One thing is for sure, no matter what budget you come to Marrakech on you wont go hungry. A standard meal in the main square will set you back anything from 110 Dirhams for two, but bear in mind this is the most commonly trodden route by tourists, so prices are artificially inflated. If you venture a little further north you can easily find a decent meal for 50 Dirhams so if you’re travelling on a budget you’ll be fine, and if not you can always treat yourself!
We’ve included 3 of our favourite eats whilst there, all of varying price range so there should be something to suit everyone. That said we’d really recommend everyone visits the Amal Cafe because not only is it good value, the food is incredible and the mission they work towards is an admirable one.
Medina Square Market – £
Everyone will tell you ‘you have to eat at the market when you go to Marrakech!’ from the minute you book right up to the receptionist at your hotel. Whilst it was not entirely what we expected we’d definitely echo this comment – you have to try it!
Arriving at the food stalls is nothing short of crazy. Simply put, there’s around 70+ stalls of basically identical food on offer, and more than 30 extremely out going and determined waiters all vying for your business. We ended up just picking the original one after doing a tour of the stalls which is borderline stressful! The food itself was good fare, and an even better price – but bare in mind the advertised prices for ‘kebabs’ are the veggie ones only and they’ll charge you more for meat (but come on, it’s only £1 more and hard to complain!).
Amal Cafe – ££
It’s widely accepted that good food makes you feel good, but the good food in Amal Cafe really makes you feel good, and does good too! The cafe was set up 6 years ago to help empower women with low or no income to ‘achieve economic and social stability’. It’s slightly out of the way and very understated, but all the waitresses and chefs have been part of the charity and you can select from 2 dishes which are dishes of the day.
When you walk in and sit down the atmosphere is extremely calm and a nice distraction from the hustle of the main streets. It feels quite appropriate for a restaurant linked to such a good cause. The food is absolutely gorgeous, safe to say it was the best tagine we had during our stay. This is definitely a restaurant where no matter what budget you’re on you should be giving a generous tip to, and really isn’t one to miss!
Comptoir Darna – £££
Paying a visit to the same restaurant David Beckham spent his 40th birthday is always going to be an experience, but you do have to pay for it. Comptoir Darna can be found on a street which is about a 30 minute walk away from the main square. It becomes increasingly obvious you’re leaving the traditional Marrakech the further you walk, with drinks stores and other restaurants serving alcohol lining the streets.
For context, in order to sell alcohol in the old city you need a special licence… these licenses cost money – quite a bit from what we understand. This means if you want to get your fix you’re going to pay for it!
That said, there’s more to this restaurant than just a meal with some wine. The atmosphere hits you as soon as you walk in, a dark room (sorry now for the picture quality!) with mood lighting throughout and no shortage of staff to tend to your VIP experience.
After a short queue (we arrived early) you’ll be seated and probably be in a rush to order your first glass / bottle of wine. It’s definitely worth checking out the cocktails though, they make a mean Espresso Martini and the other cocktails looked on point too. The food itself was marvellous – we shared a leg of lamb which felt like it had been slow cooked for days and simply fell from the bone, surrounded by beautifully marinaded winter vegetables. The dish to share was around £60, but you wouldn’t bat an eyelid at paying that price in the UK for the quality of the food.
About an hour in (depending on when you arrived) the unique flavour of the restaurant reveals itself. First it’s a group of c.5 men playing guitars and singing and they really are good – if a little loud… They take 20 minute breaks in between mini sets but after two of these performances at around 9pm came the dancers. A group of bellydancers held the stage for the next hour or so of dinner, including dancing on the makeshift stage, on tables and to the delight of some customers very closely with the punters! It’s a great spectacle and a lot of fun – definitely a different type of evening than anywhere else in Marrakech will allow you.
All in, the meal came to around £100 before tip – which really is a lot for where we were. That said it was definitely one of the most interesting dinners we’ve shared and won’t forget it anytime soon, so we would recommend going if you can afford to!