Where to Eat in Essaouira: Street Food, Seafood, Cafés, and Restaurants

The best restaurants and street food we ate at while living in Essaouira, our favorite dishes at each, some disappointments, and where we'll dine next time. An unconventional guide to where to eat in Essaouira.

Eating in Essaouira Exceeds Expectations

Dig into our top picks for where to eat in Essaouira then continue on to our Essaouira travel blog and guide to things to do inside and outside the medina (and beyond).

Before we moved to Essaouira for five weeks, our friends who'd spent extended time in Morocco warned us we'd soon get bored of tagine and couscous.

And we did.

But we didn't get bored of all the pastries, pastilla, pasta, quiches, cheese, and more that the cafés, street food stands, and restaurants in Essaouira also dished out.

Here are our top recommendations for where to eat in Essaouira.

Where to Eat in Essaouira

Snack Chamali tagine in Essaouira
The barbecue guy at Snack Chamali reveals a delicious, 45dh tagine. [p.s. The feature image for this post is also from this Essaouira restaurant.]

Our Favorite Find

Snack Chamali $

Don't go here if you feel uncomfortable eating with your fingers, being the only foreigner in sight, not knowing exactly what you're eating, and eating on cheap plastic chairs and tables.

Otherwise, you absolutely, 100% must go.

We "risked" going on our second day in Essaouira. It's not in the nicest part of town, seemed a bit dirty, and the guys who work there barely spoke French let alone English. But the tagines that were heating up on the charcoal out front looked too good to resist.

And man did the lemon chicken tagine we order ever deliver. From the juicy spiced chicken on top to the caramelized bits on the bottom, it was so good we raced each other to have more bites. Then we came back at least once a week from then on.

Give it a try.

Come around 12:30 p.m. to get the first pick of the day's tagines, grab a seat out front, and enjoy. And tell them we miss them.

What to Order:

Either the chicken, lemon, and olive or the beef with prune and raisin tagine. They have fish tagines, too, but the bones are kind of annoying to pick out. Prices are 25dh for small and 40-50dh for large. They come with fries or bread.

Sunset Seafood with a Spanish Twist

Zahra's Grill $$$

The Spanish/French/Moroccan couple that owns and runs Riad Zahra knows a thing or two about hospitality. Their riad, casual set-menu Moroccan restaurant downstairs, and finer-dining à la carte seafood and Spanish restaurant upstairs are all highly-reviewed.

After an evening of wine tasting downstairs followed by a sunset meal upstairs, we've joined the chorus. It was on the expensive side—our John Dory and monkfish dishes were 170dh each—but it was worth it.

What to Order:

Any grilled fish. The owners told us their paella's good, but we'd just lived in the birthplace of paella, Valencia, Spain, so we felt our standards would be too high.

Rfisa dish at Chez Mizari in El Borj in Essaouira
Thursday rfisa from Chez Mizar.

Homestyle Moroccan Lunches

Chez Mizar $$

Located in El Borj, this locally-owned restaurant was recommended to us by our super helpful Airbnb host and became our second-favorite lunch spot (after Chamali).

Every day they serve a different special. We made sure to come every Thursday for the rfisa. Rfisa is a traditional Moroccan dish made with crepes cut in tagliatelle-like strips, mixed in with lentils, onions and baked chicken. It's 50dh, huge, and tasty.

What to Order:

Rfisa (Thursdays), couscous (Fridays), and the briouates (every day for 30dh) whenever they have them as an appetizer.

Something Other than French and Moroccan


Dolcefreddo, an Italian restaurant and gelateria in El Borj, is the neighborhood's most popular restaurant. Maybe it's partly because everyone gets tired of Moroccan and French food. But mostly because it's good.

What to Order:

The gnocchi (60dh). They have rotating specials for the toppings. We'd prefer it if they gave the gnocchi some crispiness by frying it a bit, but we can't complain too much because the quantity they serve is generous and the quality is high.

Quick Snack in the Medina

Superbe Pastilla $

The name says it all, doesn't it?

Pastilla is a kind of phyllo pastry-wrapped meat pie that you can eat with your hands. For the filling, you choose between pigeon (45dh), chicken (40), veggie (30), or seafood (30). As a quick and hearty snack, it's… superb.

Delicious Desserts and Reliable Wifi

Maison Gourmande $

Maison Gourmande keeps Essaouiran ex-pats and locals alike fat and happy with their affordable baked goods, pastries, and cakes.

They also kept me from losing my mind from the slow WiFi in our Airbnb. Their internet was fast and they had plenty of table space.

What to Order:

Mint tea, spinach quiche (10-15dh), and chocolate eclairs (15dh).

Famous quiche at L'Atelier in Essaouira
L'Atelier's mushroom quiche.

A Blissful Bistro

L'Atelier $$

Thank goodness I found L'Atelier by searching "wifi cafe" on Google Maps at the beginning of our stay. It became my favorite place to work in the medina. It's quiet, the staff doesn't mind if you stay a few hours, the WiFi is fairly consistent and fast, and there were other digital nomads, too.

And even if you don't need WiFi, it's worth stopping by. The interior's stylish, the shop sells high-quality souvenirs, and, most importantly, they serve delicious French bistro lunch food, fresh baked goods, and great coffee.

What to Order:

The daily quiche (55dh) is incredible. The lemon tart's not too shabby either.

Fusion Moroccan

Triskala $$

Just about every other blog on where to eat in Essaouira recommends Triskala, too, but we got the initial recommendation from a guy at the gym. He definitely hadn't read any of those blogs before.

He, and now we, recommend it because it's not as expensive as other restaurants in the medina and not as busy because of its side street location, but the food is at least as good if not better.

They serve a tasty variety of healthy Moroccan dishes with a twist. The menu changes daily based on what's freshly caught from the sea and freshly harvested from the gardens. And the warm anise bread they serve on the side is so good we asked for more.

What to Order:

The fish plate of the day (60dh. Comes with a variety of sides.)

Chris picking produce at the produce market in El Borj in Essaouira
Chris picking out produce at our favorite vendor in the El Borj neighborhood of Essaouira.

Want to Eat at Home?

Lots of restaurants in El Borj offer home delivery for those who're too lazy to go outside.

For those who have the energy to cook, you'll find the largest variety of groceries in the Carrefour at the southern edge of El Borj, but best, cheapest, and freshest produce from vendors all around town. Our favorite spot is right in front of Mosquée El Borj.

You can buy bread just about anywhere (1dh per piece) or at Carrefour to complete your meal with French cheese and wine.

Fromagerie spread just outside of Essaouira
Homemade cheese platter and cheese and beef tagine.

Farm Fresh Cheese Lunch

La Fromagerie $$$$

La Fromagerie is a family-run cheese farm, coffee roaster, restaurant, and BnB located 10km outside of Essaouira.

Diners choose one of three main dishes (190 to 250dh), all of which come with three homestyle entrees. All the courses feature cheese, naturally.

When we went, the didn't have any cow or camel milk cheese, so all the cheeses were variations of the same goat cheese. This was was disappointing. Call in advance to ask what they have.

But that was the only disappointment for us. The peaceful setting and friendly welcome from Abderazak, the owner who lived in Canada for 28 years, and his nephew Otmane, who showed us the cheese cellar and treated us to a coffee while we waited for our taxi, made for a pleasant afternoon.

What to Order:

The roasted meat dish which comes with a cheese platter (menu changes regularly)

Cafe Chrif vegetable chicken and lemon chicken
A generous portion of vegetable couscous and lemon chicken from Café Ch'rif.

Cheap and Cheerful by the Beach

Café Ch'rif $

Café Ch'rif is your best bet for an easy lunch at the southern end of the beach where all the kitesurfing shops are. It's popular with the kitesurfing crowd because of its no-fuss atmosphere, the cheerful young guys who run it, and the excellent value. The lemon chicken (25dh), couscous (30dh), and Moroccan salad (10dh) hit the spot.

What to Order:

The couscous. Like everywhere in Morocco, it's often only available on Fridays.

The One-Dish Wonder

Granada $$

A friendly French ex-pat couple that we ran into on the street recommended we go to Granada specifically for their shrimp tagine.

At first we were disappointed to see only shrimps and sauce in the tagine. It was puny compared to the tagines at Chamali. But one bite was enough to understand why they raved about this place. The shrimp were fresh, the sauce was well-seasoned, and it was more food than we thought thanks to all the bread we used to absorb the sauce.

What to Order:

Shrimp tagine. 50dh. Call ahead as they don't always have it.

Chez Momo seafood in Sidi Kaouki
Chez Momo served the freshest grilled fish we had in Morocco.

Our Favorite Seafood (not Exactly) in Essaouira

Chez Momo $

The grilled sol from Chez Momo was the best I had in Morocco. Maybe I extra enjoyed it because we'd walked five hours along the beach to get to Sidi Kaouki, the beach village where it's located (see our post on things to do in Essaouira). But the older retirees who packed the place and definitely hadn't walked there seemed to be enjoying the food just as much.

Chris also enjoyed his flavorful sardines souiri (30dh) and the avocado juices (10dh), which he had three of.

What to Order:

Fish. Duh. Ask Momo what's fresh. Unlike many fresh fish grillers in Essaouira, he'll tell you the truth.

Something Fishy

Most Essaouira travel guides recommend buying fish from the market and taking it to a nearby grill to cook for you. While the concept sounds appealing, we're not big fans. The fishmongers overcharge and lie about what's fresh—a few friends have gotten sick—and, from our experience, the people that grill the fish don't do a good job.

If you know a trustworthy source or really know your fish, go for it. Otherwise, avoid the hassle and the risk. Get seafood from one of the restaurants we recommend instead.

Our stuffed aubergine and dukkah crusted chicken at Nomade.
Our stuffed aubergine and dukkah crusted chicken at Nomade.

Modern Moroccan

Nomade Restaurant $$$

Nomade Restaurant in Essaouira has no relation to, but a lot in common with, the super-popular Nomad in Marrakech. Both specialize in creative modern Moroccan cuisine and have bright, tastefully-designed decor.

But unlike the Marrekchi version, Essaouira's Nomade is not a busy corporate restaurant. It's run by a lovely local Moroccan guy and his South African wife, who will hustle to ensure you enjoy your evening.

What to Order:

Moroccan cheese cigars (55dh) and dukkah crusted chicken (75). We didn't try the chocolate amalou dessert because it had sold out, but it sounds amazing.

Moroccan herbs with Kim's feet

More Essaouira Restaurant Recommendations

These are the Essaouira restaurants that locals recommended to us but we didn't have the chance to visit.

  • Val D'Argan. 3-course lunch and wine tasting (330dh) at an organic wine farm 25 km outside of town.
  • Caravane Café. A feast with a festive atmosphere in the medina.
  • Gusto. Fancy Italian.
  • Laayoune. Where the owners of Riad Zahra said they like to go on their rare days off.
  • Les Alizés Mogador. Ex-pats' top pick for pastilla.
  • Chez Omar. Famous for their Friday couscous.
  • The Hungry Nomad. Fun family-style meal at the Atlantic Hostel.

Check them out and let us know how they are!

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