Last summer (2018) I decided after fourteen years of being a vegetarian to start eating vegan. Why do you ask? I will give you the short version: I do not want to contribute to animal suffering that results from the way we produce eggs and milk these days. Shortly after my decision I made plans to go on a holiday to Morocco. A new destination for me and my first trip as a vegan. In retrospect I did not have to worry at all, because there were actually quite a lot of vegan restaurants in Essaouira and Marrakech. I am sure that in Essaouira this has everything to do with the hippie movement of the sixties and Marrakech is a tourist destination with a wide range of restaurants. Do you also eat vegetarian or vegan and are you going on a holiday to Morocco? Maybe my recommendations will be a help to you to find good places to eat.
Le Corail at Latifa
This restaurant is my absolute number 1. I have eaten here two times and every time it was delicious. It is located on square Place Chrib Atay, which I secretly named the vegan heaven of Essaouira. You can find here at least three restaurants with a 100% vegan menu. Ideal, because that means I did not have to ask the waiter about every single ingredient in the dish. Moreover, the menu had like twenty tagine options, so there is always something for everyone. The owners are not big talkers. Very calm and reserved, but when we got the bill it always came with a small gift: a keychain or bracelet. You can find Le Corail at Latifa here.
I think this is the most popular restaurant of Essaouira. In high season you cannot eat here without a reservation. The first evening we stopped at this place, we could immediately leave again. The restaurant was fully booked. The next evening we came back, this time with a reservation for a table. Apparently, they have a different menu every day, so the food can never get boring. There were a couple of vegetarian dishes on the menu, which luckily could be turned vegan quickly. Of course, you never know if it is going to be 100% vegan (do they replace the butter with oil?), but it is the effort that counts for me. The staff is really friendly and the design of the place is stunning. Almost every corner had its own unique look. You can find Triskala here.
Loft is well-known in Essaouira. It is hip and trendy, you often see photos of this place on Instagram or Pinterest. Then again, the design is stunning. So I get it. You actually have two Loft restaurants in Essaouira, a small lunch café and a three-story high restaurant at the main street of the souk. For vegetarians both restaurants are good options, but for vegans you only have one option: Mega Loft. I went for the vegan platter, which I liked so much that I came back for it a second time. You can find Mega Loft here.
Chez Khadija is a restaurant that feels like eating in a private living room. It looked like it was run by one woman, I presume her name is Khadija, but we could not ask. She only spoke French or Arab-Berber and we only spoke English. And so the interaction was mainly pointing at the menu and lot of hand signals. Luckily, the menu (in French) was vegetarian, so I only had to pay attention to ingredients such as cheese. We chose a twist on the regular tagine dish: a sweet version filled with dry fruit, almonds, dates and figs. Delicious! You can find Chez Khadija here. Only Happy Cow list this cafe, it seems impossible to find it through Google.
YOO Healty Food
Morocco is the land of the juices. Menus often show a wide variety of juices. YOO is specialized in slow juices, but it also offers sandwiches, salads and frozen yoghurt. Unfortunately not with soy yoghurt, so I could not try this. It’s a small cafe, hidden in a cute back alley of the medina. You can find YOO here.
Rue Boutouil for soy coffee and breakfast
Are you done with the super sweet mint tea and looking for a good coffee with soy milk? Then you can go to BistrO Cafe at the Rue Boutouil. This is the only cafe in Essaouira that I have found that serves soy cappuccino. Across this café you find Cafe Taraa where you can enjoy a breakfast menu with several types of breads, crepes and marmalades.
Earth Cafe is one of the few restaurants in Marrakech with a full vegetarian or vegan menu. You can actually find two Earth Cafes in the medina. Nice fact: the café is run by women only. From the cook to the waiter: it is all female. We were received with great hospitality and even though no one spoke English, I still liked the atmosphere very much. Also important: the food was pretty good! You can find Earth Cafe here.
Rooftop restaurant NOMAD is located in the midst of the souk at Place Rahba Kedima. It is the location what makes this place so great. The souk can be a intense place: the narrow streets, the many vendors and tourist crowds. The rooftop terrace of NOMAD offers a place to escape it all for just a little while. NOMAD is a true hipster hotspot and you see that reflected in the prices. Prices are a bit higher than at other places, but I feel that you also pay for the view a little bit. You can find NOMAD here.
Introducing the diversity of the Moroccan culture through music, art and food, that was the ambition of Mike Richardson when he opened Cafe Clock in Fez. The concept spread to other cities and in 2014 Cafe Clock opened in Marrakech. You can come here for a bite, listen to live music in the evening or take a cooking class. I was especially inspired by the way Cafe Clock is giving back to society. All staff members can take English language courses at the American Language Center and a percentage of the profits is donated to local foundations that advocate education for everyone. You can find Cafe Clock here.
Henna Art Cafe
Another socially involved gem in the medina of Marrakech is the Henna Art Cafe. A restaurant, henna tattoo salon and cultural foundation all in one. The mission of this cafe is to provide free education for local residents of all ages. This can range from language classes English, German of Spanish to mathematics and theater lessons. Again, a beautiful initiative where tourists can be a part of by simply eating here or getting henna. The menu offers something for everyone: meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans. Good to know for dinner: the kitchen closes at 20.30. So don’t arrive here too late. You can find Henna Art Cafe here.
Travel tips for vegetarians and vegans:
- Install the app Happy Cow or take a look at their website. They offer a wide selection of vegetarian or vegan restaurants. You can search for 100% vegan restaurants or restaurants that offer vegetarian or vegan options. Very useful!
- Morocco is the land of tajine and couscous. Most restaurants have a vegetable version on the menu. Soup can also be a great option, for instance the Harira soup based on chickpeas, tomatoes and lentils.
- Morocco is also the land of dry fruits: I love dates and figs and that is something that is eaten a lot in Morocco. As a snack, but also as an ingredient for a meal. Delicious!
- Bread and crepes are okay: a typical Moroccan breakfast often has bread, Msemmen (crepe) or Beghrir (also a crepe). Usually this is prepared without milk and eggs, but sometimes it is baked in butter. Please check if you want to be sure.