Marrakesh's culinary scene has improved considerably with a flurry of new restaurants opening in both the medina and ville nouvelle. That said, as traditionally Marrakshis don't eat out often, most medina restaurants are aimed squarely at the tourist market and meals can be hit-and-miss. In middle-class Guéliz, there's more of a local dining vibe with both Moroccan and international restaurants.

Djemaa El Fna Dinner Theatre

Arrive around 4pm to watch chefs set up shop right in the heart of the action in the Djemaa El Fna. Djemaa stalls have a better turnover of ingredients than most fancy restaurants, where you can’t typically check the meat and cooking oil before you sit down to dinner. Despite alarmist warnings, your stomach should be fine if you clean your hands before eating, use your bread instead of rinsed utensils and stick to your own bottled water.

Pull up a bench and enjoy the show: the action continues in ‘La Place’ until after midnight. Berber bands sing songs near dentists’ booths displaying jars of teeth, not far from a performance involving clowns and worryingly amateur boxers. Some of the Djemaa’s evening entertainments haven’t changed much in a millennium, including astrologers, potion-sellers and cross-dressing belly dancers.

Self-Catering

The medina's souqs are filled with food stalls selling olives, fruit, dates and sweets. For fresh produce head to the markets on Derb Sidi Ishak, Rue Bab Doukkala or the Mellah Market.

For staples such as cheese and cereal, baby products, imported brands and alcohol (often difficult to find elsewhere), the best-stocked supermarket is Carrefour. The nearest supermarket to the medina is Aswak Assalam, though it has less of a product range.

Top Sweet Treats

  • Pâtisserie Amandine Outstanding viennoiserie and multicoloured macarons.
  • Pâtisserie Al Jawda Sweet and savoury delicacies featuring figs, orange-flower water and desert honey.
  • Pâtisserie des Princes The city’s most famous patisserie, with enough pain au chocolat and mille-feuille to keep Djemaa El Fna dentists in business.
  • Panna Gelato A master gelato artisan from Italy, proprietary recipes and top ingredients make Panna the best place for ice cream in Morocco.

Snak Attack

The street-food scene is thriving in Marrakesh, so don't be afraid to jump on in. Hard-working souq workers with no time for a long lazy lunch head to a snak (kiosk) to feast on peppery merguez (spicy lamb sausage), teyhan (stuffed spleen) and brochettes (kebabs). Join the queue at the one thronged with locals for the freshest, tastiest food.

At lunch time in the ville nouvelle, local office workers head to the string of restaurants along Rue Mohammed Bakkal for barbecued meats, caramelised tajines and offal.

Riad Dadas

The dadas (chefs) who work in the medina's riads are the unsung heroes of Marrakesh's culinary scene. Many riads open up their courtyard or rooftop restaurant to nonguests so you can sample different dadas' takes on Moroccan specialities. In nearly all cases, you have to book ahead due to both limited seating and so the dadas can plan the menu in advance.