There are many reasons to visit the Imperial City of Marrakesh. Visitors come to admire the medieval architecture of the medina, to shop for silver and silks and spices in the souks, and to experience the bespoke hospitality of traditional riads. For many, the city’s highlight is its diverse cuisine. Classic Moroccan tagines are served at fine dining establishments and street-side stalls, while restaurants in the Ville Nouvelle are a testament to Marrakesh’s multiculturalism with representatives from France, Italy, Japan, and India. Here are the city's top restaurants across 15 different categories, from traditional to contemporary.
Set in a beautifully restored, 17th-century riad in the heart of the medina, Dar Zellij is our restaurant of choice for special occasions. Its opulent décor transports guests back to the heyday of the sultans, with original hand-painted ceilings, intricate inlaid woodwork, and Arabic lanterns casting geometric shadows upon the walls. Inside, rich hues of ocher and saffron lend an atmosphere of romance, while slender citrus trees grace the outside courtyard. The menu offers a gourmet take on traditional Moroccan favorites: think succulent lamb tagines and flaky chicken pastillas. Alcohol is served, and meals are often accompanied by live music and dancing.
For a more contemporary dining experience, make your way out of the medina and into the Ville Nouvelle’s French-era Gueliz neighborhood. Here you will find La Palette Restaurant, featuring a trendy blend of exposed brick walls, lush greenery, and shimmering glassware. The menu offers a seasonal combination of Moroccan and Mediterranean fine dining. Choose pan-fried scallops or couscous with chicken and lamb as your entrée, then treat yourself to a chocolate fondant or crème brûlée for dessert. La Palette serves both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, with a number of Moroccan and French wines served by the glass.
If you’re traveling on a shoestring or would like a more relaxed dining experience, La Cantine Des Gazelles is a favorite with locals and tourists alike. A convenient five-minute walk from Djemma el-Fna, it’s difficult to miss since the entire interior is bright Barbie pink. You can expect huge portions, rock bottom prices, and unfailingly friendly service, with Moroccan menu items ranging from couscous and kefta to tagines, pastillas, and salads. The three-course set menu is a particular bargain for hungry travelers. Booking in advance is recommended; there’s no card machine, so be sure to bring cash.
Another standout destination in Gueliz, Le 68 Bar à Vin is a good fit for those wanting some French sophistication. Although more of a wine bar than a restaurant, this convivial spot complements its ever-changing wine list (which features nearly 200 imported labels from all over the world) with a selection of delicious French small plates. For many guests, the highlight is the cheese and charcuterie boards which rival any you could expect to find in Paris. Also on the menu are oysters, coq au vin, foie gras salad, and eggplant gratin. The bar stays open until 2 a.m. every evening.
A little further along the Rue de la Liberté from Le 68 Bar à Vin is Mamma Mia, one of Marrakesh’s best options for authentic Italian fare. The restaurant evokes the atmosphere of a traditional trattoria, with red-and-white checked tablecloths, retro Italian posters, and an open kitchen where chefs hand-toss bases for tasty pies. If you don’t feel like pizza, opt for a fresh pasta or fragrant seafood risotto instead. Tiramisu and Italian ice creams are the stars of the dessert menu, while wine connoisseurs will appreciate the wide choice of Italian, French, and Moroccan labels on offer.
Conveniently situated in between the medina and central Gueliz, Katsura is a welcome addition to the Marrakesh dining scene for those craving a taste of Asia. Its fresh and healthy menu focuses on specialties from Japan and Thailand, including sushi and sashimi, bento boxes, and a long list of flavorful Thai curries and noodle dishes. You can order à la carte, or choose from four generous set menus. The restaurant itself is contemporary and flooded with natural light, making it a pleasant spot for lunch or dinner. Alcohol is served, and you can also order meals for delivery or to-go.
According to TripAdvisor reviews, Gueliz’s Bombay Halal restaurant continually surprises visitors with the authenticity of its high quality yet reasonably priced Indian cuisine. The ingredients are fresh and beautifully prepared, with tried and tested crowd pleasers including the butter chicken and the lamb biryani. The service is unfailingly friendly, while the décor is a unique blend of old school opulence and contemporary chic with upholstered cream furniture, crimson velvet walls, and sparkling chandeliers. Bombay Halal is open daily for lunch and dinner, and does not serve alcohol. Opt for chai or a refreshing mango lassi instead.
Beats Burger is somewhat unexpected: a gourmet burger restaurant nestled amidst the historic souks of the medina. If, after days of sampling tagines, you find yourself wanting a taste of home, this is the place to go. The menu serves up beef, chicken, fish, and vegetarian patties with music-inspired names—a theme that extends to the restaurant’s décor with retro vinyl covers adorning the walls. For those who aren’t big burger fans, there is also a range of bagels and smoothies. Whatever you go for, eat on the rooftop terrace where the views stretch over the Red City to Koutoubia Mosque.
For seafood, the standout address is Chez Mado in Gueliz. Here, the French chef is passionate about using the best, freshest produce to create a gourmet seafood menu that changes to reflect the season. Start with a platter of succulent oysters or a magnificent ceviche, then move on to beautifully prepared whole or filleted fish. A small selection of beef dishes caters to members of your party who prefer meat to seafood, while the desserts are of the indulgent variety (think lemon meringue pie and tiramisu). Ask the waiter to recommend the perfect Moroccan or French wine to accompany your meal.
Although Moroccan cuisine is typically vegetarian friendly, it can be more difficult to find vegan food in a traditional restaurant. Located in Gueliz, earthy, boutique restaurant Gaïa caters specifically to vegetarians and vegans, serving exquisitely plated, health-conscious meals with a focus on plant-based and organic ingredients. Examples include falafel bowls, soups, and salads followed by vegan pancakes and açaí bowls. The restaurant itself is a calming space, with rattan furniture, colorful throw cushions, and potted plants dangling from the ceiling. Tables on the sidewalk give you the opportunity to watch the world go by as you eat.
La Maison Arabe is an opulent riad with two romantic dining options that are open to visitors as well as guests. The first, Le Restaurant, serves traditional Moroccan specialties beneath a hand-painted zouaké ceiling, with Italian lamps and antique palace doors adding to the atmosphere of vintage romance. The second is Les Trois Saveurs, which offers a choice of French, Moroccan, and Thai dishes in an al fresco setting around the riad’s impossibly beautiful pool and gardens. In both restaurants, meals are accompanied by live Arab-Andalusian music, putting the final touch of magic on your special occasion.
Perched (as its name suggests) on a rooftop terrace in the medina, M Rooftop is ranked on TripAdvisor as the best restaurant in the entire city. This enviable status is thanks in large part to its spectacular elevated view of the medieval rooftops and Koutoubia Mosque. During the day, the snow-capped Atlas Mountains span across the horizon and at night, the glow of Djemma el-Fna is clearly visible. In addition to the view, M Rooftop promises a tasty selection of Moroccan and international favorites paired with delicious non-alcoholic cocktails. The prices are fair and the staff are famously welcoming.
Also located in the medina, Café Clock serves typical Moroccan fare and some international fusion dishes, including their famous camel burger. The restaurant takes the cultural experience much further than an introduction to local cuisine, however. Weekly events are designed to immerse guests in Moroccan traditions and include live music events and jam sessions, Moroccan storytelling in English and Arabic, cooking and calligraphy classes, and lessons that teach you how to play the oud (a kind of Arabic lute). Café Clock is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and also has locations in Fez (the original) and Chefchaouen.
Another smart riad hotel in Marrakesh’s historic walled city, Noir d’Ivoire is home to Ōban restaurant with its seasonal Moroccan and international menu. Above all, the riad is famous for its bespoke, open-design wine cellar which holds no fewer than 3,000 bottles. Among them are varietals from all over the world and several rare or sought-after labels including a ’62 Cheval Blanc and a ’99 Petrus. The riad is a member of the prestigious Le Circle SGC and employs an expert sommelier to advise guests about the perfect pairing for their meal, whether they choose grilled tenderloin or monkfish tagine.
Now with several locations across Morocco and Singapore, Bacha Coffee first opened in the medina’s Dar el Bacha palace in 1910. Recently revived after a 60-year hiatus, the café is once again selling more than 200 varieties of single origin, 100 percent Arabica coffees from around the world. It is a must-visit destination for connoisseurs, as much for its décor as for its coffee. The shop is a shrine to the Art Deco era, with black-and-white marble floors, gold mirrors and frames, and blue velvet chairs. A menu of cakes, tarts, and delectable French and Viennese pastries complements the coffee selection.