Our first day in Marrakech was great, and to end the day we chose to dine in one of the staffs in the El Fna Square. The truth is that there are many without a lot to choose between them - the price is the same wherever you go - so I finally decided to come here, as the guy selling it seemed like the nicest. There were four of us, and the price was about € 10.00 per couple, that is dirt cheap. Speaking of dirt, don't expect spotless treatment - but that's standard in Morocco, and if you're fussy or worried about germs, you're better off not going to Marrakech.
First of all, they put a piece of paper on the table to serve as plate / tablecloth, then offer bread, beverages (it's always better to ask for a bottle, and it's probably cleaner to drink straight from the bottle rather than risk a glass), and in the middle of the table, delicious Moroccan olives and two homemade spicy tomato sauces to accompany. After we ordered grilled eggplant, fries, and 2 servings per person of chicken and beef skewers, of course we did not know that there would be 6 skewers per person ... we had a real feast, then! We were given mint tea, too, and we really enjoyed it. A great experience.
Ok, if you've seen my experience from Lamb Alley, you know that Marrakech has some serious lamb. While Lamb Alley is the lunchtime hotspot, at night you need to hit up the lamb vendors which set up at the north end of Jemaa El Fnaa. Basically, the food area is divided into several parts. There are the mixed grill stations (these are the guys that around out hustling you, telling you that you look hungry, etc.) and these are generally somewhat of a rip-off and not all that good. Then you have the specialized section where you'll see a line of stalls selling snails (delicious), a popular soup place, and finally two stations selling roast lamb around stall #66, I believe.
And it's heavenly! For 60 Dirhams ($7) we got a fat plate of tasty, unctuous roast lamb with bread and tea for two people. Make sure that you ask the cook to dip the bread into the lamb fat. It might sounds over the top but seriously, yum! It's the best place to eat in Jemaa El Fnaa and also, along with the snails and soup, one of the cheapest and most authentic.
So ditch the aggressive mixed-grill places and get yourself some lamb!
The Souk Kafé in the Medina of Marrakech is a great place to eat if you get tired of the controlled chaos in Djemaa El Fnaa and want something more intimate but still authentic.
The cafe has several interior dining areas, but the real draw is the rooftop terrace decorated in cozy corners with pillows and thatched roofing for shade from the hot Moroccan sun. The views of the rooftops in the surrounding area and the nearby mosque are wonderful.
The food is good in general, but I'd especially suggest the appetizer of 6 Moroccan salads including rice pilaf, spiced eggplant, and several other warm and cold dips and spreads. The black olive tapenade is to die for! It's categorized as a starter, but really it's a full meal in an of itself. The couscous on Fridays is also great and they serve it with couscous, meat or veggies, sauce, caramelized onions, and harissa chili paste. Mmmmmm.
As I've mentioned before, your best bet for eating in the bustling Djemaa El Fnaa is to avoid the aggressively-pitched mixed grills and head where the locals go: this means orange juice, roast lamb, snails, and warming lentil soup. Near the snail vendors, you'll see a stand ladling out steaming bowls of lentil soup, and it's packed by locals.
For a mere 50 cents, you get a soul-satisfying bowl of noodle-lentil soup served hot. It's not high-cuisine by any means, but it's authentic, cheap, and tasty. It's the perfect second course between your snails and that roast lamb. Yum!