Port Authority Area as an Exotic and Alluring Destination


It’s tough to believe something this beautiful has taken root in the dingy area just west of Port Authority, where overhead ramps convey exhaust-belching buses and motorists jockey to escape through the Lincoln Tunnel. But like a rose that blossoms out of a sidewalk crack, Tagine sweetens its neighborhood with an exotic and alluring perfume. Inside the sumptuous two-story space, spicy citrus scents waft from the Magic Square (Bacardi, orange-blossom water, preserved lemons, and Rémy Red; $12). The uncommon bouquet of Algerian red wine Chateau Tellagh 2000 ($7) and Moroccan red Amazir Beni M’Tir 2001 ($8) evokes the High Atlas. Diners and drinkers gather on Wednesdays to absorb traditional Moroccan music, and on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for belly dancing that gets interactive and daring (when a sword joins the show). Moroccan-style lamps, curtains, and seating create an understated elegance; an art exhibition, instead of overwrought tapestries or tiles, graces the brick walls. And check out the napkins—saved from the now demolished El Morocco club, which ruled New York nightlife in the ’40s. North Africans frequent the semicircular bar in the rear, and Maghreb-philes might end up conversing in French, sipping hot mint tea, and sampling olives as their sense of place dissolves in a mélange of sensory delights. What a shock to step outside and find not camels and dunes, but noisy, stinky midtown instead.