If you’re a fan of delicious and flavorful food, Morocco is one of the best places in the world to visit. Boasting a cultural character whose diverse roots resemble an elaborate quilt more than a mashup, Morocco’s medley of Arabic, Berber, sub-Saharan, Spanish, and French cuisine is unparalleled. And if that sounds like an overstatement, a visit to Morocco (or at least a restaurant serving the country’s wonderful fare) should be on your short list of adventures to take. Here are some of the best Moroccan dishes you can try the next time you get a chance– whether at home or in cities such as Marrakesh and Fez.
Moroccan cuisine is, as mentioned, incredibly diverse. Yet a few favorite staple dishes feature on most traditional menus.
Tiny steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina, couscous is traditionally served for lunch on Fridays after Friday prayers. Trust us though, it is delicious all week long. Served in a round platter and topped by heaps of vegetables such as eggplant, squash, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, onions, and chickpeas, you can eat it vegetarian or serve it with meat, traditionally beef or chicken.
Where to eat it: Restaurant National, Oujda
Located in Morocco’s largest city, Restaurant National is one of the most popular restaurants on the Algerian border. They make incredible couscous every Friday, and their rotisserie chicken is delicious.
Tagine (also spelled tajine) is a savory stew made from sliced meat and vegetables that are slow-cooked with spices and nuts. It gets its name from the distinctive peaked top earthenware pot in which it’s cooked, and it combines the savory warmth of soups without ever getting too heavy. They’re commonly prepared with ginger, turmeric, saffron, cinnamon, and cumin, and served with chicken, fish, or lamb. They are usually served with bread. There are a huge variety of tagines you can try, and each region has its own specialty.
Where to eat it: L’ibzar, Marrakech
This modern, stylish restaurant serves distinctly home-cooked Moroccan food, including some incredible tagines. The owner and operator is usually onsite, and there are great options for vegetarians and vegans here as well!
Local to Marrakech, tanjia is a specialized tagine that is traditionally prepared by men by slow-cooking an entire lamb over coals that heat local hammams. Fresh meat (usually lamb), herbs, preserved lemons, and spices are placed in a tanjia pot, which is then covered with butcher’s paper. It roasts for at least five hours and is then served in a tagine pot with the juices.
Where to eat it: Latitude31, Marrakech
With its leafy courtyard and traditional cooking techniques, Latitude31 is the perfect place to get some tanjia.
Originally from the Spanish region of Andalusia, this flaky stuffed meat pie is commonly made of pigeon or chicken meat. Though originally from Spain, today it is a favourite in Moroccan cuisine and generally served as a starter at the beginning of special meals. You can usually find it at food stalls in medinas. The Fes region is famous for their pastilla, which are flavored with almonds and savory spices. Don’t forget to wash it down with some mint tea!
Where to eat it: Darori Resto, Fes
This elegant medina restaurant has classic Moroccan cuisine and flawless presentation, and their pastilla are amazing!
Another of Morocco’s excellent slow-cooked dishes is mechoui, a whole lamb cooked overnight in an underground oven. The end result is meat that is so tender it literally falls off the bones, you don’t even need a knife to eat it! Because of the labour-intensive nature of the meal, it’s a favourite at special occasions, like weddings.
Where to get it: The appropriately named “Mechoui Alley,” Marrakech (Jemaa el Fna near the olive souk)
Or, if you prefer a setting that isn’t an alley, the other end of the spectrum is La Grande Table Marocaine, a restaurant so nice that the Moroccan king owns it.
In addition to the major staple items listed above, these smaller dishes add to the distinctive flavors and surprises of Morocco’s gastronomy.
Whether you’re eating them grilled at a restaurant, in the open souks with tomato and onions, or served in a tagine with bread, sardines pop up all over the place in Moroccan cooking. The Safi region is justifiably famous for their fresh sardines, though you’d do well to be a little wary of street sardines. Don’t forget to try charmoula, a Moroccan traditional marinade that pairs really well with fresh sardines.
Where to get it: Essaouira harbor
There’s nothing better than fresh fish, and vendors at Essaouira’s seaside will barbeque the fish right in front of you.
Makouda are beautiful, golden, deep-fried potato cakes. They’re delicious served on their own, with salad, or in a sandwich. They’re available in many medinas as a snack, but they’re especially prevalent in the north of Morocco: Meknes, Fes, Essaouira, and Moulay Idiss are all hotspots for makouda.
Where to eat it: Café Clock, located in Fes, serves up makouda with harissa yogurt and fresh salad! Because makouda are so carbohydrate heavy, this is a great way to have them.
Morocco’s baked goods use some of the most beautiful ingredients in the world: orange blossom water, rose water, almond paste, and delicious dates, among others. Pair these delicacies with a steaming cup of delicate Moroccan tea served in a small glass, and you have a place that really knows how to do teatime.
Chebakya, a fried pastry covered in honey, sesame seeds, and rose water, is perfect with a bowl of harira soup. Or try almondy ghoriba biscuits with a cup of hot tea for a sweet afternoon pick me up.
Where to eat it: Patisserie des Princes in Marrakech is one of the finest bakeries in Morocco! Don’t miss their mint tea and delicious treats.
Dried fruits and nuts
If all this eating has exhausted you, you may need to opt for a snack instead. You can’t beat dried fruits and nuts when it comes to a quick energy boost, and the fresh nuts grown in the Atlas Mountains, such as almonds and walnuts, are locally roasted right in Morocco. And don’t forget dates and figs from the south!
Where to eat it: Souk Al-Attarine in Fez is home to some of the world’s best spices, dried fruits, and nuts. This market is definitely one to visit!