Fes is the culinary and cultural capital of Morocco. The city of Fes is a leader in Moroccan cuisine. The ancient traditions of Fes cuisine come alive at a variety of riads and restaurants throughout the old city of Fes. New on the scene are a wide variety of boutique riads that have opened their doors to the public and are merging traditional Fassis table cuisine with French and International flavors. Morocco Travel Specialist, Alecia Cohen, takes a look at the best places to dine and experience cuisine in Fes to tempt your pallets on a Morocco Tour.
The world famous Fes Sacred Music Festival takes place each June and Dar Roumana’s restaurant at 30 Derb el Amer Zkak, Roumane in Fes Medina is open daily offering pre-concert dinners from 6pm – 8pm Dar Roumana and they also offer a smaller menu (2 starters, 2 mains and 2 desserts) for a reduced price of 300dh for three courses or 225dh for two courses. For those not attending the festival Dar Roumana’s usual dinner service will continue as normal from 7.30pm – 9pm. It is essential to book well beforehand during this busy period. Dinner is served in the patio and on the terrace with spectacular views of the medina and includes varied delicacies such as roasted beetroot, orange, mint and feta salad, spiced roasted quail with dried fruit orzo, moroccan fishcakes with cucumber and radish ribbon salad and sweet harissa dipping sauce, baked chicken thighs with honey, hazelnut and saffron with carrot and cumin mash. Dar Roumana is run by husband and wife team Vanessa and Vincent. Vincent is a Le Cordon Bleue certified chef and serves up a great table in Fes. Vanessa and Vincent are fabulous hosts and dining at Roumana is a must when in Fes.
The garden restaurant attached to Riad Idrissy at 13 Derb Idrissi, Sieje, Sidi Ahmed Chaoui, referred to as the Ruined Garden, is set in the romantic remains of a crumbling riad which has been turned into a delightful garden, with mosaic floors, fountains and exotic foliage. Lunch is prepared using fresh produce from the souk and includes salads – such as zaalouk (smoky aubergine, tomato and paprika puree) and tfaya (chickpeas, onions, raisins and cinnamon) – and street food, cooked to order in the garden, such as sardines marinated in chermoula (garlic, paprika, cumin, olive oil and lemon juice) with a polenta batter and makuda, spiced battered potato cakes. Afternoon tea is a blend of English and Moroccan, including tea made from homegrown mint and wormwood. After 7pm, the garden is open for dinner by prior arrangement only, offering mechoui lamb (anything from a leg to a whole animal) cooked for seven hours over charcoal, Sephardic suppers and Roman banquets. The ruined garden at Riad Idrissy will operate as a festival green room – where artists, journalists and the audience can mingle between the Fes Sacred Music Festival concerts. Opening hours are between 12 noon and 9.30pm. There is also the great boon of no background music.
Another great lunch and dinner venue in Fes is Palais Amani at 12 Derb el Miter, Oued Zhoune.This imposing Art Deco former palace has superb gardens Is known for excellent high class Moroccan cuisine and you can dine in the restaurant or the patio, booking is essential.
Numero 7 has a rotating Chef in residence program that uses seasonal produce sourced from the markets in Fes and nearby farms for its cuisine. Located in the heart of Moroccan gastronomy each chef in residence utilizes Numero 7 as their center stage to create a table of unique cuisine through their own interpretation. Numero 7 is owned by Stephen di Renza, a former fashion director for Neiman Marcu and Bergdoff Goodman. He divides his time between Fes and Mararkech. Di Renzi is also the creative director of the Yves Saint Laurent Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech. Numero 7 is a must dine experience for those interested in modern, creative cuisine with a Moroccan touch.
La Maison Bleue offers a classic table in Fes and reservations are also necessary at this elegant riad restaurant. The setting is intimate and romantic, with diners serenaded by an oud player (replaced by livelier Gnawa song and dance at the end of the evening). You’ll be treated to an array of cooked salads, tajines, couscous and bastilla (savoury pastries), plus filo pastry desserts.
At Dar El Ghalia, a restored 18th century palace you will find Dar Tajine, one of the best known restaurants in Fes. You can choose from set menus or à la carte: there are salads, excellent Harira, grills, fresh fish, tagines and couscous.
Chez Vittorio is in the rustic Italian restaurant angle well, right down to the candles and checked cloths. The food is good value, Go for the pizzas or steak and enjoy the wine.
Dar Anebar is a riad you can dine in fne surroundings, in the splendid courtyard, or one of the cosy salons. The menu is strictly Moroccan, but of the highest standard, and wine is available.
Palais Jamaï is a five-star hotel has a superb position overlooking the medina. There’s a French restaurant and a Moroccan restaurant. At lunch they serve a good buffet on the terrace above the pool (or in the dining room in winter): there’s the salad buffet, or the salad buffet with barbecue and dessert.
Fes is truly international and Kiotori restaurant offers sushi with a Japanese chef.
Café Clock is a restored town house and is an important and highly original cultural centre which offers a varied menu with offerings such as falafel, grilled sandwiches, some interesting vegetarian options, a substantial camel burger, and delicious cakes and tarts. It is open right through the day into the evening so you can eat whenever you want.
Fez Café is set in a fine garden in Le Jardin des Biehn, Dinner is available both before and after and during concerts.
Le Kasbah restaurant is on several floors at Bab Bou Jeloud, and occupies a prime spot: the top floor looks out over the medina, making it a good place to relax over food. The menu is traditional Moroccan fare, tajines, couscous and grilled meat.
Fes is famed for its street food and probably the most well known establishment is Thami’s at Bou Jeloud, 50 Serrajine in the Medina. It is highly recommended by the website “The View from Fez.” They recommend Thami’s kefta tagine with egg, the melange and the fish. Fes has many such small establishments and a visit to the vegetable and spices souks will enrich your knowledge and appreciation of Moroccan daily life and the variety of its cuisine even in very simple establishments.
And for those who want the intimacy of a leafy garden, try Ryad Mabrouka as this delightful guesthouse in the warmer months is perfect for lunch, or in winter in the 1st-floor dining room overlooking the medina. Traditional fare is served in a three-course set menu, and wine is available. It’s necessary to book 24 hours in advance.
For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate