Feast on El Bahias Fragrant Moroccan Dishes

Feast on El Bahias Fragrant Moroccan Dishes

Discovering the Vibrant Culinary Scene of Marrakech

Over a year has passed since I first fell head over heels in love with Marrakech. This enchanting Moroccan city had awakened my senses, enveloping me in a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds, and most importantly, flavors. I had intended to pen this culinary guide much sooner, but something kept pulling me back to Marrakech – a desire to fully immerse myself in its gastronomical wonders.

And now, here we are. Because I’ll be honest with you, visiting Marrakech is like stepping into a world of its own, a place that makes you fall in love with its vibrant charm. It took a second journey to truly unravel the rich tapestry of Marrakech’s food scene, with delicious offerings at literally every corner. This guide merely scratches the surface of what to eat in Marrakech, but I aim to shed some light on the city’s culinary delights and guide your steps.

Choosing the Perfect Moroccan Retreat

First things first, your choice of accommodation can significantly impact your journey in Marrakech. I highly recommend staying in a riad, particularly within the old medina. If you haven’t heard of the term, a riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. Their architecture reflects the Islamic concept of privacy, with beautifully decorated walls enclosing a peaceful central courtyard. Staying in a riad gives you a taste of the authentic Moroccan lifestyle, making your getaway even more memorable.

On our first trip, we stayed at the Hotel & Spa Riad El Walaa. The place was very beautiful, and we didn’t really have anything to complain about it – except for the food, which wasn’t quite spectacular. However, the ambiance was delightful, and the complimentary bottle of Prosecco more than made up for it.

During our second trip, we booked the Zwen Zwen Riad, and it was a joyous revelation. The staff here was unparalleled in their friendliness and warmth, truly making us feel like the most important people in the world. The in-house restaurant was a cozy spot where we savored local dishes like pastilla, BBQ, and couscous. Even though they don’t serve alcohol, their non-alcoholic cocktails were downright delicious. Plus, we were accompanied by some live music, which was the cherry on top.

Mornings in Marrakech: A Culinary Awakening

Another important fact you should know is that every morning in Marrakech begins with the intoxicating aroma of fresh pastries wafting from your riad’s kitchen. Regardless of where you stay, the breakfast spread will likely include delightful baked goods, homemade jams, and the freshest orange juice you’ll ever taste. The simplicity of these breakfasts belies their deliciousness, and they are an excellent way to kick-start your culinary journey in Marrakech.

Once you get your sugar injection from the breakfast feast, it’s time to step outside your riad and venture into the heart of Marrakech. And that’s when things truly get exciting. Marrakech’s pulsating energy is infectious, and its narrow, bustling streets, overflowing with goods of all kinds, are an adventure in themselves.

Navigating the Vibrant Medina

Finding a restaurant in Marrakech might initially seem like finding a needle in a haystack. But like any city, the rule of thumb is to avoid places teeming with tourists and seek out the spots where locals dine. However, some of these local joints might not appeal to everyone. If you’re looking for an all-encompassing experience, I’d recommend booking a food tour.

Guided by our friend Abdul, we discovered a world of authentic Marrakech food that we’d have otherwise missed. Abdul is an excellent guide, the best you could wish to have in the red city. He made sure each time we met that we tasted the best of what Marrakech had to offer, without worrying about food safety.

Savoring the Flavors of Marrakech

During the tour or even while exploring on your own, there are a few culinary gems you should not miss. For instance, the local olives – the variety and quality of which are outstanding. Furthermore, you should not pass the nuts and dried fruit areas without trying them out.

You should also try traditional pastries such as Chebakia, a flower-shaped deep-fried pastry dipped in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It offers a perfectly balanced taste – not overwhelmingly sweet, yet rich with flavors of cinnamon, sesame, and saffron. Msemen, another local favorite, is often referred to as the Moroccan pancake. It’s a square-shaped piece of dough filled with butter, fried onions, or meat – a simple yet delicious dish that’s sure to win your heart.

Then there’s pastilla, a unique sweet and savory dish. It’s essentially a chicken pie encased in a crispy pastry shell, garnished with powdered sugar and cinnamon. The contrasting flavors meld together wonderfully, creating a unique dining experience.

And don’t forget to test and buy local spices to take home with you. To wash everything down, try the plethora of fresh fruit juices available in the Jemaa el-Fnaa market. They are a refreshing antidote to the heat and the perfect accompaniment to the food.

Discovering Hidden Gems and Iconic Eateries

Even though the goal is to avoid overtly touristy places, some of them do offer a nice experience. One such place is Le Tanjia. This venue is nestled conveniently close to the grandeur of Badii Palace and Bahia Palace. As you step into its welcoming embrace, you’re treated to breathtaking views that play second fiddle only to the incredible hospitality of their staff.

The crown jewel of Le Tanjia is, without a doubt, their chicken tagine – a dish that masterfully captures the soul of Moroccan cuisine. Each bite of this succulent, slow-cooked delight immerses you in a symphony of warm spices and tender chicken, leaving you deeply satisfied yet yearning for more.

Venturing deeper into the pulsating heart of the medina, you can stumble upon Atay, a haven of laid-back charm. A bohemian vibe courses through this hidden gem, with its eclectic decor and enchanting views adding an extra layer of magic to your dining experience. Atay’s coffee is a revelation – rich, aromatic, and soothing. I can honestly say that it feels like a warm embrace from Marrakech itself. But the real showstopper is, once again, their tagine options.

For those craving a raw, unadorned culinary experience, Restaurant Tiznit can be your port of call. Lacking any pretentious sheen, this restaurant stands out for its soulful, home-style cooking. Their crowning glory is the lamb tangia, a traditional Marrakech dish that is the epitome of comfort food. Slow-cooked to perfection in earthenware pots, this tender lamb stew is, without a doubt, one of the best things we ever tasted.

Indulging in Refined Moroccan Elegance

Now, if you’re in the mood to dress up and add a touch of elegance to your evening, Marrakech presents the chic Azar Restaurant. Situated in the city’s modern district, Azar offers an alluring blend of sophistication, a fusion between Moroccan and Lebanese gastronomy.

Here, you can indulge in a meticulously curated tasting menu that lets you journey through an array of flavors without burning a hole in your pocket – it’s only 40 per person. Furthermore, the opulent decor, warm lighting, and attentive service make Azar the perfect setting for a memorable, refined dining experience.

Each of these establishments encapsulates a different facet of Marrakech’s vibrant culinary scene, creating a delightful symphony of flavors, aromas, and experiences that will dance in your memories long after your visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should I avoid when it comes to dining in Marrakech?
A: Avoid eating at touristy spots, as they tend to be overpriced and the food isn’t authentic. Stick to local eateries or consider a food tour for the best experience. Also, never take pictures without asking the vendors first, and never follow unauthorized guides. If you get lost inside the souks, ask a vendor or a woman to help you out.

Q: Is the street food in Marrakech safe to eat?
A: While the street food in Marrakech is generally safe, it’s a good idea to observe basic precautions. If you’re unsure, opt for a food tour to be on the safer side.

Q: What are the must-try dishes in Marrakech?
A: Try whatever feels appealing to you, but make sure you give Le Tanjia, Atay, and Restaurant Tiznit a look. For a fine dining experience, Azar Restaurant in the new city is a great choice.

Q: Is Marrakech safe for tourists?
A: Marrakech is generally safe for tourists, but like any city, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and take standard precautions.

Q: What are the most popular Moroccan dishes?
A: Some of the most popular Moroccan dishes include tagine, couscous, tangia, pastilla, and the iconic Moroccan mint tea.

Conclusion: Marrakech – A Feast for the Senses

Marrakech offers a culinary journey like no other. With its rich blend of African, Arabic, and French influences, the food scene is as diverse as it is delicious. Whether it’s dining in a traditional riad, discovering hidden gems in the vibrant streets, or feasting on local delicacies at food stalls, eating in Marrakech is a truly memorable experience.

If you’re planning a visit to El Bahia, a Moroccan restaurant in New York City, let this guide inspire your culinary adventures in Marrakech. The flavors, aromas, and experiences you’ll encounter in this enchanting city will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression, just as they did for me. So, get ready to feast on El Bahia’s fragrant Moroccan dishes and let Marrakech work its magic on your senses.

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