8 Essential Terrace Cafés in Marrakech
08 April, 2016
La Mamounia is one of the world’s legendary hotels, where actors, royalty, politicians and countless other famous people have stayed. With its majestic palace ambience and imperial gardens stretching across 8 hectares, this dream enclave looks like something from A Thousand and One Nights. Here you will find luxury and splendour in their pure state, an area devoted exclusively to cuisine and mixology, and exclusive service. Be a daredevil and cross the hotel threshold, but make sure you have donned your best attire to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb amid so much glamour. And, enjoy the bar terrace with its views over a majestic natural oasis. The best time of day to sip your cocktail – they’re priced around 15 euros, but are well worth the treat – is at dusk, when the light and temperature bring out the magic of the moment and enchant even the most sybaritic.
A steep red staircase leads up from Bab Fteuh Square to the rooftop of building no. 21 – hold onto the handrail to avoid stumbling, and mind your head! Chez ZaZa is a popular eatery with a friendly atmosphere frequented by Marrakechians. This small, colourful rooftop café offers tasty, well presented traditional dishes – chicken pie, charcoaled meat, an assortment of tagines and spicy, hot vegetable salads, all for an average price of under 10 euros. By day, the terrace affords views of the entertaining bustle in the souk down below; in the evening, you can contemplate the sun setting over the rooftops of the Medina.
If your thing is an idyll full of hustle and bustle, this is your spot. The Palais Lamrani is a former riad refurbished by a French couple which offers guests an exclusive ambience. The beautiful gardens in the inner patio form one of the most enchanting terraces in the city. There you can enjoy a relaxing, romantic meal amid leafy vegetation and the pleasant sound of the fountain in the centre. They serve Moroccan and international cuisine based on fresh produce (the menu changes each week). You can also visit just to have a coffee, cocktail or drink. This spot, known as La Table du Palais, is truly delightful.
Jamaa el Fna Square transforms into a hive of activity at night, particularly on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It is one vast stage where locals and tourists gather to soak up the festive atmosphere, to listen to live music and watch folk dancing. They come to buy clothes and all sorts of objects from street hawkers, to take part in improvised family games or to fall spellbound to story-tellers, snake charmers and medicine men. But, family and friends also descend on the square to have a weekly feast, seated around large tables shared with strangers. Dozens of food stalls are on hand for you to try national dishes, like barbecued lamb’s head, charcoaled tripe, vegetable soup, seafood or Arab confectionery. However, beware – while the festive atmosphere and authenticity can be hypnotic, the food requires a rugged stomach!
The Amal Center is a non-profit organisation which seeks to empower disadvantaged Moroccan women and enable them to become independent and integrate in the workplace. It is headquartered in Marrakech’s Semlalia quarter and providesa programme of restaurant training for women, where they learn to cook and serve meals professionally. It boasts a beautiful terrace with jazmine and orange trees with flowers that give off a heady scent. There you can try their Moroccan creations (mechoui, tagine, couscous…) and internationally-inspired dishes. “Everything is homemade except the water”, they explain. The price is 8 euros per head.
The Hôtel de France is a veritable institution in Marrakech. Locals and tourist flock to its terrace restaurant, with magnificent panoramic views of the Jemaa el Fna Square and the Medina quarter. Have a seat there, and sip leisurely on one of their very sweet mint teas as you calmly soak up the fascinating atmosphere in the square, accompanied by the beat of the drums and the Koranic chants that ring out at prayer time.
Access to this terrace, with deck chairs and pool included, is reserved solely for guests of the Riad Abracadabra. There you can have breakfast, a drink or simply chill out. Just for that alone, it is worth staying in this hotel, its interior design worthy of an editorial in a design magazine. Peace and quiet, and good taste, reign supreme. A not-to-be-missed destination in the heart of the Medina.
The terrace of the Kasbah Café, sited opposite the Saadian Tombs in a typically Moroccan setting, is ideal for enjoying a pleasant lunch in the open air with views of the stunning Koutoubia Minaret. You will take away memories of the warm, friendly service in this café, as well as of their simple, light, traditional cuisine. An ideal spot for taking a breather during your sightseeing of nearby places of interest – the Bahia and El Badi Palaces, the Saadian tombs and the Jewish quarter.
Ready to visit the rooftops, gardens and patios of Marrakech? Book your Vueling here.
Text and photos: Laia Zieger of Gastronomistas
08 April, 2016