Eat & Drink
The main Carlie: at Djemma El Fna is definitely worth a visit, and the food is priced on menus. In little back streets the ambience is more quiet, although the price is higher and the quality may vary a lot. Touts for Djemma huts can be among the most persistent in Marrakech. Don’t make them any promises you don’t intend on keeping, or they’ll get mean and call you a liar. The line ‘we already ate’ seems to work well to get them to stop. In the square itself there are some locals such as:
- Chez Chegrouni, Tagine 35 DH, Harira 15 DH. Near the main entrance to the market. Maybe the best cheap restaurant in the square. Their vegetarian couscous (30dh,) is supposedly the only true vegetarian couscous in town; it’s also bland but they give you plenty of it. Prices go up if you sit on the terrace. Usually packed full of good-time tourists.
- Cafe Alhamra On the edge of the square, serves up salads, pizza and pasta as well as a tagine of the day. Their rooftop is a good place to have a late night coffee and pastry while watching the events in the square below.
- Cafe Agrana On the edge of Djemma El Fna. Try the pastilla – a sweet/savory pie (either chicken or, for the adventerous, pigeon) that melts in the mouth.
- La Makarechi opposite the market and adjacent to the newspaper stand. With two main courses and wine running at around 300 Dh, this is one of the poshest restaurants in the square. The food is not necessarily better than elsewhere, but it is one of the few restaurants that serve alcohol. It also has a completely enclosed upstairs terrace, which is ideal for views of the square when the weather is bad.
- Chez El Bahia 50m away from Djemma El Fna on Rue Riad Zitoune (the street that starts at Wafa Restaurant). Excellent and good priced food in a quiet place. Try the chicken and olives tajine and prune, almonds and mutton tajine for about 45 Dh each. Try also the moroccan salad while they cook the rest of the food.
- The two places in the southeast corner serve much the same menu. Popular with travellers for breakfast. Set breakfasts at 20 dh with orange juice, coffee, tasteless pastry and choice of limp omlette or greasy crepe.
- Cafe Mabrouk (off Jma el-Fna). Serves the same thing as everywhere else in a little courtyard or terrace. Bland, hard pizzas, 35 dh.
Take care eating the offered food on the main market place Djemma El Fna and the other cheap restaurants. Many of the dishes, including goat heads and bowls of local snails (hot and tasty) may seem too adventurous for the Western palate, but the main problems are salads, which can cause diarrhea.
Vegetarians will find that there are few options outside the ubiquitous Tagine avec Legumes.
For more upscale eateries, and especially for non-Morroccan cuisine, you will have to go outside the Medina to Ville Nouvelle.
How to eat (well) in the Djemma El Fna
Djemma El Fna in full swing
If you want to eat well in Marrakech, do what the locals do and eat at the food stalls in the Place. It is a common mis-conception that these stalls are here for the tourists. Actually, they have been in existence long before Marrakech became a tourist destination. All of the stalls can be regarded as perfectly safe to eat at. They are strictly licensed and controlled by the government…especially now as it is a usual destination for tourists.
- There is no such thing as a “Touristic food stall” in the Djemaa.
- Prices tend to vary a little. Depending upon how hungry you are, you can pay anything from 10 Dirham for a Bread filled with freshly grilled Sausages or perhaps a bowl of Harira soup to 100 Dirham for a full 3 course meal with salad, bread, starter, main course and tea.
- Try harira (great soup, good for veggies) and the fried aubergines. Don’t be afraid, try the lamb head: it’s really tasty. Also, give a chance to the “bull stew” (beef stew), on the same stalls
- Don’t miss the tea! There is a row of Tea sellers along the front of the food stalls who each sell tea for 1.5dh each. Most of the tea at these stalls is actually Ginseng tea with Cinnamon and Ginger…most delicious and welcoming.
Hot sweet mint tea is served in all restaurants and cafes.
Street vendors offer fresh orange juice (jus d’Orange) by the glass for 3 Dh. Try it with a dash of salt like the locals, but be wary of vendors who try and water the juice down with tap water.
All stalls at Djemma El Fna (and some stalls elsewhere?) display the price on a sign, making it less likely you’ll be overcharged.
However, pay attention when you buy as they offer 2 types of orange…the blood orange juice costs 10 Dirham per glass and a misunderstanding on what you want to drink could occur.
Wine and beer will rarely be found outside of restaurants catering to tourists.
However, Hotel Tazi in the Medina of Marrakech does have a public bar, serving beer and wine at not too expensive prices.