Al Fassia Gueliz
Located in the Medina just steps away from Avenue Mohamad V, Al Fassia serves some of Marrakech’s most authentic food in a cozy and welcoming environment. For a taste of traditional items such as tagines, lamb dishes, pastillas and desserts, eating at Al Fassia is a must. The restaurant is a family affair originally opened by the Chab family and is still led by chef Halima Chab. It is also run as a cooperative employing only women, many of whom have a financial stake in the restaurant and their passion is seen in the service as well as in the cooking itself. Make sure not to miss the lamb shoulder for two or the pigeon Pastilla!
Note: There are two branches of the restaurant. The one in Gueliz is the original while the location in Aguedal caters to large groups.
French designer Pierre Balmain spent many years in Marrakech and his former riad in the medina is now one of the toughest reservations to get in the city. Set in a beautifully restored 19th century riad in the medina, which was built for a secretary of the Pacha of Morocco, the restaurant reveals a hidden oasis of refinement. The Swiss-trained chef, Moha Fedal, brings a lighter touch to Moroccan cuisine than you might find at Dar Yacout or Le Tobsil. Tip: Request a table in the garden. Open for lunch and dinner. Reservations highly recommended.
Dar Yacout & Le Tobsil
These two restaurants are Marrakech’s most famous. They’re also among the most touristy. Some diners embrace their Disneyfied version of Marrakech: buzzing, mobbed restaurants set in beautiful old riads with ornate decoration (once upon a time New York magazine food critic Gael Greene proclaimed Yacout one of the most romantic dinner spots in the world). Others leave horrified, describing the experience as akin to dining at Tavern on the Green. Come prepared with a reservation, or choose to stay away, but know that everyone will ask you about these, so it’s good to make a mental note.
Editor’s Note: I found Le Tobsil to be a more intimate version of Yacout. It’s considerably smaller, but it still has rooms with fireplaces and pillowed banquettes with Moroccan music and food. Just as the decor is a little lighter on ornamentation, the food a bit lighter, too. Yacout has the ultimate Arabian Nights atmosphere, but if you can’t get in there, this would be a nice alternative for the same magical medina experience. —M.B.B.
Le Tobsil: 22 Derb Moullay Abdullah ben Hessaien, Bab Ksour; 212 (0) 524-444-052
Dar Yacout: 79 Rue Sidi Ahmed Soussi, Arset Ihiri; 212 (0) 524-382-929
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