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Dining in Morocco

Finally had time to unwind after our return from Morocco. In general, I found there aren't a whole lot of fine dining options there. And when there are, they don't compare to elsewhere: sort of like something I read about Moroccan hotels -- five star hotels in Morocco are like 4-star hotels in the rest of the developed world. One driver I spoke with said Morocco doesn't really have a middle class, so most restaurants are for foreigners. I asked our guide if there is more to Moroccan food than tajine, couscous, grilled fish, pastilla, and brochettes; his simple answer was no. I think there are many variations on these dishes.
If you want to eat cheap, eat the street food. The most prominent thing I noticed was a Moroccan sandwich, consisting of hollowed out khobz bread filled with meat: you can add egg and hot sauce as well. It is also common to sit at one stall and order from others. We saw some locals doing this when we were in Fes. Following are some memorable food experiences during our 19-day trip:

Rabat: We stayed at Riad Kalaa, which we thoroughly enjoyed. The breakfasts there were some of the best we had during our trip, if only because they made slight, daily variations to the usual menu of flat bread (reminds me of Chinese green onion pancake without the green onions), khobz, another pancake like bread that reminds me of crumpets, yogurt, and freshly squeezed orange juice. They also offered eggs, cooked to order.

Fes: Our first 2 nights we stayed at a home/hotel (Korriche), run through the Ziyarates program and ate a home-cooked meal. Our first taste of couscous on this trip and it was delicious. Another night we ate at Le Jardin des Biehn, which was the best meal up to that point (maybe because we were tiring of the usual Moroccan fare). They served a delicious salad with lettuce, avocado, squid, and grapefruit: the vinaigrette dressing was very good with a distinct flavor I hadn't tasted before (I wonder if they used Argan oil). Our mains were well prepared as well, though not very memorable. The gardens are nice, so if it is warm out, take a table on the patio. Cremerie la Place in Place Seffarine is a nice spot to sit and get a drink/eat cookies. The people who run the place are very friendly and also run a restaurant across the square. Cafe Clock was good, but not great. I had the camel burger there, which I like, but my wife did not.

Marrakech: Based on ghutcher's review of Le Comptoir, we decided to skip it. We also read good things about Catanzaro, but were not able to try it. Our riad owner, Sandy, at Riad Olema et Spa recommended Grand Cafe de la Poste and Maison Arabe, but again we didn't try either. Speaking of Riad Olema, the food there was good. In hindsight, I think if you want traditional Moroccan fare, you can't go wrong with any of the nicer riads. On Sandy's recommendation we took a cooking class with chef Rachida Sahnoune at Riad Monceau. We cooked a lamb and a chicken tajine, and we have to say they were the best tajines we had on the entire trip. We even purchased the cookbook that they publish. Mam Ti Lee was probably the best meal we had on our entire trip. The restaurant has a nice ambience and the set menu (2 choices per course) is a great value. The menu uses seasonal ingredients and is creative, though I didn't think the pairing of dates and duck quite worked for me. Terrace des Espices was good, traditional Moroccan food, though I think there are other options as well. The setting is great: a terrace atop the souks. Bo+Zin: don't waste your money. Food is good, but not innovative. US$300 for fancy Asian and Moroccan food (but not fusion: dishes of each ethnicity are separate). I got fooled into ordering "Chinese Chicken Croissants", thinking they'd be some interesting comination of French and Chinese. Instead, they ended being potstickers (US$20 for five!!). And, you have to pay way above market rate for a taxi to take you there and back. If any of you decide to try Bo+Zin anyway, I'd suggest asking your petit taxi driver for his cell phone number, and negotiate a price for him to come pick you up after dinner. The grand taxis waiting outside the restaurant know you have no other options and gouge you accordingly. Djemaa el Fna: find a stall where the locals are eating. I forget the number, be we ate at one in the second row away from Mosque Khotoubia. It was a seafood stall where they sold all sorts of fried seafood. Seems like all the stalls sell the same stuff, and at about the same prices.

Essaouira: La Chalet de la Plage: so-so seafood place on the water. Generous portions, though. I preferred our lunch at the fish stalls, where you order and pay by the kilo. Would have liked to try the restaurant at our hotel, Heure Bleu, but did not have time. We enjoyed a little snack place "Delices Snack" in the medina. The guy working there was so friendly and kind. They make crepes, pizzas, etc.

Apr 08, 2013
obiwan in Middle East & Africa

Dining in Morocco

Thank you! We are heading there in March 2013. Will try to report back.

Feb 15, 2013
obiwan in Middle East & Africa

Anyone know a great East Bay Burger joint?

Burger Depot is ok for the price, but it seems like they just use pre-processed patties. Haven't tried Wood Tavern's.

Jan 28, 2013
obiwan in San Francisco Bay Area

bay area wedding - reality check?

Sounds about right. I'm getting married in March 2013 at Kohl Mansion and we are up around 50k for 150 people. Our calculation includes rings, dress, alterations, favors, etc. Outdoor venues prob cheaper, but we couldn't risk b/c of time of year. If you have time, you might be able to save by going outdoors, like ChefJ said. If you want to stick indoors, consider Barn Diva in Healdsburg. We were scared by the venue fee and per meal pricing (and alcohol per person), but in the end, I'm not sure it would've been that much more than what we are currently paying. I could be wrong.

Jan 28, 2013
obiwan in San Francisco Bay Area

Looking for Big Island (Hawaii) Tips

Just got back from the Big Island, and I have to say I was a bit disappointed with the price of Vietnamese sandwiches at Ba Le. Definitely not dirt cheap relative to prices here in the S.F. Bay Area or L.A. I think I paid around $5 for a sandwich, which would normally cost around $2.75. Didn't try any of the other items, so can't comment on them. And, while I ate my sandwich on the plane about 2 hours later, it was decent.

There is a popular mix plate restaurant across the street from Ba Le called, of course, Kona Mix Plate. Another popular place with the locals appeared to be Cafe 100 in Hilo. Cafe 100 had a different style of plate lunch that I haven't had before, which was pretty tasty.

Finally, check out Two Ladies Kitchen in Hilo if you like freshly prepared mochi. http://starbulletin.com/98/09/02/feat...

Oct 05, 2006
obiwan in U.S. Elsewhere Archive