At lunchtime, you have many choices in Marrakech. You can eat at local restaurants, frequented by locals, which we recommend, or you can eat at restaurants that are more “touristy”, where they make pizzas, pasta and other basics. For a Morrocan atmosphere go to eat among the bustle and noise of the Jemaa el Fna, where there are several bars and cafes that offer delicious cheap meals.
My advice is to go to one of the local restaurants at least once, because it is a good way to discover the essence of the Moroccan food and to know what, and how, people eat in Marrakech.
Located everywhere, you will have no trouble finding one. You will see that many of them cook outside in the local vicinity, meat, fish, vegetables, etc., all cooked with amazing mixes of spices. These are called tagine dishes because they are cooked in a sort of cone-shaped ceramic pot or tub. Tagines are not to be missed!
Local restaurants also offer you lentil soup (very common in Marrakech), vegetable soup or some kind of tasty crepes. The advantage of these restaurants is undoubtedly the price. But beware! Sometimes as tourist some vendors will try to charge you more than a Moroccan (that happened to me). You can eat a plate of lentils, with a pancake and water for 2 or 3 euros. Watch out for water, always ask for a bottle, as most of us tourists have to drink mineral water, as our stomachs are not used to Morrocan water.
If you dont like Moroccan food, or you feel like eating something more lWestern you have several choices of restaurants that offer pizzas, pastas, and salads. The only drawback is that, like tourism, the price changes and it is more likely to be akin to what we pay in the West for a pizza. Still not expensive, but more expensive than local restaurants. Another good reason for going local.
Eating in Jemaa el Fna
Another interesting option is eating at the same Jemaa el Fna, where the party starts at 6pm with kiosks grilled meats, vegetables and others till late night.
This type of meal must be done at least once, it is interesting because you share tables more and will be next to other locals as well as meeting other tourists like yourself that are discovering Marrakech. In addition, the staff, like everywhere in Marrakech tend to be very nice and friendly and have a special ability to detect your home country, which is amazing! Don’t do what I and my girlfriend did. assume that locals will not speak any other language you may speak, – we discussed prices in Spanish and were rightly shown up when a local responded in kind!
Dining at the riad
And, whether you’re staying in a riad (traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard) or not, they can be an excellent choice to have dinner in amazing surroundings. They say that “Moroccan food is a cuisine for home and not to eat anywhere else”. So maybe in the riad or ryad can you can taste the best ever couscous and tagines in resplendent settings.
In the local restaurants you may have to ask for silverware, because Morocco’s tradition is to eat with the fingers or a piece of bread (always in the right hand). Don’t feel ashamed to do the same!
The typical Moroccan dishes are couscous of seven vegetables and meat, fish or meat tagine or soup of chickpeas or lentils. We’d advise trying them all…
Remember to ask ALWAYS bottle mineral water, since most tourists are not accustomed to drink water from their taps (you’ve been warned).
Finally, finally, you will rarely find beer or other kinds of alcohol in local restaurants, since Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol.