I am sure you have found yourself wondering..what makes a trip to Marrakech so special? Is it the architecture, the history, the medina? Truthfully, it is none of the above. What makes Marrakech one of a kind is it’s vibrant and rich dining scene.
Photography by Svadore
Before going to Morocco my mother had warned me that Fes was going to be beautiful, but that Marrakech had let her down. Although she had shared her opinion with me, I kept thinking to myself that that was 25 years ago! I was certain that Marrakech had changed, especially after all of the attention it’s been getting in recent years. It seems like Marrakech is on every travelers to do list. Ultimately I ended up agreeing with my mother (even 25 years after!) and personally preferred Fès to Marrakech for many different reasons. Although I would recommend Fès as the go to place for all travelers looking to visit Morocco, Marrakech does deserve some acclaim.
My experience in Marrakech was not made by its history, the Medina, its souks or the famous Jemma El-Fna square (coming from New York where I’ve experienced Times Square and Rockefeller Center during Christmas, it was quiet in comparison!). What made Marrakech a unique place for me was its one of a kind cuisine. Although many consider Fès the hotbed in Morocco when it comes to cuisine, I noted the cuisine was a different experience in Marrakech. The cuisine from both cities is fresh, made from scratch, and A-MAZE-ING. Furthermore, both cities don’t give any lead up to the Riad or restaurant. You will find yourself walking down dark, desolate, and sketchy alleyways questioning the signs or google maps, thinking to yourself “there is no way we are going the right way..” if you start thinking this, you’re probably going in the right direction. Some of the most beautiful dining spaces we found were in the middle of the most desolate areas and had no lead up, they were charming hideaways that revealed a beautiful gem. The sketchier the lead up, the more beautiful the place would be!
The difference between Fès and Marrakech lies in how the two cities offer their food. In Fès it’s a local dining experience either in a Riad, garden, or rooftop terrace. Simple, delicious, quaint and local. Marrakech is all about dining like the Pacha’s once did. A grand and opulent experience that takes one back centuries to a rich Arabian night in Marrakech. Candle lit dinners are not hard to come by in open courtyards with live Berber music. Marrakech’s charm lies in its culinary space, so don’t be afraid to splurge and explore new tastes while in the city. Here are Svadore’s top picks for a romantic and five star lunch and dinner that will have you feeling like a Pacha from the past:
One of the only restaurants without a questionable lead up, this restaurant is located directly on one of the main roads of the Marrakech Medina. Whether you choose to dine on the ground floor in the courtyard or up above on the terrace, Cafe Arabe offers a modern Moroccan space. With its subtle blue and white lights, hip music and a Italian inspired cuisine, this restaurant is perfect for an Italo-Moroccan fusion. I recommend you make reservations in advance should you wish to dine at night.
A four story building that offers two terraces overlooking the famous souk Zrabi (full of woven baskets, hats, spices and carpets). This spot is perfect for both dinner, lunch, and a quick beverage to watch the sunset. No reservations are required for lunch, but definitely make one if you plan on going for dinner on the outdoor terrace!
The alley to get there is sketchy and there is no lead up whatsoever, however once they open the doors for you, you will be greeted by a dim candlelit open courtyard witha rose petal fountain in the middle. Their terrace is only available for a post dinner drink, but is well worth the wait if you have time to go up at the end of the evening. Aside from playing excellent music (think Cheap Thrills and Thinking Out Loud remixed to be solely acoustic and sound Arabian–and the occasional Game Of Thrones or Hobbit Arabian version), I had one of the best crème brûlées during my stay in Morocco at this very intimate restaurant.
You don’t dine here for the food as much as you do for the experience. Nestled in a vine-covered courtyard in the middle of Jardin de Majorelle, also known as the Yves Saint Lauren garden, is the lovely Café Majorelle. The palm trees and orange trees make a refuge from the hustle and bustle outside the garden walls. Food prices are a bit higher than average, but it was refreshing to see items on the menu such as club sandwiches that were catered to a more European and American crowd.
- Café Majorelle, Rue Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakech; Jardinmajorelle.com
Deemed by many as the best restaurant in Africa and among the top restaurants in the world, Le Tobsil is an experience for all the senses. Visited by some of the world’s most famous celebrities such as John Legend and Chrissy Teigan, the fixed four course meal is made based on the fresh food available for the day. They serve more than you can consume, but the whole point is to have a little bit of everything without eating as much as you can at the beginning. Pace yourself and you’ll be able to enjoy some of Africa’s best cuisine accompanied by live Berber music and a candlelit dinner.
- Le Tobsil, Derb Abdellah Ben Hessein , R’Mila Bab Ksour, Medina, Marrakech; +212 5244-44052
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