Marrakech is a place I’ve been longing to go to for sometime. I’m sure I’ll get there one day and when I do I’ll be trying out all these suggestions in this guest post from Katie from MasterChef Travel, who, like me, is obsessed with finding the best in local traditional cuisine. Read on to discover the best of Marrakech food.
Just a three-hour flight from the UK, Marrakech is an ideal destination for a spring short break. The sights and smells of the Djemaa el Fna square and the souks can be overwhelming. Traditional Moroccan cuisine reflects its colourful history drawing inspiration from many cultures. The results in a unique blend of Arab, Berber, Middle Eastern, Moorish, Iberian, Mediterranean, African and Jewish influences. To help you enjoy the best traditional Marrakech food on offer here are our top picks from this exciting city’s foodie hotspots.
Where to find the best traditional Marrakech food
BBQ on the square
The food on the makeshift stalls that set up on the Djemaa el Fna at dusk is much better than the cafes around the edge. Packed with locals and tourists alike, pull up a chair at the busiest – they have the freshest ingredients and cleanest oil – and take your pick of different grilled meats and vegetables. Sheep head, heart and steamed snails are popular choices among the Moroccans but kebabs, spicy Merguez sausages and grilled fish are also on offer.
Behind the square, just as you reach the olive-sellers souk, look for the counters with sheep heads balanced on earthenware pots for a not-to-be-missed lunch. Skip the sheep heads and opt for the mechoui, which is lamb slow-roasted in hot ashes underground. Choose your preferred cut of the succulent lamb and devour with bread, olives and cumin salt. The crackling is like nothing you’ll have ever eaten before.
Dine at a riad
While the Djemaa el Fna food stalls are well worth checking out, the food in the cafes that overlook it is generally fairly mediocre. Go there for a drink to watch the sunset over the souk but another option when it comes to dining is to head back to your riad for a dinner cooked by the dadas – traditional Moroccan ladies who work in the kitchen. Their authentic dishes are far better than anything you’ll find in most restaurants, and the peaceful courtyards are more relaxing than the bustling medina.
Even if you aren’t staying in a riad, many welcome non-residents to dine there. Tuck into saffron flavoured chicken served with vermicelli with raisins, ground fried almonds, cinnamon and sprinkled with sugar glaze or a rustic Berber vegetarian tagine in the lovely courtyard setting of Dar Anika Kitchen.
Le Grand Café de la Poste
One restaurant that is an absolute must, both for the food but also for its atmosphere and sense of history is Le Grand Café de la Poste. In Guéliz, outside of the Medina Walls, this ever-popular eatery is part of Marrakech’s heritage. Built in the twenties as a cafe and post office, it’s seen a number of changes over the years but its appeal is timeless. Favoured among the French expat community, with its colonial art deco interior, once inside you could easily mistake it for a Parisian bistro.
Choose from either classic French favourites or traditional regional fare such as beef kefta or monkfish and prawns tagine. Perhaps this herb-crusted duck magret with porcini mushrooms stew, grilled endives and baby potatoes can tempt you!
Once you’ve eaten your way around Marrakech, why not learn how to recreate your favourite dishes for yourself. Most riads offer a cooking class with their dadas, but we recommend booking yourself in at Dar les Cigognes. Learn the art of rolling couscous, make waca pastry and tour the markets with the head chef. You’ll find fresh ingredients, learn how to use them and try them on the riad’s sunny rooftop during a long lunch.
Thinking of visiting Morocco for the first time? Check out these essential 10 tips for first-time travellers to Morocco.
When to visit Marrakech
For most, the best time of year to visit Marrakech is in the shoulder seasons, April to May and September to November. At these times the weather is neither too hot or too cold and you avoid the high prices and crowds of the summer or the chillier weather of the winter.
Whatever time of year you visit, when considering what to pack for your holiday in Marrakech, do remember that Morocco is a Muslim country and you should dress more modestly than you might at home.
Where to stay in Marrakech
Riad Dar Anika, is not only home to a fabulous restaurant serving exquisite traditional Marrakech food, but it’s also one of the top-rated places to stay in the city. It’s in a superb location inside the Medina just a few minutes walk from the major palaces and monuments and a ten-minute stroll from Djemaa el Fna square.
For a wider range of choices to suit every budget check out the top hotels on your favourite hotel site.
Don’t forget your travel insurance!
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