Eating Out

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Eating Out

Moroccan cuisine is delectable. Dining establishments range from outdoor food stalls to elegant and disproportionately expensive restaurants, with prices approaching those of Europe. Simpler, cheaper restaurants abound. Between cities, roadside restaurants commonly offer delicious tagines, couscous, or grilled kebabs with bread and salad; on the coast, fried fish is an excellent buy, and you can often choose your meal from the daily catch. Marrakesh and Fez are the places for wonderful Moroccan feasts in fairy-tale surroundings, and Casablanca has a lively and diverse dining scene. The listed restaurants represent the best in each price range and cuisine type.

Meals and Mealtimes

Moroccan hotels normally serve a Continental breakfast (petit déjeuner continental), often included in the room rate. If not, you can buy an equivalent meal at any of numerous cafés at a much lower price. The more expensive hotels have elaborate buffets. Hotel breakfasts are usually served from 7 to 10 or 10:30. Lunch, typically the most leisurely meal of the day, is served between noon and 2:30. Hotels and restaurants begin dinner service at 7:30, though crowds are on the thin side until 8:30 or 9. In a Moroccan home you probably won't sit down to eat until 9 or 10 pm. Restaurants stay open later in the more cosmopolitan city centers.

Lunch (déjeuner) in Morocco tends to be a large meal, as in France. A typical lunch menu consists of salad, a main course with meat and vegetables, and fruit. In restaurants this is generally available à la carte. On Friday the traditional lunch meal is a heaping bowl of couscous topped with meats and vegetables.

At home, people tend to have afternoon mint tea, then a light supper, often with soup. Dinner (diner) in French and international restaurants is generally à la carte; you may select as light or heavy a meal as you like. Many of the fancier Moroccan restaurants serve prix-fixe feasts, with at least three courses and sometimes upwards of five. If you're a vegetarian or have other dietary concerns, state this when you make a reservation; many restaurants will prepare special dishes with advance notice.

Lunch and dinner are served communal-style, on one big platter. Moroccans use their right hands to sop up the juices in these dishes with bread. Bread is used as an all-purpose utensil to pull up little pieces of vegetables and meat. In restaurants bread will always be offered in a basket. Utensils will be offered to foreigners. All restaurants, no matter how basic, have sinks for washing hands before and after your meal.

Unless otherwise noted, the restaurants listed are open daily for lunch and dinner.

Sunday is the most common day for restaurant closings.

During Ramadan, everything changes. All cafés and nearly all restaurants are closed during the day; the ftir, or "break fast," is served precisely at sunset, and most people take their main meal of the night, the souk hour, at about 2 am. The main hotels, however, continue to serve meals to non-Muslim guests as usual.

Paying

Only the pricier restaurants take credit cards; MasterCard and Visa are the most widely accepted. Outside the largest cities you'll rarely be able to use your credit card.

Reservations and Dress

Reservations are always a good idea: we mention them only when they're essential or not accepted. Book as far ahead as possible, and reconfirm as soon as you arrive. Jacket and tie are never required.

Wines, Beer, and Spirits

Although alcohol is forbidden by Islam, it is produced in this country. The more expensive restaurants and hotels are licensed to serve alcohol. Morocco produces some red wines in the vicinity of Meknès, and the national beer is Flag Special. Heineken is produced under license in Casablanca. Apart from restaurants, drinks are available at the bars of hotels and lounges classified by the government with three stars or more. Supermarkets like Marjane, Label Vie, and Acima sell alcohol to foreigners with proper identification (except during Ramadan, when liquor shelves are restocked with tasteful displays of chocolates and dates). Little shops in small towns also sell beer and spirits.

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