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Where to eat in Marrakech – a guide to the city’s cuisine

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Each night in Djemaa El-Fna, a spectacle unfolds before your eyes. Cooking stalls, tables and chairs are set up under canvas, turning the whole square into a huge, outdoor restaurant, serving up traditional Moroccan dishes. Elsewhere in the medina, small, local restaurants also offer Arabic cuisine, but in more civilized surroundings. Meanwhile, the modern districts of Gueliz and Douar Lahna offer up exciting fusion cuisine, combining French, Moroccan and global influences. As a foodie destination, Marrakech does not disappoint. 

Imad Elbehri

My Destination local expert on

Marrakech

Marrakech’s signature dish is named for the conical dish it is cooked in: a tagine is a rich stew. Meat is slow cooked along with warming spices, vegetables and dried fruit.

 

Djemaa El-Fna

 

The stalls glitter with festive lights strung up beneath the canopies, and plumes of steam drift from them like clouds. The smells are almost irresistible, but it’s wise to have a wander round and check out the stalls before committing, even though young guys will try and charm you to their stall. As long as it is clean and the food is properly cooked, you should avoid tummy trouble, but steer clear of salads and anything else which is raw. Generally tagines of meat or vegetables with spiced sauces are on offer. You’ll get a dish containing your meal along with a hunk of bread and a bottle of coca cola.

 

Medina

 

If you’d rather not play Russian roulette with your digestive system, but you do want to try traditional Moroccan fare, wander further into the medina where there are numerous restaurants. Some are little more than holes in the wall; others occupy elegant riads. The atmosphere of these places is almost as good as the food. Expect traditional dishes, such as lamb and beef tagines, fragrant couscous dishes and, in the upscale restaurants, flaky pastries served with coffee or mint tea. A couple of places have a more international menu. Try Riad Kniza for a sumptuous feast, or head to Kui-Zin for a simple, cheap meal.

 

Gueliz

 

The colonial Ville Nouvelle has a decidedly French air to it, and if you tire of tagine, this is the place to come to discover Marrakech’s take on Gallic gastronomy. Seafood dishes are popular, as are steaks – hearty, familiar dishes which can come as a relief after taking on the medina’s overwhelming culture. There are haute cuisine restaurants, as well as casual cafes and crêperies for a quick lunchtime bite. Try Chez Mado, which serves up the freshest and most delicious oysters, as well as lobster and shrimp. Café du Livre is more Moroccan in décor, but offers French and international snacks, great for lunchtime.

 

Douar Lahna

 

While Gueliz does traditional French well, Douar Lahna, one of Marrakech’s most modern districts, is the place to go for true fusion food. Influences range from local North African to Asian and European. Douar Lahna begins at the southern end of the Agdal Gardens and there are several eateries to choose from. Bo-Zin is the restaurant leading the way, with Asian-Moroccan fusion dishes and a super-chic vibe. The desserts, twists on French classics with local ingredients, are to die for. If you want to dine in a 16th century palace, complete with Berber dancers and acrobats, visit Dar Soukkar, which serves haute cuisine Moroccan dishes.

 

Riad Kniza, 34 Derb L'Hotel, Bab Doukala, Medina. Tel: +212 5 24 37 69 42• Kui Zin, 12, Rue Amsefah, Sidi Abdelaziz, Medina. Tel: +212 6 53 10 00 88• Chez Mado, 22 Rue Moulay Ali, Gueliz. Tel: +212 5 24 42 14 94• Café du Livre, 44 rue Tarik ben Ziad, Gueliz. Tel: +212 5 24 44 69 21• Bo-Zin, Douar Lahna, Route de l'Ourika 3,5 Km. Tel: +212 5 24 38 80 12• Dar Soukkar, Nouvelle Zone Touristique, Route de l’Ourika, 3,8 Km. Tel: +212 24 37 55 35