Marrakesh question (for those who have been there)
- Julie Jul 28, 2003 06:54 PM
For the one free evening in Marrakesh during my upcoming week at cooking school there, I've been given the following options:
"Dinner in the Medina. You can choose between the casual yet lively experience of eating in the square or the beautiful ambience of dining at Restaurant Moha with its central basin and musicians. Must choose in advance, as reservations are required."
Which would you pick, and why?
Definitely, Yacout!!! We visited about 5 years ago, and I know that some new places have popped up, but unless they are absolutely extraordinarily fabulous, I still think Yacout was the consummate Moroccan experience. I would choose it, however, not so much for the food, altho it was "good"... not great. But for the entire adventure & ambience. I don't want to describe too much or the element of surprise & delight will be denied you. Do reserve ahead & report back to let us know how you liked it. It was VERY worthwhile.
P>S. Coming from cooking school, you may be a bit disappointed with the quality of the food, but the assortment of dishes & their presentation will be the ultimate learning experience for you in Marrakesh!!!
What and where is Yacout--a different restaurant? My "reservation" option (which will be booked by the trip organizer) was for a place called Moha. I still haven't gotten a Morocco guidebook so I don't know where anything is in Marrakesh. Nor do I know what it would be like to eat in the medina itself. Too crazy? Or fun and tasty? I'm a very experienced emerging-market traveler but my companion is taking his first trip outside the US, so I'm trying not to overwhelm him.
I, too, had a wonderful experience at Stylia. It's one of the few places you can get a traditional Moroccan meshui (or mechoui), a half a lamb slow-roasted in a pit. But Stylia wasn't one of your options.
As for the medina, yes it's crazy. It's also fun and tasty. Some people (not I) question the sanitation, but since everything is cooked in front of you I can't believe it's any less clean than what goes on behind the scenes at the fancy restaurants. I would definitely vote for the medina. It's a true chowhound experience.
Must agree with the recommendation of Yacout. It's by far the most enjoyable and interesting eating experience that I've had in Marrakesh in my four trips to the country over the last 30 years. But one doesn't go to Morocco for the food. You go to Morocco, and especially Marrakesh, because you don't mind being in a place where it is Halloween all the time. Rarely in Marrakesh or Fez has any experience of mine ended without a weird a wholly unanticipated twist or two.
The only way to get to Yacout is with a cab as you'll never find it in the maze of the Marrakesh Medina. Lastly, whether in Fez or Marrekesh, I believe that it is mandatory to hire a guide, if only to keep un-wanted hustlers away from you. Be forewarned that any guide you hire will invariably have a "relative" in the rug business and that he will insist that you " just go to look, not buy". If you actually go, be prepared to be had unless you really know rugs and, importantly, how to bargain.
"But one doesn't go to Morocco for the food."
Wow, that is EXACTLY why I'm going to Morocco. The food from there is fantastic. I am actually doing a cooking course over there (see link below for details). Maybe the street food isn't the greatest...but Moroccan is one of my all-time favorite cuisines. I am positive I'll be eating like a king, if my previous experience with the people that run this cooking school is anything to go by.
Thanks for the second on the Yacout recommendation. I'll look for it. Another question about this place: if there are only three of us, is it still a good experience? Or is it better to go with a big group?
I don't know about eating in the medina or the other place as I've only been to Marrakech once for only a couple of days. However, in all the years of dining, one of the meals I will never forget is one at a restaurant called (I believe) Stylia in Marrakech. I'd be able to confirm the exact name but I'm travelling at the moment so that boxful of restaurant cards is nowhere handy right now!
If you had one extra night, do try that restaurant. You will feel like you woke up in the middle of a Hollywood movie set. No idea how to get there. We had a hired car take us and then were picked up on some non-descript corner by someone from the restaurant who then lead us for about 5 mins by foot. The restaurant was a recommendation by someone I knew in Marrakech. It was an amazing meal (especially the pigeon in the crust with cinammon) and surprisingly inexpensive.
About the carpets...it's so true! So consider yourself forewarned! I was a sucker. Free cup of tea and next thing I knew I'd bought a carpet. Most expensive free cup of tea I'd ever had.
I'd eat in the square. Marrakesh restaurants aren't anything to write home about -- even Yacout -- but the ambience of the square is something else (and the food cheap and tasty.
Even if you don't eat in the square you'll be missing out if you don't wander round there at night.
FWIW, having been to Morocco three times, my conclusion is that the best food is home-cooked. A small hotel is probably the closest us tourists will get to that.
Hope that helps.
For the traditional - go with Yacout. However, if you want modern Morocco go for Le Comptoir. The music in the bar is very atmospheric and the dining room surpasses what you would find in most capital cities. The modern Moroccan food is excellent!