Marrakech is probably Morocco’s best known city. People flock here all year round to admire the ancient architecture and wander through the markets of its medina. Space is at a premium in this city, so many of its restaurants are perched on the tops of buildings or nestled in the courtyards of grand old riads. A visit to one of these feels like a blessed relief after a few hours’ walking in Marrakech’s perpetually bustling streets. Here, we list 10 of the best.
Bazaar Café sits on top of the straightforwardly named Riad Bazaar Café. The dining area is two thirds roof terrace, so from your table you’ll be able to see down into the pretty little courtyard around which the riad is arranged. Or, you could swivel 180 degrees and admire the skyline of Marrakech’s medina, the Koutoubia Mosque is visible to the south west. On the menu is a mix of Moroccan and Mediterranean fare. House specialities include lamb tagine and grilled sardines from nearby Essaouira, but there are plenty of options for vegetarians and even vegans.
A strong contender for best view in the medina, Atay Café has three terraces, all lined with soft benches that are perfect for lounging on. Here, no matter what angle you take a holiday snap from, you can be sure there will be at least one mosque and a slice of the Atlas Mountains in the background. The food is good to look at too, simple, clean and colorful. All dishes come with little white pots of rich chutney and harissa, a vividly red chili paste that’s integral to Moroccan cuisine. Tagines, soups and salads are pulled off with a flourish and there are also some great pasta dishes for those who fancy a change.
The rooftop restaurant at Nomad is a great spot to catch the sunset | Courtesy of Nomad
With its elegant rooftop terrace and contemporary take on Moroccan cuisine, Nomad offers a really classy dining experience. On the menu, traditional tagines rub shoulders with inventive dishes like spiced tea basted belly beef confit with aubergine and anchovy sauce, or baked John Dory with zucchini ribbons and cumin pesto, all plated up gorgeously. Staff here are friendly and accommodating, don’t be afraid to let them know if you have any kind of dietary requirement, they are always happy to help!
The food at LATITUDE 31 really straddles the line between traditional and modern. All the dishes you would expect to be there are there, but each in a subtly jazzed up form. Take, for example, the chicken tagine with caramelized tomatoes, honey and thyme, or the beef fillet stuffed with nuts and drizzled with cep sauce. Sometimes, like on New Year’s Eve, there’ll be special one-off menus featuring creative, fine-dining-style delights, like mussels with saffron emulsion, scallops with lemongrass and vanilla, or foie gras with eggplant jam. The service is excellent and while there’s no view from its outdoor patio, the décor is superb: all palms trees and ornate tiles.
Café Clock is a funky little place situated at the southern end of the medina. A self-styled ‘cross-cultural café’, it hosts exhibitions by local artists and showcases local bands, as well as boasting weekly jam sessions where anyone is welcome to get up and play. They also offer workshops in cookery, calligraphy and henna art. Food wise, Café Clock serves up hefty camel (yes, camel) burgers, avocado milkshakes and home made ice cream. With a library and a resident storyteller, this is a truly unique place to grab a coffee or a bite to eat.
In an area full of rooftop terraces, the one at Kui Zin really takes the cake. Shady, leafy and quiet, it’s an excellent spot to retreat to around midday, when the Moroccan sun is at its hottest. Grab a seat under one of the big straw umbrellas and order a freshly-squeezed juice or a fruit-filled home made pastry with mint tea. In the mood for something crispy and crunchy? Try the frankly epic seven salad platter. The atmosphere at Kui Zin is friendly and relaxed. It’s the kind of place you pop into for a quick lunch and end up staying the whole of the afternoon and into the evening.
Situated in the courtyard of a recently restored riad, Le Jardin absolutely lives up to its name. Not only is it peaceful and full of trees and plants, it also has an abundance of fresh produce to offer. In the corner of the courtyard, fruits and vegetables are piled up in baskets like at a greengrocer’s. On the menu are the traditional tagines and stews, the lemon chicken tagine is particularly fine. It may sound clichéd, but when you’re sitting in Le Jardin it really is easy to forget you’re in the heart of a bustling medina.
Tucked away down a relatively quiet but still architecturally grand side street of the medina, Roti D’or is a tiny pavement café with bags of personality. On the hand painted menu are towering burgers, well stuffed wraps and crispy French fries. Sound basic? Wait until you see the care and attention the chef puts into both the preparation of the food and the presentation. (Most of us have heard of latte art, but what about ketchup art?) With a hip vibe and smiley staff, this is a place visitors keep going back to.
The Marrakech Henna Art Café is located to the southeast of the medina’s Jemma el Fnaa (Main Square). As the name suggests, this is a place where you can get beautifully intricate henna patterns applied to your hands while you wait for your food. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the artiness extends to the rest of the restaurant. A huge peacock adorns one wall, brightly colored Berber shoes serve as napkin dispensers and the traditional Moroccan food is plated up spectacularly. Straw sun hats hang on the wall of the roof terrace, which visitors are welcome to wear while dining. It’s little touches like this that make the Henna Café such a special place.
Amal is run by a not for profit organization that aims to empower disadvantaged women by giving them chef training. As a result, the restaurant has an intimate, community oriented vibe and the food smacks of verve and style. The menu is altered daily and revolves around whatever is available at the local market, but there’s always at least two Moroccan dishes and two international style ones. Tables are laid out in a shady courtyard full of young orange trees. A wonderful place for lunch, Amal also offers cookery classes for those who feel like getting more involved.