Top spots for authentic cuisine in Marrakech

Thursday, 23 February 2012 4:25 PM

If you're looking for a cultural luxury getaway, turn your attention to villa holidays in Morocco. In particular, the former imperial city of Marrakech is a great spot for soaking up the local traditions and sampling some authentic Arabian cuisine.

Located near the foothills of the imposing Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is an old fortified city that has been brought up to date but still retains many of its historical features. On a visit to the settlement you can admire the warm tones of the old buildings and breathe in the rich scent of the fragrant spices being sold from the market stalls nearby.

The cosmopolitan city is a cultural hotspot and as well as its historic buildings you can experience this by tasting the renowned dishes the settlement is so famous for. Once you've settled into Marrakech accommodation, head out into the area to visit some of the local eateries.

Make your way to Al Fassia - a restaurant in Gueliz run entirely by women. The elegant dining room offers choices of formal seating or cushion-strewn banquettes if you want to relax as you tuck into delicacies like mechoui - leg of lamb - and pigeon bstilla. The eatery is as well-known for its atmosphere as it is for its authentic cuisine, making it among the best spots to dine at in the city.

For a truly traditional Moroccan meal, head to Chez Chegrouni, a restaurant located at the back of the UNESCO-listed Jemaa el Fna square. Here you can partake in simple dishes without having to book. Orders are given by writing down your choices - which include couscous or harira soup (a lamb and prune tagine) - on a paper napkin and taking a seat either at the downstairs terrace or on the top floor, from where you can take in views of the historical square.

Add a touch of luxury to your fine dining by calling in at Crystal, an eatery attached to the local Pacha nightclub. The grand dining room mixes old with new and the restaurant itself is owned by the Michelin starred Pourcel twin chefs, so you can expect some exquisite and inventive dishes, such as ravioli served with spinach and prawns or pasta and snails. Afterwards, you can head next door for a night of dancing if you like.

A few minutes away from the Medina is the perfect place for a reasonably-priced meal in a non-touristy location. The neutrally-decorated Libzar restaurant is ideal for enjoying a quiet meal in front of the roaring open fire. You can choose from mezze appetisers, briouates, tasty tagines of lamb, chicken or fish, and a delectable selection of desserts.

Meanwhile, if you're looking to add further luxury to your Morocco holiday by pampering yourself, book some local Hammam treatments, in which you move through a series of rooms with hot temperatures before having your open pores cleansed and a deep massage and a bath with rose petals or a stone treatment.

You could also call in at the oldest house in the Medina, which has been brought back to life by skilled craftsmen and is now home to a literary cafe where you can admire paintings and sculptures or attend evening concerts while sipping mint tea and enjoying some tasty Moroccan pastries or simple meals at lunchtime.

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