In January, Chef Mourad Lahlou opened his second restaurant, the self-titled concept Mourad located in San Francisco’s historic PacBell building. The massive construction project was three years in the works before he finally opened the doors — and that’s when the real work began.
Mourad is a huge departure from Aziza, the restaurant that Lahlou opened in 2001 and became the first-ever Moroccan restaurant to receive a Michelin star. Aziza is cozy and comfortable and caters to locals; Mourad is a destination in the heart of downtown. While the dishes at Aziza are inspired by Lahlou’s past, those at Mourad reflect his here and now. Aziza’s interiors are modest; Mourad has sky-high ceilings, a majestic dining room, and painstaking architectural and design details. (Think hand-sewn patchwork rugs against elegant tile floors, modern lighting meant to evoke night markets in Marrakech, and textured walls that honor Morocco’s traditional homes built of clay and hay.)
We sat down with Lahlou in the private dining room at Mourad to talk about the first six months of his business — challenges, evolution, and what’s next on the horizon.