There is a buzz surrounding Morocco’s food scene at the moment and its not hard to see where all the fuss is coming from; new and inspiring restaurants are popping up all across the country. Let’s be honest, Morocco has always been high up on the must-visit list for foodie travellers. But it is a new wave of fusion cooking and cultural dialogue that is at the centre of this gastronomical shake up and Morocco appears to be waking up to the creative re-imagining of traditional dining experiences that’s been happening in innovative eateries across the world. Intrepid travelers are looking for great places to eat in Marrakesh and beyond.
Pop-ups, fine dining, and science lab cooking alike, restaurants across the country are finding their own answers to creating an experience that’s true to Moroccan roots but with a modern twist. From the creative “chefs on sabbatical” idea behind Resto Numero 7 in Fez to the fusion cuisine found at Nomad in Marrakesh, the imperial cities of Morocco are starting to offer options which present something a little different, as well as traditional.
As you might expect, Marrakesh is at the fore-front of pioneering this ever emerging mix up of old and new, proving to be an exciting enough reason to visit the iconic red city in itself! So, with this in mind, here is a short list of places we recommend stopping by when you embark on your own discovery of the jewel of Morocco
The BEST Places to eat in Marrakesh
The Amal Women’s Restaurant and Training Center
Amal is a relatively new restaurant which has arrived without a lot of fanfare but is winning award after award for its innovative, ethically driven and creative philosophy. While the food is outstandingly fresh and good value for money, one of the most inspiring things about Amal is its story and concept. Amal means hope in Arabic and the restaurant was founded with the main purpose of training disadvantaged women in catering and hospitality skills. The menu changes daily according to whats available in the markets, meaning the women working in the kitchens get to master a repertoire of dishes, while the basic principle of keeping things fresh, tasty and simple is at the heart of Amal’s cooking. Expect traditional Moroccan and fusion dishes including Moroccan salads, Goat cheese platters, gazpacho soups, beef stir fries, chicken & preserved lemon tagines, sfa, or European classics like liver with mashed potato and a creamed peppercorn sauce. Fridays speciality is cous-cous of course.
The restaurant is located in a re-furbished villa in the hospital district of Gueliz, a more modern side of Marrakesh which is an interesting taxi journey through a new part of town while en route from the old medina. Offering outdoor seating in an enclosed, shaded garden, the ambience inside the villa seems a world away from the busy bustling streets, while a colourful indoor seating area will cheer you up on rainy days.
Nomad has perhaps one of the finest examples of a modern Moroccan menu in Marrakesh at the moment and should not be missed while on your foodie adventure of the ochre city. Fusing traditional local dishes with international cuisine and regularly hosting weekend pop ups featuring chefs from all over the world (including nights by whichever chefs are on sabbatical at Numero 7 in Fez) Nomad has been creating a bit of a stir in the Marrakesh food scene. Think chic and trendy but warm and cosy and prepare yourself for seasonal and innovative food, with every dish on the menu featuring a modern Moroccan twist.
In fact, the main reason Nomad has stirred up such a buzz is its innovative menu. Creative and dynamic – appetisers include a delicious shaved cauliflower and fennel salad with fresh herbs and toasted almonds as well as Moroccan pastilla, filled with spiced vegetables, goats cheese and caramelised tomato confit. The mains prove just as taste bud tantalising, with calamari fresh off the boat from Agadir, marinated in a cumin infused anchovy, ginger and harissa sauce, served with braised fennel and cherry tomatoes. If sea-food doesn’t tickle your fancy then how does lamb brochettes made with cumin spiced marinated lamb, served with an aubergine, olive and red pepper relish sound? Still have room for dessert? It’s a difficult choice, including treats like flourless orange cake with caramalized orange zest and whipped cream & hibiscus infused yoghurt panna cotta glazed with spiced seasonal fruit.
The restaurant is tucked away in a discreet corner of Rahba Kedima (the Spice Square), which lies among the heart of the Marrakech souks. Another reason for this place becoming such a hotspot, is is sleek roof terrace which boasts amazing views over the spice market and the medina skyline. It really comes alive at night too, when decorative lanterns light up the terrace and house cocktails (it’s also one of the only restaurants in the medina with an alcohol license) are served from the bar.
La Maison Arabe is a beautifully restored house located in the heart of the Marrakesh medina. Reminiscent of the Almohad era of Morocco, the house is stylishly and somewhat lavishly decorated in an authentic Arab & Andalusian style. The restaurant offers a unique and refined dining experience and is open to guests staying at the house and other travellers alike. This is classic Marrakesh fine dining and is well suited for anybody seeking a more traditional restaurant experience, refined to a modern taste.
Choose to dine underneath a mesmerising, hand-painted zouaké ceiling while you are surrounded by walls finished with a warm-toned tadelakt, or head out to the flower-filled patio garden which encloses a picturesque swimming pool and fountain display. Dinner is almost always accompanied by Arab-Andalusian music played on lute and guitar while a wander around the areas of the house and gardens open to all provides a great glimpse into different eras of Morocco. The piano bar has its own intimate environment, where the walls are covered with ‘Havana’ coloured leather panels and a resident pianist playing classic jazz melodies while the barman mixes your favourite drink – all evoking an ambience echoing a luxurious private club from the 1930s. Here, guests can enjoy a drink before dinner, and savour delicious Moroccan and Asian inspired tapas and canapés.
The menu is exclusively Moroccan, without being too heavy in its approach. However international specials do pop up like homemade Gnocci mains, or smoked salmon and cream cheese appetisers. Those who wish to discover the secrets of Moroccan cuisine can do so at the hotel’s world-famous cooking workshops. The workshops are conducted by a dada (traditional Moroccan cook) or a chef from our Moroccan restaurant, and are held at the hotel. Small groups (maximum 10) work alongside a translator (Arabic/English/French), using easy-to-use modern equipment found in everyday kitchens. At the end of each workshop, participants dine on the meal they have prepared. At a typical half-day workshop, one learns to prepare an appetiser and a main dish, or a main dish and dessert. Details upon request. Book in advance.
With the phrase “ Latitude 31 is not a Moroccan restaurant… at least not in the conventional way” branded across the homepage of the website, its easy to pick up on the contemporary vibe behind this new establishment. An exotic garden space inside the old medina, Latitude 31 is as refreshing as an oasis is in the desert. It’s tranquil, enclosed dining experience offers artistically presented dishes and never fails to surprise its guests with its modern take on traditional classics.
This cross between traditional and modern Moroccan cuisine is at the centre of the menu. Keeping ancestral recipes in the menu is evidently a priority for Latitude 31, but the chefs also present twists to allow guests to discover a new era of Moroccan cuisine. Appetizers include; trio of gazpachos, seafood pastilla with fish crumbs as well as a trio of briouates, the house signature dish. Mains continue to offer modern takes on reliable classics, like the house take on tangia Marrakechia, mrouzia; a sweet dish of lamb with raisons, almonds and honey, roasted sea bass fillet with saffron risotto and chicken medallions stuffed with walnut, red pepper sauce and caramel of olives. Chocolate fondant, Cardamon & amlou flavoured creme brulees, an assortment of panna cotta’s, ‘kaab el ghazl’ (Moroccan almond paste) and sweet pastilla filled with dates ginger and apple feature as the desserts.
The restaurant is not licensed to serve alcohol, but this only lends another opportunity for the chefs and barman to get creative, with the menu featuring a range of tasty “virgin cocktails” including; sex on the beach (a selected blend of orange, cranberry and peach juice) and a bora bora (passion fruit, pineapple and lemon juice).
Cafe Clock embodies the grand diversity for which Morocco is celebrated. With two establishments, one in Fez and one in Marrakesh, both spaces offer a chilled out place to kick back, relax, get the lowdown on whats going on while chowing down on decent, honest, home cooked food. Famous for it’s camel burger, Clock has an interesting mix of simple but well done dishes, with plenty of vegetarian options.
The creative and social vibe behind the cafe is reflected in the myriad of workshops and activities which the space plays host to. From cooking classes to traditional story telling (led by master storyteller Hajj Ahmed), cinema nights to art exhibitions and calligraphy classes, a visit to Cafe Clock is best intertwined with a workshop or two, making for a great afternoon activity to add to the Marrakesh to do list (or Fez for that matter).
Cafe Clock prides itself on fusing and celebrating the rich traditions and playful manifestations of modern Moroccan culture. As soon as you enter and are greeted by the friendly and helpful staff, its clear that this is a place where you can enjoy great food in a relaxed and creative atmosphere. With sunny rooftop terraces, libraries, and great spaces to exchange ideas, this is one of the few places in Marrakesh which is great for meeting other travellers and locals alike! Randomly striking up a conversation with a fellow diner is welcome here. Share stories and partake in cultural dialogue, indulge in the arts, participate in a group workshop or simply kick back on the roof terrace with a mint tea. Whether you end up visiting for a workshop or a quick bite to eat, this friendly space won’t fail to make you feel welcome and after seeing the smiles which the place seems to bring, you will surely end up participating in this joyous exchange of ideas, beats, stories, laughter, harmonies, and movement one way or another.
Henna Art Cafe
The Henna Art Cafe is a quirky joint thats perfect for taking a well deserved break from the hustle and bustle of Djemma El Fna. Easy to find, the cafe is just 3 minute walk from Marrakesh’s most iconic square and is also home to some inspiring artwork to refresh the mind. With art and creativity being at the centre of the cafes philosophy, the Henna Art Cafe is constantly exhibiting and selling artwork by local and international artists. All of the profits from artwork, prints, postcards and artisanal products sold in the cafe go directly to the artists, who very often, had previously struggled to find a space in Marrakesh to exhibit their work. The cafe was founded and renovated from scratch by artist Lori Gordon, originally from New Orleans and Rachid Karkouch who is local to Marrakesh. Both Lori and Rachid are very friendly and interesting characters – a visit to the cafe is worth it just to meet them and see their passion for art and the community first hand. The cafe also has a resident henna artist to design and decorate henna patterns for you while you kick back in the cafe and admire the artwork with a freshly squeezed orange juice – a much safer and less stressful way to get your henna done than in the centre of the square!
Marrakesh is a key stop on many tourist itineraries. If you want to have a non-traditional experience when you visit Morocco, we can help! Our team creates custom itineraries for each guest to ensure you see, do and eat exactly what you want. Give us a call today to get started.