marrakech foodie guide
"Marrakech taught me colour." - Yves Saint Laurent
STAY: Riad Lola
This riad is the most beautiful little oasis tucked away in the city center just moments away from Jamaa al Fna, the main square. It is owned by a lovely Spanish lady, Lola, who has furnished it with local designs, mixing modern with traditional Moroccan to create this peaceful corner amidst the hustle and bustle of the chaotic souks. Spend your evenings gazing at the stars in the plunge pool on the roof, with not a sound from the souks to be heard, and head back up there in the morning for delicious breakfast.
Explore: The gorgeous Souks
The magic of Marrakech lies in the souks. You could spend days on end wandering around and still not see them all. If you head north from Jamaa al Fna, upwards and past Café des épices, there are hundreds of winding roads lined with stalls owned by local men and women. You'll find spices, homewares, clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery, food, art and so much more. Just be prepared to crack out your haggling skills and you'll get some great bargains. The general rule is to aim to get the price down to half of what the seller first says. It's hard work but it can actually be pretty fun, and you end up saving yourself a lot of money. Be warned if you're a sucker for shiny things, you might want to pack light so that you have all that extra suitcase space...
Top Eat: Nomad
If there is one restaurant you have to go to in Marrakech, it's Nomad. It's fairly new on the block, and offers traditional Moroccan cuisine with a modern twist in the most stylish setting. The terrace, with its black and white zig-zag tables and lanterns hanging around the sides, has stunning views of the city. It is the perfect place to eat delicious fresh and local food whilst watching the sunset. They usually have two sittings for dinner, one at 7pm and another at 9pm, but I would definitely recommend going earlier so that you can watch the sun go down and see the atmosphere transform. One thing you cannot miss is the saffron scented date cake with salted caramel sauce for dessert - it is unreal! We loved it so much we went twice.
Be a tourist: Jardin Majorelle
Known as the Yves Saint Laurent gardens, Jardin Majorelle adds even more colour to Marrakech's vibrant palette. There are beautiful flowers, plants, trees and cacti all lining the winding paths that surround the big blue museum, leading you to the Yves Saint Laurent memorial and around to the YSL Gallery Love. Don't be afraid to go in the hot summer months as the huge trees keep all of the paths in the shade, which means it's a lovely place to walk around at any time of day.on't leave without having something to drink or eat at the café! They have great juices and milkshakes, and it's the perfect place to stop for a rest before finishing off the rest of the gardens or heading into the museum.
Cheap eat: The food stalls in Jamaa al Fna
Forget what everyone has said about being careful what you eat in Morocco, because the street food is possibly the best you'll have whilst you're there. You can't miss the buzzing and electric atmosphere of the main square at night, where there are dozens of stalls to choose from. They mostly offering the same menu, so it doesn't really matter which one you eat at, but the fact that they are packed out every night with as many locals as they are tourists is just one indicator that they're serving up some seriously good stuff. We ate at Number 1, Café Aicha, where a local lady cooks some delicious traditional Moroccan dishes. Be sure to try the chicken sausages, or merguez. Our entire meal came to about 115 dirhams between two of us (the equivalent of £7.60!!). Don't forget to get some freshly squeezed orange juice from the square during the day too.
Tea & cake: Palais Khum
I know Marrakech is filled with beautiful riads hidden away from the main streets, but Palais Khum is one gem that you really have to see. After two German girls staying at our riad recommended we go there for tea, we were determined to find it, and although we got completely and utterly lost for about an hour, we did. It was so worth it. The riad boasts 11 rooms, a restaurant, a patisserie, a roof terrace, and a spa - it was one of the most beautiful places we discovered on our trip. Sitting by the pool and sipping some mint tea with some freshly baked petit fours was the perfect way to end our day exploring the souks before heading back to our riad to freshen up for dinner.
Must see: Maison de la Photographie
There are more traditional sights to see in Marrakech, like the Bahia Palace or the Saadian Tombs, but the Maison de la Photographie offers something different. The museum allows you to see the history of Marrakech and it's people through over 8000 beautiful photographs taken from 1870-1950, tracing the introduction and development of photography and cinema in the city. The building is also a sight itself, with white-washed walls, shutters, and pretty patterned floor tiles. End your visit with a fresh mint lemonade on the beautiful roof terrace and take in the panoramic views. Admission is 40 dirhams, but it's 40 dirhams well spent.
Sweet treats: La Patisserie by Terrasse des épices
You can't go to Morocco and not try their incredible pastries. Right in the heart of the souks you will find this little patisserie at the entrance of Terrasse des épices, which is also a great restaurant for lunch. They offer an assortment of all the pastries they make for 40 dirhams which means you can try a bit of everything (obviously choosing just one is impossible). They've got dates, almonds, walnuts, figs, coconut and so much more. You'll be hooked and probably end up buying some to take home!
lunch UNDER THE TREES: Le Jardin
Some restaurants are more suited for certain times of the day, and Le jardin is one for lunch. It's a beautiful shaded green garden tucked away in the medina, offering all kinds of Moroccan dishes perfect for a light lunch or something more filling. We shared savoury pastries filled with cheese, spinach, and vegetables, and a lentil salad. The date milkshake was great too. Le jardin also has a little boutique attached to it, as well as three terraces for those of you wanting to soak in as much sun as you can. It's owned by the same people that run Nomad and Café des épices, which explains why the food is so great!
Mid-afternoon munchies: Zwin Zwin Café
Zwin Zwin is Marrakech's answer to the fashionable café's you would find in european cities like Madrid, London or Paris. It belongs to a lovely Parisian lady and her French-Canadian husband. All three floors of the café are painted white and decorated with beautifully bright pastel colours and pretty furniture. The food is fresh, light and healthy, and mixes traditional Middle Eastern with European. Go for the aubergine with honey and cinnamo and the courgette and goats cheese tart. This is also another one with an endless list of refreshing juices and smoothies to save you from the heat! Don't forget to also pop into the Zwin Zwin boutique which is just around the corner.