The Best Restaurants in Marrakech
From traditional Moroccan dishes like pigeon pastilla to a chateaubriand steak accompanied by one of the area’s sturdy-yet-subtle red wines, dining in Marrakech means an intoxicating mélange of North African flavors and European-inspired cuisine. Whether you’re on a day tour of tastes around the Red City or you’re spending a weekend in town, you’ll eat in central courtyards, high-end hotels, on balconies, and, if it’s a burger you’re after, the converted schoolhouse of Cafe Clock. One of the flavor threads through all of it: Morocco’s mint tea.
Derb Moulay Abdullah Ben Hezzian, 2, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
You don’t have to be a guest at El Fenn’s hotel to relish the eclectic surroundings of its gallery and boutique—all ruby red tadelakt around a gleaming silver bar, with a chest-high fireplace and a trompe l’oeil of strutting pink flamingos. As spaces go, it’s a work of art in and of itself. Put it on your list for lunch, dinner, or drinks so that you can also delight in the frequently changing exhibits of contemporary Moroccan and international artworks. Recent highlights featured a showcase of the best of Essaouira art naïf painters and the late, great photographer Leila Alaoui’s moving portraits entitled simply The Moroccans. Peruse the boutique for a carefully curated selection of made-in-Morocco housewares, fashion, and gift items by local designers and artisans before heading upstairs for a long, lazy lunch of market-fresh salads and grilled meat and fish served family style on the rooftop. If it’s too cold for dining alfresco, grab a perfectly crafted negroni from the bar and snag a spot by the fire for an intimate tête-à-tête.
Rue Allal Ben Ahmed, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
Morocco is full of worthy projects to support, particularly when it comes to vocational training and education, but not all are created equal. Amal, by contrast, is a deeply practical nonprofit association that aims to empower women by teaching them culinary and hospitality skills on site, before organizing a four-month internship at a local hotel or restaurant. Sometimes the internship can lead lead to permanent work, but even if it doesn’t, the training provides these women with valuable experience that the industry is quickly starting to tap into. The mothership is a spacious center in a villa in Gueliz, where visitors can come for an exceptionally tasty, daily-changing, traditional Moroccan lunch or dinner, and participate in cooking classes ($33 per person).
Rue Moulay Ali, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
It’s always a nice thing to see young Moroccans making their mark in a city that brings foreign investors by the droves—and the Hadni brothers have certainly done that in the shape of Baromètre. More akin to the speakeasies of New York and Barcelona than the posh hotel bars of the Red City, the brothers have come up with an innovative list of attention-grabbing cocktails that come in puffs of smoke and bespoke stemware and complement crowd-pleasing gin and tonics and Grey Goose martinis, while the decor has more in common with a glamorous turn-of-the century pharmacy than your usual drinking den. Recently they’ve added gourmet tapas so you can make a night of it, but like the cities that inspired them, the later you go, the livelier it will be.
Derb Chtouka, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
If you’ve been to Fès, chances are you’ll be familiar with the original Clock. This is the second in owner Mike Richardson’s growing empire, this time housed in a converted schoolhouse in the Kasbah. Like all of his projects, a keen eye for line, color, and detail has turned the space from utilitarian into eye-popping as Richardson invites local street artists to bring life and color to the walls; junkyard finds and vintage Berber cushions provide the decor. It’s a popular hangout for both young Moroccans and those traveling through, with regular cultural events, including its famous storytelling nights that spotlight the best raconteurs from the Djemaa el Fna, translated by youngsters learning the craft, to traditional cooking schools to Gnawa musicians giving it their all in tribal trance for Sunday sunsets. But, of course, no visit would be complete without sampling Cafe Clock’s signature, legendary camel burger.
Passage Prince Moulay Rachid
Described by writer Tahir Shah as the “greatest show on Earth,” no visit to Marrakech would be complete without a visit to the famous night market on the Djemaa el Fna. Arrive before sunset and park yourself at one of the various cafés with terraces overlooking the square to watch performers set up; then venture into the fray in search of adventure. Silk-clad acrobats, wide-eyed storytellers, sly snake charmers, jangling belly dancers, and capricious monkey handlers all emerge from the darkness, ringing the edge of the food stalls with their own special brand of entertainment. When you tire of the heckling, prowl the market in search of good things to eat: bite-size morsels of grilled lamb rubbed in cumin, sardines fried in chermoula, peppery snails, and sheep’s heads for the brave. Then nudge up alongside a family of locals at the table and settle in for the feast. If you’re nervous about going it alone, you can sign up for a food tour with Canadian tour guide and all-round good egg Mandy Sinclair of Tasting Marrakech; she’ll help you find the best stalls while introducing you to the secrets and delights of traditional Moroccan street food.
Avenue Imam Malik, Marrakech 40000, Morocco
It would be almost churlish to come to Marrakech and not experience Grand Café de la Poste. After opening in the 1920s, it fast became a lively brasserie and meeting place, and much of the rest of the neighborhood sprung up around it, establishing Gueliz as the city’s most fashionable quarter. After a revamp in 2005 brought a breezy, colonial-style vibe to the verandas (a smashing spot for an alfresco lunch) and transformed the first floor into a luxe wood-paneled bar complete with real log fireplaces, leather armchairs, and crimson rugs, it is today one the city’s most iconic haunts. The food is reassuringly comfortable, too, with staunchly Parisian dishes such as leeks vinaigrette, skate wing with beurre blanc and capers, and crisp-skinned roast baby chicken and chips topping the bill.
32 Souk Jeld Sidi Abdelaziz, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
As one of the most innovative players on the Marrakech restaurant scene, Kamal Laftimi spearheads projects that are nothing if not showstoppers. This buzzy, green-on-green–tiled riad, bristling with courtyard banana trees, is a case in point. It’s a hip hangout by day for locals and expats who meet for coffees throughout the morning and pop into celebrated kaftan designer Norya ayroN’s little boutique, which occupies a small space on the first floor. By night, it sparkles with the light of hundreds of glittering candles while large extended families and cooing couples gather over Moroccan classics such as pigeon pastilla, vegetarian couscous, and chicken tagine with olives and raisins, as well as a handful of crowd-pleasing classics such as steak frites and burgers (no alcohol served).
1 Derb Aarjane, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
A stalwart on the medina dining scene for several years now, Nomad has fabulous views of bustling Place des Épices and takes a bold, creative approach to Moroccan dining. The yellow-and-black ‘60s-inspired space has several dining areas and rooftop terraces, which make lingering over lunch or dinner a joy; the food is a lighter, brighter take on local cooking that plays with traditional flavors and elevates them into something fresh and exciting. To start, try their delicately spiced Moroccan gazpacho or a shaved cauliflower and fennel salad scattered with toasted almonds; perhaps followed by a hearty plate of roasted bone marrow scattered with preserved lemons, cumin, and mint; then finishing with a hibiscus-infused panna cotta. Alcohol isn’t served here, but with food this enticing, you won’t miss it.
34 Derb Jdid, Marrakech 40040, Morocco
The wonderful thing about the medina in Marrakech is the way in which it endlessly reinvents itself. Barely a week goes by without some hip, new trailblazer shimmying onto the scene and giving you just one more reason to love the place. When La Famille opened a couple of summers ago, it was like one of Ibiza’s secluded countryside restaurants had dropped in from across the Med. The leafy garden, driftwood furniture, herb- and flower-infused waters (no alcohol here, dears), organic salads served in Kilner jars, vegetarian quiches, and healthy cakes attract the city’s most beautiful groovers and shakers, who waft about in designer kaftans plotting their latest interior design projects for their riads. Drop in for an hour, but like all the best places, don’t be surprised to find you’re here for at least three.
Avenue Echouhada, Marrakech 40000, Morocco
Declared one of the best clubs in the world by the Grey Goose–sponsored World’s Finest Clubs, Le Palace is everything you’d expect from the brand. Glitzy and glamorous from the moment you drive down Hivernage’s palm-fringed, villa-lined avenue to get there to sipping champagne at the mirrored bar. It’s the latest project of local entrepreneur Nouredine Fakir, who with this opening proves that he’s made it. Clubby, sophisticated, and peopled with international and Moroccan players on the see-and-be-seen circuit—formal evening attire is expected—Le Palace is a riddle of intimate lounges and dining rooms that ooze a nonchalantly laid-back sort of sophistication. Full-time deejays, cigar bars, a packed restaurant serving dishes such as the signature Crying Tiger steak ensure that once firmly ensconced within its gilded chamber, you too will feel like you’ve made it.
There are times when only a bowl of pasta will do, and those are the times to head straight for Pepe Nero, with its romantic orange-tree courtyard for alfresco eats and warren of more-intimate dining rooms. Note, the latter can sometimes feel a bit cut off from the main hub, so it’s arguably a better summer jaunt, but you can’t knock the food. Chef Khalid Robazza Essafa makes all his own pasta. The roast veal agnolotti (stuffed pasta squares similar to ravioli) is sensational, as is the lasagna and the eggplant Parmesan. The king prawn risotto has earned Essafa a devoted, local fan base, although out-of-towners have been known to rave about his tandem Moroccan menu, too.
27 Rue Moulay Ali, Marrakech 40000, Morocco
With its leafy side streets, must-browse boutiques, and burgeoning food scene, Gueliz is quickly resembling pockets of Paris, particularly as more and more bistro-inspired places open their doors. Le Petit Cornichon is like a breath of spring with its splashy Majorelle blue and daffodil yellow color palette, floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the street, and animated atmosphere. Toward the end of the week, you’ll find half of Marrakech here indulging in a laid-back lunch before heading down to the beach at Essaouira for the weekend, but it’s a lovely place for a prix fixe lunch any old time and a good value to boot: two courses for $17, three for $21. Settle in to peruse an excellent wine list before tucking into dishes such as sea bass ceviche with grapefruit and pink peppercorns, tarragon chicken, and a sliver of wickedly rich chocolate tart.
Rue Abou Abbas El Sebti، 40000, Morocco
Commissioned in 2006 by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, Royal Mansour is like a medina within the city’s Medina. Fifty-three private riads, each three stories high, feel like mini-palaces, with open-air courtyards and on-call butlers. Every detail is an homage to Moroccan craftsmanship, down to the gorgeous zellige ceramic tiles, intricately carved woods, and molded plasterwork created by local artisans.
81 Rue, Dar El Bacha, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
At the poolside restaurant Dar Moha, hungry travelers can dine on couscous with foie gras, lamb shank tagine with ras el hanout jus, and chakhchoukha, a caramelized apple tart spiced with saffron. Enjoy your meal at one of the candlelit tables while a musician plays the oud, a stringed instrument similar to a lute.