In the neighborhood yesterday and needing a (very) early dinner, I remembered the nice things Tom Sietsema said in Wednesday's Post about Couscous Cafe on 20th St. between L & M. To my surprise they were still open (they close at 6:00) and were only too happy to serve me. They opened recently and are eager to build up a regular clientele. From my one dish and what I heard of others, I will certainly be back.
Their menu, which reflects the owner's Algerian background, is pretty varied -- soups, entree salads, sandwiches (includes cookie or chips), panini, pasta and entrees. I had one of the latter, the Golden Saffron Chicken Tajine. The chunks of white meat chicken were rather dry and overcooked, but the saffron sauce, with olives, was tasty and served over basmati rice. A good-sized portion for $6.99. (None of the menu items tops $7.99.)
I chatted with the very friendly owner, who emphasized the quality of his ingredients. He told me that he melts Belgian chocolate for his hot chocolate and mixes it with cream, that they serve Lavazza coffee, and do breakfast (they open at 7:00) and catering. They also have some baked goods and desserts, and prewrapped sandwiches and hummus to go.
It's just around the corner from the Greek Deli, and looks like a worthy alternative. Unlike the Deli, there are tables for onsite dining. The people who run it are all very welcoming and eager to succeed. If I worked closer by, I'd be there now.