Eating through Jemaa el-Fna

Every afternoon as the sun retires, endless food stalls spring up within the square, in the blink of an eye you’re left with a huge open-air restaurant. It’s the place to be, whether you’re a tourist or a local. Expect an assault on all your senses, this chaotic environment is truly exhilarating. The experience is the true attraction here, the food is good, but you will remember the atmosphere above all else.

You will be spotted by a tout before you even get close, expect some pretty aggressive persuading. I found they usually have a great sense of humour and will say just about anything to get you towards their stall, it’s actually quite fun banter. I advise turning the first few touts down, if you think you can. Eventually a tout will win your business, they are persistent to say the least. If they assume that you’re English you can expect lines such as, “This is Gordon Ramsey’s favourite restaurant on the square”, “We’re cheaper than Aldi”, “bloody marvelous food ‘ere”, of course with a British accent of questionable quality. Great fun!

During my trip, I ate at the square 4 times. Below I have included photos and short account of my experience at each stall..

1 – Chez Aicha001_1_25

Since I had read this stall was popular with locals, I decided to give it a go. In hindsight I’m not too sure about that, but it was busy none the less. The lamb skewers here were good, as was the fish (sole). The fried chicken was so-so. The ambiance here was not as good as the other stalls I dined at. The total cost for all 3 was just 95DH (£6.60, $9.90). Click here to view the menu.

 

81 – Chez Simo002_1_25

This stall was my favourite, not because of the food, but because of the atmosphere. The tout for this place is amazing, perhaps the most persistent we experienced, and it was a pleasure to engage in conversation, he won us over with his pretty awful English accent, hilarious! He also provided much entertainment throughout our meal, as we watched him relentlessly try win over other potential customers. The food, well the chicken skewers were great, like really great! The tanjia (roast lamb), let’s just say the friendly cat pictured above enjoyed most of it. Our two mains cost 60DH (£4.20, $6.30). Click here to view the menu.

 

117 – Mouha003_25

The mood at this stall was certainly rousing, the staff had even started singing and dancing in sync to entice customers in. They genuinely were having a great time, everyone was laughing as they attempted cheesy 80’s hits, which was very comical. They had no English menu, just french. But that was no problem, because the waiter quickly translated it for us, putting emphasis on the more expensive options of course. Yes, we ordered skewers again. But this time the skewers were an assortment of vegetables, chicken, lamb and sausage. They were the best we had tried. The vegetable couscous and fried chicken was OK, not great. As I asked for our bill, we were ignored and instead brought complimentary mint tea, which was a lovely gesture. I understand this was to keep us seated, and make the place appear busy, which is fair enough. Not long after we got our bill, the two mains cost 95DH (£6.60, $9.90).

 

53 – Chez Hassan2015-01-17_25

This was my attempt at being adventurous, a sheep head sandwich. OK, if I’m honest I found myself being ushered to a seat before fully realising what was on the menu. I ordered a mixed sandwich, which was a bread roll and a plate of sheep head meat. I won’t lie, I played with my food a lot, trying to only eat parts that didn’t look totally gross. My skirmish antics amused the other customers at this stall, all of which were locals. I was never sure which part of the head I was eating, but overall the meat was okay, the taste was very salty. This cost me just 15DH (£1, $1.60). Click here to view the menu.

Don’t worry if none of this takes your fancy, there are plenty of snail soup vendors waiting for you.

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