Thank you New York City, it is now possible to walk into a storefront in Astoria and feel completely at home in the residence of a lovely Moroccan lady. Rita (sp?) will welcome you in and make sure every part of every minute here is filled with hospitality and warmth. Do you have a Moroccan mother? Well, now you do.
Inside of a square shop underneath a nondescript awning with two letters, a couple steam tables are set up for a mostly to-go crowd. She says 70% of her business comes from the hospital across 30th Avenue, saying modestly "People seem to like my food."
Add me into this group of people.
Couscous seems to be around at all times, and the plate below came out to a whopping $3 somehow, and seems to be all you can eat. The steam table is help yourself, and she will make sure to tell you again and again to make yourself at home.
Harira soup (below) is on offer as well, and was either part of the couscous plate or never charged when she added things up at the end. Either way, it is a nice big bowl and I could not imagine any price she gave to be unaffordable. It is hearty and full of flavor.
A Moroccan man was dining on a fish plate when we walked in, so we pointed and asked what was available fresh from the kitchen. We went ahead and got what he was having, and were a full $5 poorer because of it. A nice big salad topped with many olives and some eggplant purees were served with it, making the range of tastes we had already off the charts.
For dessert, we had roti with honey and sweet mint tea, all of which seemed to cost $5 together. Tea service was also unlimited.
For those keeping track, the whole meal (done in her head at the end of the meal) came to $13 and was obviously underpriced. She definitely listed the prices I quote above out loud though, so it was not a mistake. I would have felt strange offering up the normal $16 or $17 for this kind of bill, so we just added $10 to our total and thanked her profusely.
Hopefully prices for walk-in customers are enough to keep her in business, as this place is really something special to find in Astoria. Go during normal lunch rush for the freshest variety.