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.
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!
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!
The Place Djema el Fna becomes a MASSIVE outdoor restaurant as evening draws in.
The name translates as "Dead Men's Square", but this was not because of the quality of the food!!
There are dozens of stalls, surrounded by tables and benches. The vendors are very imaginative and entertaining in the ways they try and encourage you to eat at THEIR tables.
But everyone seems to sell the same thing - kebabs, fish, meat, cous-cous, soft drinks, water etc. Our strategy was to try and find a stall which seemed to be popular with Morocans. But of course, as soon as we sat down, the number of Europeans grew!
The food was fine! As long as the food is freshly cooked and hot then it should be OK.
Favorite Dish: We found that the 'waiter' tried to give us every dish available, whether we asked for it or not. So we ended up trying a bit of everything. If you want to eat cheaply, I guess you will have to be firm but polite.
Don't forget the fresh orange juice stalls too. Perfect for the evening heat.
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.
Chez Ali is a vast fantasy village located in a palmgrove in the outskirts of Marrakech. They made quite a production out of this place that it actually reminded of me Disneyland.
Waiters and waitresses dressed in their own tribal costumes also work as entertainers.
The food is plenty! They serve harira (soup) roasted lamb, or mechoui, vegetable-topped couscous, fruit, pastries and mint tea.
All throughout the dinner, various folklore groups pass through the tents and tables dancing, singing and animating the evening. For sure, if you want a quiet dinner, this will not be the place.
The highlight of the evening comes at the end of your meal when everyone had to move from their tables, sit down on a wooden bench around a large corral in the center of Chez Ali. Charging horsemen in their display of old tribal power with shouts and firing of rifles as the pull their horses to a halt. Then follows the horseback acrobatics, a belly dancer and then up in the night sky Sheherazade and her prince fly to the stars on their magic carpet, as around them fireworks explode.
A bit touristy but worth it!! I went there a couple years ago and we paid I think $40 or $45/person.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I visited this place after reading recommendations from other VTers. Good for cheap, good basic food.
My first visit, I had a tasty bowl of Harrira soup with bread for 8dh!
The food was lovely, but the service was VERY slow- I thought it was because I was a female on my own, but then realised everyone else was having to wait.
My second visit, I was with a friend I'd met during our tour. We both had tagines, which again were hot tasty filling and cheap. Mine was a chicken tagine with almonds and sultanas-Mmmmmmm!
My 3rd visit I had another tagine plus an avocado juice, which came sweetened.
I'd read on VT and in LP that the quirk of this place was that you wrote your order on the paper napkins, then this was returned as your bill. I'm afraid that I didn't see this happen.
Popular place with locals, Moroccan holiday makers and tourists- the front terrace was always full, so I sat inside - there was a fan overhead. There is an upper terrace too, but I didn't get to see this part.
Favorite Dish: The Tagines were hot, tasty and cheap- starting at 30dh for vegetable tagine, 50dh for beef or chicken tagines, (2006) Delicious bread to mop up the juices.
Avocado juice was a pleasant alternative to orange juice - something that I'd not tried before, but will look out for it again.
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!)
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)
Cafe Cherougni is an easy-to-spot restaurant just off Jmaa El Fna, towards the north-east side of the square. In addition to good food (try the chicken with raisin tagine!), the restaurant also has 3 floors -- the top floor is shaded and has wonderfully colourful Moroccan decor. The view of the mosques near the Jmaa El Fna square and the surrounding Medina is simply fantastic.
The best feature of this restaurant is that they don't rush you, so you can order a cup of Moroccan mint tea and soak in the atmosphere of the streets at your leisure.
Bottom line: An ideal place to hide from the heat for a lazy afternoon chillout without breaking your bank!
Favorite Dish: Chicken with raisin tagine. (50 Dir)
Moroccan salad is also quite well done.
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.