Marrakech - Restaurants
Every night the candlelit patio of the refined Riad Casa Lalla is transformed into a gastronomic getaway, where the French chef serves a menu invented that day with the freshest, most succulent ingredients from Marrakech's marketplace. The intimate setting among fellow foodies adds to the dining experience, but special tables can be arranged for couples. Reservations required.
16 Derb Jemaa, Medina
Tel: (0524) 429 757.
Comptoir Darna is still the place to be seen and the favourite hang-out for Marrakech's beautiful people. Both cocktail bar and restaurant, Comptoir Darna segues from mellow dining downstairs to outbursts of belly-dancing and carousing by the upstairs bar as the night wears on. The Franco-Moroccan menu works well in this sumptuous, east-meets-west setting where diplomats, supermodels and minor royalty rub shoulders.
Avenue Echouada, Hivernage
Tel: (0524) 437 702.
The culinary star of Marrakech has set new standards for Moroccan fusion cuisine, with combinations dreamed up daily from the souks and the imagination of Chef Mohammed Fedal. Dar Moha's menu consists of sumptuous fix-priced feasts. The best seats in this former family home are around the petal-strewn pool in the garden, where musicians play in the evenings and a grill house emits tantalising aromas by day. Reservations necessary. Serves alcohol.
81 Rue Dar el-Bacha
Tel: (0524) 386 400.
La Maison Arabe
The restaurant of Marrakech's famed hotel offers a selection of traditional Moroccan dishes and local specialties, including a few vegetarian options. The restaurant has a plush interior with hand-painted woodwork and some tables spill over into the pretty, shaded courtyard. Good for lunch as well as dinner, but dinner is accompanied by excellent Arab-Andalusian music. Serves alcohol.
1 Derb Assehbe, Bab Doukkala, Medina
Tel: (0524) 387 010.
Al Fassia has become a local legend for hearty yet elegant dishes from the Middle Atlas and Fes. The restaurant is run by a group of sisters who recreate their own family recipes with top-notch ingredients and a sharp all-female staff. The menu is la carte and the dcor plush, modern Moroccan. A wide selection of savoury meat dishes, tagines and couscous are on offer, but the array of nine salads alone is enough to satisfy a vegetarian. Serves alcohol.
55 Boulevard Zerktouni (at end of pedestrian passage), Guliz
Tel: (0524) 434 060.
Caf du Livre
Tucked away in the Ville Nouvelle, Caf du Livre is an inviting space away from the crowds. Appealing to expat tastes, this Marrakech restaurant offers French-flavoured fare for lunch, tapas in the evening and big breakfasts all day. Bookworms and Wi-Fi fans will position themselves in front of the open fire during winter and never emerge.
44 Rue Tarik Ben Ziad
Tel: (0524) 432 149.
Le Grand Caf de la Poste
Once a sorting office and colonial hotel, this deco Casablanca-style eatery is where Mediterranean flair meets top-notch Moroccan ingredients on the inventive seasonal la carte menu. Among the potted palms in the dining room, ordinary mortals mingle with movie stars on a break from filming desert scenes. With ample vegetarian options, salads, and dishes light on the sauces, it's easy to justify dessert.
Boulevard El Mansour Eddahbi
Tel: (0524) 433 038.
Terrasse des pices
Chic and sleek, the Terrasse des pices offers a smart space for meeting and eating north of Jemaa El Fna. Offering a tantalising mix in Moroccan and continental cuisine it also tempts with a fabulous line in desserts. Dine alfresco or in attractive private nooks. Post-business, this is one of the city's liveliest spots at night.
15 Souk Cherifa, Sidi Abdelaziz
Tel: (0524) 375 904.
Caf de France
A local institution and one of the most famous cafs in Marrakech, Caf de France is popular as a meeting place for those with business in the medina. The street-level terrace is good for watching the comings and goings in the square, while the roof terraces have superb views. The menu offers unexceptional but serviceable fare and decent coffee at a reasonable price; what you're paying for here is the location and convenience factor.
Jemaa el Fna
A better option for delicate stomachs and vegetarians than the food stalls in the Jemaa el Fna but still within the square, Chez Chegrouni is a hugely popular restaurant with tourists and locals alike. It offers all the usual dishes and has a small terrace at the front to watch the nightly antics. Unlike many of the other budget restaurants in Marrakech, this place does not use meat stock for non-meat dishes, so vegetarian dishes are just that. Although it's small and basic, it's very clean and well run, and a justifiable favourite.
Tel: (0665) 474 615.
Jemaa el Fna
For the most authentic Moroccan dining experience, join the crowds and eat within the Jemaa el Fna itself. As twilight falls, over 100 food stalls are set up and clouds of smoke drift over the square as all manner of meats are grilled and served with cooked vegetable salads as sides. Wander around until you see ingredients that look the freshest, then squeeze onto one of the benches. Bread is used instead of cutlery and orange juice is brought from one of the many juice stalls. A word of warning - although the food is well cooked, ask for food to be served on paper instead of hastily rinsed plates, and drink OJ from your water bottle instead of reused cups.
Good selection of pizzas, pastas and salads, all made with the freshest ingredients, but the real draw is the view from the roof terrace. From here you can see the sun setting over the Koutoubia Mosque and watch the cars, bikes and pedestrians jostle along the busy avenue. Cool breezes on hot summer evenings make the experience even more pleasant.
279 Avenue Mohammed V
Tel: (0524) 440 081.
A snug, comfortable riad in Marrakech with four standard rooms and two suites, well located for the Jemaa el Fna, the Badi and Bahia Palaces and the souks. The large living room invites banter among guests but the real hang-out spot is the kitchen, where you can watch the in-house chef create tasty meals from scratch and pick up a few pointers. Sunny balconies and a shaded roof terrace with a view of the Koutoubia make the Eden a heavenly retreat at the right price.
25 Derb Jedid, Medina
Tel: (0672) 046 910.
Set within lush gardens (once the royal grounds of the Saadians) and with fine views of the Atlas Mountains, this art deco luxury hotel has been the place to stay in Marrakech for the rich and famous since it opened in the 1920s. Winston Churchill described it as 'the loveliest spot in the whole world' and was a frequent visitor - the Churchill Bar is named in his honour. In its heyday, it wasn't so much a hotel as a way of life, with a casino to rival Monte Carlo and silver screen movie stars sipping highballs at high tea. A major sumptuous overhaul is now complete and La Mamounia is once again the grande dame of Marrakech.
Avenue Bab Jedid, Medina
Tel: (0524) 388 600.
Les Jardins de la Koutoubia
Tucked behind the Jemaa el Fna, Les Jardins de la Koutoubia has 100 rooms and suites, clustered around a palm-filled courtyard with a large pool, decked out in a smart, spiffy, modern Moroccan style. Another major draw is its sleek, serene spa, which offers traditional hammam treatments. The piano bar is a prime spot for an evening cocktail, and you can dine on a range of international cuisines from India to France on the patio, garden, or rooftop. For location and space, it can't be beaten.
26 Rue de la Koutoubia, Medina
Tel: (0524) 388 800.
Riyad El Cadi
This elegant guest house is a maze of historic riads set around five courtyards and faceted with private balconies, terraces, staircases and light wells. Each of the rooms has its own dcor scheme with custom furnishings and antiques. They range from thecupola-capped Ottoman suite with Turkish tile and latticework harem balcony to the Chaouen junior suite with an 18th-century Moroccan woodwork ceiling and inviting fireplace. Among the mansion's many charms are a pool with Jacuzzi, subterranean hammam, in-house chef, and well-stocked libraries and wine cellar.
87 Derb Moulay Abdelkader
Tel: (0524) 378 655.
La Maison Arabe Marrakech
Opened in the 1940s, La Maison Arabe was a popular dining place for the rich and famous (Winston Churchill was a patron). It closed in the 1980s but reopened in 1998 as a hotel under the new ownership of Italian blueblood and African antiques collector Frederic Ruspoli. His collection is now the centrepiece of luxuriously restored suites and rooms, most with private terraces, set around central courtyards. In terms of luxury, its suites rival La Mamounia, and the in-house restaurant, hammam (traditional steam bath) and the new swimming pool are well worth a visit.
1 Derb Assehb, Bab Doukkala, Medina
Tel: (0524) 387 010.
Riad Al Massarah
This riad (courtyard guesthouse)is the definition of Marrakech cool, with its blend of traditional lofty architecture, handsome custom-made furnishings and ultramodern bathroom fittings by Philippe Starck. Proprietors Michael and Michel are blazing the trail for responsible riad tourism with clever use of natural light and solar energy, contributions to local charities, and standard-setting wages for their top-notch staff. With such thoughtful attention to detail, restorative massages and an acclaimed in-house chef, the Riad Al Massarah is an idyllic spot to unwind by day and sleep exceptionally well at night.
26 Derb Jedid, Bab Doukkala, Medina
Tel: (0524) 383 206.
Set just outside the medina walls, this is the most accessible of the Hivernage hotels from the old city - about 10 minutes from Jemaa el Fna. Each of the 346 rooms has its own terrace or balcony, and south-facing ones enjoy views of the gardens and Atlas mountains. The hotel has a large pool, well-tended gardens, passable restaurants and a tearoom, plus a stylish bar with a generous happy hour. Among its other assets are a business centre, conference facilities and a prime location, close to the medina and only a block or two from the best restaurants and clubs in the Hivernage.
Rue Harroun Errachid, Hivernage
Tel: (0524) 425 600.