By Maryam Montague
November 17, 2014
Marcus Nilsson

I’d tell you about Moroccan food, but—mmmm, my mouth is full.  Moroccan food is slow cooked and flavor-forward.  Bursting with spices, nuts and dried fruits, there is a sweet and tangy balance to Moroccan cuisine.  If you are not lucky enough to be invited to a local’s house, there are some good options on offer in Marrakesh. An assortment of tagines (a sort of stew served in a conical dish by the same name) are almost always featured on restaurant menus.  On Friday, couscous served with seven vegetables can be found simmering in huge pots in Moroccan restaurant kitchens, no matter their size.  Many of the more upscale Moroccan restaurants have a set menu that includes several courses.  Making the whole experience that much more memorable, the more stylish restaurants are almost always found in old courtyard mansions or riads. Bring your camera and rumbling belly and be enchanted.  Here are five of my favorites.

Al Fassia

Many people consider Al Fassia to be Marrakesh’s very best restaurant for Moroccan food.  It’s also a tad more reasonable than some of the other options and allows you to order a la carte, rather than tying you to the you-will-eat-five-courses-like-it-or-not menus found elsewhere.  Accordingly, reservations are essential.  Thankfully, there are two locations, in case you find that one is already booked up.  

Dar Moha

Dar Moha is the perfect sartorial choice for the visiting gourmand.  Previously owned by fashion designer Pierre Balmain, this nineteenth-century riad has a chic garden and serves lunch and dinner.  Celebrated Chef Moha (after whom the restaurant is named) was featured on a CNN travel segment on Marrakesh in 2014 (with, ahem, yours truly). 

Dar Yacout

The grande dame of Marrakesh Moroccan restaurants, Dar Yacout is the restaurant so often seen in coffee table books on Marrakesh, with a great mash-up of styles.  The food is fine and features a fixed menu.  The last time I was at Dar Yacout, the Moroccan King’s beautiful mother was with a group at the table next to mine, and looking resplendent in a silk caftan; that alone was more than worth the price of admission.  

Le Fondouk

This is the Moroccan restaurant that we often send our own guests to, because it goes beyond Moroccan food (key for the super-picky eaters in the group). The menu has a nice range of options, including Moroccan, Italian and French.  The design, meanwhile, is stylish and a bit more contemporary than the other Moroccan offerings in town. 

Le Tobsil

This is the coziest, perhaps, of the Moroccan restaurants.  In a small but beautiful Moroccan courtyard house, you’ll dine on a sea of red carpets, with melodious live Moroccan music quietly playing in the background.  Managed by a French couple who are lovers of Morocco, Tobsil offers a fixed menu, including wine, with several courses.