Rather a long name for a restaurant, it has nevertheless earned a good reputation by providing excellent and beautifully presented meals and delicious desserts. Excellent value for money.. There are several floors with a roof terrace about three floors up—if you still have energy to mount the stairs.
It’s north along the road that leads from the Bahia Palace, keep walking until you reach a small square. If you look right, you’ll see the Jamade store offering Heritage Berbère perfumes and accessories. Looking straight ahead is the store Nina l’Étrangère selling felt hats and very reasonably-priced clothing and next to that another café. Opposite this café is Un déjeuner à Marrakech. It has just been refurbished with tasteful Moroccan tiles up the stairs and a cleaner more modern look.
Café littéraire is one of the oldest renovated riads in Marrakech.
Dar Cherifa is an ancient residence in the old city that has been restored by a well-known figure in Marrakech, Abellatif Aït Ben Abdallah, whose mission is to restore the ancient architecture of Marrakech so they can be enjoyed and appreciated by all travellers with a love of architecture.
Passionate about the architecture of this ancient city, classified as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, he set about restoring riads in Marrakech at a time when Marrakchis were more interested in moving out to the new areas. Ancient walls could crumble with no-one paying attention to the loss of historical monuments. He began restoring one riad, the first in a long series, and so began a work of patience dominated by one single idea: to share his love for these ancient residences and to preserve the historical architecture of Marrakech.
Modern travellers can drop by for some Moroccan mint tea or order a meal.
Baghrir (or beghrir) are delicious Moroccan pancakes – best described by the French words for it – mille trous – a thousand holes. We often serve them in our riad in Marrakesh–Riad Sapphire and Spa, luxury boutique hotel in the medina of Marrakesh.
Most people who visit Marrakech find the locals extremely friendly. One woman has taken this theme of hospitality and has turned it on its head with a blog-post called ‘how to make friends with Marrakech.’ In the blog, called Adventures of Venus (which focuses on ‘travel stories, yarns and musings…’), she describes, amongst other things, how to shop and what to eat when (inevitably) become ‘Tagined out.’
Reading this blog is a bit like listening to a friend return with a hundred and one memories from a recent trip. The blog has a great insidery feel to it.
We also like this sage advice: ‘go to the Henna Cafe, which is a community project providing professional clean Henna tattoos by local women with 100% of profits going to those in need in Marrakech. The Henna Café charity was set up in2011 by four UK business people who wanted to give back to Morocco and Marrakech. It’s good to give back!’
We also agree heartily with this tip: ‘Change is hard to come by, when you get some hoard it for when you need it. Keep small coins and bills (Dh5 and under) for change and tips.’ Great advice!
A great way to get inspired about Marrakech and all it has to offer is to look at the wealth of wonderful photography available on the web. We recently stumbled upon this page which highlights just a few of the amazing things that you can see, buy, touch and photograph in Morocco:
While we love Moroccan food, there are certain foods that we often get cravings for that are not always that easy to find. One of these is of course – cheese!
With so many French expats in the city, thankfully it isn’t too hard to source good selections of cheese and dairy produce. One of our top tips is Le Maitre Fromager which is the go-to place in the city for cheese fans.
Housed in a pretty boutique on Avenue Mohamed VI, the smell of cheese entices food lovers in from the streets. It’s not only about cheese here though, you can also pick up other fine foods including smoked salmon and platters of cheese which work well as gifts. A must for any foodie’s address book.
It’s rare that a visitor leaves Marrakech without a newly-found passion for the local food. We offer lovely, home-cooked salads and tagines in our own riad and happily recommend plenty of interesting places to eat in and around Marrakech (many of our favourite places can be found here on this blog). But, if you’re keen to delve deeper, then a food tour might just tick the box.
We recently heard about Marrakech Food Tours from Amanda AKA @MarocMama who we avidly follow on Twitter. She and Youssef, who met in the US but who live in Marrakech, are now taking visitors out into the city to discover its culinary traditions.
Guests meet at the Jemaa el Fna Post Office and then go out with Youssef (and maybe Amanda) to meet different food artisans, to learn about food culture and the history of the area. For the adventurous there’s the “Freaky Food” tour, where Youssef takes guests out to try snail soup, sheep head, and kidney loaf – we have to admit that we’re very keen to test this one out ourselves!
Tours operate every day of the week, starting at 1pm and each tour lasts approximately three hours. Group sizes are from 1-6 (although email ahead if you plan to book solo). Tours are conducted in English and the cost for the tour is $50 (US), pre-paid, per person. Children 5 and under are free with a parent and children over 5 are $25 with a paying adult.
If like us, you love the rooftop at Café des Épices but sometimes find it too crowded, head over to its sister restaurant, Le Jardin. It’s just a short stroll away.
Set in the flowery courtyard of a restored riad, Le Jardin is a curious space where you’ll see projected art-house movies on the walls at night and a fashionable crowd eating and drinking in the shaded garden during the day. Trees, water and shade abound so this is just the space for when you want to put your feet up. There’s even a small library under the courtyard arches.
Try the milkshakes during the day (milk with avocado, milk with carrot, almond milk then in the evening switch to traditional Moroccan dishes like tajine d’agneau, mixed grill with taktouka or Beldi chicken with saffron, honey and semolina Seffa.
There’s often a party atmosphere at Le Jardin which as well as being a place of culture, it also doubles as a special events venue. A special, must-visit place.
Sometimes you just want somewhere that reminds you of your favourite Italian go-to restaurant back home. To drink lemonade, eat pasta and gently download all the experiences, sights and sounds of the Medina in the shade. I Limoni is that place.
An Italian restaurant that doubles up as a coffee shop in the heart of the medina, it has a cool, shaded patio and terrace. Lemon trees scent the air and there are plenty of corners for relaxing in after a hearty Italian meal. Not any old Italian meal either, many consider the food of I Limoni to be some of the best Italian fare in all of North Africa.
For a special treat opt for the spaghetti au poivron et tomate then heave yourself up to the rooftop terrace to soak up the scenic houses on the horizon.
‘Hidden gem’ may be a much-overused descriptor, but it can be applied to I Limoni. Seek it out.
Moroccan soul food is best sampled on the street, or in someone’s home. As a tourist it can be hard to secure an invite while on vacation, so after you’ve tried the delicious homecooked food at our riad, wander the makeshift food stalls around Djmaa el-Fna and surrounding streets. It is a quintessential Marrakchi experience.
Each night, the numbered stalls, topped with handwritten signs, are eagerly set up by Moroccan men in chefs’ whites. Bubbling cauldrons and hot pans contain everything from bean soups to skewered meats and often these delicious dishes will cost less than a sandwich back home.
With culinary traditions that draw on Morocco’s mix of Berber, Arab and European cultures, there are dozens of tasty dishes to try.
Stand number 6 is where Ahmed pitches up to ladle steaming bowls of escargot. Over at number 32, Hassan serves miniature beef sausages with red tomato chutney on the side. Other stands sell slow-cooked lamb, mini-chicken kebabs, aubergine dipped in sweet smoked paprika and of course tagines.
As with street eats anywhere in the world, there are a few key things to remember – choose busy stalls, eat where the locals eat (literally follow the crowd), dine where food is cooked fresh in front of you and be wary of fruit that may be regularly washed in dubious water to keep it looking fresh.
If you’re nervous give yourself a few days to adjust to the local cuisine, but be confident too – we’ve always been fine and you will be rewarded.