Around ten years ago, you can go to Marrakesh, and for sure, your plate will be served with some exotic floor shows complete with drummers and belly dancers. With all the frenzy, your palate will have a hard time distinguishing what's bad and what's not. Faux food, faux flavor, and real Moroccan food did better in places like Berlin or San Francisco.
Today's story is a few miles different. Restaurants have gone back to the roots and tap dadas, female cooks who make the best home dishes. The meals prepared by dadas are featured alongside the creations of young local chefs.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Morocco where you can meet the real, local flavors to make your holiday memorable:
La Maison Arabe is the pioneer Marrakesh boutique in the medina. That is why they prepare their food with heart and mind. Their culinary vision is owed to Fabrizio Ruspoli, the owner. His restaurant, called Les Trois Saveurs, recovers the struggling Moroccan dish, tagine. Didier Levy's, a famous chef, infamous tagine is saffron, sesame, ginger, onions, seeds, and turmeric-roused tour de force, made its savory lamb spiced possess sunny sweetness with caramelized oranges added. No less delicious is the combo of sun-dried peaches pigeon pastille and chicken tagine.
A dada will lead you after signing up for this hotel's cooking tutorial sessions – they disclose the recipe secrets of their tribe passed through generations.
Every night amidst dusk, the central square of the medina, Djemaa el Fna, converts to an array of a buffet full of street-foods. The vendors prepare their tables and cooking stations, which are numbered, smoke begins to diffuse to the billowing clouds.
To avoid having the "tourist belly," more likely to happen here in Morocco than in anywhere in the world, be mindful and abide by several basic rules: Prevents stalls that build up their complicated food displays, that is cooking a large number of dishes, and are packed with travelers. Go for stalls that draw the attention of locals and concentrate on a couple of signatures dishes only—focusing on fresh snails in bowls with the broth of rousing thyme, green tea leaves, seeds, red chilies, and mint stalls numbers 1 to 6. Stall #94 (and the one front of it without a number – it doesn't have a number for it is popular already – offers a shockingly gratifying hard-boiled eggs sandwich.
You might as well try a glass of refreshing orange juice from one juice vendor in the square. I am sure that it is the orange juice with the most sugar and pulps you would ever drink in your life.
When you desire relief from overflowing realism and din of the medina, think about the mesh of unabashedly ethereal and luxurious resorts in Marrakesh's suburban ring. In several ways, its restaurants in these leveled classy venues are as real as the rest in the continuously transforming and adapting Marrakesh, wherein expat's tastes of Europeans have been blended with local flavors.
Ten minutes of walk away from the central medina is the traditional La Mamounia, which recently went thru a large scale renovation. With its interior colored plum, Jacques Garcia's design, it is an astonishing blend of Morocco's craftsmanship and chic of Paris. The food has developed as well, and the Italian and, of course, Moroccan restaurants in the area are good.
Le Français is the most prized restaurant in La Mamounia. The French wonder chef, Bertrand Charles, has recently coined the "bistronomic" menu for lunch, which is the best excuse to drop by. Their strongest and most wanted brasserie dishes are as follow: shepherd's pie of beef tail, truffles, and white wine; seared scallops couple with celeriac mousseline which is truffle-scented; caramelized bananas and chocolate fritters combo; and last but not least, a combo of red cabbage, beets, and passion for cooking, topped with foie gras.
If it may seem a little too Galic, go to the squeaky brand new Four Seasons Resort Marrakech as an alternative. Just opened in 2011, it is 10 minutes away from medina by cab. Its classic slump of low buildings gives an impression as if an aristocratic village of sandcastles. It features pools with two slates, a spa, and the Bleu d'Orange, an Italian classic fine-dining. Why eat Italian food, Marrakesh? But why not? You can choose between the outside-trickling big terrace and flickering candle-lit in the walls of your dining area, along with various extremely comforting dishes like lobster linguine, plain yet heavenly calamari salad, and gnocchi with unsullied sages and flavorful butter during Morocco Travel.
As the proximal collection of close riad hotels goes multiplying day by day in the complex medina, you are not required to check-in just for you to eat a meal at one of them. Riad AnaYela is located in the corner of the medina that is so hard to find (part of its odd attraction) you'll need a walker to meet you at the taxi drop-off and guide you to the entrance.
But make sure to contact riad before 2 PM to make a reservation for your dining table that may be around the garden pool, on top of a tent-covered rooftop, or at "flying carpet," AnaYela's signature, which is a pavilion with a red curtain that has the view of the medina. The fresh finds in the local markets (the reason you should reserve before 2 PM) of Khadija, the AnaYela's dada, is served as dinner. Apocalyptic, couscous, is her signature dish. This makes all your dining memories of gummy couscous disappear to thin air – with sliced sweet carrots and savory zucchini on top; it is fluffy that it is as if floating from the plate. End your meals with the unearthly combination of fresh peaches, crème fraîche, almond biscuits, and a whiff of cinnamon. Now you don't have to book a hotel or room while traveling to Morrocco, you can simply exchange homes online. It will save you time and money.
Most tourists and visitors use one whole day marauding the marketplace until heat, pain, or hunger demands one to stop to eat lunch during Morocco Travel. Even until now, lunch selections in the medina are bland. An Arabic teacher's Marrakshi son, Kamal Laftimi, was not embarrassed about mixing the best in old and novel Marrakesh since he opened among the crowded marketplace, Café des Épices.
This café, hangout, and at the same time clubhouse on the rooftop may not be easy to find, but it is not that hard to look for it once you ask for directions through the maze of the medina. Cabanas made of black stones, massive wicker chandeliers, and banquettes, which are cushion-lined, with ceiling vents spritzing clouds of cool mist that makes a perfect refuge from the blazing heat. Wearing big hats and portable chalkboards containing the day's menu, including their eclectic dishes from tagines to crème brulée, the waitpersons are stunning.
If you crave clean and brightly flavored dishes in the middle of the day, Moroccan salads (cubed eggplants, potatoes, and sweet carrots), a bowl of pineapple, oranges, and kiwi is a must-try.
If overcrowding persists at the rooftop, you can go to Le Jardin, Kaftimi's other new restaurant, a few rounds of the medina gone from Café des Épices. It is located in a blooming garden of a revived riad. It is a combination of performance space and a café, where a mini library rests beneath the arches of the courtyard and where some films are presented on its walls during the night. Like at café des Épices, a simple lunch is heavenly: club sandwiches of chicken, three melon salad, toast with sandiness soaked with olive oil, or ricotta ravioli. It's setting as if an oasis, serene, under high garden palm trees, is one smart flee from the radiant sun.
During Morocco Travel, achieving an actual liberation from medina, one effortless getaway is driving south for 45 minutes from Marrakesh towards the Atlas Mountains wherein the Kasbah Tamadot of great Sir Richard Branson dwells in a hillside with the breathtaking overlooking view of the timeless village of Berber. Served in an open-roof terrace with the star lights beaming in your vision, the menu is comprised of modern Moroccan cuisines like the verbena-infused gazpacho red pepper complemented with avocado and timbale of crab, and carpaccio of sweet-tart made of delicious mangoes with lime-flavored ice cream, mint, sauce of passion fruit, and shaved coconut.
Making a partly walk to the other indispensable city in Morocco, Fez requires more effort. Driving 240 miles north through the desert scenery is not just charming but also worth your time if and only if you have ample leisure. Otherwise, taking the plane for convenience would bring you from one city to another with a blink.
Even though it is more convenient than Marrakesh, it is little by little opening itself to visitors and travelers in many fresh, innovative ways, even by just dropping by the tenaciously elegant and modish Palais Amani Riad, your trip will be a hit and worth it. Their kitchen's fluffy, feathery and savory cauliflower purée with frozen, pickled cauliflower on top is one gorgeous blend of not just its ingredients but its textures and delicious flavors. In addition to its magic is their chicken pastilla with two petite chicken legs in a cross on top and the plain pear poach simmered in tasty wine sauce.
The simple given fact that you are snacking and dining around a garden, dressed with Moroccan tiles with jewel tones and tinkling fountain, would not hurt in its least way. However, if it were to close, that open space courtyard must be the real and genuine Morocco's face – a soulful self is the one that has the ways to invite and beacon in his mind in its new look yet without surrendering its old culture.