Medina, Marrakech: The Tourist Dinner

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, take recs from your upscale hotel with a grain of saffron. The Prison of Posh led me astray in Naples where, due to time restraints, the hotel recommended a bus tour of the Amalfi Coast. In Milan, I rather enjoyed the tourist food places but know there are many tantalizing options that I did not discover. This time Le Meridien recommended Le Marrakchi, a restaurant overlooking the square of Djemaa El-Fna. The hotel also said that it would cost 50 dirham or $5.27 to take a taxi to get to the Medina. Sending me to a restaurant called The Moroccan and quoting me a price well over the 30 I paid to get from the airport for a place within walking distance gave me little confidence in the concierge’s recommendation.

I left the hotel, bypassed the taxis waiting outside, and headed to the main street. There I hailed a cab, told him Medina in my Iraqi accent, followed by ‘ushreen’ (20), and was on my way. When I arrived at the square, my suspicions were confirmed as Le Marrakchi’s prices were quite expensive. Moroccan food uses similar ingredients as Arabic food so there is no reason why it should be pricey. Hummus is ground chic peas. And Cous cous is crushed wheat no matter how fancy it looks when served. (In contrast, French bouillabaisse should only be consumed at a reputable restaurant. And dolma should only be consumed if prepared by my grandma.) Instead of taking the hotel’s suggestion, I ate at Zeitoun Cafe. It also is a restaurant aimed at tourists, but I did not mind paying the premium for the view of the square and the peace of mind of not having to haggle with the street stall vendors for dinner on my first day of arrival. It was also enjoyable to watch the sun go down over the square from the safety of my perch while sipping a soothing cup of Moroccan mint tea.

Mint tea, perfected in Morocco

Cous cous, Morocco’s most famous cuisine
Cous cous

The bill came out to $27, a fraction of the cost of Le Marrakachi, but high enough to inspire me to stop being lazy and to start doing what I do best– haggling.

TPOL’s Tips:

  • Show no mercy to taxis anywhere in the world. I have an entire section of my blog dedicated to my taxi struggles.
  • There is nothing wrong with being a tourist. Paying more for a drink at a rooftop bar or patio restaurant for the experience does not mean you are a novice traveler. Just don’t pay $30 for Tacos.

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