One of the best restaurants in all of San Francisco remains closed at this time, but as huge fans of Aziza, we are hopeful and patiently waiting its return. We do not want people to forget this fantastic restaurant so we revived the website to remind you of its fantastic food, drink, and ambiance.
Let’s hope Chef Mourad Lahlou is successful in bringing back his baby!
Aziza Restuarant in San Francisco – History and Current Status
Aziza is a restaurant built by owner-chef Mourad Lahlou, a Moroccan-born American. The menu features modern Moroccan cuisine that blends traditional foods with ingredients common to the California. That approach made Aziza one of the best kept secrets in the Bay Area. That all changed when Lahlou landed an appearance on Iron Chef. Aziza was now earning national attention, but since, the restaurant has closed, and some fear for good.
A Brief History
To understand what Aziza is all about consider that many food experts consider Lahlou to be the father of modern Moroccan cuisine. Moroccan cuisine has many influences, but at some point, it stopped evolving and became less appealing outside and even within its own region. Lahlou changed this by introducing modern concepts while staying true to what made the cuisine Moroccan. Soon after opening, Aziza became a top restaurant in the city and eventually became Michelin-starred.
Time for an Update
With the appearance on Iron Chef came fame among foodies. Out-of-towners weren’t just visiting based on word of mouth. They were going out of their way to experience Aziza. Although relatively young itself, the restaurant was located in an old building. It was definitely due some renovations and modernizations, and Lahlou figured what better time than this period of great success. It was a gamble to close his doors at this point, but he’d already opened a second restaurant in the area, and when renovations were finished, he’d be able to seat more diners and deliver a better dining experience.
Renovation Takes Longer Than Expected
Closure of the 15-year-old restaurant was scheduled to take two months, which is time Lahlou would use to focus on Mourad, his restaurant downtown. But two months became three, then five, and here we are more than a year later. Aziza is still closed, but the twist is that the originally planned renovations are completed. Aziza is ready to open, but San Francisco won’t let it happen.
The Problem: Aziza Is No Longer Grandfathered
Restaurant codes change over time. This happens in San Francisco and most municipalities throughout the U.S. As these codes evolve, existing businesses are grandfathered. Grandfather clauses often make established restaurants exempt or at least give them an extended period in which to comply. San Francisco allows existing businesses to close for up to two months. After two months, they’re considered new businesses and must meet the requirements of a new business. It’s no coincidence that Lahlou planned a two-month renovation, but when construction took longer than expected, he was on the hook for numerous upgrades that he couldn’t justify. So, the restaurant remains closed.
What Comes Next
Lahlou and his lawyer are currently navigating the application process for historical sites. If the city grants Aziza and the building that status, then certain concessions are made, and many of the upgrades required by law could be avoided. If the status is declined, Lahlou would have to finance the upgrades or abandon the restaurant. The chef-owner has said, “There’s no [bleeping] way I’m not bringing Aziza back,” but fans of the restaurant will just have to wait and see.
aziza supports local sustainable agriculture by purchasing our materials directly from local farms, ranches & orchards who are committed to sound & wholesome habits. To learn more about these farms & their growing practices, visit the CUESA links...
how prix fixe works for parties of eight guests & larger, a prix fixe tasting menu is selected for the entire party. the prix fixe menu is created by the chef specifically tailored for your party on the day of the event. the portions are designed for family-style...
Past Aziza Mentions in the Press
If you are in the Washington D.C. area, be sure to grab a bite at the Mitsitam Cafe featuring authentic Native dishes from all over North America.
Visit the nearby Heronswood Gardens outside of Seattle where you can see a wide variety of plants, flowers, and trees from all over the world.
The Chicago Traveler provides great food recommendations in Chicago.
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We are hoping Aziza will return to San Francisco soon, if you have any information, submit your comments below!
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