The combination of age old North African culture and a thriving contemporary art scene make Marrakech a fascinating city to visit. This duality between old and new prevails within the city’s fine dining landscape, in which chefs and restaurateurs pay homage to Morocco’s cultural roots, whilst attempting to recreate its culinary culture in new and exciting ways.
Le Grand Café de la Poste
Time travel is possible around lunchtime behind the Marrakesh post office. Cross the veranda of this colonial Art Deco bistro to escape modernity, and enter a silver-screen scene already in progress. Movie stars wear oversized sunglasses indoors, nibbling seared-steak tartare and primping behind potted palms. Niçoise salads make overly light lunches, but profiteroles and excellent local and French wines provide consolation. Free spirits drift in from Jardin Majorelle for the 6pm-8pm happy hour, when free appetisers double as dinner.
Combine Fez’s culinary refinement with Marrakesh’s decadence and you have the daily diffa (feast) at the Chaab sisters’ restaurant. Pace yourself through the dozen starter salads: still ahead are herb-stuffed fish, slow-roasted lamb shoulder studded with almonds (order when booking), and towers of fluffy couscous.
Crave flavours from here and afar, to unite two cultures. This has been a notable institution for Marrakech nights since 1999. Le Comptoir Darna offers a perfect fusion between East and West. This is the place of the red city where night gives way for partying … Moroccan and international gourmet cuisine are woven in perfect harmony. Discover a show every night with choreographed belly dancers, musicians and DJ’s in a beautiful setting.
Set within an atmospheric riad, Dar Moha is one of the best places in town to experience ‘new Moroccan cuisine’, a reinvention of classical gastronomy in which the core flavours of Moroccan cooking are interweaved with innovative techniques and cooking styles. The restaurant is run by Mohamed Fedal, who transformed the beautiful riad into an idyllic dining space in which guests are seated around the pool of the patio area. Dishes such as pastilla lobster coriander juice, cockerel with olives and preserved lemon or chakhchoukha (wafer crumbs) with apple sauce are absorbing takes on the flavours of the Moroccan home, and are as comforting as they are astonishing.
A banquet hall which attempts to return diners to the era of extravagance and luxury of the Moroccan pashas, Le Tobsil is a peaceful haven hidden amidst the twisting alleyways of the Medina, and its stone arches, white table cloths and candle lit ambience make it ideal for a romantic escape. Chef Fatima Mountassamim has created a different set meal for every day of the week, based around fresh market produce and traditional Moroccan flavours, which are cooked with meticulous care and attention. She has been highly acclaimed for her abundant presentation of the old staples like cous cous and tagine, which are treated with an eye towards extravagance and indulgence, and which keep her many loyal customers coming back for more.
La Bagatelle, established in 1949 by the current owner’s grandmother, is the oldest French restaurant in Marrakech – a much-loved institution that has seen its fair share of colonial intrigues and expat adventures. In the tradition of great French brasseris, the food won’t disappoint: eggs mimosa, endives with braised ham, duck confit with apples and vealravigote. Eat inside on a winter’s day or on the lovely garden terrace, which is cooled by vapour sprays in the summer.