If you spend any significant amount of time in Morocco, you’re going to eat a LOT of tagines. Tagines with lamb and prunes, tagines with chicken and olives. Vegetable tagines or beef tagines, good tagines and bad tagines. After a few weeks, you will be an expert in all things tagines – and you’ll dive on any menu that offers anything else.
So after three and a bit weeks travelling around Morocco, we headed to Essaouira for a bit of a break from the chaos, heat and seemingly endless souks of Morocco’s bigger cities to relax and refuel in this sleepy seaside town. And happily, switch up our well-established routine of tagines all day, every day for every kind of seafood we could imagine.
Essaouira is pretty quiet – it can’t compare to Morocco’s bigger, bustling cities – making it the perfect getaway destination for anyone looking for long walks on the beach and lazy lunches (which we were!), interrupted only by the occasional crepe stand, local shop or spectacular sunset (best enjoyed on a rooftop balcony with a glass of wine).
Eager to chill out and stuff ourselves with all of the seafood, we were overwhelmed by the amazing amount of choice in Essaouira, and the quality of the foods we enjoyed. Being a port town meant we could check out the freshly caught options on the wharf and match them to the menus around town, it was simply a matter of how fancy or not we wanted to go.
Here are some of the highlights from our lunches and dinners around Essaouira –
The Loft – we discovered this retro-styled gem simply because they had a good mix of seafood and meat on their menu – and it was reasonably priced. With great old school music and interiors that wouldn’t look out of place in Alexandria (or any ‘cool’ cafe suburb), Loft was a great break from more traditional fare and its dishes were amazing. Fresh calamari, whole roasted fish or tender beef with pears, it was all great and topped off with Morocco’s signature mint tea.
Vagues Bleues – Essaouria’s medina is much easier to navigate but it can still take a little searching to seek out this gem. A tiny blue and white cafe with a handwritten menu and only five tables, Vagues Bleues is a leap of faith that definitely pays off. We had amazing fish and great pasta (sometimes you just need carbs) for about $5 and the ladies who run the kitchen were always keen to ply us with juice, salads or even sweets depending on the day (yes, we came multiple times!).
Caravane Cafe – We avoided this one initially because most of the menu items were on the pricier side but on our last night in Essaouira we decided to treat ourselves – a decision that definitely paid off. The food is great and the atmosphere is fun but the highlight of the night was definitely the entertainment. Live music makes you want to dance in your seat – or on the balcony overlooking the central courtyard – while a roving musician and a fire twirler make sure that you’re pleasantly distracted between dishes. It might sound overdone or cheesy but this place was great for adding some vibrancy to our maybe too lazy few days in Essaouira!
Juice Smoothies – I’m including this one for Rod because after three weeks of bread at EVERY meal, we finally found a place with gluten free options. They do great muffins and freshly cooked waffles as well as juices and smoothies (as the name suggests).