It’s hard to pass by Tetuán Brasero Marroquí (Tetuán Moroccan Grill) without stopping and staring. Located along a calm stretch of Ravignani, the newly-opened restaurant stands out from the traditional PH’s and Palermo style homes on either side — a gorgeous blue and yellow mural by local artist Cabaio Spirito covers the entire entrance. It’s striking, with the face of an older Moroccan man, painted in a charcoal-like style, hovering over a mosaic of intricately-patterned arabic tiles.
The pensive man in the mural is none other than Alfonso Benaim, the great uncle of Tetuán creators Nicolás Wolowelski and Juan Martin Migueres, and the inspiration for the restaurant. Wolowelski and Migueres are cousins, and their North African heritage stretches back to Benaim, who lived in Tetuán (the city, not the restaurant) back when it was the capital of Spanish Morocco.
Anyone who’s watched the popular Spanish series “The Time in Between” or read the blockbuster novel it was based on will recognize Tetuán, an evocative Moroccan city full of bazaars, winding alleyways, spices, and white rooftops facing the sea. Tetuán a la Buenos Aires is a little different, channeling the classic flavors of Moroccan home cooking, but with a hipper, more contemporary feel. The interior is almost as unique as the entrance, with high, exposed ceilings and an unusual multi-level design of tables, steps, and platforms, all offering views of the open kitchen and fiery grill.
At good value, you can get a plate heaped high with grilled meat and vegetable sides, including a nicely mild, smooth baba ghanoush, sweet roasted carrots, arugula salad, hummus, and even a lemony, well-seasoned beet salad. While the sandwiches are tasty, you can’t beat the platters, which allow you to mix and match the many different flavors and suit them to your preferences with each bite. Of the meat on offer, the ojo de bife (ribeye) is a knockout, with tender, flavorful meat seasoned with a carrot-based marinade and placed over a hummus base. The chicken is also excellent, with a yogurty, curried taste and creative accompaniments like cilantro and pomegranate seeds.
Even with all that fresh Moroccan fare, Tetuán needed something to make it stand out from other Middle Eastern restaurants in the city. Although it may sound strange, they found just that secret ingredient in craft beer. As soon as you enter the restaurant, you’re greeted with a friendly bartender standing before a row of taps, the ceiling adorned with dozens of colorful, tattered flags. You choose your beer of choice — they brew a wide selection themselves — before heading to order your food and sit in the back of the restaurant. The Scottish has nice hints of fruit, the Red IPA is a pleasantly bitter blond beer, while the APA is citrusy and refreshing. But the hands down standout beer at Tetuán is the Doble Rubia (we think they should call it the “Dirty Blonde”), a crowd-pleasing brew that goes perfectly with every dish we tried.
While any night is perfect for a strong beer and Moroccan eats, Tetuán will now have guest DJs and bartenders every Thursday from 7:00 to 12:00. Mural or not, this isn’t your grandpa’s Moroccan restaurant.