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If mesmerizing depictions of Morocco haven’t already appeared on your Instagram feed, then you’re in the minority. The western Moroccan city of Marrakech is especially photogenic, with its intricately designed palaces, verdant botanical gardens, colorful tiled details and stylish restaurants.
Below are four such restaurants that not only impress with trendy interiors, but also with the appetizing dishes they serve. (Please note that none of the following places serve alcohol, as is typical of many restaurants in the Muslim country.)
Atay Cafe Food (Address: 62 Rue Amsefah)Located in the Old Medina, Atay Cafe Food spans four floors with three terraces on the top three. Guests dine amid the spellbinding sounds of adhan (the Islamic call to prayer) and exceptional views of Marrakech’s architecture, including several mosques. Though all the alfresco areas available are lovely, the best seats in the house are undeniably on the rooftop.
Once clients have sufficiently admired (and snapped) the panoramas and the expert styling of rattan details, Moroccan textiles and quirky art, recommend they order one of the restaurant’s fresh-squeezed juices, including a refreshing orange-beet combination. My partner, Ben, and I happily devoured a lamb and apricot tagine, too; it was the first of many tagines to come during our trip yet one of the most memorable.
Vegetarians will be happy to hear that Atay offers several plant-based dishes, including tagines, couscous and more. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed, which provides a respite from the lively medina outside and makes for an ideal lunch spot. Atay is open every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; reservations are not necessary, but arrive early for optimal seating.
Nomad (Address: 1 Derb Aarjane)Gorgeous design, a fabulous atmosphere and modern Moroccan fare have made Nomad the “it spot” for travelers to Marrakech. On the rooftop, in-the-know guests can watch the sun go down over the Rahba Lakdima spice market below. If seats on the top floor aren’t available, don’t worry: Every last detail of Nomad’s other three stories is impeccable and deserving of a photo or two.
Compared to other Marrakech eateries, prices are higher here and at Nomad’s sister restaurant, Le Jardin, but it’s worth sparing the extra dirham (Moroccan currency) for the restaurants’ ambiance and delectable, prettily plated dishes. Of note from the diverse menu are the Nomad burger (spiced lamb burger with eggplant, caramelized onion and harissa mayonnaise); the courgette (zucchini) and feta fritters with a mint-yogurt sauce; and the saffron-scented Moroccan date cake with whipped cream and a salted caramel sauce.
Nomad is open every day from noon to 11 p.m. Reservations should be made in advance for time slots that start at noon, 2 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Many restaurants in Marrakech are as beautiful as the food they serve, including Atay Cafe Food in the Old Medina. // © 2018 Valerie Chen
Atay’s vegetarian couscous and lamb and apricot tagine // © 2018 Valerie Chen
In-the-know travelers flock to the posh Nomad restaurant. // © 2018 Nomad
Nomad serves modern Moroccan fare, ranging from lamb chops served with spiced tomatoes, ratatouille and harissa (pictured) to more traditional tagines and mezze plates. // © 2018 Nomad
La Famille is loved by Instagrammers for its attractive Mediterranean-inspired design and nourishing, plant-based menu. // © 2018 La Famille
Le Jardin is tucked away in the Old Medina and quite aptly feels like a secret garden. // © 2018 Le Jardin
Items on the menu are delicious and fresh, using local ingredients. // © 2018 Le Jardin
La Famille (Address: 42 Rue Riad Zitoun Jdid)A perfect lunch oasis to duck into after checking out Marrakech’s iconic attraction, Bahia Palace, La Famille is a feast for both the eyes and the palate. The cozy, rustic courtyard cafe has an airy, Mediterranean-influenced vibe, including blonde wood finishes, a minimal color palette, lots of vibrant greenery and other on-trend details. And after enjoying healthy, nourishing fare under the Moroccan sun, guests can check out the on-site shop, an Instagram darling that peddles carefully curated wares, including ceramics, textiles and postcards.
La Famille’s veggie-only menu changes daily and typically consists of only three or four items, from salads (such as a medley of avocado, mango, mint, barley seed and pumpkin seed) to pizzas (with toppings such as arugula, mint and pear). All dishes use seasonal, organic produce.
La Famille is open for lunch only from noon to 2 p.m.; it is closed on Mondays. Reservations are advised during the weekend.
Le Jardin (Address: 32 Souk Jeld Sidi Abdelaziz)After traveling through the winding maze that is the Old Medina, entering through an unassuming door and then walking through a small corridor, guests will find themselves in the magical Le Jardin. The restaurant is tucked within a renovated 16th-century building and is lush with foliage, green hues and elegant tiles.
At night, guests dine by candlelight for a romantic, satisfying dinner. Though all the tagines are superb — Ben and I polished off our kefta tagine with eggs (lamb and beef meatballs with eggs in a tomato sauce) — the star of the meal was the whole-grilled dorado (fish) with vegetables and French fries. As for drinks, guests can choose from an array of teas, milkshakes and fresh-squeezed juices, such as “Iron Man” (orange, strawberry, kiwi and apple, which I ordered) and “Pick Me Up” (grapefruit, orange, strawberry and carrot, which Ben ordered).
The restaurant is open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Reservations are recommended for time slots that start noon, 2 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.