Get a taste of Morocco at this East Atlanta eatery

Dish of the Week: Meatball Tagine at Marrakech Express

By Wyatt Williams

The Global Grub Collective in East Atlanta is a food hall of underdogs, a shoe-string operation with a handful of first-time restaurateurs chasing their culinary dreams. When you step inside for lunch these days, it is chef Amal Alaoui's face, wrapped in a head scarf, that you'll likely see first. Her one-woman operation Marrakech Express is at the front of the room, where she sells simple lunch plates made with the techniques that she learned in Morocco. She may lure you in with a taste of baklawa (Arabic for baklava) or a sample of one of the tagines that make up her lunch plates. Don't resist.

My recent lunch plate was lovely: tender, slow simmered beef meatballs cooked down with peppers and onions into a tomato-rich tagine spiced with a bewitching combination of Moroccan spices. Alaoui spoons this over saffron rice and serves it with some hummus and a small salad. The heat of her homemade harissa and the cooling touch of her garlicy cream sauce are welcome additions. All of this will only run you $6, so don’t skip out on a cup of atay, a refreshing mint iced tea and a bite of baklawa for dessert.

Marrakech Express. 479-B Flat Shoals Ave. SE, Atlanta. 770-568-0548,