I'd never had Moroccan food before my Intro to Arabic class decided to venture to a little place in Tower Grove Park called Baida. I desperately scrounged for a ride and was nervous that I'd do something weird and discourage my classmates from becoming my friends. After a few minutes in the car, my worries melted away as we laughed about the silly Arabic songs we learned to sing at the beginning of the year (“Tsunami,” anyone?) and lamented our most recent test grades.

After we arrived at the restaurant, we continued delightful little conversations about our dreams of studying abroad in Marrakech, while pictures of Morocco slid by on a screen across from our table. 

The restaurant, Baida, is absolutely charming. We entered through a door topped by a bright orange awning into a room lined with tables. The walls were painted red and white with small metal lanterns and decorated with Arabic movie posters. Arabic music played quietly in the background, a nice addition to our large group’s chatter. We ordered mint tea and black coffee while we waited for some of the best couscous I’ve ever had to be prepared. 

I returned to Baida with some friends about a week later to try out some of their regular menu options. Here are a few of our favorites, perfect for anyone who's looking to taste Moroccan food for the first time:


chili, salsa, sauce, beef, meat, tomato, vegetable, bread, huevos rancheros
Matthew Wenger

Shakshuka is “sweet and spicy tomato sauce with roasted red pepper, a basted egg, garlic and herbs.” I love eggs, so I was super excited to taste this dish and also to figure out what a "basted" egg was. The sauce had large pieces of tomato that blended with the texture of the roasted pepper, and the flatbread served alongside it was perfectly crisp. The dish was more savory than spicy, which I really enjoyed. And as it turns out, a basted egg is very similar to a poached egg, but the technique is really impressive. 


bread, toast
Matthew Wenger

In my notes, I described Loubia as “calm lil white beans,” and honestly, I stand by that. It was a really comforting dish, and if you’re with someone who’s really picky, I think this appetizer would go over well. It’s well-flavored with paprika and cumin, served warm with that amazing crispy flatbread, and has a great, creamy texture.


Matthew Wenger

I’ve always been picky about eating eggplant, but lately I’ve warmed up to it a lot, and zaaluk did not disappoint. Zaaluk is a sweet and spicy blend of tomato, eggplant and spices. It was kind of similar to a bruschetta in that it was a thick topping served warm with crostini.

Vegetable Couscous

vegetable, legume, pea, lentil, soup, split peas, garbanzo, meat
Matthew Wenger

This couscous made me realize just how much I’d been missing by not trying Moroccan food sooner. It’s like a comforting hug on a plate: a pile of couscous is topped with a thoroughly-cooked assortment of vegetables, including zucchini, yellow squash, peas, carrots and garbanzo beans. The broth was absorbed into the veggies and couscous, giving the entire dish a consistent, savory flavor. The serving was large enough to eat for two more meals, and my friend had the brilliant idea of topping her leftovers with a fried egg from our school's dining hall. 

Chicken Tanjine

beer, coffee
Matthew Wenger

A “tanjine” is actually the name of the dish that these meals are prepared in and served on: they’re wide, shallow earthenware bowls topped with a matching cone that allows for the food inside to be steamed. My friend, Jen, who ordered the chicken tanjine described it as a rainbow of flavors that was really refreshing thanks to an assortment of Moroccan spices. She especially loved the olives, which weren’t listed in the menu description but were a nice surprise.

Both times I left Baida, I left with a full belly and some amazing leftovers to look forward to. We grabbed a couple tiny candies from a dish by the door as we left, too, and continued to enjoy their fruity flavors well into the car ride home. After the meal, my classmates and I were a little less like strangers...and my friends and I more like a family than a quirky gathering. Baida is a place to truly bond with your friends over new and delicious food.