A Local’s Guide to Marrakech
Hi! I’m Amanda an American expat who fell in love with a Marrakechi boy 13 years ago. Four years ago we decided to move from the US to Marrakech to put down some roots and make Marrakech home. I have a passion for food and exploring the authentic sides of cultures and food traditions. As a freelance food and travel writer, you’ll usually find me exploring the city, eating in new restaurants (and old favourites) and organising food tours for visitors to our favourite spots in the city. Moroccan food is really diverse, but sadly few tourists are able to experience this diversity because the majority of dishes aren’t found on restaurant menus. I try to show people where to go, what to eat, and how to make Moroccan dishes at home if they aren’t able to visit.
Because I live in a Moroccan family and have learned Darija (Moroccan Arabic), my experiences go beyond where traditional tourists go. I also love to share my insight to food. I first began cooking Moroccan food over a decade ago and continue to learn different techniques and recipes. Visiting Marrakech soon? Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your time in the red city.
When a friend visits me in Marrakech, the first place I take them to is a small hole-in-the-wall breakfast spot. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and eating out is a great way to start understanding Moroccan culture. Khlii at Snack Othmane is my favourite breakfast in Marrakech – it’s delicious and very authentic.
A good place to enjoy a coffee is the cafe at the Maison de Photographie. Wander through the exhibits and then sit high above the city to enjoy a drink. You get the best view of Marrakech from the rooftops (particularly there’s a great view point in the Badi Palace) . You can see the entire city, dotted with minarets against the backdrop of the High Atlas Mountains.
Tangia at Mechoui Alley is my favourite place for lunch in Marrakech, I always order tangia of course. This dish is unique and only made in Marrakech. You can’t leave without trying it. These shops have been making tangia and mechoui for generations. Salads and tajine dishes at Ksar Essaoussan are perfect for dinner. The ambiance is great here and the food is very authentic. Some of my other local favourites include grilled sardine sandwiches in a small (nameless) shop on Derb Debachi, rfissa at the Amal Women’s Restaurant and Training Center, and Terrasse Bakchich where the cook prepares something different each day but it’s always home-cooked authentic Moroccan food.
Your feet are the best way to get around Marrakech because most of the old city isn’t open to motorised traffic and you really can’t get down the small alleys and streets any other way. In fact, the best thing to do for free in Marrakech is to get lost. Seriously, you’ll discover so much about Marrakech by just letting yourself wander the medina. If this thought makes you nervous, drop into one of the free parks like the Cyber Park or Harti Jardin.
Before You Come to Marrakech
Before you come to Marrakech you should read something about the history of the city, especially in the 20th century. People think Marrakech is all luxury but it’s actually a living, breathing city. Few tourists go beyond the medina and see the rest of the city but for those of us living here there’s much more to the city. Spring is one of the best times of the year to visit Marrakech. You’ll experience the snow covered Atlas Mountains, blossoming flowers and the weather is temperate.
Jemaa el-Fnaa Medina always looks magical after dark, but the Hivernage area has the best nightlife – there are multiple clubs and restaurants that come to life at night.
The Ta’ala area is somewhere that not many visitors know about but they should go there because it’s where many of the workshops are. You’ll be able to buy directly from the producers of goods at a better price than in shops that sell a little bit of everything.
For more great tips about Marrakech and beyond, check out MarocMama, a fearless guide to food and travel.