Skip to content
Mar 14, 2024

What to eat in Marrakech

Selection of very colorful Moroccan tajines (traditional casserole dishes)

Food in Marrakech is a mix of Middle Eastern, African and Mediterranean flavors in dishes that you just won’t find anywhere else. But what to eat in Marrakech is about more than what’s on your plate. From bustling night markets to family-style dining there are opportunities to learn so much about this city and country through food.

Moroccan cuisine reflects the country’s mix of inhabitants, including the Indigenous Berber (also known as the Amazigh), Arab, Spanish and French. A lot of what you see on the menu comes from traditional cooking methods that have been in use for centuries. Staple dishes are based on meat such as lamb and chicken or locally caught seafood—all bursting with the colors and fragrance of Morocco’s famous spices. And don’t forget the bread, a necessary part of every meal and baked fresh daily. Vegetarians can find popular tagines and couscous dishes made without meat.

Many Moroccan recipes are regional, but in the tourist-friendly city of Marrakech visitors are treated to the best dishes from around the country. They’re also quite affordable, so anyone can try the local specialties.

Here are some delicious Moroccan foods to eat in Marrakech on your next trip.

Tajine

If you try just one traditional Moroccan dish, make it tajine. The savory stew is named for the pottery used to cook and serve it. The cone-shaped lid is as symbolic of Morocco as the fez hat.

The most common tajines are meat or fish with vegetables and fruit such as apricots or prunes, or lemon and olives. Vegetarian versions with sweet potatoes and chickpeas are often available. A true tajine is cooked over charcoal and takes time—the dome of the lid traps steam and returns the condensed liquid to the pot, a technique developed in areas where water supplies were limited. If yours comes out moments after ordering it was just placed in the tajine for show!

Selection of very colorful Moroccan tajines (traditional casserole dishes)

Couscous

Couscous is so important to the cuisine of North Africa it’s on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, alongside the French baguette. Made of small granules of rolled semolina, it’s usually steamed and served with a stew of vegetables like potatoes and carrots and a mild broth. A simple, healthy dish that is often artfully presented.

Yellow couscous in wooden spoon

Pastilla

This is one of the most surprising Moroccan dishes—a pie of meat or seafood wrapped in a filo-like pastry and covered in powdered sugar. Originally made with pigeon, today you’ll find mostly shredded chicken (which can be sweet) or seafood (more like paella). Good for sharing as an appetizer.

Moroccan pastilla with chicken, eggs and spices

Harira

Want to fill up on a budget? This fragrant red soup of tomato, lentil, chickpeas, rice and hard-boiled egg with fresh herbs is hearty and can be had for less than one Euro on the streets and in cafés. For many Muslims in Morocco, harira is served to break the fast during Ramadan and every family has their own recipe.

Moroccan traditional soup - harira, the traditional Berber soup of Morocco

Mezze

Many restaurants will place several small salads on the table before your meal, but you can also order this sharing platter of savory vegetable dips served with fresh bread (khobz). Anything made with eggplant is highly recommended. Local olives are a must. Most mezze is vegan and is a good choice for those on a plant-based diet.

Arabic meze platter (starters) - hummus, mutabbal, babaganosh, tabbouleh, pita

M’smen

The Moroccan version of a crepe, this buttery flatbread is especially delicious when slathered in honey. It’s one of the best things to eat in Marrakech for breakfast and is often included in hotel or riad morning buffets.

Fresh baked traditional Moroccan msmen, white and brown pancakes

Interested?

Look at flights to Marrakech

Flights to Marrakech

Berber Eggs

You might know this as shakshuka, poached eggs over fried tomato and peppers and garnished with spinach. Perfect for brunch.

Moroccan Berber eggs/Shakshuka dish

Kofta kebab

Meat eaters wandering the night markets will want to grab one (or more) of these ubiquitous skewers of ground beef and lamb mixed with fresh parsley, onions and garlic. It’s like someone took a meatloaf recipe and said, “This is great but what if we could eat it with our hands while walking?”

Traditional lamb kebab with salad in morocco

Klhea

This preserved shredded meat cooked in fat originated in Fez and is considered a delicacy. You may find it in soups or in omelets.

Klhea, often lamb or beef, is cut into strips and rubbed with spices

Sheep’s Heads and Snail Soup

Adventurous eater? Look for stalls surrounding the Jemaa el-Fna market selling snail soup, a popular snack. Or ask around for sheep’s head, which is sometimes served halved and covered with salt and cumin—it’s your job to pick off the meat until the skull emerges.

Traditional food stalls in Djemnaa el Fna square, serving snail soup

Oranges and Dates, oh my!

Not to be overlooked, the humble fresh orange or tangerines and the royal-like Medjoul dates are simple and delicious desserts or snacks perfect for any time of the day.

Dates in wooden bowls

Mint Tea

Don’t be fooled when a local offers you “Moroccan whiskey.” As a majority Muslim country, alcohol is not widely served. But no meal or social interaction is complete without hot tea. Arriving at your hotel? Tea. Entering a shop? Tea. Resting on a hike? Tea. Expect fresh sprigs of mint and a shocking amount of white sugar. Get your cameras ready for the dramatic presentation, when servers impress by pouring from a great height, creating the froth that is the sign of a cup of Moroccan tea worthy of a valued guest.

Moroccan mint tea in the traditional glasses on a tray and kettle

Moroccan dining etiquette

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to eat with a local family, you might not see any utensils on the table. Moroccan cuisine is traditionally served communally and eaten with the hands.

 

The host will pass the bread, which you should take only with the right hand, tearing a bite-sized piece to use as a kind of scoop to serve yourself from the tajine or other dishes. Try to use only your thumb and two fingers; an entire handful is considered gluttonous. And stick to the part of the dish directly in front of you.

 

In restaurants and cafés, you may need to be more aggressive with your waiter than you are used to at home, as they will usually leave you alone until you call them over to order or pay the bill. Tipping is not mandatory but leaving a few Moroccan dirhams is common and appreciated.

 

Bon Appetit!

Meat and vegetable couscous in a bowl

Interested?

Look at flights to Marrakech

Flights to Marrakech