Cafe Mogador is Your Tagine Spot
The open patio seating and brunch-friendly vibe of Cafe Mogador make it a perennially popular St. Marks restaurant, but for me there's one real pull: the tagines.
A great tagine pulls incredible depth of flavor from meat and vegetables without relying much on browning, which has a way of irreparably toughening the meat you're trying to cook to utter tenderness. At Mogador, the Lamb Shank Tagine ($19.50) does the preparation justice. The tender, tender meat falls off its bone with a bare prod and is a luxuriously rich and fatty as lamb shanks can be. The layers of flavor are subtle but assertive: the meat, of course, then sweet, warm spices in the braising liquid, the mild brine of olives, and the gentle tang of preserved lemon. Impressively fluffy couscous soaks up all that broth well, but don't get too distracted from the gorgeous chunks of lamb.
Speaking of olives, an order of Olives and Pickles ($5.50) make a handy side. The buttery olives and sharp pickled peppers cut through the richness well.
If you need to fill out your order (I recommend getting the tagine to share), cloudlike Hummus ($5.50), whipped-up and fluffy, and oily slices of roasted eggplant soused with tahini ($5.50) do you right.