7 Great Restaurants: Casual Lunch to Upscale Dinner
Le Riad Monceau
If you want a classic Moroccan meal in a romantic setting with a fantastic wine list… go to Le Riad Monceau. Located a very short walk from Djemaa El Fna and down a narrow alley – the splendor of this house is enough, but the food that comes from the kitchen allows the day to melt away. Décor aside, it is the renowned artist Isabelle Aubry’s large scale artwork that sets the riad’s elegant tone. (7/8 derb Chaabane, Riad Zitoun Lakdim, Marrakech Medina 011 212 524 429 646)
Foundouk offers inventive reinterpretations of classic dishes, cocktails like your best hometown bartender makes (not always easy to find in this city), and a mix of lounge, dining room, and rooftop escape, all with expertly layered yet nuanced décor. The restaurant is located a bit deeper in the medina and is hard to find, have an escort from the restaurant meet you at the nearest taxi drop-off and guide you to and from the entrance. (55 Rue du Souk des Fassi, Kat Bennahid, 011 212 524 378 190)
The twins: Le Café des Espice & Le Terrasse Des Espice
You may say, “I am going to venture off the beaten path,” but we guarantee you end up at both these spots regardless of how many guide books mention them. As you should – certainly if you are staying within the Medina. Le Café is located just within the souks and seats you looking out onto the spice market, a central square and easy meet-up. A quick lunch and coffee and off you go. Le Terrasse is located above a collection of designer shops a bit deeper into the maze, but central and easy to find. This is where you curl up in your own private roof-top room, order too much food, and forget the time (without cocktails!)
The owner’s most recent venture is Le Jardin, a 17th century courtyard cafe and event space serving organic food. Simple garden decor with vintage boucherouite rugs hanging on vibrant green walls creates a cheerful, boho-laidback environment.
The Medina, the ancient walled city of Marrakech, is a maze of narrow winding pathways. Part of the excitement of wandering comes when you’re just about to give up trying to understand where you are, when suddenly a landmark saves you. Located at a key intersection of the medina, Bougainvilla is a perfect place to regroup over a simple, well priced lunch and to relax in the sun. It’s a lovely courtyard café with traditional food (simple beef kefta), Italian pasta, and crispy French fries. (33 Rue El Mouassine, 011 212 524 441 111)
Like always ordering the same dish at your favorite restaurant, I return again and again for the seafood at STALL #14. Like clockwork every evening the food stalls emerge to be set up and serve dinner to the hungry crowd in Jemaa El Fna, the large open area that is the heart of the medina. Each stall has a number and each stall has its “handlers,” the guys who charm or threaten you to dine with them. How does one choose? A simple trick will never steer you wrong: look for the locals. We’re mere tourists. These are their stalls. The crowd surrounding STALL #14 is always a few deep. Queue up behind someone and slide onto the bench as they slide out. Once full on fresh fried calamrie, roasted eggplant, lightly battered white fish, hot peppers and bread slip out the back of the crowd and pay over the head of the next diner…and so it goes.
Grand Café de la Poste
Located in the new city of Gueliz, Café de la Poste retains the elegant charm of a friend’s grand country home. You are a guest and can relax over morning tea with a good read (known as “people watching”) or dress for dinner joining everyone late into the evening (and more people watching). A beautiful French-flavored escape.
In all my trips to Marrakech I have never been to the restaurant everyone says is the best of the best. Al Fassia. Two sisters who for 20 years have been cooking for locals and visitors alike. Call in advance, reservations are needed. Next time!! (55 Boulevard Mohammed Zerktouni, Gueliz, Marrakech, 011 212 524 434 060)