If you are looking for a trip that blows you away without travelling too far outside Europe I highly recommend that you visit Marrakech! We spent 4 exciting days in Marrakech and we are already looking forward to returning soon. It’s authentic, beautiful and has the most amazing food. Start planning your trip to Marrakech now!
I decided not to look at photos or guidebooks before the trip and allow the city to surprise me. However being a foodie, I couldn’t resist looking at traditional Moroccan dishes, it only took a couple of photos to make my mouth water. Everything looked so colourful, flavoursome and exotic. I got so excited looking at the photos that I decided to book a cooking class in the Medina which I loved (find more info below).
This post is about how to taste the best Marrakech food: what to eat, where to eat, my favourite restaurants and some Moroccan recipes to enjoy when you come back because you are going to miss Marrakech cooking, trust me! Marrakech has also many other things to offer besides its gastronomy: beautiful palaces, mosques, gardens and the souks, even if you get lost you’ll still have fun wandering the city. Are you ready?
First steps into the Medina
We arrived in Marrakech around 8 pm, we went to the bus stop and taxi drivers were chasing us for fares saying the bus didn’t exist. We thought this was a scam to make us hire a taxi but after 40 minutes of waiting there was still no sign of a bus so we decided to get a taxi. We agreed on a price (110 dirans) and took a taxi to the city centre (which took around 30′).
Our first walk along the Medina narrow alleys was to find our hotel, Riad Le Bel Oranger (which was good value for money. Within seconds, someone offered to show us around in return for some coins, even if you say no they will still follow you to the door of your hotel. But I was more focused on taking in what was going on around me: there were all kinds of stalls open, locals sitting around small food stalls and there was such an aromatic mix of smells and flavours in the air. I felt like we had travelled through time.
When we found the Riad it was beautiful, I was so excited about what I had seen that we dropped our luggage in our room and went straight back to the main square for dinner. Even though it was pretty late Jamaa el Fna square was as alive as ever.
¿What’s the food like in Morocco? ¿What are the traditional dishes in Marrakech? We may have needed weeks to try everything that Moroccan cuisine has to offer but in our 4 day trip we have tried as many dishes and restaurants as possible to create this foodie guide. Here you will find the dishes you must eat to fully experience Marrakech. They are more than enough to fall in love with moroccan flavours. Trust me! After your trip you will start cooking Moroccan food at home, but don’t worry I’m posting some easy Moroccan recipes that you can make at home.
Mint Tea: Start your day as a local with a mint tea. This is like their national drink, I can’t begin to imagine how many cups of tea that locals drink as they always seem to have a cup in their hand! It can be quite addictive, it’is sweet and refreshing at the same time.
Moroccan salad: this fresh and herbal tomato salad is one of the recipes we took back with us. It is simple, healthy and tasty, the key is the mix of fresh herbs they use to make it. Check it out: Moroccan Tomatoe Salad
Zaahlouk: This one is for all the eggplant-lovers! Zaahlouk is a delicious & yummy Moroccan eggplant salad. It was one of my favourite dishes of the trip. We made it during the cooking workshop and it tasted divine. I’ll add the recipe to my blog very soon!
Briouates: are small crispy stuffed pastries. thin pastry is a main ingredient in Moroccan traditional recipes. There are many different stuffing: veggies, potatoes, nuts and dried fruit are just some of the things you can find inside.
Pastilla: This recipe didn’t really appeal to me when I was researching Marakech. However, it ended up being one of my favourite dishes. It is a tasty pastry stuffed with sweet or savoury ingredients. We tried a delicious chicken and almond pastilla.
Harira: Ready for some Moroccan comfort food? This traditional soup is a must during Ramadan. It’s made of veggies, chickpeas, tomatoes and meat. We found our favourite in the Souk Kafé.
Tagine: is one of the signature dishes of Marrakech. It can contains vegetables, meat or fish, is a wonderful one-dish meal. The tagine allows the ingredients to cook slowly creating intense flavours, tender meat and a nice texture. There are tens of tagine dishes in restaurants, we loved it all! Moroccan bread is a must to mop up the tasty sauce. The best tagine we found was in Latitude 31, where we tried the typical chicken & lemon tagine, very impressive.
I couldn’t resist to bring a tagine with me and actually I’m using it a lot. I made this delicious vegetarian tagine with lots of veggies, chickpeas & spices, you don’t need a tagine to make it and it is absolutly delicious: Vegetable Tagine Recipe
Berber Tagine: traditional berber dish from the Atlas region. This tagine in simply made from local ingredients using beef or lamb with potatoes, carrots and other seasonal vegetables. This dish is very flavourful and the meat is really tender.
I tried a really nice recipe from the spruce: Moroccan Berber Tagine
Tangia: a stew with attitude and a long tradition. Tangia is unique to Marrakech. It was traditionally made by the men of the household: lamb cuts with garlic, turmeric, cumin and pressed lemon as seasoning. Slow cooking inside a clay pot called tangia gives all the flavours time to develop and make such a flavourful dish. In the past tangia was cooked in the embers of the wooden fires burning underneath the many Marrakech hammams or public baths. The tangia is cooked for at least 5 hours.
On one of the streets coming out of the main square there are a couple of food stalls where they still cook tangia in an underground oven just below them. You won’t find many tourists here but don’t be put off by its appearance so go and buy a portion of tangia. Another alternative is to try it in the few restaurants that offer it in its menu like Le Souk, I’ll never forget its unique flavours.
Couscous: it tastes much better that the 5′ couscous that I cook at home on the days when I feel a little lazy. The traditional Moroccan way of cooking it is by steaming it three times, it makes it more fluffy and as a result there are no lumps. You will come across couscous in every menu. It’s usually served with vegetables, chickpeas, beef or chicken on top. We fell in love with a chicken and caramelised onion couscous.
Kefta: is a traditional dish prepared with ground beef, a lot of spices with a tomato sauce base. It is not as popular as other dishes but if you find it make sure to try it. We discovered kefta in Le Souk Kafe, it was tasty and yummy, we couldn’t stop dipping bread on its sauce.
Mahrash Moroccan Bread: this bread is quite rough with a crispy crust and dense inside. You will see people carrying baskets full of it or stalls selling it along the alleys. Mahras is the perfect bread for mopping up sauces from tagines, kefta or any yummy moroccan dish.
Moroccan Msemen ( also called rghaifs): these are flat Square-Shaped Pancakes, the dough is similar to bread one. They are pan fried until it is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. You will see locals having them in the stalls of the Zouk.
Sweets and desserts: you cannot leave without trying traditional Moroccan sweets. The main ingredients are: semolina, nuts, dried fruits, honey… Moroccan sweets are: extra sweet, sticky and nutty. They are so sweet that my sugar cravings were satisfied with a few bites
It sounds like all we were doing was eating during our holidays! We loved the food so much that we ended up eating out the four days we were in Marrakech, it is also quite cheap so you can enjoy even more.
Semolina & Coconut Cookies: semolina & Coconut Cookies are a Moroccan classic recipe, crispy on the outside and slightly moist on the inside. This recipe is adapted from the Moroccan cooking workshop I did with Souk Cuisine in Marrakech, a delicious and fascinating experience (more details at the end of the post).
”Moroccan food is cooked slowly, with fresh ingredients and great passion”
Restaurantas and Cafes
Chez Chegrouni: it appears in all the travel guides as a cheap and traditional restaurant and they are right, it is a great spot in the main square to have your first Moroccan dish. We tried a nice and fresh Moroccan salad (small but only 12 dirans), the Moroccan soup which was thick and tasty (20 dirans) and the chicken and almond pastilla (50 dirans) which was our favourite dish in Chez Chegrouni. The Djemaa el-Fna views from its terrace and the food are worth it.
Address: Djemaa el-Fna, Medina
Latitude 31 (There is also a vegetarian menu available): it’s an essential stop for those interested in experiencing high class Moroccan cuisine at an affordable price. Located just a short walk from Djemaa el-Fna the restaurant is in the courtyard of a beautiful historic building. We ordered Tajine Mslalla, a traditional Chicken Tagine With Olives And Preserved Lemons (140 dirans) its flavour left us speechless. Then I had the Trid façon Dada (140 dirans), a pasta dish made with filo pastry. I had never tried pasta like this but it was delicious. For dessert we shared a Date, Apple & Ginger Pastille; it was crispy with well-balanced flavours. So as you can see we enjoy a super dinner for about 40 euros.
You can see the menu and prices here: http://latitude31marrakech.com/
Address: 86, rue El Gza Arset lhiri Bab Doukkala, Medina
Le Souk Kafe, we both thought that this was the best restaurant we found, it was good value for money with delicious, traditional dishes served on a nice roof terrace. Here we finally found the tangia, a traditional dish you will only find in Marrakech. The next surprise was the kefta was on the menu, we really wanted to try this ground beef dish, it was very tasty and yummy. We chose a Moroccan soup as a starter which was tasty and satisfying. Desserts are simple but nice after a heavy meal. Mains cost between 70-95 dirans and there is also 3 course menu with mint tea for 130 dirans which was the menu we went for it.
Address: Derb Sidi Abd El Aziz, Medina
Taj’in Darna: a simple and local restaurant with lower prices than other restaurants in the square offering nicely cooked tajines and couscous dishes. Lovely views of Jemaa el Fna from its terrace.
Address: Djemaa el-Fna, Medina
Cafe Earth, we were feeling a bit full (probably because we had too much couscous the first few days) so we decided to visit this cosy vegetarian & vegan restaurant. We tried a warm salad with goat cheese and a filo pastry with spinach and pesto. We really recommend this restaurant, the food was delicious and tasty. Or just pop in for a green smoothie, they are very good and tasty.
Address: Derb Zawak, Riad Zitoun kedim 2
*All of the restaurants I have mentioned the food quality was good and tasty We didn’t have any problems. Don’t forget to ask for bottled water.
Other restaurants that we were recommended but didn’t have time to visit:
Nomad: this restaurant was recommended in many guide books and it looked good. It’s hippy and cosy roof top terrace close to the main square that offers traditional Moroccan dishes with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours. They also have a Vegetarian menu.
Address: 1 Derb Aarjan, Rahba Lakdima, Medina
Cafe Glacier L’Opera: is a nice spot for breakfast. They offer traditional Moroccan food and continental breakfast.
Address: Avenue Mohammed VI
Henna Art Cafe (vegetarian menu available):is a cosy and tasty cafe registered as a cultural foundation in Morocco. It offers traditional food and other Eastern dishes, known for its healthy, local and tasty dishes. Cosy environment with a sunny terrace. http://www.hennacafemarrakech.com/
Address: 93, Arset Aouzal Souikat
Café Des Épices: (vegetarian options available) we stopped here for a coffee enticed with its cosy interior. A bit more expensive than other coffee shop around the area.
Address: Derb Rahba Lakdima, Medina
Salt: one of the most sophisticated and well-known Marrakech restaurants. We didn’t have time to visit but they offer a good value tasting menu for 700 dirans.
Address: 108 rue de Berima, Medina
Pepe Nero: another high class restaurant with good reviews. A fusion between Moroccan and Italian cuisine in its sophisticated dishes. Quite expensive though.
Address: 17، Derb Cherkaoui
Jemaa el-Fna square stalls
Food stalls and a mix of smells and flavours emerge from Jemaa el-Fna when the sun goes down. We visited it one night but I wouldn’t really recommend it. Some people say it is a great spot to taste Moroccan food but I don’t think that the quality of the food is particularly good. Anyway if you still want to experience it, there are two stalls that we everybody recommend: 31 and 14 for fish, the latter is only there when there is fresh fish.
There are many cookery schools and one day workshops to learn how to cook traditional Moroccan food such as Moroccan salads, Zaahlouk, Tagines, fish tagine and some sweets.
After having a good look at some of the cookery schools Marrakech had to offer and reading reviews we chose Souk Cuisine because the workshop includes shopping for the ingredients around the zouks and we also liked the dishes we were going to be cooking. The price of the course is 50 euros per person which includes all the ingredients and a delicious lunch after the hard work.
We met at 10.00 in the main square and finished by 4.30 at the beautiful riad where the class takes place. We were split into two groups and after shopping for ingredients we started cooking. We cooked 9 recipes in total following the instructions of a lovely Moroccan woman with amazing cooking skills and passion. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or advanced you will learn a lot and have fun. You will also visit a public oven where people go to bake their bread, very authentic. We were a very international group and it was great to have lunch and enjoy a glass of wine together.
As you can see I couldn’t have enjoyed Marrakech more and I highly recommend that you experience it for yourself. After all we think the best food we had in Marrakech was in this cooking course, it tasted amazing!
I hope this post helps you to taste and experience the best of Marrakech, share it with anyone who is planning to visit or simply wants to taste Moroccan cuisine. Cheers, friends!