurant and quickly observe how crowded it is whilst the smell of yummy tagines cooking makes me even more hungry.
I went there on a sunny and warm winter day to try some of the best Moroccan food in town. I tried the Moroccan Chicken Tagine with olives. It was tasty although I had bigger expectations. Still, I enjoyed it with nice homemade French fries and local salads. And the one and only Moroccan soft drink, Hawai. The menu seems to be very diverse and one of the best things are sandwiches. On top of that, service is extremely fast as best sellers are freshly prepared within the hour. According to my dad, by 3pm they sell out the best recommendations from the the menus so it’s best to go there for lunch!
Anyway, let me tell you a little bit about the history of this place. It is most famous for the many years it has been operating as a Kosher restaurant serving Moroccan and Jewish specialities as a bar and restaurant in the old city centre of Casablanca. Whilist Casablanca started dramatically loosing its Jewish community, a Muslim man took over its controls without changing much from the menu nor the management. However, he made it exclusively a restaurant to focus more on food.
As a Kosher restaurant owned by a Muslim, people still nickname that place “Lihoudi” which means in Arabic, “the Jew”. The building where sits this restaurant is very historical itself: it is a 1930s Art Deco construction that stands there since Morocco was colonised by France. It is however clear that now it has been refurbished but it shows the actual state of it before. But not only, all the street is Art Deco so I felt like I made a big step back to the colonial era which I never known!
Nowadays, clientele of Restaurant Aknoul is still diverse: Muslims are the majority but some Jews still come here to eat. This place keeps its authentic food until now which shows the sustainable success among different generations of Casaouis from different backgrounds and social classes. Only after eating there, I now understand why my father has been a faithful client for over two decades.