Where to eat in Marrakech? What should I eat in Morocco? And what are the best restaurants to visit?
As you step into the vivid medina of Marrakech you will find countless amount of amazing restaurants that will introduce you to the best of food in Morocco. The busy souks will smell like mint, spices, grilled meat and everything there in between – and wherever you will go, unique “hole-in-the-wall” restaurants will never be far away offering local food worth trying.
In this post I’ll try my best in giving you a brief introduction to the restaurant scene in the medina of Marrakech and suggest a few of my personal favourites for you to check out!
The medina in Marrakech is crazy. Just to get that one clear. There are people everywhere and everyone has something to sell. Still, the Jemaa el-Fnaa square and the souks are very fun to navigate and perfect for foodie exploring.
Another thing you should definitely know: As Morocco is a very religious country, alcohol is really rarely seen outside of international hotels and the rule of thumb is that it is not to be served or consumed in the sight of the mosque. Therefore, almost no restaurants in the medina serve beer or wine – With a few exceptions. I’ll get back to this topic later.
In my opinion, you can spit all the restaurants in Marrakech in 4 simple categories and that will be our way of exploring the Morocco foodie scene in this blog post. We will begin with the restaurant categories that are the most common and work our way from there:
1. “Authentic Moroccan restaurants” – BUT, built for tourists
These restaurants will definitely be the ones that you will see the most – And very likely, visit the most often. These are restaurants that look completely Moroccan, the buildings are often made with traditional Moroccan clay architecture, the inside of the restaurants are very Moroccan and the cuisine is only local. Usually, they have a rooftop terrance where everybody wants to sit and the first two floors are not as busy. The menu is mostly built around Tajine, CousCous and a few other (amazing) Moroccan cuisines and the price is not expensive. Average price for Tajine is approx. 50-60 MAD.
Basically these are local restaurants. However, if you look closely you will see that you will never see locals actually eating inside these restaurants.
Still, many of these restaurants are just amazing and these are the ones that I visited the most often. However you can also be unlucky and find venues that have disappointing food quality and I find that more common if you are located in the centre of the Jemaa el-Fnaa square.
Examples of restaurants that I love in this category:
– Café de Kessabine: Brilliant little restaurant right on Jemaa el-Fnaa. Service is ok, food is fantastic, price is not expensive and the view of the square from their rooftop terrance (and 2nd. floor) is amazing.
– La Ferme: AMAZING restaurant that I cannot recommend enough. I decided to place this restaurant in this category even though it is a little more expensive. It is an old farm, recently turned into a farm + restaurant. Very good food, great atmosphere and you can meet and pet their dog, cats, goats, donkey and more. The price for a tajine is approx. 100 MAD. You can read more about this restaurant in my La Ferme post here.
– Literally SO many other restaurants that don’t even bother to put their names on the door. Just keep and eye out for restaurants that look neat and have friendly staff, that is usually the best sign.
2. The real authentic Moroccan restaurants – Where to locals go.
This is what I believe many travellers are looking to experience, but most choose to ignore once there! These restaurants are all over the souks as hidden “hole-in-the-wall” places and just out of the touristy parts, across the streets from Jemaa el-Fnaa.
In the souks you will come across a few of the “hole-in-a-wall” venues that I have mentioned above. In my experience it seems like many of them don’t have running water and even electricity – And the look of them is almost like an empty garage that nobody has bothered to paint or clean … but filled with gas stoves and simple cooking devices. Sounds interesting, right?
Although I visited only a couple of those during my last stay these were probably some of my favourite meals of them all. A very fun and interesting experience as we were served with almost dirty plates and glasses but the food was amazing. Simple, but amazing. And when we wanted to buy something to drink, the owner of the “restaurant” disappeared in the souk and returned a few minutes later with what we had asked for. The price for a meal for two and water costed us an average of 50 MAD.
The other type of local restaurants usually also look a little terrible from my own perspective (Oops!) but can definitely vary. They are a lot larger, look very simple and seem to have no special architecture at all, just basic chairs and tables and have tv screen where they show news or a sports game. And they are always completely packed with locals – but only with men. Some serve tajine, couscous and similar Moroccan cuisines like I have mentioned above, but most we saw served kebabs, falafel etc.
3. Fine dining restaurants in Marrakech
In my experience we didn’t come across to many fine dining restaurants in the medina, although they are definitely to be found. And for us, that wasn’t necessarily what we were looking for.
Those few fine dining restaurants we saw and visited were not too different from the more casual ones and the biggest difference was simply the “classy setting” and quality service. The price was usually 2x-3x what we payed for at the casual restaurants but portions were also larger. Another big difference is that some of these fine dining restaurants actually sell alcohol!
Our favourite restaurant in this category is without a doubt the Le Salama. It is located on a side street from Jemaa el-Fnaa (approx. 1m walk from the square) and a doorman will show you the way to the restaurant that is on a 2nd. and 3rd. floor with a rooftop terrance bar on the 4th. floor.
The cuisine is traditional Moroccan and is of great quality, the service is exceptional and the reason we did visit them so many times … they do serve alcohol. Price for Tajine is approx. 150-170 MAD. Because we liked it so much, I wrote a short blog with more info about it which you can see here.
4. Local restaurants owned by Europeans
I made this last little category just to explain a small group of restaurants that I have come across. These are restaurants that are usually of very good quality and are just like all the restaurants I have described in category 1 – Except that they are most likely owned by Europeans.
The setting and menu is still completely local Moroccan but you will see a big difference in how modern the architecture is, the bathrooms are very neat, the kitchen is clean, the staff speaks perfect English, the accept debit/credit cards and for this reason … they price is often more expensive.
Example of restaurants in this category:
– Café Des Eclipsé: I really really like this one. It’s in the square of des spices (???) and has good food, helpful staff and a wonderful rooftop terrance, perfect for sunbathing with your lunch. Price: Tajine for 60-70 MAD.
– Nomad: The same owners run Nomad, Café Des Eclipsé and I think at least one more restaurant in the medina. All of them are of good quality and Nomad was one of our favourites in our first trip to Marrakech. It has also been trendy and benefitted from visits by tons of known travel bloggers. However, after our last visit we aren’t overly excited. The food is good but not unique, the service is very good and their biggest quality is an amazing and super photogenic rooftop terrance on two floors.
During my last Morocco trip, 7th. – 19th. of January I tried to go out to eat and explore new restaurants 3 times a day and I only wished that I could have experienced even more. The Moroccan foodie scene is remarkable in so many ways and without a doubt one of the most interesting things to expereince while in Morocco.
You can find more on my thoughts on Morocco food here, in my guide on Top 10 Things to do in Marrakech.
I hope you have got the information you were looking for and some inspirations for your own Moroccan adventure, but if there is anything you would like to ask or I can help you with, don’t hesitate to shoot me a line or drop me a comment below and I’ll get back to you asap!