Traditional home cooked Moroccan food can be found, lovingly prepared in many of the Riads surrounding the city so if you are after a tasty tagine this should be your starting point. Being smaller in size than many of the larger hotel chains now springing up around the outskirts of the old Medina you will be treated to a hearty family style meal. Fresh products are purchased each morning from the surrounding market stalls and culinary delights are then created for your pleasure.
If however, you are after something less traditional or would like to explore what else this fantastic city has to offer you do have several options.
If you would like a restaurant for a romantic, modern setting you should explore the new city of Marrakech. Comptoir Darna (http://comptoirmarrakech.com/en) is located in the Hivernage Area of the city and is within easy walking distance of the Old Medina. Here you will be greeted with glitz and glamour, bouncers on the front door and a “Red Carpet” gracing the entrance. Both the bar and restaurant are lit in a fashion that exudes an aura of expense which does translate onto the menu. Each dish will set you back between 90 – 220 Dirhams (£6 – £17 pounds roughly); a glass of wine and a beer costs around £7.50. Now this may not sound a great deal but you need to remember that if you were eating in the old Medina a meal for two would cost in the region of £15 – £20. The restaurant does not open until 8pm and it is advisable to book in advance; this is a local hotspot for young Moroccans and therefore fills up quickly. If you don’t want to eat you can still enjoy a cocktail or two in the luxurious bar above the restaurant or outside in the warm, inviting courtyard. Staying open until late you will also experience music and dancing for no extra charge – making it a real gem of for a night out!
Moving back into the old Medina there are hundreds of places to tantalise your taste buds. Our Top Three include:
Kosybar (47 Place des Ferblantiers) close to the Palais El Badi. The Tiered terrace area offers both sun or shade depending on your preference whilst you sip ice cold drinks, relaxing on comfy sofas looking out over the city skyline. Should you wish to eat they have a varied, mixed menu – from Moroccan Salads to Pasta and Sandwiches, there is a mixture here to suit all tastes. Walking through the downstairs bar and up the heavy, dark wooded staircase to the terraces you get a sense of luxury spreading throughout. A place to come, away from the buzz of the main square, to enjoy a peaceful lunch.
(http://marrakechxanthe.wordpress.com/2009/02/12/moroccan-wine-on-the-terrace-of-the-kosybar-marrakech/ provides further details on Kosybar)
Kasbah Café (N°47 Boutouil – http://kasbahcafemarrakech.com/?lang=en) is directly opposite the entrance to the Saadian Tombs and is a great place to visit after walking around the local market streets of Derb Chtouka and Kasbah. This delightfully, narrow little restaurant is spread out across three floors so whether you wish to people watch from the street or enjoy the views from the top terrace there is a space for everyone. Probably serving the largest choice of food we came across whilst in Morocco – from Moroccan dishes, large Kebab dishes, English and European options fully stocked for all dietary requirements no one will feel left out here. Both locals and tourists share tables at this wonderful little café, making conversation, enjoying the tasty food and unwinding in the shade of one of the large terrace umbrellas. Reasonably priced this was a clear favourite during our recent trip.
Finally, if you are after somewhere in the heart of the city, on Demaa El Fna, Le Gran Balcon Café Glaciers is a must for the views alone. The service here is a bit hit and miss if truthful, some days you will be asked to pay for your drinks up front before taking a seat whilst at other times they will ask for payment at the end. Secondly, trying to get a waiter’s attention to order food is often a mission but what I can guarantee is that it is freshly made and tastes good when it arrives. You may wonder then why it appears in our top three – simple – the views. If you can get a table at the front of the top terrace you can see Demaa El Fna from all angles and is a great place to people watch. At night, when the food stalls arrive you can take photos from this vantage point that encapsulates the atmosphere below. Sitting here all evening is not an issue as long as you continue to put your hand in your pocket. We spent the entire evening happily snapping away with no request to move on from the staff for less than 100 dirhams (about £7.50 – that was two pizzas and several drinks – hence why I said earlier that Comptoir Darna was considered expensive!).
If of course, you are happy to experiment and are slightly more adventurous with where you eat, not necessarily what you eat, you must try the stalls of the Night Market. They have everything here – boiled snails, salads, noodles, meat, fish and any other dish you can pretty much imagine. Many refuse to eat here as they feel this will be the first step to getting an upset stomach but surely the hundreds of people you see eating there each evening don’t all go running off home to be ill. If you are a person that wants to experience the traditional whilst in Marrakech this is a must.
If not, if you are one of those individuals that just cannot live without a stop off at the famous ‘golden arches’ you can find a McDonalds in the new part of the city – personally with all the other options around this was never going to make it on to our list of must visit eateries.