Marrakesh: Where to Eat and Drink by Yannick Alléno
The beguiling Moroccan city of Marrakesh is rightly renowned as an exotic travel destination that is only a short hop from mainland Europe. Always a home to bohemian designers and artists, it has also drawn chefs inspired by the country’s legendary cuisine.
The 'red city' offers dishes at every conceivable price point, from legendary grilled street eats in the vast Jemaa el-Fnaa square to the finest high-end dining in the city’s legendary palatial resorts. None come more palatial than The Royal Mansour, former home to the King of Morocco. Unsurprisingly for such a storied place to stay, the culinary programme is run by none other than Yannick Alléno, the French chef behind legendary dining rooms Ledoyen and Le 1947. Here he gives us his lowdown on his favourite spots across the city.
La Grande Table Marocaine
"When I go to Marrakesh, it’s quite like when I’m in Paris, as I spend most of my time in the kitchens – namely of the Royal Mansour where we oversee all the food and beverage. We have a number of restaurants there and I would especially recommend La Grande Table Marocaine which features our modern vision of traditional high-end Moroccan gastronomy, and Le Jardin, our sunny terrace where everyone can enjoy some of the more tribal cuisine that mixes both Moroccan and Asian influences. They all have their own identity but remain truly unique in Morocco."
"When I have some spare time, I like to go to Namaskar Bar, it’s a really amazing place with a fantastic panoramic view over the palm groves and over to the Atlas Mountains. On Sundays, I also like to go into the Medina Gardens, where you can enjoy a brunch with your friends and family in one of the quietest places in the historical centre of Marrakesh."
"Dar Yacout, which might be one of the oldest Marrakech institutions, is a true reference in terms of gastronomy. Moroccan terroir and products are so diverse and tasteful, it’s amazing. We have the chance to explore this richness and tradition while adding a modern twist to it, so their classic cuisine always amazes me. Their pastillas with pigeon, or chicken and almonds, are particularly well known and sought-after."
La Terrasse des Épices
"I also like to go to La Terrasse des Épices (The Spice Terrace) in the Medina, a riad with a view over the minaret over Koutoubia, the city’s largest mosque, that offers simple dishes made with the freshest produce, like marinated sardines or small triangular pastries known as 'briouates', stuffed with cheese or vegetables. Simplicity truly leads to flavour there. That’s what we also try to do at La Table, one of the other restaurants at the Royal Mansour, offering at any time exceptional products cooked in a simple but tasteful way."
"Finally, I must tell you about this little rustic snack stop called La Baraka located inside the Pétromine gas station at the km5 marker on the road from Marrakesh to Fez. They serve tagines cooked over embers and brochettes by the kilo - it’s fantastic. Cooking is about mastering fire and I’ve always been fascinated by knowing how to cook with fire and coal."