Al Fassia (Gourmet Chick in Morocco)

For a feel good eating experience in Marrakesh it is hard to go past Al Fassia a restaurant that is run by an all women cooperative of chefs and waitresses. In a country where it is rare to see women in the public sphere and certainly not in any of the all male cafes Al Fassia offers a welcome role reversal. Such is its popularity that there are now two Al Fassia’s one in the villa nouvelle and Al Fassia Aguedal on the route de L’Ourika which is a 50 dirham (£5) taxi ride from the medina.

Al Fassia Aguedal is housed in a large building plonked in the middle of nowhere. All around it is a huge construction site and it seems as if the plan is for the city to grown around the restaurant. MTV boyfriend went there on our last night in Marrakesh with our friend Tim who was also travelling in Morocco. Doormen wearing blood red Fez’s greeted us and ushered us into the cavernous restaurant where the all female team took over. Circular linen clad tables were dotted around the mosaic tiled floors and the look was luxurious but more hotel foyer than funky Kasbah.

The menu offers traditional Moroccan food and a selection of reasonably priced local wine. Our bottle of cabernet sauvignon is a measly 130 dirhams (£13). To start with the Harira is a good option. This quintessential Moroccan soup is made from lentils and chickpeas and when you order it at Al Fassia you are served with the tureen as well in case one bowl is not enough.

The generous servings go one step further with the legendary mezze starter which involves over twenty different small dishes. There is pumpkin dip laced with cumin, thinly diced tomato and red onion salad, olive tapenade and grilled slices of zucchini. In retrospect we could have ordered this alone between the three of us. There was probably no need for the cocktail briouates which are small triangles of puff pastry with a mixture of fillings including minced lamb, rice, vegetables and fish. We had enough food already and in any event the fillings were a little dry and uninspiring.

If you go to Al Fassia you must order the slow roasted shoulder of lamb. The lamb is served feasting style on a large platter and a waitress carves the meat off the bone although minimal effort is required on her part as the meat is so tender that it falls off. Our waitress divvies up the rich sinews of meat studded with almonds along with some fluffy cous cous and steamed vegetables. The lamb melts like chocolate in your mouth and even after our twenty starters we devour it.

The desserts on offer are not as exciting as it seems that Moroccans place more emphasis on pastries than desserts so we skip the desultory options of sliced orange sprinkled with cinnamon or crepes with honey and finish our meal in traditional style with fresh mint tea.

Details: Route de L’Ourika, Marrakesh, Morocco (Ph 024 38 38 39)
Damage: Pricey

If you liked this you might like to read about food adventures in the Marrakesh markets at Djemaa El Fna.


  1. I think ive just decided where to head for my next credit crunch holiday! That looks fab.

  2. Timely review- I was considering visiting Al Fassia next week….I’d already singled it out in the Lonely Planet Guidebook – Do you have to order the slow roast shoulder of Lamb ahead of time?
    Reservations needed or just show up?

  3. i so wanted to go there and never made it… the portions amazed me whereever we went – definitely not going hungry there! it really looks like i must go back – and i will try and not get sick so i can enjoy the cookery workshop i had lpanned to attend!

  4. Spent a week in Marrakech last November and unfortunately never made it to Al Fassia. Did however enjoy a cookery session at in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains. The Agafay Riad in town is also a gorgeous spot for a glass of wine or 2.

  5. Dan, when I was at Al Fassia in January 2007, I showed up without a booking and got hassled about it (even though the restaurant looked 1/3 empty when I was there). So based on my single experience, I think booking (at least earlier that day) would spare you some angst.

  6. I’m going to have to stop reading until you’ve finished posting about your trip, I can’t bear it anymore!

  7. Ramsays – yes I would recommend it – it is a great break but not as cheap as you would expect

    Dan – I would recommend booking particularly if you want to go to the Al Fassia in the Villa Nouvelle (which is more centrally located) you don’t have to preprder the lamb so no worries there.

    The Passionate Cook – what a shame. I have a stomach of iron so was lucky!

    Greg- I did a cookery class as well (will post on it soon) it was good fun.

    American in London – I agree with you booking seems to be the way to go at Al Fassia

    Ginger – Sorry: still a few posts to go!

  8. I have been dying to visit Marrakesh – really must make an effort this year. The meal sounds like my idea of heaven (even the orange slices sprinkled with cinnamon!).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *