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Monday, November 22, 2010

Three Best Restaurants In Marrakesh... I've Got Two

I've always found Morocco so welcoming and so gay-friendly-- but that's only for foreign gays. The homegrown kind, like we saw when we looked at Abdellah Taïa's story last spring, have a much harder time. In fact, a much, much harder time. I'm going to Marrakesh soon and I've been meaning to post about some of my favorite restaurants there and see if I could get some suggestions from other travelers. But then Rachel Maddow pointed to the gruesome news today that Morocco was one of the 79 backward countries in the UN to have voted in the UN to reserve the right to kill gay people just because they're gay. Yes, of course Uganda voted that way too. In fact, scanning through the list it looks like every Muslim country did (other than Bosnia, which voted with the civilized world, and Mauritania, Turkmenistan, Turkey and Kyrgyzstan, which were absent) -- even Oman where the Sultan, Qaboos ibn Sa‘id, is a predatory homosexual (as well as a patricide)-- did.
A new U.N. resolution condemns the arbitrary execution of whole classes of humanity, from street kids to indigenous groups. It was to have included sexual minorities, but a bunch of nations balked at protection for LGBTs. The U.N. General Assembly then approved an amendment that removed them from the list.
The vote was 79-70. Here's the list of countries that wanted to reserve the right to kill the gay:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

That said... let's eat! There are quite a few Google searches for "3 best restaurants in Marrakesh." I've been there over a dozen times-- starting in 1969-- and the last time was about 4 years ago. I thought it was miraculous that this morning I remembered the names of my two favorite restaurants from that trip... and then found that I had posted about them from Morocco at the time.
The only restaurant in Guéliz (the new city) we went to is the justifiably famous Al Fassia. The 2 unique things about it is that it is entirely run by women and that they revel in the concept of a la carte, never an easy thing for foreigners to find. The food was superb and expensive but not over the moon. And, like many Moroccan eateries, if you give them enough notice, they'll prepare things for you to order. The menu has all the best Moroccan standards and you can pick the ones you want and not have to bother with the ones you don't. It was sold out when we went and they said we'd have to come another time but begging and pleading helped and we were seated in an hour... For our big night out the El Cadi's manager suggested we go to the Dar Zellij deep in the heart of the medina. I was intrigued because it isn't in any of the tourist guide books, although it is very much for tourists. We got there considerably before they were ready to serve so we spent some time talking with the very friendly and accommodating owner. The restaurant is simply one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The food, although the typical tourist menu (unless you call in advance and order what you want, which we did), is PERFECTION. Everything was beyond delicious. And the servings were not gargantuan (as is typical in Morocco), although if you're a glutton, have no fear: they're happy to serve seconds on any dish you want more of.

So I'm looking for some suggestions along these lines, restaurants where the chefs are out to impress the customers with the best that they can do. Please let me know if you've found any along those lines. (I've already got Le Tobsil and Yacout on my list, so what I'm looking for is something delicious but not grand.) I also hear that there's a vegan restaurant in town now! Earth Cafe Marrakesh is also organic; it opened in 2007 (and they have a version opening, or just opened, in Essaouira too).


Unknown said...

I have to admit that I am biased, but gastro mk (the restaurant at the riad maison mk) has only been open for 2 months and we (I am the owner!) are already number one on tripadvisor. A 7 course tasting menu, fine dining, romantic setting & beautiful riad seem to have really impressed the dinner guests so far. But we only take 6 external guests per night so its not easy to get a table. Feel free to have a look on . As I say, I am biased because I own maison mk, but I thought I'd post the information because we are new & we are top of Tripadvisor. Regards, Paul

DownWithTyranny said...

Thanks, Paul. I'll definitely come by for dinner one night.

VG said...

Oh, count me on on that too!