9 Great Restaurants in Fes
Everyone may be familiar with couscous, and maybe even tagines, but the pastilla (also called b’stilla), the bessara soup, and the spit-roasted lamb brochettes—and, oh dear, the lavish breakfasts—may convince you to take a cooking course so you can bring the flavors of Fes home.
15 Derb Idrissy Sidi Ahmed Chaoui Medina 30110, Siaj, Fes, Morocco
Thanks to the green-thumbed loving of owner Robert Johnstone, the Ruined Garden has bloomed into a jungly paradise—a welcome retreat both for lunch in the shade on a sunny afternoon and for a bask in the glow of a roaring wood fire in the red-brick dining room as days get cooler. Johnstone has long been celebrated locally for his deeply authentic approach to Fassi cooking, and the menu features some hard-to-get traditional dishes like slow, spit-roasted-lamb mechoui (order a day in advance) and Sephardic saffron chicken with eggs. He doesn’t limit himself to tradition, though: Try reimaginings of traditional Fassi street food like “popcorn” makuda (potato fritters), succulent chicken wings and livers in a delicately spiced onion confit, or earthy berkoula (a foraged green wilted with olive oil and preserved lemons).
7 Derb el Magana، 252 Rue Talaa Kebira, Fes, Morocco
When Mike Richardson exploded onto the fairly limited Fes dining scene in 2007, he took the medina by storm. Suddenly there was someplace where locals, tourists, and a handful of resident expats could convene. They came to view exhibitions by up-and-coming young artists, to hear Sunday sunset concerts featuring the likes of Houariyat—an all-female drumming band—and to tuck into the café's legendary camel burger. All these attractions are still going strong, but Clock has expanded and begun offering excellent traditional-cooking classes, and holds movie nights in a screening room furnished with vintage cinema seats. It now also has a sibling in Marrakech and another soon to open in Chefchaouene, and a country cousin in the Scorpion House in Moulay Idriss, which you can book for private lunches. If all this doesn’t whet your appetite at least come at brunch for the best coffee and Berber eggs in town.
13, Akbat Sbaa, Douh Fès Médina، Fes 30000, Morocco
This formal garden is neatly contained within perfectly kept borders, but the extravagance of mature citrus trees and thick vegetation ensure it’s serenely cool even on the hottest days. To maximize your time here, book a traditional scrub-down in the hotel’s pretty hammam before settling at a table at the famed restaurant here, the Fez Café, for a lazy lunch or dinner—both of which change daily according to the seasons. The Moroccan food is good, but the highlights really lean more to the Mediterranean: maybe a magnificent gazpacho, grilled swordfish steaks with beurre blanc, or a top-grade fillet with mushroom sauce. It’s also one of the few places in the medina where you can treat yourself to a cheeky lunchtime Casablanca beer, a bottle of salmon-pink Moroccan gris (rosé), or a predinner negroni.
12 Derb El Miter, Fès 30000, Morocco
Palais Amani is one of the most romantic Fes riad dining experiences. Tinkling fountains? Check. Orange trees strung with twinkling lanterns? Check. Rose petals strewn hither and thither? Check. Start your meal with a rooftop aperitif to admire the 360-degree views of the medina, or with a beefy red wine fireside in the lounge instead; then, feast on chef Houssam Laassiri’s modern spin on traditional dishes like slow-cooked beef tagine or confit duck with prunes, as well as a divine chocolate mousse. The restaurant hosts occasional pop-ups, too, featuring celebrated chefs from the U.K. and Europe, so keep an eye on the hotel’s website for what’s up next.
Dhar El Mehraz, 30 000، Fes 30050, Morocco
Contemporary touches meet Moroccan influences at this hilltop escape overlooking the medina. Homemade pastries greet you on arrival in the neutral-hued guest rooms, which balance floor-to-ceiling windows, sleek furnishings, and glass-walled marble baths with brightly patterned rugs, decorative vases, and Moorish lamps. The minimalist hammam is the highlight at the hotel’s Givenchy spa, while the Atlas mountain backdrop serves as eye candy beyond the chaise-lined infinity pool. Should you seek more spirited diversions, a stylish rooftop bar pulses with live music and DJ sets on the weekends. Sip champagne as the sun sets over Fes, then sample local delicacies like quail and almond tagine or roasted cockerel stuffed with raisins and semolina by candlelight at Amaraz restaurant.
Derb Bensouda, Quartier Ziat, Fès 30000, Morocco
The jewel in the Palais Faraj’s crown is its rooftop restaurant, L’Amandier. Perched above the medina like an eagle’s nest, L’Amandier has swanky contemporary decor and a vertigo-inducing terrace. Forgo the international menu for the superb Moroccan list, which takes its cues from the palace kitchens in Fes that were once considered the cradle of Moroccan gastronomy. Of special note: The Moroccan salads here are the best in town, and don’t overlook somewhat out-of-the-ordinary dishes like Fassi stuffed cockerel or quail with angel-hair pasta.
N°2 Derb Sayour,، Place R'habet Zbib,، Rcif Médina,، Fes 30200, Morocco
Affordable diffa (Moroccan-banquet-style) dinners can be frustratingly elusive in this town, so sweet little Darori is a breath of fresh air if you want to go all-out traditional without blowing the budget. It occupies a cozy courtyard dining area furnished with old French dressers and saffron-hued carpets—ignore the rather jarring tourist-board video projections, or ask to sit facing away from them, and focus instead on digging into Fassi favorites like pigeon pastilla, beef and prune tagine, and pastries like the old Moroccan standby of mille-feuille with lashings of crème anglaise and seasonal fruit, all for an affordable price.
30 Kantarat Borrouss, Rue Talaa Kebira، Fes 30000, Morocco
You can’t miss the hot-pink facade winking at you from the shadows of a teeny, tiny square on the Talaa Kbira (about midway down the slope between Bab Boujloud and the Attarine souks). A recent project of Najat Kaanache (who also runs Nur), this limited-seating hole-in-the-wall offers a rib-sticking menu of Mexican burritos lustily filled with grilled, smoky vegetables; slowly stewed meats; and lashings of salsa.
7 Zkak Rouah, Medina, Fès 30110, Morocco
The concept of a New Moroccan cuisine has only been taken seriously in the motherland over the last couple of years, and only very recently in Fes. Chef Najat Kaanache, whose résumé includes stints at trendsetting restaurants El Bulli and Noma, opened Nur in September 2016. Designed by Stephen di Renza (creative director at the Jardin Majorelle boutique in Marrakech), the space has a monochromatic vibe that’s offset by stunningly beautiful plates of food that include innovations like duck confit on herb “meringue,” cured shark on Moroccan corn bread, and grass-fed beef adobo and potato hearts. This is a bright new chapter in Fes’s culinary evolution.