From the historic architecture and bustling souks of its medieval cities to the dramatic beauty of the Sahara Desert, there are many reasons to visit Morocco. For foodies, the biggest attraction is the country's iconic cuisine. Moroccan cooking draws inspiration from native Berber recipes, and from the techniques and traditions brought over by colonists from Arabia, Spain, and France. Exotic spices are grown locally to give layers of flavor to tagines and couscous, while seafood is a highlight on Morocco's Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines.
In this article, we look at 10 of our favorite restaurants across a series of unique categories. Located in four of the country's most popular tourist destinations, they range from exquisitely decorated Moroccan date night venues to international restaurants with plenty of space for the kids to run around. In short, there's something for every kind of traveler, no matter your tastes or budget.
Best Budget: La Cantine Des Gazelles, Marrakesh
Located a five-minute stroll from Djemma el Fna in the heart of medieval Marrakesh, La Cantine Des Gazelles serves Moroccan and French fusion cuisine that’s as affordable as it is delicious. Eat side by side with the locals amidst the interior’s Barbie pink decor, or at streetside tables that immerse you in the hustle and bustle of medina life. Reviewers rave about the restaurant’s flavorful tagines, pastillas, and grilled meat skewers. If you’re tired of local cuisine, opt for omelets or pizza instead. The restaurant opens from midday to 10 p.m. every day except Monday. Remember to bring cash.
Best Romantic: Dar Zellij, Marrakesh
Wander hand-in-hand through the Marrakesh medina to dinner at Dar Zellij. Housed inside a beautifully restored 17th-century riad, it stands out for its magnificent Moroccan decor, including original painted ceilings and beautiful zellij mosaics. Ask for a table for two beneath the orange trees in the central courtyard, where candlelight casts flickering shadows upon the surrounding columns and galleries. The menu features expertly prepared Moroccan favorites, including pastillas, tagines, and traditional harira soup. You can even order cocktails or celebrate a special anniversary with a bottle of imported Champagne. The restaurant is open daily from midday to midnight.
Best for Families: La Grange, Casablanca
While many Moroccan restaurants welcome families, very few have amenities, especially for kids. La Grange, situated in a rural setting on the outskirts of Casablanca, is the exception. The a la carte menu offers international favorites for young and old alike, including pasta, salads, burgers, and pizza. While you relax with a cappuccino or a freshly squeezed juice (like many Moroccan restaurants, this one does not serve alcohol), your kids can run free in the large outdoor playground. It’s got trampolines and ping-pong tables, pony rides, and a cotton candy kiosk. La Grange opens at 10 a.m. every day.
Best Splurge: Nur, Fez
For haute cuisine inspired by the traditions and ingredients of the Middle Atlas, make your way to Nur. Led by acclaimed Moroccan chef Najat Kaanache and located near the Blue Gate in Fez’s atmospheric medina, the restaurant’s decor blends contemporary chic with elements of Byzantine elegance. Open for dinner only, the tasting menu features 10 dishes crafted with the best produce from the medina markets. Whether that’s camel’s milk, wild mushrooms, or fragrant mint and coriander depends on the season, but every dish is an exquisitely presented work of art. Prices are steep by Moroccan standards, so save this one for a special occasion.
Best Vegetarian: Triskala Café, Essaouira
Another Essaouira gem, Triskala Café is a budget-friendly eatery serving local cuisine with an emphasis on vegetarian dishes. Pescatarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets are also catered for by a seasonal menu that changes daily. To give you an idea of what to expect, past favorites include falafel and beetroot hummus, vegetable tagines and soups accompanied by freshly-baked bread, and a decadent selection of fruit-filled desserts. The cafe is plastic-free and does not serve alcohol. Instead, try health-conscious juices and teas. Opening hours are from 12:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day.
Best for Wine Connoisseurs: Riad Noir d’Ivoire, Marrakesh
Alcohol is rarely a feature of Moroccan restaurants, with many opting not to serve it at all. Not so at Riad Noir d’Ivoire, a boutique hotel and gourmet restaurant in the Marrakesh medina. The riad’s pride and joy is its custom-designed wine cellar, where 3,000 bottles represent varietals and sought-after labels from all over the world. Seek the advice of the expert sommelier when choosing which one to pair with your dinner. Half Moroccan, half international, the menu offers monkfish tagine and lamb couscous alongside beef tenderloin and Italian risottos. For the full experience, stay in one of the riad’s opulent suites.
Best Seafood: La Table by Madada, Essaouira
Housed in an old carob warehouse near the harbor in Essaouira, La Table by Madada stands out in a town famous for its seafood restaurants. The decor is a cozy blend of traditional Moroccan and modern European, with tables set beneath brick-lined alcoves and archways. The menu draws from the same influences, adding a touch of French flair to fresh North African seafood dishes. Sample lemongrass shrimp, spider crab gratin, and unforgettable fish tagines. The service is unfailingly friendly, and prices offer excellent value for money. Hours are from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. every day except Tuesday.
Best Views: Zeitoun Café, Marrakesh
Loved by locals and tourists alike for its stunning rooftop views of Djemma el Fna, Zeitoun Café affords you a bird’s eye view of Marrakesh’s most famous square. While you wait for your food, look out for snake charmers and acrobats, street food vendors, and henna tattoo artists. By night, the square is transformed into a carpet of lights made hazy by the smoke rising from open grills. The menu is equally impressive, showcasing a wide variety of traditional and reinvented Moroccan favorites. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the cafe also serves fresh fruit cocktails that are perfect for evening sundowners.
Best Themed: Rick’s Café, Casablanca
Set in a historic courtyard mansion against the walls of the Casablanca medina, Rick's Café is a must-visit for fans of "Casablanca," the iconic 1942 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Although the nightclub featured in the movie is fictional, the café has been lovingly designed as a replica with the same curved archways, a sculpted bar, and a roulette table. The centerpiece is the authentic 1930s Pleyel piano, where an in-house pianist accepts the inevitable requests to play "As Time Goes By." The restaurant isn't just a gimmick; however, the European menu is delicious and best accompanied by vintage alcoholic cocktails.
Best for Cooking Classes: Café Clock, Fez
If you’d like to learn how to prepare Moroccan cuisine, book a cooking class at trendy Café Clock in the heart of the Fez medina. There are two options: a traditional Moroccan workshop or a bread-making and patisserie workshop. On the former, you’ll venture into the souk to purchase the ingredients you need to make an authentic salad, soup, main course, and dessert with sample dishes ranging from prune and date tagine to harira soup. On the latter, you’ll learn to make two types of bread and two types of patisserie. Both courses end in a feast featuring the fruits of your labor.