Moroccan café in International City Reviews

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I don’t know why, but for whatever reason most of Dubai’s best Moroccan food is to be found in hotels – and that means it’s often pricey. So the prospect of a cheap, cheerful and independent Moroccan meal in the outskirts of International City was, well, refreshing. And when my date and I pulled up to Merci, we couldn’t help but be endeared by the relaxed vibe –modestly decorated with a handful of Moroccan lamps – and by the charmingly welcoming owner who personally took our order. The restaurant also specialises in Mediterranean fare (hence its seemingly incongruous name), but we were hankering for lamb and couscous, so we decided to stick to the North African specials.

The menu read extremely well, though we approached it with a hint of trepidation. Given how inexpensive the food was, the quality could have gone either way – though a tasting plate starter suggested we were in for a surprisingly good feast. An adept arancini (Sicilian fried rice balls) – crispy and tender – demonstrated that the kitchen could handle European food, and some woodsy zaalouk (Morocco’s answer to baba ganoush) hinted that overall we were in good hands. However my date and I were quickly let down by some miniature lamb skewers that, though juicy, were tough and shrunken. An order of calamari in a spicy tomato sauce was also a bit of a disappointment, too. The squid was chewy and similarly diminutive. However, the sauce was pleasantly toasty, leading me to deduce that the ingredients – not the kitchen staff – were the ones letting down the meal.

I started to worry about the starring role the lamb would be playing in my companion’s tagine. Thankfully, when the dish came out, the meat was spoonably tender, even if it was a tad anaemic. Still, the classic combination of prunes, almonds and honey made for a predictably winning dish. I had also feared the calamari’s cameo in my seafood bastilla and, while the squid was only marginally less chewy than before, the interior was smooth in texture and offered a hint of spice that was tantalising without being overpowering. Meanwhile, the filo shell was crisply brown. It was a satisfying, if filling, dish and was well priced for the size. Dessert came in the form of freshly fried pastries filled with a thick, fudge-like date mince. It was perhaps a bit of a rich an ending for a meal that was so heavy.

There were a handful of people eating in the restaurant, and a few more checking the internet over biscuits and mint tea. Even if Merci wasn’t the best Moroccan restaurant in Dubai, it was well set up for a gentle hangout spot where one could rely on an inexpensive and pleasant-enough meal.

The bill (for two)
2x Small bottles of Masafi water Dhs8
1x Tasting plate Dhs25
1x Calamari Dhs20
1x Lamb tagine Dhs35
1x Seafood bastilla Dhs35
1x Dessert plate Dhs10
Total (excluding service) Dhs133

By Daisy Carrington
Time Out Dubai,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.


  • Location: International City, Dubai
  • Tel: 04 422 0223
  • Travel: Manama Street
  • Cuisine: Moroccan
  • Times: Open daily 2.30pm-1.30am
  • Price: Dhs50-200
  • Credit Cards Accepted: Yes

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User reviews

  • Users voted this restaurant most suitable for: Family friendly

User reviews:

Posted by: foodcritic on 01 Sep ' 11 at 21:20
  • Best for: Family friendly
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

I went to the merci restaurant yesterday and it was really good considering i am a fussy eater.The sevice was great and the waiter was easy to communicate to. I liked the wide veriety of food on the menu i thought the food was sensational. The seasoning used in the the lamb couscous reminded me of Morocco.Lots of thanks to the merci team great food great price i recommend this restaurant to anyone.

Posted by: SAMY on 01 Sep ' 11 at 09:24

I have visit the resturant on 25th of Ramadan , its located in a nice place and in international city -french sector of International City (R6)
parking is easy and no crowd. when I reached the dragon mart , i called the resturant and checked the way and no suffer from find the place

the menu was new and consider most of the morrocan and arabic food. we have checked the availability of the menue and most of things was available except some items they inform us it will take time as all the food is making fresh. Iwe have selected dishes ranging from Lamb Kous Kous to Chicken marinated in moroccan spices.

Our bill was not expensive and I advice everyone to try

Posted by: Yasmine on 06 Aug ' 11 at 12:10
  • Best for: Family friendly
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Ok, with all the above reviews, i have to admit that I did not manage my expectations!!!!! However, when I saw the price of their Oftar special (38dhs) I quickly calmed myself down. arriving to the restaurant wasn't an easy task! but we managed to get there.The menu said, h'rira ( a traditional Moroccan soup, Ramadhan drinks, Morrocan sweets, dates and dish of the day "ask the waitress)) I made the biggest mistake by asking the poor waitress (a philippina who looked terrified by her employer) what was the dish of the day as it was mentioned on the menu, and if we could go for an a la carte menu if we didn't want it, she says, "sorry, we only have chicken" then she goes to the kitchen, and we could hear her boss yelling and trowing stuff on the floor...the poor girl came back, saying that only the iftar option was available and meat ball tajin was the only choice we had. as we were already starving to death and I have to admit that the smell of the food coming out of the kitchen smelt REALLY nice and we were also afraid to be followed by the screaming women if we left our table, we decided to stay.
Comes the soup, served with THE Ramadan drink, I was really and sincerly pleasantly surprised by the smell and the taste of that amazing hrira, a real delicacy! that reminded me of Ramadan back home. then we asked for the main, the tiniest Tjin I've ever had in my life, 10 really really small meat balls, they were 1cm each, as my mum always taught me not to judge before trying, I decided to give it a try, and again, my mum was right, the taste of the coriander, the cumin powder, paprika, garlic, and god knows what other spices the screaming lady put in there, but it was an explosion of flavors, Yes, they could hve done an effort with the pesentation, but tyhe taste was succulent. come the moroccan sweets, this was probably the only thing that looked as good as it tasted, and it tasted very good! really nice, as they promised us a tea, we asked for it! and guess what? the screaming lady herslf made it for us, ok she didn't look happy, ok she was moaning all the time and saying that if someone didn't like what they had she didn't care (yes, I am from noth africa, I could understand her :) ) BUT her tea was as good as escribed in the touristy leaflets about Morocco, and we had a whole big teapot just for us, about 3 glasses each.
then, we heard more talk coming from the kitchen and apparently, that day, she didn't receive her delivery, so she had to feed people with whatever she had there.
So, to summarize, ok the ambiance was really weird, ok, the food didn't look perfect, ok the service wasn't that good, but the taste was amazing, and given the price we paid, I the special circumstances, I really want to give it another try, I am sure that the screaming lady is a nice person when she's got her delivery right :)

Posted by: Sam on 02 Jan ' 11 at 12:08
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

The best restaurant ever in international city

Posted by: Aneel on 07 Oct ' 10 at 12:22
  • Best for: Family friendly
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

A trip to the Moroccan restaurant 'MERCI' in the french sector of International City (R6)

The location was, suffice to say, a task to locate. However, few things could measure up to the tangible tasting experience that is Merci Cafe.

Their menu consisted of a short list of items from a mediterannean cuisine as well as Moroccan. Though, having traveled to the restaurant for it's moroccan delight we had chosen an assortment of dishes ranging from Lamb Kous Kous to Chicken marinated in moroccan spices.

A beautiful presentation mixed with captivating aromas, would be something I would characterize of a michelin star chef. Suffice to say, that description would simply not do for the dishes that were served to us. They not only captivated the exotic moroccan culture with their look but also brought me into the beautiful country with it's rich aromatic flavour! My taste buds ache and pain to taste their food again.

Our bill was inexpensive and I felt as though I had robbed the establishment by not tipping them double the price of the meal as it was well worth it. Would recommend to anybody and everybody.
(I would not have bothered typing all of that out had their food not really been that good - give the fast food joints a break and check it out)

Posted by: Jonathan on 08 Aug ' 10 at 17:43
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Just came back from Merci in International City (exact location is French Cluster, Building R-6)
I had the lamb couscous which I enjoyed very much! Having lived in Morocco for a few years I can tell you that it was better than I expected. The staff is really nice and seem to be very polyvalent in service and in the kitchen, they are all Moroccan which adds to the authenticity of the place and very welcoming and nice, even scored a free dessert!
Value is great at around 35 for a hearty portion of couscous and for those of you who are not too keen for moroccan food they was quite a good variety of Mediterranean cuisine as well.
Don't expect anything fancy, it looks more like a cafeteria than a restaurant but the atmosphere is good, the staff is nice and the food is good, add very good value for money and you're in for a good meal!

Don't forget to have some Moroccan green tea after your meal to top it all off!

As the french say "Merci !" (Thank you) to the team at Merci restaurant, I will be back again!


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