The Red City Must-go Restaurant | Al Fassia Aguedal, Marrakech, Morocco
The two-and-only Al Fassia restaurants
Marrakech, Morocco, May 2023
• GAYOT’s Rating: 14/20
• Cuisine: Moroccan
• Open: Tues. 12:30 p.m.-11 p.m., Wed.-Sun. 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
If like me, you are spending one night only in Marrakech, Al Fassia is undoubtedly the must-go restaurant, as the restaurant is a staple in the imperial city thanks to its traditional and authentic Moroccan cuisine and hospitality. The original location opened in the Guéliz neighborhood in 1987. It was conceptualized on a very progressive idea by husband and wife Mohammed (a professional hotelier) and Fatima Chab: only women operating the restaurant, back in the kitchen and at the front in the dining room.
Now in the hands of daughters and sisters Saïda & Myra Chab (and soon granddaughter Hind), building on its success, the ladies opened a second location that includes a riad and a second Al Fassia restaurant in the Aguedal area. That is the one I got (so) lucky to go to, not only because of the delicious cuisine, but also because of its reputation, it is quite hard to snag a table. The two locations offer the same menu.
Do like I did: make a mistake with the address on your GPS and enter through the riad, instead of the direct restaurant’s entrance on the other side. You will be able to admire the door to get into the boutique hotel and its courtyard with its lush vegetation that will transport you into the actual front garden of the restaurant planted with noble olive trees. Inside, the décor is in Moroccan style where a vibrant red dominates and tables are covered by elegant, stylish white tablecloths, embroidered napkins and flowered with roses.
I like the design of the menu that is guiding your selections in three different languages: Arabic, French and English. The cuisine here is all about bold flavors. In order to satisfy your palate, all ingredients are local from small producers, ultra-fresh and very organic. The herbs even come from the restaurant’s own grounds and follow the seasons.
For appetizers, there are pastillas, traditional Moroccan soups, and briouates (stuffed filo pastries), but the sampling of the fifteen salads is a must-have. Up for a tagine? There are fourteen variations served in the tagine plate and uncovered at your table. If you like when it swims, try the fish herbs and ginger Kefta in a tomato sauce. There are four couscous, including a vegetarian one. But THE highlight is the roasted lamb shoulder covered with almonds and a spiced sauce you’d want to take home. It is slow-cooked for a little over three hours, resulting in very tender and melting meat; it is served for 2. On the side come vegetables and couscous semolina. The House Specials, such as the Dalaâ M’bakhra (steamed lamb shoulder), the Tanjia (meat cooked à l’étouffée that becomes confit) or the Chaâria Medfouna (steamed vermicelli stuffed with chicken), have to be ordered 24 hours in advance. Wine wise, no need to travel (you already did to get there) and stay in the country: order a bottle (or more) from the Moroccan vineyards.
Talking about tradition: le thé à la menthe, Moroccan mint tea, has to be part of the sweet ending (prepare your camera for the pouring; see video below) as well as the Moroccan homemade pastries that are a total dream for dessert lovers. If you like cinnamon, which I don’t (this actually is the only thing I don’t eat), indulge in the apple and cinnamon pastilla or the orange salad. Having tried the quality and tastes of the local fruits during a private lunch, the orange salad must be celestial. Other last course options include Moroccan crêpes with melted butter and honey; Mhancha Al Fassia, an almond pastry served with vanilla ice cream; or the almond filo pastry.
I have to admit that when writing this article, it is the first time that so many flavors came back to my mouth and my brain: the flavors of the cuisine, the flavors of the amazing warm welcome by the ladies of Al Fassia, the flavors of the gardens, the flavors of the orange blossom being poured on my hands as I was leaving the restaurant, the flavors of Marrakech, the flavors of the kindness of the Moroccans. I want to go back, and I will, to both Marrakech and Al Fassia…
Life is about building souvenirs; Al Fassia should be in your memory book.
> Scroll down the food photo gallery for the décor photos, and a small tour of the city of Marrakech.