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Local Cuisine: Mint Tea -the a la menthe/ Moroccan Whisky!
Mint tea is ubiquitous in Morocco!
Whether served in a glass, or from a silver pot, this refreshing drink has to be tried at least once. Mint tea is often offered by shopkeepers during the haggling process.
Chinese green tea, fresh spearmint (nanaa) leaves and sugar are infused in boiling water.
Berber pharmacies sell bags of dried mint and green tea to try at home.
I like my tea black and sweet, but some find it too sweet - just request your tea to be served shwiya sukkar for a less sweetened version.
The tea will often be poured from a height by your waiter to ensure a frothy top! Often the first poured glass is returned to the pot to 'improve' the brew.
Although not traditionally drank with meals, it is considered a digestive.
I had no problems with my stomach during my week, which might have been thanks to the copious amounts of mint tea I drank!
Favorite Dish: I got quite addicted to Mint tea, while in Marrakesh! I'll be growing lots of mint in my garden this year so I can enjoy this refreshing drink. Although I drank it hot in Marrakesh, I think I'll be making iced versions for summer.
Prices varied, Apart from many free glasses I was offered, I think the cheapest I paid was 7dh, the most expensive was 40dh at La Mamounia!
Chez Ali: Chez Ali - Fantasia, Food, Music and Dance!
An evening at Chez Ali is an experience not to be missed! I'd been looking forward to visiting, since reading VTers tips. I chose to celebrate my Birthday here.
I've written a bit about the venue and entertainment in my Nightlife tips.
Arriving at Chez Ali, we were led by our guide, to a room where the inside was decorated in the style of a traditional Caidal tent. The central area was where the food would be served, around the edge of the tent were tables and chairs.
Our first course was Harira - lentil/vegetable soup, followed by lamb M'choui (a whole lamb, spit roasted, usually served at celebrations) Next was chicken and vegetable cous cous, A sweet filo pastry dessert (which might have been Pastilla) then a platter of fresh fruits completed our meal. There was also Mint tea, but the Fantasia had started, so I missed this.
Favorite Dish: I enjoyed all the dishes, This was a good opportunity to try these traditional Moroccan foods.
I also had a 1/2 bottle of wine (Kaiser Blanc 11.5%) and a large bottle of water (I think the wine and water cost 100dh)
I'm not sure how many people they cater for each night, our room had seating for about 150 people, and there were at least 6 of these rooms.
I paid 400dh for this trip through Panorama/Menara Tours. I think most tour companies offer this trip, but you can arrange it independently.
- Food and Dining
- Arts and Culture
Restaurant Agdal: Good Local Restaurant opp the Bar Anglais
Good honest local food, food better then another 4 I treid (including Ketchmara - where the wairess gets 10 points for the biggest *** on a slim girl I have ever seen but the food sucked),
right opposite the Chesterfield Hotel (home of the BAR ANGLAIS) on Bul. Mohammed the 6th.
Favorite Dish: CouscousRoyal ot the Tagine au Poulet avec Limon.
Don't remember the name of the restaurant, but it is worth to go there. There are even many of them at Djemma el-Fna, on the top. You can eat delicious food and enjoy a view on Marrakesh. Djemma and Koutoubia with Medina are like on the palm. AND you can take a picture of snakes and you don't have to pay! :-)
Favorite Dish: Kebap
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
DAR MOHA RESTAURANT: Lovely setting and good food!
The Dar Moha has a lovely restaurant with a great fixed menu of "nouvelle cuisine marocaine".
We had pastilla (sweet pigeon pie) filled with a vegetable purée, tagine and strawberries wrapped in wafer-thin pastry and rolled in ground almonds.
The setting is lovely, around a light swimming pool. I recommend you to book ahead as this is a very well known place and gets fully booked. Very romantic, with good food and traditional music players.
Favorite Dish: The various Moroccan starters were delicious!
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Wine Tasting
- Food and Dining
Cafe Argana: Cafe Argana
A large restaurant on the edge of the Djemaa el-Fna square which consists of two levels, the bottom level seems to be where the locals hang out and the top floor is where the tourists tend to go. Not a bad thing, since the top floor has access to some tables on the terrace with good views over the market. A good place to take some photos of the market without the hassle of hawkers.
Favorite Dish: A wide variety of tagine's (lamb, chicken, beef) but my favourite was the lamb tagine with apple. The lamb was succulent, falling of the bone, and the apple gives it's a sweet kick not unlike the traditional apple sauce you would have with pork in the uk. Along with bread to mop up any of the sauce, it's a homely meal that I kept on coming back for more.
- Budget Travel
Chez Chegrouni: Tagine at Chez Chegrouni
On the edge of the Djemaa el-Fna square, sits this small restaurant which offers a cheap place to try out some of the local cuisine. Not as cheap as the market stalls in the centre of the square itself, but perhaps my stomach wasn't brave enough to try the market just yet. It may be strange that the waiter passes you a notepad and a pen to write down your order, but once you've placed it, service was quick and portions were good sized.
Favorite Dish: The chicken tagine, with lemon and olives was the dish I ordered more than once from this establishment. With a side order of fries (hey, not everything has to be local ;-) ), and complimentary bread to mop up the tagine juices, it made a very satisfying meal.
- Budget Travel
Chez Ali: Chez Ali Disappointment
Chez Ali Is touted as a "must see spectacular". The compound holds great promise when you first arrive. The building and tents and folk groups in costume are visually exciting and beautiful. We sat down at our table with 6 people from other countries. The food arrived, and yes it was plentiful and heaping but of the poorest quality. A man from London described the lamb as tough old mutton! He was not joking. Everything was served family style and even though the cous cous was piled high it was dry and flavorless. I got one minute piece of vegetable by the time everybody had dug in. I did enjoy the soup. Most people at our table left a good part of the meal uneaten. No one said anything, we just looked at each other knowingly.
The restaurant created a big production on fancy trays, but it was very disappointing. The dessert was suppose to be a bastilla, but it was unedible. I am a great fan of Moroccan food, but this meal fell flat. I would have rather have gone to a nice restaurant without all the touristy hoopla.
When the folk groups came to our table singing one group at a time, each trying to get us up from the table to tip them for taking pictures, everyone at the table quickly learned to ignore them, because there were probably 12-15 groups. So we politely smiled and clapped.
The show at the end was fun but it was not spectacular. The belly dancer was very good, and the magic carpet ride was clever, but the horses made the arena air extremely dusty and on our end of the arena was where the galloping horses came to a screeching halt which produced a tornado of dust that enveloped us.
It was an experience, and it would just depend if you like touristy things or not.
Favorite Dish: The Harira soup was very good.
- Arts and Culture
- Family Travel
What I liked.......: My Restaurant Recommendations
Places I DO NOT recommend:
*Le Pavillon- We read in Lonely Planet that Le Pavillon was one of the best restaurants with great ambiance; everyone ranted and raved about it. So when we got there (it was in a weird part of town) we were led to the courtyard for dinner. I was not very impressed with the place at all. Granted, there were candles and trees but still, the simple Riad I was staying in had better ambiance. Furthermore, the food wasn’t even that good. One of the dishes we had was like a slice of Pizza, but only WORSE and at 16.00 Euros!! The food was nothing special; I actually enjoyed my $0.80 salad at Chez Chegrouni alot more!! At the end of the night the bill came out to 80 euros for 2 appetizers and one entree; We didn’t even order wine. I was very displeased with the food and atmosphere. This place is totally overrated.
Places I recommend:
*Le Marrakachi- Very cute and trendy romantic restaurant overlooking the square. Great food. Bottle of wine and nice dinner for two for 60 euros.
*Chez Chegrouni- Nice, simple, but delicious restaurant overlooking Djemma el-Fna. Very cheap. Lunch for 2: 8 euros.
*Cafe Arabe- Nice, trendy, modern atmosphere. International cuisine, which is a nice break from Moroccan food. Relatively priced about 15 euros per plate.
*Hotel Ali- Tired the lunch buffet, had the spaghetti pomodoro which was DELICIOUS with real spices for 8 euros per person
*Riad Tamsna- Lonely Planet described this place as achingly stylish and it´s true. The moment you walk in, you are stunned at how beautiful this place really is. Kind of hidden away, you need to get detailed directions or just ask someone, this place is very nice and the food was great. Very romantic and nice atmosphere. Food relatively priced 19 Euros per plate.
*Cafe Argana- Food was just okay, nothing great. The service was sooo slow and they weren’t the friendliest. but they always let you use the restroom. The ice cream downstairs is really delicious and highly recommended.
Le Tobsil: authentic, delicious Morroccan food
One of the publications we were using for our trip was a story from the NY Times titled "36 hours in Marrakech," which suggested eating at an authentic Moroccan restaurant that was a little expensive (by Moroccan standards) and a little off the beaten path. We had agreed to meet some folks there, friends of ours who were also in Marrakech, but Bethany ended up eating alone at a large table after I had to apologize to the owner that our friends hadn't shown up. Bethany and I agreed it was one of the best meals we'd ever eaten: five courses starting with a variety of delicious Moroccan salads, then roasted chicken (tajine) and roasted lamb with vegetables and couscous. That was followed by two desserts. Dinner was 1200 dirham for the two of us, about 110 Euro, but it was well worth it. That meal was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
Favorite Dish: It's whatever they're serving that evening ... awesome. An meal and an experience.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
- Food and Dining
Local Cuisine: Dar Mimoun
We went to this place for the fancy and not cheap dinner....it was our "date evening".
We wanted to not only enjoy fantastic atmosphere, but we red good things about the food in that place.
Restaurant is open only at night, but you can pop in during the day to check the place, the menu and make the reservation.
We really enjoyed ourselves that evening.
Favorite Dish: I had lamb tagine (sometimes I am not vegetarian) and it was FANTASTIC. Probably the best piece of meat I had in last 10 years.
Santo had vegetarian couscous and he loved as well.
We also had some soup and apetaisers, but I don't remember what.
We don't have photos of the dishes because it was very dark in there and quiet, and it didn't look like other costumers would apreciate our flash ;-)
One of these local/rural restaurants: real Moroccan atmosphere
We made two day trips into the High Atlas and of course we had to eat something during the day.
The first day we had a ‘grand taxi’ and our driver recommended a small restaurant along the road in the Berber village of Ijoukak. Tajines are simmering the whole, but we ordered a Berber omelette. In no time they were served in a frying pan and it was simple but delicious. (I have to admit I wouldn’t have stopped at such a restaurant without our local driver !!).
Our second experience - not being afraid any longer - was in the village of Telouet, after visiting the Kasbah. Our ‘guide’ recommended a restaurant along the main road called ‘Chez Mohamed Café Restaurant Palace de Telouet’; wonderful name for just a couple of plastic tables in the dust along the road. It took rather a long time, but again the food was excellent.
Favorite Dish: Just the ‘adventure’ of eating in a local restaurant with a lot of real Moroccan atmosphere.
It was so cheap, perhaps a couple of euro’s for the two/three of us.
Cafe de France: Rooftop pizza
One of the scenic Djemaa el Fna restaurants-with-balcony, Cafe de France was probably the least iviting in terms of decor of all the places I tried in the square. It looked pretty standard in terms of menu too - the usual tagines, teas and so on. But it has something the others don't: a wood-fired oven on the top level where you can watch pizza after pizza being slid in before being removed and carefully sprinkled with oil.
The pizzas are the thing to try. Small and perfectly formed, they are great value for around 3-4 dirhams, with thin, crispy bases and a variety of tasty toppings. It's great to anticipate your lunch while watching them being prepared, and the Moroccan pizzaiolo lends some atmosphere to the restaurant.
The view is not quite so good as the nearby Chez Chegrouni, but Cafe de France is a good solid choice for lunch.
Cafe Argana: Seafood pastilla - a must-try at Cafe Argana
Cafe Argana is one of the Djemaa el Fna institutions, a multi-tiered restaurant that packs customers in in the evenings. It seems to attract more of an even mix of Moroccans and foreigners than the other places in the square and there were plenty of families and big parties on the night we visited, giving Argana a more festive atmosphere than those that are more popular with couples.
It must be partly down to the sheer size of the restaurant, as the decor is not the most plush on Djemaa el Fna, with simple tables and plastic garden chairs. Service is brusque too, and we were barked at for trying to order a meal on the wrong balcony...
Food was the usual Moroccan staples (tagines, couscous, you'll have the choice imprinted on your memory after a trip to any similar place) but for... seafood pastilla. Finally. I'd heard about this dish, but had up until Argana only seen the chicken or pigeon version. I was very keen to try a pastilla (or bisteeya/b'steeya), having a love of all things pie-like, but not eating meat... The rest of the food was quite ordinary but the pastilla made the Argana more than worthwhile.
Favorite Dish: Seafood pastilla - even better than I'd hoped. Pastry that was crisp and flaky on top, soft and buttery further in: delicious. They didn't skimp on the filling, an interesting mix of vermicelli and shellfish including prawn and squid. Quite simply, the best thing I ate in Morocco.
Chez Chegrouni: Wonderful view, decent tagines
We had our first meal in Marrakesh at Chez Chegrouni and having left contented ended up returning several times before we left. The restaurant does a simple menu of Moroccan staples (a tagine of lamb, one of chicken, one of vegetables, a couscous with lamb, and so on) plus omelettes and salads. Nothing particularly exciting, but we enjoyed a number of different dishes and they were all done well. The vegetable tagine was a very tasty example of the dish. Bread is plentiful so two people can easily share a main for a filling lunch, a good option when its 48 degrees and you need something lighter. The fresh fruit juices were very refreshing.
Service is attentive and prices are fair. One thing to note, though - I've heard conflicting things about whether or not the vegetable dishes contain meat stock, so it may be best to check...
The best thing about Chez Chegrouni, though, is the view. Obviously all the restaurants with a balcony in the square have a view over the Djemaa el Fna, but Chegrouni's is particularly good. You have a good proximity to everything that's going on down below. The atmosphere in the restaurant itself enhances the sense of getting away from the bustle below and just being able to watch it all; there are cushions and ceiling fans, lots of colour and hanging lanterns.
Having been to a number of other places in Djemaa el Fna, Chez Chegrouni doesn't have the most adventurous menu, but it compares very favourably for the basic Moroccan dishes that you'll want to try. And definitely my favourite cheap view.
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