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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.
Cafe Toubkal: A great place to look after your budget
Ive been taken here a number of times with my Moroccan family connections , Ive brought friends here and I come here whenever Im in Marrakech on my own - its very popular with locals as it has good food at good prices - and its right here in the main square so its handy to all the action and yet the prices are nothing like many of the surrounding places that take opportunity of the tourists and the drawcard of the Djma Elfna.
(the famed nght stalls of the Djmaa are okay if you look for a stall that is obviously popular with the locals but when you add the cost of several individual dishes together plus let them add bread and olives which you then have to pay for then Cafe Toubkal can be an even better deal, less smokey and less noisy if youre wanting a bit of a break away from all the noise)
It might look a little rough and ready but its always been quick, clean and low priced - and the food is fine!
Favorite Dish: Salade Nicoise is great - the coffee/noss noss is great/ the tagines are great (except for the mincemeat balls /kefta tagine were not so good here...maybe less expensive fatty mince? love kefta ie grilled mince patties but not so much in a tagine unless they are better quality meat) - the Harira is a good buy - and the breakfasts which Ive had here a number of times of pancakes, orange juice, coffee are great! (about 20 dirham - £1.50 for all 3)
The thing is you can have a 3 course meal here all for only 45 dirham - £3-£4!!
JAN 2012 - just eaten here again to bring some friends who was on a budget just as much as we were! and the only chance of getting to see Marrakech before their plane after driving up from Taroudant was to park, walk through Djma and eat here at Cafe Toubkal - we got tables upstairs with views over the square - for 55 dirham she shared chicken cousous, salade morocaine, mint tea and a pastry with her 8 year old, my beau had a steak and salad and frites for 35 dirham and I had a pastilla and noss noss for 27 dirham (and his salad and frites ha ha!) still excellent place to eat!
JULY 2013 back for breakfast
- Historical Travel
- Women's Travel
- Budget Travel
Riad Omar: A Banquet for two....
We had barely had time to drop off our bags at Riad Hamza when Ahmed suggested we might be hungry. In fact, I was ravenous and so we decided to accept Ahmed's offer of finding us a place to dine for the evening, particularly in light of his success at finding us a beautiful place to stay.
We walked back onto the main street and followed Ahmed's nimble silhouette to Riad Omar. The entrance and halls were similar to our accommodation's but on a larger scale. We were surprised to be shown to the terrace despite the pouring rain, but a marquee style canopy protected a luxuriously upholstered dining area from the elements. The terrace was crowded with French and Moroccan diners and we chose a corner couch with a discreet view of the room. There was no music but the constant cheery chatter gave the restaurant a lively atmosphere.
Looking at the menu, Ahmed helpfully selected two meals that we should try. I noticed they came in boxes with five lines each seeming to end in a separate dish - a five course meal...EACH??? Ahmed assured us the portions were small and his suggestion would be perfect for us. We must have looked hungry!
I know this sounds daft, but I must mention the toilets! They have the dearest little open air entrance with wash basin leading onto cubicles with swing-shutter doors that lock with huge iron bolts!
Due to the lack of alcohol at Riad Omar, Jonathan had started to sober up fast and it was lucky that several feline visitors kept his mind off his hangover. Thus we began the longest meal of our lives!
Favorite Dish: The five course set menus cost 250 dirhams each and could feed an army! Our evening commenced with cold salad dishes and bread. Spiced carrots, olives and pasta all featured and also very sweet honeyed dates which I found peculiar at the beginning of a meal. The next course was tagines of lamb and chicken which were beautifully prepared and presented. The lamb tagine was cooked with chicken livers which are a favourite of mine and Jonathan's.
Couscous was served next with many different root vegetables to compliment it. I found this quite bland but satisfying after the spicy tagines. A huge basket a fruit was brought to the table once the couscous was cleared. At this point we were beginning to feel uncomfortably full and then melon was soothing and refreshing. A word to the wise - don't fill up on that bread in the first course or you will explode!
When the mint tea was finally served we couldn't even look at the sweet pastries that accompanied it!
- Food and Dining
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Local Lunch Haunts just off Djemaa el-Fna: Lunch with the locals
On our last full day in Marrakech we were wandering around Djemaa el-Fna looking for somewhere to have lunch. There are plenty of restaurants surrounding the square, but none of them took our fancy. They all seemed to be filled with tourists, and all of the prime people-watching seats had been taken.
Alison suggested that we explore some of the small, permanent food stalls located along one side of the square. We discovered a narrow covered alley of small shops serving up meat and tajines to mainly hungry locals.
The food at each shop looked great (and fairly similar), so we chose which shop we wanted to eat in mainly based on the fact that the owners were not harassing us, but instead gave us friendly encouragement – handing us a hunk of lamb to taste (pulled of the bone with filthy fingers) which was tasty and sealed the deal.
We scurried up the narrow stairs to the tiny mezzanine level of the restaurant. The ceilings were very low and the walls were lined with a mix-match of beautiful coloured tiles.
Favorite Dish: To eat we had a serving of the aforementioned lamb and also a tajine with potatoes and some un-identified meat which we assumed was lamb (and were too scared to assume otherwise!) – anyway, whatever it was it was delicious.
After we had eaten Alison asked if she could take a photo of the owners and the food at the front of the restaurant. They were pleased to pose, but insisted that I get in the photo too, and look as though I was working with them stirring a big pot of food. Funny.
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
Outside in a fantastic garden.: Rôtisserie de la Paix.
Our last evening , we had to get up very early
and we wanted it to be special. We chose this
restaurant in Guéliz. It is a bbq restaurant
with a wunderful garden. We were a bit too early.
It opens at 6 but they only get started half an hour
later. There are tables round a central fountain ,
palmtrees with lights in it...a wall with water.
It all get quit cozy when it gets dark. This is also
the place that more wealthy moroccan prefer.
Frederik went straight for the 'grillades Royale'
(15euro) and I took the tapas surprise (15 euro).
Those tapas had little to do with what is served
in Spain. It were all sorts of little snacks , like shrimps ,
little sausages ....tapas with a very local touch.
BUT one of the little cups had creme caramel
in it. I was highly amused. :-)
A large bottle of mineral water , sidi ali (1,2 euro)
and two divine fresh squeezed orange juices
(3 euro) made it complete.
DESSERT? of course.
The most important thing. I had fresh strawberries
(not as sweet as in Belgium) and the other
side came the 'asiette Gourmande'. (5euro)
A fantastic platter of tartes and sweets and even
Don't forget the 10% taxes in the end.
We had a fantastic evening.
Djamaa el Fna Night Market: As much a performance as it is a meal
Eating here is definitely as much a performance as it is a meal and is best regarded as such. It won’t be the best meal you ever had, but it will only cost a few dirham and is worth it for the spectacle alone. We were slightly nervous at the thought of eating “street food”, especially as Katy at our hotel had warned against it, but so many other people, including friends on VT, had reported having no problems that we decided to give it a go, and were very glad that we had. And no, we didn’t suffer as a result in the slightest!
All the stalls are numbered and are grouped together in one part of the Djamaa el Fna. As you approach you will see the smoke rising from numerous grills and smell grilling meat and spices in the air. As soon as you come close the performance will begin. “Good as Jamie Oliver!” “Cheap as chips!” “Air-conditioned restaurant!” and so on.
Favorite Dish: After looking round for a short while we settled on stand 97 where we could see the kebabs or brochettes being freshly grilled. A helpful guy found us a seat at the end of one of the long tables and whisked my crutches out of the way to the cooking area where his colleague manning the grill proceeded to mime using them as extra long kebab skewers, to the amusement of all around us.
Bread, olives and two dips were brought immediately, with one of the latter being very spicy and the highlight of our meal. From the menu we ordered chips (as we had heard they were often delicious at the stalls), couscous with vegetables, spicy sausage and lamb brochettes. The quality of the food was a bit mixed – the chips were disappointingly flabby and almost cold, and the sausages short on meat, but the couscous was fine and the brochettes the best of all – seven long skewers with tasty well-cooked meat. We shared a large bottle of mineral water, and paid in total 105 dirhams (about £8.50) – a bargain!
But this isn’t a meal to linger over, and others will be waiting for your place at the table, so you need to pay up and move on. If you’re a little more mobile than I was you might like to enjoy your dinner in instalments – soup at one stand, kebabs at another, and so on. We found that other tourists were happy to stop and compare notes about where they had enjoyed something in particular, and the stand numbers make it easy to track down these recommendations. Some stands specialise (one was selling only eggs) but most have much the same menu so it’s really just a question of where you can find space, which looks to be appealing to other diners (check for locals especially) and which salesman can lure you in with his patter.
La Mamounia (Bar Du Soleil): A Taste of The High Life!
I treated myself to afternoon tea here on my birthday.
This 'legendary' hotel was built on the site of an 18th century palace of Sultan Mohammed 111, opening as a hotel in 1923, it gained a reputation as THE place to stay in Marrakesh for the rich and famous of that era. Politicians, film stars and artists have resided here over the years, its most notable guest being Winston Churchill.
The 17 acre gardens surround this de luxe hotel (see my must see tips for more info)
The hotel is open from 1000-1600 for non residents, and is worth a look around. No shorts or other 'unsuitable' attire allowed entrance!
The Bar Soleil is a pleasant place to enjoy a drink or snack. It was just warm enough to sit out and enjoy the late afternoon winter sun, and is quite peaceful.
Favorite Dish: I was intending to have a gin fizz (120 dh) but realised I didn't have enough money on me for a drink and food.
Flag beer was 40dh (I was paying 15dh at my hotel) So I opted for Mint Tea (40dh) and a plate of Moroccan pastries(120dh)
The pastries were nice and the Mint Tea came in a larger pot than I'd been offered previously, but you're paying for the location etc.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Luxury Travel
- Historical Travel
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!
Sandwich Toubkal: Cheap food.
Wandering around Gueliz, I came across this street with quite a few similar cafes in a row, with tables on the pavement. The smell of grilling meats was too tempting!
These cafes are mainly frequented by local workers or residents - They're basic, nothing fancy (or fake "authentic" tourist types!). Clientele - Mainly males of all ages, a few couples (The women wearing headscarves/ jellabahs)
Mixed grills, Grilled chicken, tagines, omelettes.
All very reasonable (Omelette with chips and rice 11dh, salad 10dh, mixed grill with chips and rice 34dh)
I felt very comfortable, and thoroughly enjoyed my meal. I was approached by a few street hawkers selling kilims, shirts, cd's etc, but there was no pressure, as they approached everyone else (ie locals) in the same manner. I think the young waiters were a bit surprised to serve a lone female tourist, but they were friendly and polite.
The Sandwich Toubkal is opposite the Hotel Tachine - which is a popular budget hotel. It has a rooftop mirador open 0900 - 23.00 hours- purchase of an alcoholic beverage is compulsory (whether You drink it or not) before you can be admitted!
I didn't realise til later, that I'd walked down this street many times before on my previous visit, as my hotel (Oudaya) was only a few metres further down the street.
Favorite Dish: I enjoyed fresh local bread, served with 3 sauces in bowls - tomato, chilli, and mayo,
salad ( lettuce, tomato,onion, grated carrot, beetroot) all fresh and nicely presented on a large plate
1/4 grilled chicken, fries (crisp and not too greasy! Mmmm!)
rice and a salad garnish . Plus a can of Fanta and a small bottle of water.
There was too much for me to eat, and I'm afraid that I had to leave some. This all came to 33dh! (About £2!)
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
Le Lounge: Restaurant/ Bar
For a change from eating in Djemma El Fnaa, I decided to try somewhere in Gueliz, near to my hotel. I had considered trying the legendary Al Fassia, which was very near by, but decided to go there on the last night of my holiday.
This Modern salon / Restaurant caught my eye.
Terraced area outside with 9 tables, plus comfy settees and chairs in outside lounge area. Seating inside too.
Young, Smart, Friendly and Efficient staff. My order was taken quickly, and I didn't have too long a wait for my food, but I didn't feel made to rush at the end of my meal.
Varied menu (Tapas, Tagines, fish, meat etc), plus large wine/cocktail (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) list.
Pleasant relaxed atmosphere,
Mix of clientele dining - local professional looking couples, Families, elderly group of friends.
On a side street off Ave Mohammed V
I returned here on the last night of my holiday, for a night cap
Favorite Dish: I enjoyed my Beef Tagine, it was hot, with plenty of meat, fruit and vegetables. Crusty bread to mop up the sauce! (70dh)
Creme Caramel (40dh) Mmm!
Flag beer (25dh)
Gin Mash cocktail (65dh)
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
Local Cuisine: Dar Mimoun
Though it's more expensive than your average Moroccan restaurant, I would strongly recommend a visit to Dar Mimoun. Set in a beautiful, quiet courtyard in one of the streets off Djemam el Fna, Dar Mimoun offers fantastic Moroccan food. We went for the 130 Dirham 3 course menu and there was so much food there we had to take it real slowly. My starter - a Moroccan salad, see picture - consisted of 9 separate plates! All this before a huge couscous for main course! The restaurant was not obviously aimed at tourists though at those prices it was mostly foreigners who were eating there.
Cafe de l'Etoile: Tasty lunch
We had lunch one day in this pleasant spacious café just off the Djamaa el Fna. All the tables outside were taken but we got one just inside the door with a view of the street outside and of the airy double-height dining room within. There is also a roof terrace if you’re feeling more mobile than I was, though I imagine the views are slightly less good than from some of the others in the neighbouring area.
I only wanted a light meal and had been wanting to try the local harira soup, so was pleased to see it on the menu. I had a delicious bowlful accompanied by some bread (French baguette style) for just 12 dirhams (about £1) – a bargain. Chris also liked his tuna melt Panini which came with chips and cost just 30 dirhams, so was also good value.
Ksar Es Saoussan: In the rabbit warren...
As the restaurant is secreted away in the back alleys of the Medina we had a guide: a silent and imposing Moor in a red jellabeya and a fez. He preceeded us through the souk with a regal air and, when we arrived that the restaurant, took into his hand the vast door knocker and brought it thrice resoundlingly home: BOOM BOOM BOOM... the gravitas of the moment somewhat ruined by the door being open and his having to lean over other people to reach the knocker. Poor chap: his heart was really in it.
Although we'd pre-booked there was a minor screw-up leaving us without a table. Diners are seated on the ground floor but we were shown to the first floor balcony, next to the piano lounge, where a table was set up for us.
They then gave us too much food. And REALLY strong gin and tonics. And then a lot of wine. So, I'm a bit hazy about what I ate. But I do remember it was good.
I wasn't officer I C paying that evening and am thus unsure how much it cost: I think we paid about 1000 dhs for the two of us.
Favorite Dish: There was so much food that I've frankly forgotten what most of it was. I did have, however, the pigeon pastilla (pigeon with almond and cinnamon wrapped in filo pastry) which was very good, if too big for me.
And some excellent petit-fours.
- Food and Dining
...: Moroccan specialities
Moroccan cuisine shares many characteristics with others of the region and of the Arab world in general, but there are also some distinctive dishes and delicacies that belong especially to this country. Some of my favourites were:
“citrons confits” or preserved lemons – a wonderful tangy additions to tagines and to the delicious “choutchouka” (a kind of ratatouille) that I had in the Ourika Valley.
“tagines”, stews cooked in the distinctive conical earthenware dishes – we had a wonderful calamari one at our riad, which is probably not typical but was absolutely excellent. More often you will find lamb, chicken or beef cooked in this way, which is slow cooking at its best.
“couscous”, served as an accompaniment to the tagine or as a dish in its own right. I love couscous and was disappointed not to have more while in Marrakesh, but we did have a good vegetable one in the night market.
“pastilles” - a slightly strange mix of savoury and sweet, served as an appetiser or a light snack. Meat (often pigeon) is flavoured with spices and dried fruits, baked wrapped in pastry and served dusted with icing sugar.
“pastries” - like many nationalities in this area, Moroccans have a sweet tooth and love their pastries, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the ones we sampled (in the Café Argana in the Djamaa el Fna) were not too sweet for my taste. Filled with nuts and flavoured with spices, they make a perfect accompaniment to a glass of mint tea.
Bars, restaurants, supermarkets etc. Marrakesh: Local beer
If I have a choice of beers while on holiday, I like to try the local brew.
Although as a Muslim country, alcohol is forbidden by Islam, it is available in Marrakesh!
Flag Speciale beer (5.2%) was sold in my hotel (brewed in Tangier) also Heineken was available.
I was aware that other Moroccan beers are Stork and Casablanca, although I didn't see these here (I tried Casablanca later on on a trip to Essaouira)
I tried some Moroccan Wine at Chez Ali ( a dry white), which was very pleasant, (although expensive!)
Favorite Dish: Flag speciale was a pleasant drink. I usually had a glass in my hotel bar after a days sightseeing. I'm sure it would be very welcome on a hot summers day.
I paid 15dh in Hotel Oudaya. I saw it in the supermarket, but not sure of the price. If drinking it at La Mamounia it was 40dh a glass!
I don't know if this brew is available on draught.
- Budget Travel
- Beer Tasting
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
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