The light, airy, oh-so-cool go-to in Gueliz district, Australian owner Cassandra Karinsky’s deservedly popular restaurant-cafe has a menu of inventive Mediterranean-Morrocan dishes at decent prices. Plates change often here but might include a tangy roast beetroot salad with pickled orange and fennel, saffron-braised lamb ribs with smoked ricotta or the straightforwardly brilliant chargrilled sirloin sandwich with roast onion and chilli. Very good coffee, too.
96 Rue Mohammed el Beqal, Gueliz
Set in a former carpet store just off Rahba Lakdima, Kamal Laftimi and Sebastian de Gzell’s permanently buzzy, four-level bistro is topped by one of the city’s coolest rooftop restaurants (book ahead for the Atlas Mountain-view tables, naturally). And the menu? Clever, good-sized riffs on classic Moroccan standards like the seriously good Marrakech gazpacho with melon and ginger or the roast cauliflower with rich red chermoula, ras el hanout and harissa. Vegan friendly.
1 Deb Aarjan, Rahba Lakdima
There are a couple of eating-out must-dos in Marrakech, and a trip to Mechoui Alley – pronounced 'mesh-wee' – is one of them. Based in the north end of Jemaa el-Fna Market, this small strip of street-food stalls specialise in mechoui (slow-roasted, fall-off-the-bone lamb). And it’s sublime. Order a nus (half) or rubb (quarter) kilo and it comes served on bread with nothing but salt and cumin. Do. Not. Miss.
Mechoui Alley, Derb Semmarine, Medina
It’s one of those happy, can’t-help-but-smile concepts that you’ll definitely want to get behind: a non-profit that trains and supports disadvantaged women in the restaurant trade. Served in a charming outdoor garden space, Amal – 'hope' – does amazing, home-cooked North African comfort food with a daily three-course set menu that centres on Moroccan classics such as lamb tagine and fish chermoula. Veggie options always available.
Amal Centre, Rue Allal Ben Ahmed, Gueliz
Easily one of the chicest addresses in town, this beautiful, quietly buzzy garden-restaurant in a rebooted 17th-century riad bang in the middle of the Medina is the kind of slow-going spot you’ll want to linger in by day and dress up for by night. The best tables are outside under the courtyard’s banana trees where natural light makes orders of colourful, updated Moroccan soul food look doubly camera-worthy. Be warned: no alcohol.
Le Jardin, 32 Souk Jeld Sidi Abdelaziz, Medina
Quieter and less sceney than Le Jardin, this equally beautiful, secret-garden restaurant in the Medina is a heavenly escape from the ruckus of downtown Marrakech that does some of the best vegetarian – and only vegetarian – cooking in the city. The season-dependent menu changes daily but usually includes some excellent salads and an oven-baked pizza of the day. It’s only open for lunch (12-4.30pm, Monday-Saturday) but, even so, book well ahead.
La Famille, 34 Derb Jdid, Medina
Le Petit Cornichon
The city’s former French concession Gueliz still retains some Left Bank allure, such as chef-owner Erwann Lance’s cool, justifiably popular neo-bistro that wouldn’t look out of place in Le Marais. By far the best bet is the seasonal, three-course set-lunch menu (around €35) that offers refined, respun French dishes with the odd North African riff that would likely earn stars if Michelin was ever to wheel into town.
Le Petit Cornichon, 27 Rue Moulay Ali, Medina
La Grande Table Marocaine
For the ultimate, no-dime-spared blowout meal to wind up the trip, the chic fine-diner at the city’s splashiest hotel, the Royal Mansour, has it covered. The menu has been devised by triple-Michelin-starred Paris chef Yannick Alléno who has reimagined old-world Moroccan cooking into a fine art. Sure, it’s fancy, but not all tweezer food: dishes like the delicious lobster seffa medfouna has enough heft that it’s safe to come hungry. Book ahead (and make sure this one’s not on you).
Rue Abou El Abbas Sebti, Arset el Bilk
Djemaa El Fna Food Stalls
Imagine going to Naples and not having pizza. Well, going to Marrakech and missing out on the 100-odd pop-up stalls at Djemaa El Fna is worse, really. OK, it’s not the most genteel eating-out experience, but bring a sense of humour and a willingness to root around and, from 5pm daily, here is some of the best street food in North Africa. Each stall has a number: 14 is known for its ace grilled calamari, 34 for its merguez sausages, and on and on. Do some homework and you’re set.
Rue El Ksour, 38, Medina
Live music, pretty young people and, um, camel burgers at Brit Mike Richardson’s always vibey café-culture hub in the city’s Derb Chtouka district that has a solid menu of easy-going, Moroccan soul food (think, roast-chicken couscous bouhaloo, lamb tagine or, really, that camel burger), as well as a usually packed roster of cultural goings-on that includes art exhibitions and weekly hikayat (storytelling) sessions. Arrive early for a plum spot at the rooftop bar and views of the Kasbah.
Café Clock, 224 Derb Chtouka